The glory of friendship is not in the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is in the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when he discovers that someone else believes in him and is willing to trust him. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Friends. We all have them.
Sometimes, it seems that no matter how many friends we have that is not enough. Of course, that begs the question who or whom are we calling friends?
This has intrigued me a lot since in the past year quite a number of people not only wanted to connect with me on LinkedIn, but did so because they wanted to be my friend. In most of the cases I just ignored their requests. But a few times I responded, just to see what they really meant.
I told them that I hold friends to be very special people in my life. They are individuals I have gotten to know and who I trust to be there to support me even when it may not be easy or popular to do so. That kind of chased most of the responders away, although a few still declared that they wanted to be my friend. They just didn’t get it and so I rejected their invite.
Then, I had contact with some people I know quite well.
Some are indeed “friends” and others acquaintances. By that I mean people I know, like and will socialize with. But if the chips are down I cannot count on their help. So, they are not friends, just friendly acquaintances.
It also got me to wonder about some of the folks I call friends. In talking with them, almost everybody they spoke about was a “friend”. They are either extremely unique in having that many “friends” or are just lumping together everyone they are friendly with.
Thinking about this, I wrote an article entitled, “What is a Friend?” You can find and read it at https://phchristian53.medium.com/what-is-a-friend-8be819b1ba78.
Most of us have business associates, casual acquaintances, and occasional companions. Real friends, on the other hand, are not so easy to acquire. Friendship rests upon more than accidental relationships or even association in a common task. Its roots lie in the spiritual realm. Al Bryant
So, based on this which camp are you in?
Do you really need and have many friends? Or are you satisfied with those who by the above definition are real friends? And does this self-imposed dilemma become the thing that, “Keeps You Awake at Night?”
Once, a manager at Samsung introduced herself to me and declared that she had no friends.
If it is true that you really have no friends, there is indeed a problem. With about 7 billion people inhabiting the earth, there should be someone who like you enough to be your friend. That is unless you are purposely keeping people away in which case there really isn’t a problem. You are getting what you want and should be happy with the outcome.
But if you have no one to call your friend, then some self-introspection is in order. What is it about you and your demeanor that keeps or scares people away from you?
Some reasons why this may be true are:
- You are introverted and are not comfortable around others. So you tend to stay to yourself projecting that you don’t want to be around others even though you want to be.
- You suffer from social anxiety or shyness. This is much like being an introvert. It is hard for you to meet and get close to others, so you stay to yourself.
- You are depressed. When you are unhappy with your circumstances, it is hard to develop friendships. Either you want to be alone or your depression causes others to not want to be around you in fear that they will be dragged down to or by your situation.
- You have Autism Spectrum Disorder . People on this spectrum do not read social cues well if at all. They tend to alienate others who don’t understand what is going on with them.
- You are socially inexperienced. If you were never properly instructed or introduced into social circumstances, you have no real idea about how to act and deal with others. So either you stay away from them or they stay away from you.
- You have no real social interests. While you think you want friends, in reality you could care less and so you don’t try to interact with others.
- You are experiencing certain difficult situations such as recently having moved, splitting up with a partner, or changing your job. While dealing with or adjusting to your new circumstances, you don’t handle new interactions well.
- You aren’t making time to socialize. Making new acquaintances and friends takes time and effort. If you don’t allow for this, people and friendships will not just drop in your lap.
You may be experiencing one or more of these issues.
You need to determine just what your situation is and then adjust what if anything you want to do about it.
The first thing you should do is to reassess your friendship situation. It really may not be as bad as you think. And if your goal is to have a gazillion friends, that is definitely something to get out of your head.
According to a study led by Dunbar, while 150 is the maximum number of social relationships the average human can maintain with any degree of stability, we’re only able to maintain a mere five close friendships at any time. So if you are looking for more than five close friendships, your problem isn’t that you don’t have or can’t make friends, but that your goal is unrealistic.
If you cannot get over that, then you will continue to be an unhappy camper and losing sleep is the least of your problems.
Once you have determined that your situation isn’t dire, you should cherish the friends that you do have and make sure you hold them close.
If you resolve that the people you thought were friends are really acquaintances, then you need to decide which are really worth pursuing as friends. If none are then keep them as acquaintances and look for those who will really be friends and be there for you through thick and thin.
Finally, if you find that you cannot keep friends or acquaintances, some deep introspection of yourself and your dealings with others is needed.
If you suffer from any of the conditions listed above, you may need some professional help to get through these. Or you may realize that you are really content being an introvert and that you only need contact with others on occasion and being by yourself is really the place you are most comfortable at.
Once you decide what the best balance is, things should settle down. When they do, you should sleep better and eliminate one more thing that “Keeps You awake at Night”.