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Why You Have Fewer Friends as You Grow up (and It’s Normal)

Why You Have Fewer Friends as You Grow up (and It’s Normal)

Having good people skills, I know how to make people feel interested and connected. I’m never worried to have no friend. But as I grow up, I find that I have fewer and fewer friends.

And this is not just happening to me.

It is a fairly common feature with everyone. The root of the problem is the way we made those friends in the first place when we young, heart whole and fancy-free.

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    Everyone makes friends wrong when they were young

    Recall your best friends in high school. What made you become friends in the first place? And how did all that start out? Maybe it was because you sat beside her on the first day of school, started to chat and just decided that hey, you guys did get along famously. So you became friends, spending time together during breaks and hanging out after school…

    Or maybe both of you were on the football team and there came to be a friendship when your team won or lost, or when you all just practiced hard under the watchful eye of the mean coach. All of you were in a similar state of mind and got close because you all understood how the other felt – because you felt the same way.

    What drew you close and held your bonds of friendship together was a common experience. You were in the same situation together. You understood each other. You reveled in each other’s success and shed tears over failures – slowly, this forged strong bonds. But now, years later, when the commonality has vanished, these bonds are fraying or may have already unraveled. Interests have diversified, passions have waned and that common thread that held you together has long been broken.

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    You meet those old friends now and initially, you can talk about those memories and reminisce about those good old days but very often conversations soon die out. Why? It might be because the common factors are few and far between. You may be a hotshot executive looking to have some tippler to relax. He may be a college professor who’s also a teetotaler vegan. Or you may be a school teacher following a yogic lifestyle and she may be a model who needs her drinks and smokes to stave off her appetite. You just have grown out of your friendship.

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      Some friends stay because they share the same things deep, deep down

      Most of us may have lost many of our childhood friends to changing scenarios and diversifying interests, but we still have a couple of good friends around. Sound right? Now you may not meet these gems every now and then and may actually talk to them just once in a while – but you know that they’ll always be there for you, just a holler away…It’s because of you and these friends of you share the same core values that form the basis of a deep and lasting friendship.

      Now you got it. You and your everlasting friends are very similar, deep deep down. It’s like you peel the layers of professions and hobbies and likes and dislikes and you’ll find that you and this friend of yours are very alike, in the most important things of life.

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      The same angst in the world drives you both nuts. A movie can move you to tears. You may hate the current President for his anti-democratic values or may like him for his all-American ones. You guys are the wind beneath each other’s sails and yet also are unafraid to play the devil’s advocate for each other because you want good things for your friend and vice versa.

      Picture this: on one side you have a friend who’s very like you on the surface but when you get to really know him – he turns out to be money-minded while its morals all the way for you. Would this friendship last? We all know the answer to that and it’s a resounding no. But you might have a friend who is poles apart in nature, profession, and interest but who shares the same fair-minded world view that you have. Here you do have a friend for life.

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        How to build friendship that will survive in adulthood

        They key to making lasting friendships as an adult is to get to know their deep, innermost thoughts before and you can do this by not relying on your instinct and judgment but by asking questions.

        Ask stuff that will help reveal what they believe in, what they’re strongly against for, what is their ideal world, what is their ideal life, what are their top priorities in life… Since it may just prove to be a tad awkward to ask such questions, frame them in a sly way. Play a game of truth or dare. Or coat the questions with a fun color of paint like the 36 questions claimed to be able to make people fall in love! [1]. Some of them are: “When did you last cry in front of somebody?” or “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?” or even “What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?”…

        Bear in mind that this method might not make us make friends more easily. Instead it might be even more difficult. The idea is not to make “more” friends, rather the “right” friends. You need to set your standards high so that you are able to be with the people that understand you, complement you and ultimately make you a happier person in a happier place. For when it comes to friendships, it’s not the quantity you should be concerned with, but the quality.

        As Thomas Fuller said, “If you have one true friend, you have more than your share…”

        Reference

        More by this author

        Brian Lee

        Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

        100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier 10 Best New Products That People Don’t Know About Book Summary: The Power of Habit in 2 Minutes 1 Minute Book Summary: How To Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less 2 Minutes Book Summary: Thinking Fast and Slow

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        Last Updated on May 7, 2019

        How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

        How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

        Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

        The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

        The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

        Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

        People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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          They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

          Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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              1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
              2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
              3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
              4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
              5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

              How to Spot a Wolf

                Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

                Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

                A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

                A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

                Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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                Ask Questions, the More the Better

                There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

                When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

                Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

                They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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                Wolves Are Everywhere

                As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

                Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

                Reference

                [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
                [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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