Australian life coach, Bella Zanesco, and author of Smart Girls Screw Up Too, has a theory.
Not only is it something she’s observed in her own life, and in the lives of her clients, but Zanesco’s idea also echoes the work of anthropologist Robin Dunbar.
Dunbar famously postulated that one can maintain 150 relationships; that’s family, friends and acquaintances. But in terms of close friends, the ones you call in the midst of a crisis, Dunbar said the circle becomes much smaller.
Zanesco says that number is six. Exactly six.
And they each serve a different purpose.
Speaking to The Pool, Zanesco said, “Each of these people nurtures a different part of you, and you nurture a different part of each of your friends. It’s like this beautiful cycle.”
Here are the six people you need.
1. The Catalyst
This person is an agent of change. They challenge you to transform and take risks, welcoming new opportunities.
They’re the person who knows when you need a new job before you do. Or who intervenes when your relationship is a disaster.
2. The Player
The primary role of this friend is to ensure you never become boring. They bring out the child within you.
They’re the person who makes you laugh when you need it most, and forces you to leave the house and venture beyond your comfort zone.
3. The Nurturer
This friend is overflowing with compassion. They’re gentle, patient and reliable, and always one of the first people there when everything falls apart.
They’re the person you go to to cry, and they listen with an air of understanding, rather than bombarding you with advice.
4. The Inspirer
This is the friend who leaves you feeling inspired and energised every time you see them. Your conversations operate on a higher level.
This is the person you go to who stimulates your creativity and makes you think deeply about the world and your place within it.
5. The Challenger
This person challenges you (respectfully) and always leaves you thinking about things a little differently.
They’re the person you have the most interesting discussions with and leave having changed each other’s minds.
6. The Lover
This person just loves you no matter how badly you’ve messed up. They’ve known you for years and years.
They’re the friend you go to for reassurance and companionship.
Speaking to The Pool, Zanesco suggested that people ask themselves: “Do I feel nurtured or challenged or inspired?”
If not, then you might have to reassess the people you surround yourself with.
Of course, the other question you might want to ask yourself is what sort of friendship you offer and in what ways you’re having a positive impact on the lives of those around you.
In fact, that’s probably the best place to start.