When people find out that I have five sisters, they always want to know who is my favorite. It’s a fair question, I suppose, but it is one for which I don’t have a clear answer. Each one of my sisters is my favorite for different reasons. I share different histories, jokes, and shared interests with each of them, and their individual specialties and gifts make them my go-to friends.
Many of us would say the same thing of our close friends. We typically don’t have one friend we share everything with all the time; each close friend is dear to us for different reasons. In a recent Verily article, Joelle Berger imagines her closest friends as those who sit on her board of directors. “Not your company’s board of directors, but your personal one,” Berger clarifies. “Which select family, friends, and colleagues do you consult when making pivotal life decisions? Whose opinions do you value the most?”
This way of looking at friendships makes sense to me. One friend I know I can talk to about faith, one friend is an expert on dating, and another might be the master at problem solving when I’m in a tight spot at work. I know that when I am in need of assistance (which is frequently), I have my board of directors on hand to help me out.
As we have grown up and moved through the various stages of our lives, we have hopefully been fortunate to gather amazing women close to us. Most of us have probably realized that there are certain types of friends we simply couldn’t do without. I think the list is pretty universal. Here are seven types of friends that I know I need close at hand and that I think are a must on any woman’s board of directors.
01. Your Blunt Friend
You know who I’m talking about. She’s the one who actually tells you the truth when you ask her if the dress you are wearing—that’s right, the dress you have on your body and are wearing in public—is unflattering. She is often the last to hear about your hot new flame and the last to know when it goes down in flames. Why? Because you know she will tell you the truth, and it sometimes hurts. Honey Badger don’t care. At the end of the day, this friend never says “I told you so” (she doesn’t have to), and she won’t ever hesitate to tell you how beautiful you are and what an idiot your ex is for letting you go—because that’s the plain and simple truth, too; no need to sugarcoat it.
02. Your Spiritual Friend
There comes a time in our lives when we need a friend during a crisis of faith, when our spirit is shaken, or to look up at the stars with and wonder aloud whether there really is someone up there. The rest of the time this friend just happily bamboozles us into “deep” conversations with her after too many glasses of wine. Regardless of your sense of spirituality or what you believe, this friend wants to see you dig deeper, and whether it’s a boozy brunch or a meaning-of-life quest, she’s there to philosophize.
03. Your Daredevil Friend
This friend gets away with everything you never can (or so you think). She rocks those wildly patterned pants, goes to concerts by herself (and makes all sorts of new crazy friends there), and is always trying to get you to eat exotic (aka weird) food with her. Most of the time she is unsuccessful in her attempts to get you to branch out of your humdrum life, but sometimes she prevails. It’s good to be prodded out of your comfort zone because even as you awkwardly try to imitate her sexy salsa moves or tame the new crazy haircut she convinced you to get, you grow as a result, and your life becomes that much more adventurous.
04. Your Nerdy Friend
This friend is the one who is busting to tell you about the latest econ book she read or all the new things she learned about bees. She likely sends you weekly links to articles, subject line: “I thought you would find this relevant.” Right. . . . The best thing about this friend is how she gets so excited, whatever it is she’s interested in, and she manages to draw you in despite yourself. Your nerdy friend brings out your own inner nerd and gives you encouragement to develop your own passions.
05. Your Comedian Friend
You may not have a funny bone in your body, but you still need to break out in sidesplitting laughter sometimes. She may be self-deprecating, slapstick, goofy, dry, or all of the above—whatever she has got is contagious, and she is fun to be around. Don’t make the mistake of writing this friend off as the group jester and nothing else. Besides lightening the mood, she likely has keen observations about you and the world around you. Enjoy her sense of humor, but don’t forget that she is a veritable human microscope when you are in need of insight into the human condition.
06. Your There-for-You Friend
It’s not that our other friends won’t be supportive in times of need, it’s just that this friend is always the first to pick up the phone. This friend will sometimes be on the sidelines of your life and may not be the one you think to invite to all your most exclusive dinner parties. But as soon as there is a cry for help, your there-for-you friend shines. She is a rock and a mover of mountains. When the dust settles, somehow the impossible has been accomplished, you have dinner for a week in your fridge, and you’ve found yourself tucked into bed. You don’t have to thank her (despite your attempts). This is just what she does.
07. Your Yoda Friend
This girl has wisdom, she does. You know that when you need sound advice from someone who has been there, done that, and come out the other side, you can go to her. The secret to this friend’s specialty is humility. It’s not about her or priding herself on how sage she is; she just wants to help you make the right decisions. She will hear you out and be measured in her response. It takes time to recognize this friend. As the years go by, you will see how she never steers you wrong.
Having good girlfriends is something no one can afford to take for granted. Recognizing my friends’ different virtues not only helps me appreciate them better, but it also encourages me to emulate them in my own life. Whether you have a core group or are constantly building new relationships, think about who is on your board. And also think about who you are to your friends. No matter what role you fill, make sure it’s one full of love, honesty, and support.