Man is by nature, a social animal. We all have a primal need for companionship and want people to understand us as we are, and share things with. Loneliness breeds anxiety and depression and whenever someone we know is going through a break-up or is stuck in a rut, we advise them to ‘meet new people’. Yet most of our problems tend to centre on our relationships and the more we grow older, the fewer friends we seem to have.
If you’re wondering why your social circle has been thinning steadily, then you must realize the problem is with you and with not other people, and it’s completely in your power to turn the situation around for the better. The first thing you need to do is take a cold hard look at your life and figure out your nature, because when it comes to making/keeping friends, there are only 3 types of people.
So Which One Are You?
1. The Independent
They make friends wherever they go, and tend to have more acquaintances than deep friendships. They usually are extroverted, confident and instantly likeable- the “social butterfly” kind- and look like they’re having a good time. People seem to want to spend time with them for they’re very easy to talk to, non-judgemental and have an understanding smile on their faces. But this has its drawbacks too- juggling work and a busy social life leaves no room for genuine heart to heart conversation and such people who have a lot of surface friendships tend to be pretty lonely on the inside. For instance, Jane Doe has thousands of Facebook friends and Instagram followers, and will always have someone to eat with and party with, but when her boyfriend broke up with her, she couldn’t seem to decide who to call.
2. The Discerning
They are very particular about the company they keep. They only have a few best friends they stay close with over the years, and they’ve actually put in a lot of effort to cultivate and maintain such a friendship. When a problem arises, they have people to fall back to. Although they may not look so social on the outside, they have a tight-knit community to turn to for help. But there are disadvantages as well. Life is extremely unpredictable and sometimes the friend may have to physically or mentally move away from you. Also, the deep investment means that the loss of one of those friends would be very very devastating. For example, John Smith has always been the quiet one, not very active on social media and usually seen hanging out with high school buddies Pat and Jesse. But Pat has recently moved away and Jesse died in a car accident and he has no one to turn to for solace.
3. The Acquisitive
These are the people who do their bit to stay in touch with their old friends, but also continue to make new ones as they move through the world. Thus they’re never alone for they have people to hang out with and make small talk and when trouble arises, they have best friends who’ll always be there for them. But being such a person takes time and effort, but once you get there, the rest of your life gets super easy for you. For instance, Rose Carter has always been an amiable person, who balances time spent on social media and real life very well. Her co-workers love her and she makes time for her old friends at least once a month. Her marriage is recently showing some kind of trouble, but she’s getting by pretty well for she has a very supportive community who always has her back.
As per the 2014 American Time Use Survey , those in the 20-24 age group spends the most time socializing- a number that steadily decreases with age. Meanwhile surveys repeatedly the importance of having good friends in one’s personal happiness.
So Which Is The Recommended One?
The answer’s easy. Those who belong to the ‘acquisitive’ type, are the most flexible and have a pleasant life. So what can you do to be more acquisitive? Well firstly make three columns.
In the first one, make a list of people who truly matter to you, who agree with you on moral and ethical values and with those you can truly connect to. If no one comes to mind, think back to your school and college days. Once you have made the list, try to connect with them. Send them friend requests on Facebook or ask them out for lunch if they’re still close by. But don’t just stop there after the first meeting. Do follow-ups, surprise phone calls and send them birthday presents to make them realize you genuinely care for them.
In the second one, write down the names of acquaintances you meet everyday and get along with. Be grateful for them, and see if you can turn the surface friendships to something deeper.
And in the last column, write down the names of people you met briefly but would genuinely want to be friends with. Every time you meet someone new and like them, jot their names down. These are people who may become great friends in the future.
Finally, don’t forget to be a nice and friendly person. Be polite, empathetic and kind to all those you meet. Help people however and wherever you can and soon you’ll be living a life where you’re genuinely happy and have more genuine friends than you can count.
Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com
|||^||Bright Side: Why Do We Lose Friends As We Get Older?|
|||^||Bureau of Labor Statistics: Time spent in leisure activities in 2014, by gender, age, and educational attainment|
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