By Ronnie Koenig
Want your life to be saner, more meaningful and more fun? Make sure these folks are in your inner circle.
The Gay Best Friend
This man (call him your "gay husband," "gay boyfriend," whatever) affirms your fabulousness, supports you in all your endeavors and helps you pick out the perfect outfit. He adds life and color to your universe and his male point-of-view offers a different perspective without the competition you might get from your female chatty Kathies. Nor do you have to worry about any best-friend-turned-lover conundrums that you see in rom-coms.
"The gay best friend gives a woman the freedom to be herself without fear that she will be hit on," says Dr. Karen Hylen, PhD, primary therapist at Summit Malibu Treatment Center. And every lady needs to let her hair down sometimes.
The Good Listener
This is who you call to hash out a problem. She'll stay on the phone with you for hours, exploring every angle of a situation (what exactly did he mean when he said that), offering reassurances and just listening when you need to vent.
"This type of friend is like a safety net," says Hylen. "She will catch all of the frustrations or worries that you need to vent about without letting it cause any damage to your other relationships." Just be mindful to give her a chance to talk, or she might end up feeling like you're getting free therapy!
When you're depressed, this friend makes you get your ass off the couch, put on your tightest jeans and highest heels and go out drinking with her. When you're bored, she'll suggest a wild adventure, whether it's a flying trapeze school or an impromptu road trip.
"Sometimes we need a friend who's able to get us moving when we're feeling down or unhappy -- someone who's light, fun and adventurous," says Irene S. Levine, psychologist, creator of TheFriendshipBlog.com and author of Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend. "It's easy to get in a rut and a friend can help us change our view of the world."
Life is just a little more fun and exciting with an Instigator egging you on!
We all need a friend we look up to and aspire to be more like. The Rockstar inspires you because she's either smart, beautiful, successful or all of the above. "From the time we are very young, our friends help shape the person we become," says Levine. "We get a sense of style from women we respect and admire, whether it's for their personality, achievements or looks."
Being around a Rockstar makes you feel more ambitious (if not a little competitive). She's the friend you look at and say, "I want to be more like her." A little friendly competition never hurt anyone. Especially if it keeps you aiming high.
The Speed-Dial Buddy
This is the friend you can call at 3 am from the side of the road -- even if you haven't spoken in months. It might be a college buddy, childhood friend or just somebody you've been through a lot with. You share a connection that makes each other more like family than just friends. While some friends add fun and glitter to your life, this is the person who will be there on those important occasions to celebrate with you -- and who will be standing there behind you when you face life's challenges.
"This is the friend you can truly count on," says Levine. "She cares about you and is willing to put everything aside if you really need her. She gives you the sense that you aren't alone and that someone is watching your back." This type of friend is rare so when you find her don't let her go!
The Kindred Spirit
Whether it's your best friend since third grade, a person you always thought of as a big sister or the cool aunt who took you to rock concerts, a Kindred Spirit is that one person that totally gets you. "These friendships are easy and effortless," says Levine. "The two of you just 'click.' This is the friend who loves you, warts and all." A Kindred Spirit appreciates you for exactly who you are and doesn't try to change you. You can look at her in any situation and share what you're thinking with just one glance! Everybody needs somebody who just gets her -- and who she trusts will never judge her.
A professor, a family friend or even a boss can be the Mentor who pushes you to go the extra mile in your career and in life. She makes you feel like you are capable of anything and will encourage you to try new things and take on new challenges (even when you're not sure).
"This person may see strengths in you that you aren't aware of," says Levine. "She may provide opportunities for networking and make you see the negative things that hold you back from achieving your career goals."
The Mentor is a crucial person in any woman's life no matter what kind of work she does. What girl couldn't use a cheerleader in her corner?
Whether it's a trusted babysitter, someone who's helped you look after a parent or other relative, or that friend who is always a pilar of strength, a Caregiver is invaluable. This is the person who has seen your most vulnerable sides!
"It's wonderful to have someone you can trust to help you with an aging parent or your child," says Levine. "She understands all the dynamics of your family and is there to step in when you need her."
If the Caregiver isn't a family member, you trust him or her like one. This is the person you know will take care of you when the world is crumbling around you.
Every girl (even those in long-term relationships) need that one person they can drool over -- whether it's a coworker, handman or movie star.
"The Crush allows a woman to use her imagination," says Hylen. It allows her to live out fantasies she can't otherwise share - whether it is because she is not in a real relationship or in a lackadaisical one. Because it's not real, feelings can't be hurt, there are no risks involved and there's certainly no shame. It's great!
In fact, the more the Crush inhabits your fantasy life the better. He's somebody you and your friends can gossip about and he adds an instant charge of excitement to the monotony of your day.
The Love of Your Life
He's seen you at your best and worst and after all of that he's still holding your hand. This boyfriend or husband can still make you laugh and even make you swoon from time to time. "This man encompasses all the qualities of each of the people listed above: he is the 'all in one,'" says Hylen. "He's your best friend, lover, fantasy, caretaker, safety net and foundation all in one." Whether he's taking you out to dinner or cleaning up baby poop you know he's "the one" and your life would not be complete without him.