You have to date your friends

We can’t become mediocre friends with too many people.

Because as we grow older, our days go faster than we think, and the fewer opportunities we have to be with those people.

The upside is, the knots grow tighter on the ropes that bind us. When we’re apart, we think to ourselves, wow, isn’t it wonderful that we actually want to be friends with our friends?

What blessing. The fact that the companions with whom we surround ourselves become instrumental in the architecture of our character, it’s more valuable than we realize.

The fact that when we’re with each other, it leads us to feel better, gain a different perspective on the world and try different things to improve ourselves, what more could you ask for?

Whyte’s meditation on the social dimension of the human experience summarizes it beautifully:

Through the eyes of a real friendship an individual is larger than their everyday actions. Through the eyes of another we receive a greater sense of our own personhood, one we can aspire to, the one in whom they have the most faith.

It’s incalculable. With true friends, we are never overdrawn at the favor bank. Friendship is an exchange of care.

But only as long as we’re both willing to put in the work. We can’t sit back and wait for other people to love us. Most of having a friend is being one first. To quote the song lyric, it’s not who loves you, it’s whose life is better because you love them.

This means having real conversations with real people in real time with real consequences. You basically have to date each other. Friendship is a form of courtship. If you’re not willing to do that, then it should be no surprise that you’re lonely.

In fact, there’s an actual formula for this, according to leading sociologists.

Here are the three conditions considered to be crucial to making close friends.

First, proximity. Two, repeated and unplanned interactions. And finally, a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other.

That last part is crucial. It’s one of the reasons loneliness plagued my college experience. Plenty of proximity and interactions, but not enough vulnerability.

My assumption was that people would like me more if I wasn’t difficult. The perfect friend has no needs, right?

Wrong. That’s the whole point. The burden of mutual inconvenience.

Only when the exchange of openness became a key facet of my relationships did the knots on the rope that binds us grow tighter. 

Capone, the notorious gangster who built a multimillion dollar empire of vice, graft, and murder, knew a thing or two about relationships. He famously said, be careful who you call your friends, you’d rather have four quarters than one hundred pennies.

The irony is, that guy probably never even counted pennies.

In that kind of business, it was only hundred dollar bills.

But that’s beside the point. Al’s words are a warning.

Do you actually want to be friends with our friends?


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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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