Thursday, October 15, 2009

Social Butterfly

Making friends as an adult is sure different then making childhood or college friends. Childhood friendships which began as circumstantial relationships, often bloom over the years into life-long friendships. For most people, adolescence and university means endless hours of partying and philosophizing with many like-minded young people.

Although childhood friendship making is laden with plenty of cliques, bossiness, peer-pressure and sometimes bullying - establishing new adult friendships can often be more complicated. As people get older, the hours of the day get filled with work responsibilities, dating and married life, household duties and childcare. Little time of often left for building new friendships, and even new friendships are often as a result of circumstantial commonalities such as kids being in the same school or meeting through a work environment.

The way I look at it, maintaining friendships as an adult is a form of an investment. If adults invest in solid close friends, then they likely will have a support system when life gets tough - or friends to enjoy the successes of life with. But considering the fact that adults today have so little time and energy to devote to friendships - how best to "invest" friendship time?

While reading the Huffington Post this week I saw an article by Therese Borchard about the book"Bounce: Living the Resilient Life," written by psychology professor Robert Wicks. This book recommends what seems like - strategic friendship making. Wicks looks at friendships in terms of calculated efforts to surround oneself with the right kind of people, rather than a result of life's chance. Rather than be-friend a neighbor because they live next door, Wicks encourages people to seek out friends with certain qualities.

Specifically, the book advocates that we invite into our circle of friends four types of people: the prophet, the cheerleader, the harasser, and the guides. The prophet is not afraid to "tell it like it is" even if it something you don't want to hear while the cheerleader offers constant encouragement. The harasser bring humor and a sense of perspective into our lives while the guide is an attentive listener and analytic soul.

Everyones friendship needs are different. However, my advice for today is:

Invest in a handful of quality friendships. One or two can live far away...but also make sure you have a few close by. Less is definitely more when it comes to friends. Nothing wrong with being a social butterfly, but don't fly around so much that you have no true friendships to land on when you really need it.

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