Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

The 4 Kinds of Friends You Need In Your Life

You hear about peer pressure when you are the sixth grade, but no one talks about it once you’ve graduated from college, have a job, and especially once you’re mature enough to find a mate and make babies.

But the kind of folks you hang with influence you more than you think.

Peer pressure never goes away.

Multiple studies show that human beings unconsciously and consciously mimic the behaviors of those around them. Folks hanging out with optimists become optimists themselves. Women who cheat on their husbands dally with other cheaters. 


In his insightful book, “Bounce: Living the Resilient Life,” psychology professor Robert Wicks recommends that we invite into our circle of friends four types of people: the prophet, the cheerleader, the harasser, and guides. By including these different voices and friends into our life, he argues, we can become more resilient to life’s blows.

1. The Prophet

The prophet is the type of person that calls us on any misguided attempts at something, makes us accountable for our behavior, and prompts us to be honest, even when that is not easy. The prophet challenges us, and can be a royal pain at times, but ultimately helps us to find freedom. Says Wicks, “Prophets point! They point to the fact that it doesn’t matter whether pleasure or pain is involved, the only thing that matters is that we seek to see and live ‘the truth’ because only it will set us free.”


2. The Cheerleader

To balance out the provocation and questioning of a prophet, a person also must have a few cheerleader friends: folks who offer unconditional love, support, and acceptance. Wicks says we need the encouragement of the cheerleader as much as the criticism and feedback of the prophet because “burnout is always around the corner when we don’t have people who are ready to encourage us, see our gifts clearly, and be there for us when our involvement with people, their sometimes unrealistic demands, and our own crazy expectations for ourselves threaten to pull us down.”

3. The Harasser

After we’ve been criticized and loved, we need to laugh. That’s why we need harassers, the third kind of friend, who helps us to see the humor in life’s frustrations and calamities. They help us to mock our unrealistic expectations, of ourselves and of others. Says Wicks, “This type of friend helps us regain and maintain perspective.”


4. Guides

And finally, we need guides. Listeners. People who will, according to Wicks, “search and look for nuances in what we share with them to help us to uncover some of the ‘voices’ that are unconsciously guiding our lives, especially the ones that make us hesitant, anxious, fearful, and willful.”

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  • sid

    Cooool Post !

  • sid
  • Judy H. Wright aka Auntie Artichoke, the storytelling trainer

    hello from Montana:
    excellent post. Thank you for sharing the ideas and concepts.
    Judy H. Wright,

  • Barrie

    I wonder if these are appropriate, helpful guidelines for what makes a good therapist, as well.

  • Mark A. Broughton

    Cool things to know…

  • Amy

    I agree with this, everyone needs these kind of people around them

  • Tyra

    This article was really good and hopeful. Thank you.

  • rick

    Thank you for this article. It was very good and very instructive.

  • Mary

    Thank’s I have a coworker that is a harraser……while I’m working,the article is helpful.

  • Cheri

    Thank you for helping us to gain perspective. It helps me to understand why the Lord has blessed me with some of the friends and family I have in my life. Also, where I need to take greater heed to keep greater balance every day.

  • Cookie

    WOW..this is soooo very true..and I realize after loosing the ones I have just lost my “circle” is not complete, so THAT must be why I haven’t been able to get a grip so to speak..but I get it now…wow..

  • Amy H

    I had a “friend” who posed as all four, but I gradually learned that he was an imposter and used fear, obligation and guilt (FOG) to manipulate me and others to fulfill his personal needs. He has since dumped me and I am learning to find true friends. I now have a Prophet, a Cheerleader, a Harasser and a Guide. They each fulfill a need in my life and I am much happier and more in tune with Life. It wasn’t easy to get this point. I was able to overcome the damage done by the Imposter through meditation, prayer and my rock- my Faith.
    Thank you for sharing your journey!

  • kaylor calhoun

    Very good thing to because i feel this way.

  • bev

    I just found your site and would like to read more. The articles are interesting and valuable.

  • Your Name

    I compeltely 100% disagree. I don’t need any of these people in my life because all through my 41 years, all of these people have me made completely misreable. The Prophet is the person who thinks he/she knows everything & thinks they know what’s best for you when they don’t. They go around saying: “Look at me, I know everything, I’m so perfect.” When in truth they aren’t.
    The Cheerleader is not someone who is there to movtivate you or see all of your good qualities. They are just jealous phonies who keep that plastic phony smile on their faces who always stab you in your back in front of your face.
    The Harasser is also the jealous type. They criticize as well as complain about you and everything you do because they themselves are miserable and continue to tell you so all day long every single day staying in that miserable. IF you are happy around them, not stressed or complain, they turn that all against you all the time making you miserable as well which, makes them happy.
    Last but not least, the guides. More people who have an extremely bad habit of telling you what you need to do with your life, how to dress, how to act, what to wear, how to talk, walk, anything and everything you do they have to comment about. These are the types who feel they are extremely superior to you and are your mother, father or grandparent when you already have those. No one needs to hear others opinions about what you do or who you are as a person. They need to keep their big mouths shut.
    So much, for this so – called expert. He really needs to get a clue.

