Why old friends are the best of friends: 9 different types

Old Friends are the best of friends.

They’ve been there through thick and thin. They support us, and their friendship keeps us healthy—mentally, emotionally, and physically—over the course of a lifetime.

We know that our old friends matter. We know that they can be there for us like no other.

But how do our types of old friends influence us? Do our childhood friends impact us like our college friends?

And what can we do when we feel an old friend slipping away? How can we repair that relationship?

Let’s take a look at the nine types of old friends and why they matter.

I’ll then explain how to nurture your old friendships, and then make the case for cutting loose some of your toxic friendships.

Let’s take a look.

1) Childhood friends

old friends

Your childhood friends were the first friends you ever had.

You met them at kindergarten, as next-door neighbors, or your parents were friends with each other. You spent the most memorable times of your growing years with them.

And during your countless sleepovers, you solemnly promised that nothing can ever tear you apart.

If you’re lucky, they may still be a part of your life now.

But most often than not, that promise gets broken. You end up in different groups or suddenly you have nothing in common.

You might still see them in your hometown visits. But whether or not you still spend time with them, your friendship still is one of the most impactful on your development.

Even if they’re not your best friend now, you wouldn’t be yourself without their friendship.

Why they’re important:

According to research, preschool friendships are important in the development of social and emotional skills, which then contributes to our sense of belongingness that we carry well into adulthood.

Childhood friends are important because they are our first social connections. Our interactions with them affect how we behave socially for the rest of our lives.

Our childhood friendships are also our links back to our childhood selves. When we remember our childhood friends, we remember what it was like to be imaginative and innocent.

When you become an adult and move into parenthood, looking back on your childhood friendships helps you navigate the complexities of parenthood.

Maybe give that old friend a call, see how they’re holding up. It might be time to reintroduce that friendship into your life as you open the next chapter on your life.

2) High school friends

old friends

High school can be tough.

Bullies, overloaded schoolwork, the pressure to get into a good college. It’s insane!

But do you know what always makes it bearable?

High school best friends.

Your old friends from high school are like your war buddies. You survived the grueling four years of pressure together, and you came out all the better for it.

Some of the craziest, stupidest, and most magical memories of your life were made in high school. This was an era of awkwardness, intense crushes, and explosive emotions—all shared with your high school best friends.

Even now, their friendship is some of the most impactful in your life.

Why they’re important:

High school friendships help us build out our social network. These old friendships have a profound impact on how we handle relationships well into our golden years.

A 2017 study shows that the quality of your friendships in high school affects your mental health as you grow into young adulthood.

According to Rachel K. Narr, the study’s lead author:

“Forming strong close friendships is likely one of the most critical pieces of the teenage social experience. Being well-liked by a large group of people cannot take the place of forging deep, supportive friendships.

“And these experiences stay with us, over and above what happens later. As technology makes it increasingly easy to build a social network of superficial friends, focusing time and attention on cultivating close connections with a few individuals should be a priority.”

If your childhood friends helped shape your social behavior, high school friends affect your ability to connect. Your friendship with them taught you the benefits of being in a close group and just how crucial support is from someone outside of your family.

3) College friends

old friends

I don’t know about you, but college for me was an age of liberation.

Suddenly, I was away from everyone and everything I ever knew. The freedom was exhilarating. But the thought of being completely alone was terrifying.

I needed to find some people to help me navigate this Wild Wild West.

That’s how I developed my college friends. And, to this day, they’re still some of the strongest friendships I have.

Author and Dartmouth assistant sociology professor Janice McCabe estimates that a college student spends 15 hours a week in class and 86 hours with college friends.

It’s only normal that you share the most enlightening times of your life with them.

Why they’re important:

According to McCabe, college friends help in providing “academic and social support.”

Our college friends were the ones we shared the most enlightening and intellectual conversations with. We questioned our existence with them, we voiced out our doubts about the future.

And they’re the ones who comforted us while we were drunk and slumped at our dorm bathrooms.

If you’ve ever held a bucket for a friend while he throws up, or if you’ve had a friend hold your hair back while you retch into a toilet, you know how meaningful these young adult friendships can be.

College friends are critical because they support us as we discover how to live mature lives.

