Mollie West Duffy and Liz Fosslien, the authors of “Big Feelings: How to Be Okay When Things Are Not Okay,” have created a typology of workplace friends. There’s the confidant, who can be entrusted with any secret; there’s the inspiration, also known as a platonic work crush; there’s the frenemy, who can stir up competitive feelings but also push for your success. (The authors’ own relationship, born of a mutual friend, was deepened when they realized how much they enjoyed writing and illustrating together.)What holds true across all these types is the growth that a work friend can support. High school and college friends see each other through parties, family feuds, crushes and coming-of-age. But work friends see each other through the world of ideas. And they can be easier to find early in a career.“The ties you make in your 20s tend to withstand the life changes that happen in your 30s,” Ms. West Duffy said.
It would be interesting to know if the friends that a chemist makes in late undergrad and graduate school are of more lasting stuff than those formed later in life. I definitely have and have had work friends, and they are pretty wonderful relationships. If you have one, send them a note of appreciation today.