09 Dec Friends: Why Some People Have More Than Others
What’s a gift can you give yourself in 2015 that costs nothing financially but will enrich you for years to come? How about a quiver – full of friends?
Friends: A Quiver Is Better Than a Single Arrow
I’ve discovered that most people feel that something is lacking for them in this friendship arena.
First, there is the elusive pursuit of a best friend. It helps to realize that if you don’t feel you have a best friend, you are far from being alone. In my experience, most people feel this way. The problem with trying to find a best friend is that we are looking for something that is very hard to find: one person who will meet all of our relational needs. A more realistic approach is to seek a quiver of friends in our lives: one person who is our deep, meaningful conversationalist; another who will be spontaneous and do things with us at a moment’s notice; someone else who will share our interest in a specific area; another who is fun and lighthearted; etc.
Often, people are dissatisfied because, without realizing it, they’re looking for one friend who will provide all of these things. This is setting ourselves up for disappointment, because we’re continually searching for something we won’t ever find. We are like a hamster on a wheel going round and round, never arriving at the destination.
Having a quiver of friends works well for another reason. Most people’s schedules are full, and one individual doesn’t have time to do everything with us that we’d like to do. But if we have a variety of friends, one will be available on a Saturday morning, another on a Sunday afternoon, and yet another on a Friday night. And if “variety is the spice of life,” we’ll be having a lot more “spice” to enjoy if we have a variety of friends.
When I explain this perspective to people, it’s like a light comes on: this makes so much sense! But then, their faces grow worried because they don’t see these relationships existing in their lives.
Friends: We Have To Be Proactive
This leads us to the question of why some people have more friends than others. The answer? Some people are more proactive and determined when it comes to forming satisfying, long-lasting friendships. It’s a mistake to think that friendships just “happen” as we go along life’s path. The reality is that we need to be proactive throughout life to seek and nurture our own unique quiver-full of friends. We have to be on the lookout for potential friends, take the initiative, and not be thwarted when someone doesn’t reciprocate our friendship invitations. If that happens, we simply need to check them off our list of prospects and keep going.
Friends: My Own Failures and Successes
I’ve moved 13 times in my life, and 2 of these were international moves to New Zealand and Hungary. I’ve utilized the aforementioned process many times — seeking and initiating friendships, sometimes experiencing nonresponsiveness, then continuing to seek and find. I remember one time in particular, I found a group that I was really enjoying, but I noticed that they weren’t initiating with me and I was being left out of their activities. Yes, that hurt. I did some soul-searching, and even asked others if there was something about me that I needed to change. Then I continued to proactively look for friends. Before long, I was involved with a group that was a better match for me, and where friendships were deepened and reciprocated.
Friends: Long-Distance Friendships Last a Lifetime
Include long-distance friendships in your quiver. If you move a lot like me, this is an utter necessity. When you make a good friend, don’t let a change in location cause you to lose out on a lifetime of enjoyment and support. The phone and Skype make it possible to continue and deepen our friendships for a lifetime wherever we live. These long-term people know us well through many decades and we can be mutually supportive throughout the seasons of our lives.
Friends: Your Next Step in 2015
When I first started training as a counselor, I thought that if I just helped people get the right information — gave them the right advice — their problems would be solved and they would be satisfied people. As I journeyed on, I realized how important friendships are —whatever our problems —as an important ingredient in the overall recipe of being healthy, well-balanced, satisfied human beings. I came to truly understand what I’d known all along — that one of the core ingredients for us to flourish is surrounding ourselves with reliable, deep, enjoyable friendships. This is something that doesn’t just happen, as much as we’d like it to. It’s something we have to work at — but something that is richly rewarded for many years with just a little effort.