It was easier to make friends in school. You spend all day with someone and find the people who have common interests. Childhood friendships are simple at their base. But now, I’m grown and other than my family and my co-workers, there aren’t a lot of people I’m crammed into the same room with for a majority of my waking hours. What makes a true friend and a true friendship? How do you build one?
Look at your Facebook page. How many friends do you have? Out of those people, how many of them would classify as more than a friendly acquaintance, that you keep up with on a regular basis? I’m sure the number has gotten smaller. Now, here’s the rub. Boil that number down to true friends. Not just the people you laugh with, or have small talk with. I’m talking about the few (maybe only one?) you have real conversations with: those you can be real and honest with.
That was the question I posed myself the other day, and I had a hard time coming up with some answers (other than my wife of course). Maybe I’m just being too hard on myself, but it made me think about how much I invest in relationships. I’ve had some real friendships in the past, but I’ve been horrible about keeping up with them.
And that’s what made me realize that despite the fact that friendships involve two people, I have to be a good friend if I want a good friend. (Michael Hyatt recently wrote a blog post on that exact topic.) It’s easy to fall into a self-pity mentality: “No one wants to be my friend.” That’s too easy; it removes the blame from myself. Instead, I have to remember two things.
1. In conversation, it’s not about me. When I’m having a conversation with a friend, I should work hard not to overtake it. I should be interested in what’s happening in their life and what they’re looking to share.
2. In life, it’s not about me. If I want the kind of friends who have a listening ear, who help me when I’m in need, and who I can just relax and de-stress with, I need to do that first. When they have needs, I should be there to meet them. When they’re going through tough times, I should be there to help.
In summary, it’s not about me. If I can keep that in mind, putting my friends needs before mine (but after my wife’s) I could become a good friend, and in the process, make some strong friendships.