How many friends do you have? 1 or 2 Maybe you have quite a few. Now think back to when you were a kid. Now, how many friends do you have? From when you were a little kid till now think of all the friends you have had. Many have come a left leaving without a trace while others linger in your mind decades later. You often find yourself wondering what happened to them. Now Thanks to modern technology you can often find many of your childhood friends and reestablish old bonds. Sadly today 20% of millennials claim they don’t have any close relationships.
Friends are amazing they make you laugh when you are down. They listen when you need an ear. They talk you into doing things you wish you hadn’t done at that moment but later you are glad you did it. We as humans need friends. We need people who push us into different points of view. They let us know that we are not as alone as we think. Without friends, we don’t have inside jokes, pranks or and the gentle ribbing that allows men to feel connected to each other.
Friends and friendship are what I want to talk about today. Why do we need them how to find them, why they go away, and how to keep the ones we really need. Most importantly how do you find new ones?
Why do we need them
Most of the reasons are stated in the opening paragraphs. Friends are those people who we have tight emotional bonds with. These are people who have gone through thick and thin with you. Many times the best friends are those who have been by your side no matter what and have often worked to make sure you are smiling through the worst of it. Interestingly, that isn’t even the half of it. Friends also provide other benefits.
- Extend life expectancy – Thanks to several studies that show that having close personal friend helps you live longer. There are thoughts as to why but the reasons are still buried. The fact that people with close friends live longer than those who live alone shows that if you want to live long you need to have your pal with you.
- Lower chances of heart disease – may be having a friend that lowers your chances of heart disease is why you might be able to live longer? Is it possible? Apparently so.
- Encouragement and Support – Your friends are the biggest cheerleaders you will ever have. They stand by us and motivate us to get that objective done. We will get it completed even if they carry us to the finish line while we are kicking and screaming to be put down.
- Self-Esteem – This goes with the encouraging and esteem, the effect that they have on us makes us feel better about ourselves and what we can actually accomplish.
- Making sure you are on your toes – with the practical jokes and doing stuff that challenges us. Our friends keep us on our toes. They make sure to push you out of your comfort zone
Why we have so few friends
When we were little and in primary school, making friends was basically walking up to somebody and asking, “Will you be my friend?” Their answer, 90% of the time, was sure. As you grew up the whole friend dynamic shifted a bit. Now instead of having a classroom full of friends, we have 1 or 2 good friends and a couple of work acquaintances. Then if you have a good marriage then your wife is your best friend. Other than that, there is not really all that many friends?
How did that happen? It seems like this is the only skill that we lose with age. When you’re young you have no fears of rejection. So we are experts in the friend-making realm. We know no stranger yet as we grow up our number of friends shrink more and more. I truly wonder why. My thoughts as to why are like this. When we are young what is our main objective? That objective is to go see our friends. We love school because one we like learning and two all of our friends are there. Our concerns are centered on our friends. We would spend time with them. We would engage with each of our friends more with our best friends but all of our friends would get some of our attention.
As we get older school work first gets in the way then other responsibilities come about till we graduate High school and move to a completely different city. Yet still making friends in College is still pretty easy. Many think that this is because of us being in such close proximity of each other. You have to have a Dormie and then there are the people you interact with on a regular basis. These people you see every day allows for you to open up and become a bit more vulnerable to them, eventually developing an often lifelong friendship. This happens in military branches too. You often have a friend or two that come out of the whole military experience. These bonds are tight and often never let up. You best friend in the army is the guy you call when you have had trouble. He was right there with you when things got real. He understands you better than most other people.
Even work can have much of the same effect you have someone who is a coworker they are always wanting us to go do stuff. Yet now there is one thing that has changed. You don’t have to unless you want to
So how do we make friends? It should be easy right? No not so much for whatever reason we often don’t want to apply the energy and time needed to make a good friend or two. The excuse of we are too busy or not enough time in the day. We meet new people and we some good effort into it the first couple of months and then we slow down. So how are you supposed to make friends if it takes so much work? Well with anything worth doing in life it takes effort.
Friendships are often mischaracterized as being these relationships that just happen naturally. Yes to a point they can naturally form but they don’t stay together unless we apply at least a little effort. Friendships are only as good as the effort that both people is put into it. So now that we know the important stuff about making friends let’s look at what type of friend you want
Type of friend you would like to have.
There is a couple of saying I love to use when it comes to friends. I use to share them with my kids as they were growing up because there is so much truth in them. The first one is
Show me your friends and I will show you your future.
The other one is an offshoot of the famous Jim Rhon quote,
You are the average of the five people you spend the most intentional time withJin Rhon
If you are wanting to be able to live the life you desire. You have to have the right friends. Often we find people who great folks but when it comes to our plans they can and often will hold us back. If they don’t hold us back they will eventually fade away. That is because neither of you is on the same wavelength anymore. We will talk more about that a couple of sections down. The point is that you want to be intentional with who your friends are going to be.
