Friday, April 20, 2007
Kinds of Friends Every Women Needs
Seven Friends Every Woman Needs
The best buddies to help you through life's ups and downs.
by Lisa Earle McLeod

King Arthur had his round table, presidents have their cabinets, and CEOs have their VPs. What about you? Who is helping you in your quest to live your best life? The two-heads-are-better-than-one credo applies to your personal affairs just as much as it does to knightly quests, political campaigns and business decision-making. You, too, deserve a group of handpicked boosters who want to help you succeed. The big guns don't choose their teams willy-nilly — and neither should you. Here are seven types of friends who deserve a spot on your Dream Team:

1. The in-the-trenches-with-you friend. Whether you share the same profession, hometown or marital status, this is the gal whose life is pretty much the same as your own. She’s the one you can count on to listen to a my-life’s-so-tough soliloquy and really get it. Shannon, 32, a stay-at-home mother of three kids under the age of five, says, "Some days when I think I'm really going to lose it, the only thing that keeps me sane is calling up one of my mom friends and letting it all out."

2. The wise woman. She's been there, done that — and she can give you some perspective on your situation. Whether you're surviving your child's terrible twos or climbing the corporate ladder, just knowing that she made it through in one piece helps you persevere. Whether she's your official mentor or simply a more experienced friend, you can learn a lot by picking her brain. My own personal wise woman, Laurie, has worked in so many areas of the publishing world that I consider her a literary goddess; her sage advice was invaluable in making my first book, "Forget Perfect," a success.

3. The joker. She may not be all that reliable, but she has this wonderful way of pointing out the lunacy of the world and making you lighten up and laugh! JoAnn, 50, a self-professed workaholic, adores her wisecracking friend Brenda. "She [says] exactly what she thinks," observes JoAnn. "The best time was when she told our pickiest client to 'get a life and get off our backs.' My own controlled nature would never allow me to do that, but I sure love watching her do it."

4. The fresh friend. Having a friend who is younger than you reminds you of just how far you've come (and, hopefully, how lucky you are to be exactly where you are). While you may envy her youth and enthusiasm, you could also be inspired by her! "I wouldn't have even bothered with the Internet if the younger women in my [life] hadn't forced me to communicate that way," says Shirley, a businesswoman in her mid-50s. "Imagine my son's surprise when I e-mailed him a joke saying, 'DS, thought this one would make you LOL.'"

5. The good guy. Every woman needs a male friend. Think of this buddy as a translator who can help you speak the sometimes befuddling language of the male species — and keep the faith. Annie, 31, says her guy friend, a co-worker and happily married father of two, helped her stay positive during her divorce. "He didn't have to comment on my situation," she reflects. "Simply knowing what a great dad and husband he was proved that my ex wasn't representative of the entire male race." Remember, don't muddy the waters of this friendship with flirtation. Befriend a guy who is happily attached or whom you don't find attractive! Who knows, you might want to add his wife or girlfriend to your friend roster too.

6. The not-my-life friend. You're married; she's not. She's a firefighter, a CEO, a nun. A pal with a very different life provides you with a refreshingly different point of view — and helps you appreciate that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Jodie, 33, a part-time nurse and mother of two, remarks that she and her single friend Emily, a busy public relations executive, help each other see their lives more realistically — and positively. "I can be so mad at my husband that I can't see straight, but one phone call from Emily about her dating woes and he looks a whole lot better," she says. "And she thinks my life is boring as all get out, so it's a great way to remind ourselves that we're happy with our own choices."

7. The history friend. This person is someone who has been the eyewitness to the ups, downs and bad hairdos at every stage of your life. Perhaps you met in the playpen or on the first day of junior high school. This kind of friend is priceless, and you should regularly drop her a line or call her to keep the connection current. Because she's been part of your past, she can fully appreciate your present. Elizabeth, 28, has known her history friend Kirsten since preschool. "Ever since that first day at the snack table, we've been there for each other," she reflects. "When my mom died, Kirsten was my only friend who had known her. I felt as if she was the only one who could fully understand what I had lost."

Lisa Earle McLeod, a wife and mother of two, is the author of "Forget Perfect."

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