Levels of Friends

iStock_000004369185XSmall-150x150From the Woman’s Side of Things… New friends, old friends, what makes a friend? (I just wanted to feel like Dr. Seuss for a second, “big A, little a, what begins with A?”)

Have you seen the movie “I Love You Man”? It’s a story about the difficulty of finding friends as an adult. I can certainly relate.

While I have a lot of friends all over the country and abroad whom — when I am with them — I can share my soul with — mostly because of the enriched environment in which we met or meet up to serve together. But close friends whom I can see at a phone-call’s notice, with whom I can talk, giggle and do my most dreaded chore of shopping,  I lack. I used to have them. What happened to them? I miss them.

Friendships come and go. People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. I get that. But as you get older they are more difficult to come by. (I wonder if it will reverse again in old age.) New friends are difficult to find. Old ones seem to disappear. Is it growing older, getting married and/or having children? Not to mention moving away from each other? Is it just a matter of lives growing in different directions?

For me, it is possible that people get turned off how, as one old friend recently put it to me,  I “would always march to the beat of your own drum.” I certainly never expected others to follow me as I’m not a follower myself. I accept my friends for who they are. But I have been known to state my opinion, (usually having come from a search of knowledge) sometimes rather bluntly.

I always wanted a close group of friends, kind of like on “Sex and the City.” Friends that stuck by you through thick and thin, who were honest — sometimes brutally so — and who helped you grow into a better person. I believe that is a true friend.
Through our excursion into personal growth, Greg and I came to the hypothesis that in recent times people are needing therapists and coaches more because true friends are hard to come by. People don’t have friends who hold them accountable, hold them to a higher standard and help them become a better version of themselves.

I’m lucky my marriage is that kind of friendship. We support and challenge each other to be the best version of our selves. And my faraway friends are like that too, when we see each other.

What can we do to foster true friendships again? Is there a way to get back to a community feel and less of a competition? Would that give us more time to connect? Is it possible to reconnect with old friends and start anew?
What would give us the strength to set a new standard for friendships? I’ve always said I’d rather have a few good friends than many relationships with the facade of friends.

Master Trainer of NLP Steve Linder categorizes friendships differently than I’ve heard before, and it makes sense to me. His categories consist of: cabinet-people you would give your life for; peers-people who help you grow; friends-people you see often and on purpose; acquaintances-people you expect to know your name when you see them; and strangers-everybody else. It’s up to you to decide what qualifications people must meet to be in each category. When you look at it like this and make up your qualifications, it’s sometimes surprising to see into which category the people in your life fall. Are your family members friends or really more acquaintances who you feel obligated to see? Is your spouse someone who holds you to a higher standard?

What qualities do you expect in a peer or in a friend? How do you play as a friend? What gifts do you bring to your relationships? When you can relate to your self, you can relate better to others. When you hold your self to a higher standard, you can be a better friend and you can have better friends. Play big. Play true.

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