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Friends Don’t Have to Grow Apart as You Grow Older

Friends Don’t Have to Grow Apart as You Grow Older

When you were young, the friends you made tend to be defined by common experience, for example living in the same neighborhood, going to the same school, having parents who are friends, riding the same bus, or participating in the same sports or extracurricular activities.

        As you grow older, though, these elements change. You and your friends may move to different towns, have different works, come across different challenges in life, and may even lead a different lifestyle. Some may already get married and have their own children; some maybe traveling around all the times; some may always be busy making money.

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            This is when you realize your friendship with these friends has changed.

            Research has shown that three main factors of developing adult friendships are proximity, repeated/unplanned interaction, and settings that encourage conversation.[1] If you’re constantly moving and working, though, these friendships can be harder to sustain.

            A Shared Life Is Not Enough to Maintain A Lifelong Friendship

              Too often, people focus on having a shared life with others. It’s actually less important for friends to physically be in the same life space. Friends need similar core values, which refers to subjective perspectives and beliefs on topics. You can align core values with someone who lives down the street or someone that lives 2,000 miles away.

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              Think about it like this: if you know someone who lives down the street (proximity), and you see them a lot at events (repeated/unplanned interactions), and it’s often in settings like bars and parties that encourage conversation, theoretically you should become friends with this person, right? Not necessarily.

              If you and that person’s core values are completely misaligned, communication will be nearly impossible. Both of you may try to constantly prove the other person wrong and conflicts will be common.

              Core values for humans are not easily changed, without an alignment there, it’s very hard for two people to become — and remain — friends.

              Only the Values We Hold Can Build True Bondings

                Humans are social animals. This is the core of the human experience. Humans came to dominate the world because we were the only species that could collaborate well, and form bonds, in large numbers.[2] We don’t seek just physical company; we seek mental company and an exchange of ideas and values.

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                Sharing your core values with another, and attempting to understand theirs is akin to sharing a piece of mind. This exchange of value and idea is crucial to satisfying basic human need. You can have a friend who you consistently have fun with, but if this core value exchange isn’t there, the friendship will erode when the environment changes. If you have a friend who’s fun and you’ve exchanged life values with, that friendship will remain despite the change of the environment.

                Not every core value needs to overlap, it’s nearly impossible across any two people. For example, one friend can value punctuality and the other friend can constantly be late. This will make hanging out and communicating harder. But if the friend valuing punctuality is also flexible and adapts to different situations, now the timing is less relevant.

                It doesn’t have to be a perfect alignment of core values between two people. But there needs to be some, and it needs to be shared.

                Find out the Values of A Potential Friend

                To find out whether you have shared values with another person, talk openly about your values. Of course, don’t say “What are your core values? My core values are.. blah blah blah…” This will sound awkward and the other person may feel uncomfortable about the question.

                What you can do is asking “why” in conversations. “Why” leads to deeper answers and discussions then “how” — which primarily goes to process, and  “what” — which are only the basic facts. “Why” is the pathway to the thoughts and values of a potential new friend for life.

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                You don’t have to dig into the very deep philosophical questions at the beginning, start with something light like “what’s your hobby and why do you like doing it?” or “what’s your favorite place and why?” will be enough to get you to understand a person.

                To help you have a better idea of what kind of things you can talk about, I’ve got you a list of questions to try with a potential friend:

                1. Why did you decide to move here?
                2. What’s your favorite podcast/book and why?
                3. Who’s your favorite author/artist and why?
                4. What’s your favorite movie/music and why?
                5. What do you do and why do you do what you do?
                6. Who’s your biggest inspiration, and why?
                7. What do you think about when you’re alone?
                8. Are you closer with your mom, dad, or neither? Why?
                9. What makes you happy and why?
                10. What upsets you and why?
                11. What do you like to do during weekend? Why?
                12. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever seen, and why would you say it is?
                13. What motivates you the most, and why?
                14. Are you religious, and why?
                15. Who’s your best friend and why are you guys so close?
                16. What’s the main thing you’d like to change about yourself and why?
                17. Are you proud of some accomplishments so far? If so, why?
                18. Is there anything you’re afraid of and why?
                19. Do you like traveling and why?
                20. What’s your idea of a perfect vacation and why?
                21. Do you want to get a tattoo? Why?
                22. What are most important to you and why?
                23. If money were no object, what would you do all day and why?
                24. If you were to die tomorrow, what would you do?

                Save this article and take this list out when you’re trying to make a new friend. Understanding the core values of another person is the first step to a strong and lasting friendship.

                Featured photo credit: Bewakoof.com Official on Unsplash via unsplash.com

                Reference

                [1] The New York Times: Friends of a Certain Age
                [2] Ted Idea: Why humans run the world

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                Anna Chui

                Anna is a communication expert and a life enthusiast. She's the editor of Lifehack and loves to write about love, life, and passion.

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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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