4) “Old” old friends

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Schools ensured that we were always placed in age groups. Everyone in class and almost everyone we interacted with was the same age as us.

However, there’s always that one friend who’s just a little older than us. They’re just a little closer to “figuring it all out.”

Perhaps they’re only two years older, or maybe five. Hell, they could be 15 years older than you or even more. Either way, these old friends have represented a “mentor” role at some point in your life.

They were someone cooler, more cultured, more worldly. Yet they never looked down on you. Instead, they guided you through the most painful moments with only a piece of kind advice or two.

Why they’re important:

Older life-long friends are important because they have a different perspective on life. They have the benefit of life-experience that we lack. And that perspective benefits us massively.

According to Mark Vernon, author of The Meaning of Friendship:

“Age-difference relationships are quite unlike that because you occupy different spheres of existence. But perhaps they’re all the more valuable for those polarities.

“Older people not only have the benefit of experience, they’re also less afraid of the opinions of others — so are more likely to say what they think. Their view often throws something unexpected into the mix.”

Older friends teach you valuable lessons. They often provide real friendships. But do you know what’s the greatest thing they teach?

They teach you that life is going to work out.


Because you’ve seen that they’ve gone through it. They’re proof that you can do this!

5) Old friends from work

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Not everyone at work is nice or someone you can click with. Politics and work culture often lead to awkwardness or even conflict.

However, you’re bound to meet one or two colleagues that just “get” youAnd if you spend the daily 9 to 5 grind with them, they’re likely in your life a lot.

Even when you change jobs or move away, you still talk or make time to meet each other. It’s a bond you simply can’t shake off.

They’re that old friend that helps you navigate the complexities of that work-life balance.

And they’re a critical component to you building your career.

Why they’re important:

A Gallup survey says that close relationships with workmates increase productivity and employee satisfaction by 50%. And that if you have a best friend at work, you’ll likely be 7 times more likely to be engaged with your job.

You’ll enjoy your work life more if you have good relationships with your colleagues.

More importantly, to a lot of us, our jobs are a “retreat” from our home life. This means that we usually let steam off with our workmates.

This means that our old friends at work are our “friends away from home.” They provide exitement and depth to our lives.

Working together under pressure can also create a bond filled with trust and loyalty. And those are two things we need in our lives.

6) The old “frenemy”

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Frenemies can add value to your life, even if it might not look like it.

It’s someone from high school or at work that you don’t necessarily like but still managed to be inside your social circle.

It’s a college buddy that you always hung out with, but couldn’t stand after each hangout.

It’s the old friend frenemy.

Your encounters with them may have bordered on toxicity. But that doesn’t mean you won’t learn anything from them.

On the contrary, frenemies you met from a long time ago—with the right mindset—can teach you a lot.

Why they’re important:

A little conflict and competitiveness don’t hurt anybody. In fact, they can be motivators.

Frenemies can push us to be more assertive. Even their offhanded rude comments can make us want to prove ourselves more.

Frenemies can make us more productive. Whenever your frenemy completes a new project, it makes you hustle to crank out one even better.

They also teach us the value of taking the high road. After all, you don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.

Either way, you don’t have to entertain their negativity in your life. But you can accept the lessons and motivation they unwittingly give you.

7) Family friends

old friends

They’re just not your friends, they’re friends with the whole family. In fact, they might as well be family.

You take vacations together. They’re always invited to family gatherings. And they know everything that’s going on within the family.

Family friends are special because they serve as an extension of your immediate family, yet they provide a different perspective of what’s going on. They don’t take sides, but they give insights that sometimes are hard to see within the real family dynamics.

And, just like your family, they’ve been there forever. They’re old friends because they go as far back as your family does.

You’re inseparable.

Why they’re important:

Not everyone is lucky enough to get close family friends—ones who are deeply engrained in your family history.

But if you are lucky enough to grow up with such people, you know how they add more flavor to the mix.

Family friends feel like they’re family, but they’re more your friends than anything else. You get some cool people in your life who don’t judge you and may even support some crazy decisions.

It’s just a lot of fun when they’re around.

8) The old friends you barely see or talk to

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…but when you do, it’s like no time has passed.