So find a person who closely resembles where you want to be in life. Then do the hardest thing you will ever do. Talk to them. Yeah, I just gave 90% of you reading this some heavy anxiety. Yet, the answer is still the same. Go talk to that person. Make it as easy and light as you can. Don’t try to make them your best friend right off the bat. Yet start talking. Don’t worry about if they don’t say anything at first. Start off with just a light conversation and then keep presenting yourself to them.
Eventually, you will be able to start having some semi ling conversations. Ask them if they would like to go to supper. You have to ask questions and be ready to answer questions. To head off the panic you may want to tell yourself that yes you are going to be open and may as well expose your hidden side. You don’t have to tell them your whole life story but you have to open up.
If you are starting a new friend’s ship you want to be open but don’t overwhelm a person will all the different trials and tribulations you have experienced. Think of it as a poker game you don’t want to show them all your cards there is plenty of time to share your life’s experience’s as the day’s stretch into years. There is a balance you want to achieve. But vulnerability is the fertilizer of a good friendship. Yet like fertilizer if you put too much out you will burn up the ground. So feed the relationship but don’t overfeed.
There is a gamble you have to take. When you open up there’s a chance that you will be rejected. It can be uncomfortable if you want to get to know someone and they don’t shy away from you. It is not a dig against who you are. But there are times that friendships don’t happen the first time. It may be a couple of years later and then you or your soon to be friend, have the right conditions for your friendship to take root.
To Be Exact
- Find a person who you believe will make you better.
- Take the time to get to know them. The relationship is a 2-way street. Take their experiences while you give yours.
- Time is the sun to your friendship it takes time and much like plants, your friendship may need a lot or a little. If there is not direct one on one time then that relationship will stagnate and often wither.
So where do you get the sunlight for this new friendship? The answer is you have to make time. We all know that you have work and home life responsibilities. Also, you have to set aside time for your friends. Get out once a week and go fishing hiking or even mountain biking. This is a great way to spend time with each other. You will, in turn, push each other and have a tighter bond through shared experiences. If you and your spouse are friends with your friend and his spouse that makes it even easier. Sometimes it may be that you are just having a beer and movie night. Once the movie is over you have a movie discussion session. Cards, are a great way to play a game and leave you space to be able to talk and grow and enrich each other’s lives.
Whatever way you spend time with new and old friends. You have to spend some time. The key is time and being open. There are times that you will have to do stuff to help them out and there are times that they help you. Those are times together, be it paying each other moving fees with beer and steaks, or you are sitting at a bar listening to them talk through a problem they are having. A small price to pay for someone who will be your confidant and help you be the best you can be.
Why do some friends leave?
There is a line in Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen, that says,
“Understand that friends come and go but for the precious few that you should hold on”Baz Luhrmann “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)”
Why does it seem that we lose so many friends? Sometimes those friends leave because we don’t nurture that relationship as we need to. It could be the distance between not only time but geography too. Their life may have taken them 2 thousand miles away. If the relationship is worth it, you can bridge that gap. Again it takes effort to keep that long-distance relationship but it is possible.
Then there are those friends who just go away. These are sometimes friends that you view as true closest and dearest friends. Yet they too sometimes have to go away. These are the friends that so many people are afraid that they are going to lose if they become better people. Yet friends have a purpose when they are in your life. When that purpose is complete then many times it is time for them to move on to help other people and the same for you. You are out to help other folks. Sometimes friends leave your life because you don’t need them anymore.
There are times that you outgrow friends. These are the folks who are from the old neighborhood who still are there. They are still complaining about the same ol’ things and think that you have changed. Funny thing is you have changed. You have changed for the better and this often makes old friends who are sadly not going anywhere uncomfortable. They didn’t pursue their desires as you did. That can make them see what is possible or it can make them react unfavorably.
It is sad when a friendship has cycled out of its use. Yet it can be bittersweet because you are improving and you are acquiring new friends. While you also are seeing your old friends miss their potential.
So, though friends do come and go take the time to make as many as you can. Think of it as you seeing how many people you can get to come to the church for you when your funeral happens. You don’t want a small service you want one that celebrates the great and wonderful life you had. What problem do you have with making friends? Let me know in the comment below or if you like I can coach you through making a friend or two. I can help you here also
I like being able to help people find their “why” and achieve the personal freedom they desire. Besides writing for Relaxed Male I also am a life coach. By helping men find the leader that is found in each and every one of us. I do this by encouraging men to get outdoors and find the balance they are missing. Realize that they need to be in contact with the outside as often as they can. It is not only good for them but for their families and relationships.