6 Ways Having Multiple Friend Groups Makes You A Well-Rounded Person

by Mary Rebecca Harakas

My first real exposure to cliques came through the movie, “Mean Girls.”

I was in high school, a small school compared to others in the county, and I never really paid attention to cliques, though they existed.

“Mean Girls” has your stereotypical cliques like the jocks and burnouts, preppy cheerleaders and so on, but my school consisted of cliques based on a multitude of parameters: from dad’s paycheck to common interests in sports and hobbies.

You were bound to find a clique you belonged in.

Jump forward to college and “clique” becomes a sports team or sorority, which comes with its own stereotypes: Athletes aren’t smart, and sorority girls like to party.

We’ve made significant progress in breaking these stereotypes; everything from news coverage of the NCAA to famous celebrities who were active members of a Greek chapter, are making strides in breaking these stereotypes.

As we grow up, our clique becomes our friend group, but I often find the clique becomes the comfort zone, and the thirst to network, meet others and explore new things dies, especially after college.

How so? Our careers take over; we have boyfriends and only hang out with “couple friends.”

We have work friends who, at last minute, want to do happy hour, and it's more convenient to jump at a last-minute invitation than it is to plan in advance.

And, then, the worst happens: We’re stuck in a rut, an endless hamster wheel of work, work friends and that’s it.

The summer is a happy season, no doubt, and I encourage you to take advantage of this time that forces people to go out and explore. But don’t go with your usual group; expand your social circle and have multiple groups of friends.

From work friends to church friends, sorority sisters, tennis partners, club members and so on, it’s important to have different groups of friends for several reasons.

But, overall, it helps you to have a more fulfilling life. Here are a few ways having multiple groups of friends can do this:

1. The conversation never dies.

On first dates, you can run into a blah guy who can carry on blah conversation, or no conversation at all.

With multiple friend groups, there's always something new and exciting to discuss, whether it's in their own personal lives, or whatever is going on in the world.

2. Studies prove that meeting friends through friends leads to the most solid relationships.

In the past few years, I've had several friends get married, and most of them admit they met their spouse through friends.

Even in just a friendship, count how many times you've made a good friend by meeting through an existing friend. Think of it like a product review: You're more likely to purchase a product that has a good review or if a friend recommended it to you.

If she recommends getting to know a person because you both are alike, would get along, etc., then trust her judgment.

3. It’s the quickest way to explore your world and your own backyard.

I'm all about traveling the world. Overseas, up and down the east coast, I will go anywhere.

Most of the time, your friends are up for traveling, too. With different friend groups, some may be more interested in seeing Europe, while others might be more interested in exploring California or South America.

Wherever you want to visit, there is at least one friend who would be interested.

Besides seeing the world, different friends help you to explore your own town.

After I moved to a new city and met new friends, weekend beer festivals, outdoor concerts and hidden gems like a hole-in-the-wall BBQ joint became part of the weekend itinerary -- without even living the city limits.

4. You’ll always have a shoulder to lean on and an ear that will listen.

We all have those friends who are more understanding, more empathetic and more able to relate to than others. There are some friends you can discuss any boy issue with, and others who are best for giving career advice.

Regardless who you relate to, there's always someone who will understand, listen and will help.

How can humanity exist if friendships aren't built on the foundation of relating to, helping and strengthening each other?

5. You won’t identify yourself with just one attribute.

To work friends, you're a coworker. To your sorority sisters, you were social chair. To your church, you're the youth director. In any organization, you're labeled as something, but we all wear different hats.

With different friend groups, you're able to mesh these attributes together.

If you're part of different friend groups and organizations, you're a tennis-playing, church-going, sorority sister and coworker, or another set of adjectives strung together.

6. You’re encouraged to be the person you want to be, not the person you are.

Different friend groups provide friendly, positive competition -- both professionally and personally.

When we see our colleagues succeed, we also want to create our own success, whether it's a promotion, new job opportunity, traveling to a new place or simply joining a new community organization.

Humans thrive on newness, instant gratification and adrenaline, and by using our friend groups as role models, there's always a new, gratifying and exciting facet we want to add to our lives, making us a step closer to the person we want to become.