Sometimes, life gets away from us and we forget to catch up with the real people who matter.

But that’s the beauty of old friendships.

Old friends understand that life gets busy. They respect the fact that you have priorities. But when you do reach out to them, they appreciate it and it’s like you never stopped talking in the first place.

You don’t need to constantly talk to consider yourself good friends. The best friends in the world are those who can reconnect with you easily, even though many things have changed.

Why they’re important:

Old friends you barely see can often give you the biggest insight on exactly how much you’ve changed.

They’ve known you at a different point in your life. They can remind you just how much your life has progressed for the better, teaching you to be more grateful about where you are now.

But most importantly, for me, old friends remind you of who you were.

You see, we always change. We learn lessons along the way that can either make us bitter or stronger. And sometimes, a little reminding can push us in a better direction.

Old friends can see that. And they understand a part of you that you may have already forgotten. Sometimes, looking back to an old perspective can be beneficial to where you’re going next.

9) Old friends you want to reconnect with

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There’s no shame in losing old friends.

The fact that we lost in touch with someone who was once so dear to us may make us feel like we don’t deserve another chance with them.

But that’s not true.

Sure, you should take responsibility for losing them in your life, but don’t use that as an excuse that things are completely far from over.

Ask them to catch up for coffee. Give them a call. Chances are, they’d be willing to reconnect, too.

And if you manage to repair your old friendship, you’re in for a great treat. There’s nothing more fun and meaningful than getting to know an old friend you haven’t spent time with for a very long time.

Why they’re important:

I think it’s always a good idea to rekindle old friendships. Especially if the friendship was a high-quality one.

It teaches us not to fear rejection. Sometimes it works, and sometimes you realize you’re no longer the same people.

And that teaches us that it’s okay to change. That sometimes, people grow apart. But at least you tried.

If things go well, however, you can experience the wonder of rekindling a strong connection with someone who has evolved.

Why are old friendships so powerful?

Old friendships are irreplaceable. They have lasting impacts throughout our lives.

Here’s how our old friends help us develop from birth through our golden years.

Old friends play into our nostalgia

Old friends key into our “remember back when” memories. When you reminisce with your old friends, you both resurface powerful memories which causes a strong feeling of connection and happiness.

Old friends are honest

Because you’ve known your old friends for so long, they have the uncanny ability to call a spade a spade.

They let you know if your new flame is no good for you.

They let you know if that job opportunity is too good to pass up.

They let you know when you’re lying to yourself.

This unique ability of old friends to be bluntly honest with you allows you to get the critical information you need. At the end of the day, their honesty is what makes you trust them more than anyone else.

They’re like family

Old friends are practically family, but they’re not literally family.

This difference is crucial.

They offer the strength, relaxation, and trust of family, without any of the obnoxious pressure that comes along with family.

They offer the plusses of family bonds without the negatives. This is why it’s crucial to keep these old friendships up.

They know what cheers you up

Old friends don’t need to do much guessing. If you’re in a funk, they know how to cheer you up. They’ve known you for so long that they are able to boost your emotions in response to your specific circumstances.

Didn’t get that promotion? They know you need a round of golf.

Boyfriend broke up with you? They’re over with two bottles of wine and a copy of Bridget Jones’s Diary.

They get your family

They’ve been around so long that they’ve seen how your family works.

This means they know what makes your family tick. They also know what family members cause you stress.

Because they know this, they can mesh with your family’s style with relative ease. Plus, they can be a good sounding board when you need to vent about how your mom keeps asking about future grandkids.

They know who you are

You don’t need to pretend to be someone else around your old friends. They know and accept who you are.

Likewise, they don’t need to have to put on a show to impress you. You want to be around them because you like them.

This acceptance is a powerful connection that allows you to destress and relax into yourself.

Cherish this.

Picture of Genefe Navilon

Genefe Navilon

Genefe Navilon is a writer, poet, and blogger. She graduated with a degree in Mass Communications at the University of San Jose Recoletos. Her poetry blog, Letters To The Sea, currently has 18,000 followers. Her work has been published in different websites and poetry book anthologies. She divides her time between traveling, writing, and working on her debut poetry book.

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