The Only 5 Friends You Need

We know your friends are important to you -- which is good, since research shows that friends are key to living a long, healthy life. But it’s not the number of friendships, it's the type that matters. Luckily, you don’t need to expand your social too far -- if you can check these five good friends off your list, you’ll be just fine.
  1. The Oldie But Goodie

    Photo by Peter Arkle / The Nest

    From the time you upchucked in the middle of your Twentieth-Century American Novel course to that pathetic email you wrote to the first person who really broke your heart, this friend knows it all. But, you know she would never use it. There’s no need to explain yourself with this pal. She gets you and loves you -- psycho moments and all -- which is why she’s more forgiving of your foibles than most members of your inner circle. Plus, she helps remind you of who you really are (yep, the kid in braces who still laughs at fart jokes). Over the course of your relationship -- and through its many ups and downs -- you also learn important lessons about communication, commitment, and working through conflict. (Remember that one major blowout with her years back? See, you recovered.) So tell your significant other to thank her for that.

  2. The Reality Check

    Photo by Peter Arkle / The Nest

    Ouch. This friend knows the meaning of tough love. When you tell him you’re ready to buy a house, he reminds you about last weekend -- you know, when you were “over-served” (totally not your fault) and blew through your emergency savings in Atlantic City. And remember the time you almost pulled a Jerry Maguire after you didn’t get the raise you wanted? He’s the one who talked you down and reminded you of this little thing called “rent.” He may not always tell you what you want to hear, but he’ll always tell you what you need to hear. And that’s exactly why this guy is so key. Listen, we all like to think we know everything, but sometimes it’s impossible to see what’s best for yourself, plain and simple.

  3. The Party Police

    Photo by Peter Arkle / The Nest

    When you’re shacking up, it’s easy to become a closed system on autopilot (what’s more comfy than ending the week with takeout and TiVo?). But it’s also an easy way to turn your relationship into a snooze-fest (read: b-o-r-i-n-g) and well, it’s just not that healthy. Enter the party police. This pal swoops in like your own personal Yelp and gets you to try new things, like that hot new bar, or an obscure -- but awesome -- taco truck. Meeting new people and having new experiences, not only helps broaden your social network, it also makes you a more fun and interesting partner at home.

  4. The A-Team

    Photo by Peter Arkle / The Nest

    Ever notice when you’re on a double date with your so cute you’d-hate-them-if-you-didn’t-love-them, couple friends you guys suddenly start acting all coupley and cute too? Well, having mutual pals, makes for a longer, happier relationship. The reason is pretty obvious: It’s good to have things in common with your mate (duh), but especially similar taste in the company you keep. Couple friends help you spice up your regular date nights and reaffirm your bond. While hanging with your single friends can make you long for your dating days, coupled friends remind you that being attached is much better than its ole ball-and-chain reputation. Plus, they can be a good influence on you two: Whether they’re affectionate with each other, communicate well, or just remember to say “thank you” while passing the salt, you can learn from their example.

  5. The Dreamer

    Photo by Peter Arkle / The Nest

    This is the buddy who went to Brazil on vacation -- and loved it so much, he ended up moving there. Or, the pal who was so inspired by an episode of Top Chef, he ditched his freelance job and enrolled in culinary school. Okay, so being borderline irresponsible isn’t the best quality, but this guy can still teach you a lot. Having a friend who isn’t afraid to expand his horizons, take risks and follow his dreams is important (unless you want to become that old-married-couple cliché before you’re even old or married). Whether he motivates you to get off your butt and take that dream vacation, launch the business you’ve been planning since college, or just go out for Thai this week, he gives you the push you sometimes need to get out of the grind.

    Nestperts: Rachel Sussman, LCSW, therapist and couples specialist, and Irene S. Levine, PhD, (aka “The Friendship Doctor”) professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine and author of Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend (TheFriendshipBlog.com).