“How did this happen?”
This was Max Dickins asked himself as he thought about proposing to his girlfriend and realized that he didn’t have any close friends that she could ask to be his best man. Max considers himself to be an outgoing guy with decent manners, but as he began to go through his contacts he realized that he had plenty of colleagues, acquaintances, and work friends, but no close personal friends. He also realized that he was using his girlfriend’s social network as they all hung out together.
Maybe you are a little like Max. Your work is the main social connection and any connections to others in your personal are really due to other people’s friends. Perhaps you don’t have close friends that are truly your own.
Hope’s not lost! Today we continue with our tips to help fuel your friendships. (See part 1 here)
A good cadence of connection has always been my life raft when it comes to close friendships. All the other tips are easier to do when there is a good rhythm in place. I’ve also found that when that rhythm gets off, everything else is harder to do as well, action takes more action, time takes more time, etc.
What that cadence looks like is all up to you and your friend to decide. Mine have looked quite different depending on the person, the shared connection, and life stage. Some included
- Meeting twice a month to train for a team adventure race
- Attending a weekly Men’s Accountability group
- Going on twice-weekly rucks with friends
- Weekly band practice
- Quarterly lunches together
Other activities that keep a good cadence:
- Monthly outdoor activities
- Book clubs
- Dinner parties
- Fun group chats
- Game nights
There are so many ways to connect and ingrain a good cadence of connection with the other person.
What your friendship becomes is only limited by your imagination. Yes, they can make great accountability partners (EP 191 How an accountability partner can help you on your journey) But can your friendship be more? I know couples that are close friends with each other that go on vacation together and help raise all their children together. Another one gave a kidney to his friend. A different pair go speaking engagements together.
Sometimes we think of friendships as that ultimate cheerleader, cheering us on from the sidelines as we triumph and encouraging us when we struggle. Your imagination will keep you out of that dynamic and you are an active part of each other’s lives.
All the things before this one; Time, Situational Awareness, Action, Cadence, and imagination are all great…. but no one is perfect. You can’t live up to all of those expectations and nor will your friend.
Grace is a true gift that you should freely give to close friends. It may be easy to write off someone you don’t know very well when an interaction goes south. Your close friends shouldn’t be that dispensable. They are worth your forgiveness and grace. You can show them grace by:
- Letting go of grudges, jealousy, and slights against you
- Extend your hospitality to them and those close to them
- Don’t wait to be asked for help
- Be a good listener, even when it’s difficult (ep 303)
- Be graceful in how you communicate
- Give without expectation
Be flexible with each other and remember that sometimes the seasons in your life will dictate a change in the dynamic of the friendship. Be graceful with each other as your friendship flexes during those times.
The story about Max is what led him to do a lot of research specifically about Men and friendship, and wrote a book called: Billy No-Mates: How I realized Men Have a Friendship Problem. Max sums up his advice for growing friendships as, “Show up when you’re asked. Go first when you are not asked, and keep going even when it’s hard.” He ended up with two people in the best man role by the time his wedding came around.
Gain and nurture your close friendships. They’ll be there when you need someone the most.
Make a better tomorrow.