  • Interested Reader

    I read this with interest, as I am very withdrawn right now….I suppose if I was more of an optimist, thngs would look brighter, however, I am not. It is partly genetic and partly circumstances. Hopefully things will improve soon.

  • Linda M

    I would like to tell “your name” how sorry I am that she has had all those bad experiences with people. I hope she will find the kind of friends and spiritual life that make her feel fulfilled and loved. I have been a survivor of incest, rape, and spousal abuse in my lifetime and I know I couldn’t have made it without those four kinds of friends in my life. There is so much love in this world if we just open up our hearts and minds. “Your name” I love you warts and all. Mostly though, always remember God loves you and always will.

  • Deeva

    I am in agreement with Your Name. Life is not about a Phophet, Cheerleader, Harasser or a Guide. If you know Jesus Christ and have accepted Him as your personal Lord and Savior.
    That’s enough in itself. He is all the above those things and will be all the things in your life; especailly a Guide. He is the Phophet amongst all Prophet’s and does not Harass. He’s the best Cheerleader you can ask for because He rewards us and leads us on the right path. Hey! Nice article, but needs to be re-thought.
    Take Care all
    And for Your Name!!! God Bless you and the rest

  • Joanne

    well let’s not get too hasty to dismiss these important 4 groups of friends. However, I’m leaning towards ‘your name’s comments as the most important person in dealing with my depression would be simply : myself.
    No one but myself can get me free from depression. I did learn a few tricks from this so called depression ‘specialist’ named Dan Micheals which seems authentic enough, but I really couldn’t care less. It was his specific ‘depression free method’ that was quite liberating for me and opened my eyes. So I’ve definitely come to the conclusion. Help yourself by simply helping yourself! Keep up the good fight people!

  • Pat

    “Your name” seems to be filled with anger. Unfortunately, there are some people who do abuse their positions and who,in fact, act as “your name” indicates. However, there are so many more good, honest, supportive people who can, and do, reach out to others in the best spirit of compassion and love. I hope that you, “your name” find some people like this to make the next 41 years of your life happier and more joyful. It sounds like you need them in spite of what you are saying.

  • Your Name

    Just say no evil,think no evil,do no evil….when we can.

  • nancy

    Jesus is the ultimate friend. He will place all the right people in you life if you ask,but most of all LISTEN!!!

  • Social Worker Kristi

    I have been a Social Worker for twenty years. I finally settled in
    a small 65 bed nursing home. I am doing both admissions and Social Work, but because its a small town, and family-owned, its perfect.
    I took less money and no health benefits (am on my Husbands)
    Then comes the Director of Nursing. At first , she was all smiles and laughter. Now , not only is she rude to Nursing, but I am in
    particular, her target. She is constantly rolling her eyes at me in meetings, checking my work, and giving me more work to do (most of this being nursing work). I have held strong, but recently, she accused me of not completing a task in morning meeting(in front of my peers). I excused myself, went to get the work, came back and showed her that indeed, it was completed, that I copy EVERYthing I do.
    She then told me to “Back the hell off her”. When I informed her that she was not my supervisor, and she is not to speak to me in that manner, she replied (to my back, as I was going to my boss) she screamed “Iknow the kind of person you are, you just don’t want to do
    your job.” Five of my peers have reported her rude behavior to the owner and operator of the Nursing home. When I reported the particular incident to him, he seemed to doubt my creditabliltiy.
    I have spent twenty years building my resume and career. I have made many contacts, and have a good name in the community. It is sad that one person can impact another in a negative manner. I continue praying day and night for her to find happiness. My vacation is due in January, and if things don’t get better, I am considering taking a whole new direction in my Social Work career. Life is hard enough without having someone else trying to make it harder. At this point, we barely speak, and only do when necessary (which is frequent, since both jobs play important roles in the nursing home. Any advice out there? I just want to be happy, I am 45 , married again, and just want to live out my life happily.

  • Stephanie

    I think that if we’re all reading the daily devotions, insights, and articles in the Christianity section of Beliefnet, we are pretty much clear that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are the ultimate and are at the forefront of our thoughts. However, clearly we were not put here alone and given that we will develop friendships. We do not live in cocoons and must learn to live in the world as it is as Christians. It seems to me that all the article was trying to point out is that different friends serve different positions in our lives. What can be more true than that!

