The 6 Must-Have Friends

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The Hobby Buddy. You summon this friend when you want to catch a movie or concert, if you want to enroll in a history class or take a horseback ride. She may be the gal with whom you share a love of art and museums, or your common interest may be river-rafting or crocheting. Many women find that a walking partner suits this need. "This friendship works because you share an interest and a sensibility," says Deanna Kasuya, 48, of Ridgewood, New Jersey. "It's very motivating to know a friend with a passion to start with. You speak the same vocabulary. And you also have this common need to share your interest."

This friend is important, psychologists say, because your significant other may not share many of your most abiding interests. Or you may simply want a gal pal or another friend with whom to discuss and enjoy them.

Deanna has an art buddy, a gal she meets once a month for museum visits in New York City. The friendship has deepened over recent years, and now she and her pal talk about life as well as about Picasso. "The passion in art was the introduction to our friendship," Deanna says. "We looked at paintings together and got dewy-eyed talking about light and color. Then one day we let loose about our personal lives."

Sally Muller, 45, of Bethesda, Maryland, treasures her walking buddy. At least three times a week, the pair loop their suburban neighborhood, starting at 5:30 a.m. The walks started for one reason: exercise. "We were neighbors who didn't know each other well at all," says Sally. "We just wanted to get out early in the morning, when the neighborhood was quiet." Sally's dog joined. The walking itinerary has evolved over the past three years and now includes a stop at a coffee shop. Sally's partner has since gotten a dog of her own -- and a divorce. Meanwhile, the friendship has deepened greatly. "We talk about everything now, from what to serve at a dinner party or which Lucy-Ethel sitcom we like best to how to handle our children. We both feel destabilized when we don't walk." But, Sally notes, the friendship hinges on walking. "When you spend four to six hours a week in a format of walking, that becomes the way in which you're most comfortable talking and confiding."

The Straight-Talking Friend. You know when you're clear that you need to break up with someone...but just can't quite bite the bullet? Talk to this friend. "We all need someone who's honest, gets to the heart of the problem, and doesn't sugar-coat," says Marla Paul. She also won't tell you the swimsuit looks good when it doesn't, or that it's okay with her that you haven't called.

"My roommate, God love her, shovels me full of truth and never lets up," says Rebecca, 24, of Raleigh, North Carolina. "If it's something she thinks I don't want to hear, she'll just stay quiet -- and then I know what she's saying anyway. Damn!" That's the key with this friend, says Florence Isaacs, author of Toxic Friends/True Friends (Citadel, 2003): "Talk to her about what's on your mind only when you want to hear it."

The Feel-Good Friend. "We all need a cheerleader!" says Isaacs. But the feel-good friend may cheer for you even without being all smiles and pom-poms. "My spirits are lifted the moment I hear my friend Rachel's voice," says Paula, 36, of New York City. "She never belittles, or tries to make things about her, or says one of those dopey things like, 'You'll get over it, what you need is a fill-in-the-blank!' She really knows how much better people feel when someone just listens."

And the feel-good friend isn't there for you only when you feel bad. Says Isaacs: "It's essential to have a friend who can be truly happy for you when good things happen, too."

Continued on page 4:  Relationship TLC

 

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