When you are in high school and college, your social circle is set. You have people you see in class, friends to eat lunch with, people to hang out with on a Saturday night. If something goes wrong, there is a whole list of people you can call to talk about it.
After graduation, though, it seems like your social circle starts to compress. The modern workplace is often more work than social time. That means that you may spend over a third of your day with people that you don’t really know that well. When you get into a serious relationship, your social circle can get even tighter. You end up spending so much time with your partner that you don’t have much time to keep up friendships.
These days, many people trade quality friendships for Facebook friends. You may have 1,000 connections in a social network program, but that does not mean that you have many deep connections.
That is too bad. It is also a potential problem.
Ask yourself, if you had to share a great success at work, who would you call first? If you had a serious problem that you needed to work through, who would you contact? If you had a couple of extra hours on a weekend, who would you call to hang out?
If the answer to those questions is the same person in each case, then you need to think about finding a broader set of connections.
It is healthy to have a few close friends. It is great to be able to get a second opinion when you are struggling with a decision and to be able to share your good news with a few people who will really care about it. It is also great to have people that you know can rely on you when they need something.
If you are like many people, though, and you find that your social world has gotten too small, get back on the road to making some good friends. Here are a few suggestions.
First off, if you are in a relationship, talk to your partner. You need to clear some space to have friends, and that means getting your partner’s support for that time.
Second, whether you currently have a partner or not, find friends who are not even remotely possibilities for romantic interests. The idea here is to develop some good friendships that will sustain you and broaden your relationships. Leave the romance out of this.
If you have some old friends whose friendship has languished, give them a call. Get together for a cup of coffee, or go for a walk. Find a regular excuse to get together and talk. Add that time into your week. I promise that whatever else you have to do, whether it’s for work or for your family, it can wait.
If you can’t think of anyone whose friendship you can nurture, don’t feel bad. It is common for people who are busy with work and family to let their social lives lapse. In that case, it is time to get more active in your community. Find a group with common interests. It might be a religious group, a civic organization, or a charity. Give some of your time. And while you’re there, get to know the people around you.
There are lots of great day-to-day benefits of having good friends. You get to share in the lives and life stories of your friends. You will have people that you can rely on you for an honest opinion when you need one and for a pat on the back when you just need to be lifted up. And on those days when it feels like the bottom may drop out of your world, there is nothing like having a few friends around to catch you.
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