• Keeping Friends

Guest Post: Friendship Bucket Fillers and Bucket Drainers

Published: July 1, 2010 | Last Updated: December 7, 2022 By | 2 Replies Continue Reading

I alway say how happy I am to be part of a writer/blogger community: Polly is one of the reasons. Thanks, Polly, for allowing me to cross-post your lovely essay about finding the keepers!


By Polly Campbell

Just got off the phone with a good friend. We compared notes about writing assignments, commiserated about book sales, talked about her dogs and my kid and even lamented that the weather in Charlotte is too hot. The forecast where I am too cold.

That’s all. We didn’t figure out how to stop oil from spilling into the Gulf. Nor did we solve the world’s hunger crisis. I didn’t even come up with an article idea or a sure-fire way to sell my book.

But, when I got off the phone with her, I felt good. Balanced. Connected. Healthy. Happy. All that from an hour-long phone call.

Why friendships matter

The Big-Wigs have long studied the power of friendship. Social connections ward off depression, boost our immune systems and foster our feelings of well-being.

I am not a scientist, but in my personal research – the occasional phone call from my friend Jodi, or a beer with Sherri or a note from Lewis – literally changes my physiology. I feel warmer inside in that little space right around my heart. I feel inspired. More creative.

Friends also buffer you against the bad. They encourage you, push you forward, problem solve, support. They tell you the truth. Sometimes they slant the truth just a teeny, tiny bit to make you feel better. Friends hold the compass to your spirit. They point you in the direction of your best self.

Like Jodi says, and her friend before, some friendships fill up your bucket, others drain it. At one time or another every friend is going to be a bucket drainer. The keepers are the ones who fill it up just as often.

I’ve got a bunch of bucket fillers in my life. I cherish them. When everything else is falling apart, these are the people who help me tape it all back together. I hope I do the same for them.

But if your life is filled with bucket drainers, or you find you’ve become the primary drain yourself, it’s time to cultivate some new, more positive and supportive relationships.

Flexing friendships

Friendships will naturally flex and shift, says Irene S. Levine, author of Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend, and an expert on these things. The average friendships last about seven years. And often friendships need room to grow and change and end. It’s healthy and normal for some relationships to end and to form new friendships.

It takes time and patience, Levine says. But friendships often form out of your own interests. When you’re taking a class on a topic your passionate about, or working out you’re likely to meet people who have shared interests. Be open to the possibility. Be accessible. Take an interest. Let the friendship develop. Perhaps, it will turn into something lasting – or not.

Yet, even those casual connections have value. They remind us that we are not alone in this world. We are all connected and ultimately, that’s good for everyone.

What are your experiences with bucket fillers and bucket drainers and how do you tell the difference?

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Comments (2)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    sometimes you need a change and need new friends so there is the http://www.thesistercirclesite.com/

  2. Jane Boursaw says:

    Excellent essay, Polly.

    It reminds us of the power of friendships, and also that not everything we do has to have a “purpose” in our master plan. It’s ok to just talk with a friend about whatever’s going on in our lives. It’s therapeutic and relaxing in a world of, let’s face it, chaos and uncertainty.

    I think I’ll go call a friend right now. 🙂


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