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The Three Types of Relationships You Have in Your Life

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briana hansen 5 lowMy grandpa was a quiet cowboy. Years ago, he was outside standing by a tree relaxing when my dad went out to talk to his father-in-law. He asked my grandpa why he wasn’t inside with the rest of the (loud and often obnoxious) family. My grandpa looked at him then quietly said in an elongated Oklahoma drawl, “I’m particular about my company.”

I, too, am particular about my company.

I think there are three basic types of relationships we can have in this world. And I think if you recognize them, you can start evaluating your relationships based on your own particular wants and needs. Then you can decide if it’s a relationship that serves you.

I believe even the most hard-working people can become lazy about evaluating the relationships in their life. They don’t realize what a personal and emotional toll different people can have on their own perspective.

If you spend time self-evaluating, you need to fairly evaluate the emotional energy you put into those around you. And in order to do that accurately, you need to evaluate the people you decide to keep around you.

1. People who Tear You Down

These are the people who can never seem to be happy for you. No matter what you accomplish, they change the conversation to be about them. They hide their own insecurities through either bragging about their own projects or nitpicking you about yours.

For example, I have a friend who just lost a significant amount of weight. She was already in good shape, but she worked her butt off for three months, dieted like crazy, was extremely strict and discipline and she got her body into fitness-model shape. She looked awesome and she earned every bit of positive attention and feedback she got. But her “best friend”made comments to her about how she needs to be careful because guys don’t find girls that are too skinny attractive. She told my friend that she was getting too skinny and she was worried about her. This “best friend” then proceeded to tear her down by bragging about all the attention she was getting,  And it hurt my friend’s feelings

Because that was this girl’s intention. She’s not a bad person. But she is a person who will tear you down. And it’s a toxic relationship.

My mom used to always tell me about how if you put a bunch of lobsters in a bucket, you don’t need to put a net on the top of the bucket because the second one lobster starts to figure out he can just crawl to freedom, the others will pull him back down. These are the other lobsters. Use your little lobster claws and get the heck outta that bucket.

2. People who Are Just There

Sometimes, you meet people who are only in your life as neutral, convenient buddies. And that is a-ok. You need a friend to go to an event with, they’re in! You guys have a lot of mutual friends. You have a lot in common at this particular phase in your life. You enjoy each other’s company but maybe don’t go out of your way to hang out all the time. You can help each other on a specific idea or project then you both move along. Nothing wrong with that.

I work on a ton of projects. I like to help people when I can with theirs. Some of the best interactions I’ve had with people in my life have come from simply being available to them at a particular point along in their journey, and having no expectation of needing or wanting anything beyond that.

3. People who Build You Up

These are the gems. These are the relationships you want to keep, nurture and let flourish. These are the people who are worth your time. They’re the friends who you practice lines with even if they’re going out for the same role. They’re the friends who call you in excitement when you accomplish something major. They’re the friends who don’t always understand what you’re doing, but they still support you unconditionally. They’re excited about how busy you are accomplishing your goals and don’t make you feel guilty in any way for transforming and growing as a person.

I don’t often brag about my accomplishments. I’m midwestern. That goes against our nature. It feels weird. I’m only recently learning to admit that I’ve studied and worked hard for a long time to get to this level in my own career. But my best friends are always excitedly talking about some project I’m working on. And I get really excited about their accomplishments. So I talk about them. Easily and naturally. And it makes me feel better to be around such awesome and talented people. And they make me feel great about my own talents and accomplishments.

And everybody wins!

These are the people who bring out the best in you. You want them to be happy, healthy and successful. Because they bring out the best in you, too.

Cherish these people. They’re worth it. They’re the relationships that make all the struggles worthwhile. They’re the people who are there for you in your lowest times and will be the most excited to celebrated your highest accomplishments. If you have a handful relationships like this in your life, you’re a lucky, lucky person.

This is an over-simplification, of course. I agree. People aren’t categories and feelings are complicated. And the same person can vary between categories depending on day or mood or whatever…but I think if you read this honestly, you’ll know in your heart what type of relationship it really is. And from there, you can decide if it serves you and how much energy you want to put into it.

I proudly remain particular about my company.

Briana Hansen

About Briana Hansen

Briana Hansen is an enthusiastic actress, writer, and comedian originally from the midwest who now lives in Los Angeles and loves every moment of it. She trained in improvisation and sketch comedy for years in Chicago and continues to perform and study it in LA. She creates a constantly evolving comedic solo show “Femoir” which has been produced at major comedy theaters and festivals all over the nation for several years. She continues to produce it in bi-monthly in podcast form and onstage periodically. She performs sketch comedy regularly at The Second City with TMI Hollywood and does stand up gigs at major (and minor) venues throughout the city. Her first novel, “Cartoon Confessions,” will be published in spring 2014. She is currently producing and starring in a comedic web series she wrote called “The Other Client List.” She is a major sunscreen advocate.