  • Beky

    Sweetheart looks like she is competive of you. Also the issue seems to be eating her alive. So hold your head up! Do what you are enjoying doing.
    You sound like a person of interigy.
    I believe we have new mercy for each day. Forgive her.
    I’m sorry she has gotten to you.
    Tomorrow is a new day enjoy it! Sometimes, People are affended because we are happy!

  • Neni

    Yes, very enlightend!

  • Christina

    Your inner strength is there for you and it will be there when you really need it. I hope you will continue doing what you love.
    Unfortunately there are bitter, mean people everywhere. Hang in there and I know the situation will improve. Remember all that’s wonderful about you and detach from this critical sad person..

  • Denise

    Sometimes when we face adversities in life, we tend to think it’s someone else pulling us down.However, it may be this individual was placed before you, not for the obvious reasons, but… you may need to work on something within yourself. Do you need patience or more understanding,compassion,less criticism? Only you can answer these questions.Years ago I was sick for months.I never did a “oh woe is me”. I prayed wondering why I needed to endure this situation and what was leading me to the future that I had to be so strong within my soul about.Within a year I had 15 people die,one including my mother.It was indeed traumatic.I hope you find the answers you seek,just look at this woman as a question to something in your life YOU need to answer and not the thorn she appears to be.

  • Hannah

    Okay, four different kinds of friends…so what are we? We have the Prophet, the Cheerleader, the Harasser, and the Guide- so what are we? The Follower?

  • me

    To Social Worker:
    The best thing you can do is to ignore her. Don´t even look at her.
    She wants to make your life misserable and you can´t allow her to do that. In the moment she relaizes that you don´t give a dam of what she does or doesn´t do; says or doesn´t say. The game is over because she isn´t getting what she wants.
    Good luck!

  • Mneiae

    I definitely like this post. I read it the first time when it was posted, but I realize now that it’s completely true. In middle school, I had 3 best friends. They were the first 3 types and I was the 4th. Funny how that works out, right? I’ve lost touch with most of them, but I think that it’s very important to have supportive friends.

  • Your Name

    A good supportive network of social friends and family is very important. It is my observation that some of those four categories listed can also share same qualities. FOr example the prophet can also be a cheerleader who also loves you unconditionally, while holding you accountable. the two need not be mutually exclusive. Also I’ve observed the negativity of the term harasser…rather than that i’ve seen the same qualities in those I would term…comedians…they help you see the lighter side of life and keep things in perspective with humor. Guides i would not want…those qualities again can be found in mentors or prophets…and I’m thankful that have both.

  • Your Name

    This is the first time i been here on this site and first time i ever wrote a comment to post it.I would like to tell you women that did write on here,its great to see how great you women are.Every one one you had great advice WOW.Ive been captive of a husband and kids and house etc etc you guys know what i mean, well through 15 years of it ive lost me and i got on here read you guys comments and it blew me away im blessed to have read every one your comments .Truely lovely people may god bless every one of you thank you so much.

  • caterine101

    The harasser is definitely the cherry-on-top in my circle of friends. And it’s true that he puts things back to perspective which I easily shatter by depression. He could joke about my complicated relationships and I would never feel judged or mocked about it. As with the Prophet, she can be way toooooo honest, like do you really have to tell you friend it was a bad thing to dump someone you don’t like at all? Friendship can be messy too.

  • Scott Volltrauer

    Excellent article.
    I would rename and divide the Guide.
    I would offer the value of the Counselor and the Mentor.
    We need the Counselor who listen. “People who will, according to Wicks, “search and look for nuances in what we share with them to help us to uncover some of the ‘voices’ that are unconsciously guiding our lives, especially the ones that make us hesitant, anxious, fearful, and willful.”
    We also need the Mentor to explain and instruct, to be our role model; to be the kind of person we would like to become.

  • http://dddd ednelia

    sou o tipo deamigo numero 4……gosto de ouvir, nao sou demuitas falas, gosto de sorrir muito soassim medistraio e perco um pouco da minha timidez…

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment akimler12

    I found this blog trying to find something to back up my beliefs. I am almost 40 and I have the most truely amazing best friend, but I also have at least 6-7 other people I consider true friends. They are male and female, which apparently is not ok. I am a bartender, and grew up in the area I live in. I didn’t have a close family so my friends were how I survived. I have had horrible things happen to me, and instead of looking at all the ugliness in the world I

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment akimler12

    I do everything I can do to see the beauty. I have lost a new light in my life because of the ugliness he has seen, and won’t or can’t believe I can just be friends with men around me.There are decent people left, and I wish more would speak out.

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