Do you ever listen to a speaker, drift off, but hear one profound idea from their talk it makes you wish you had listened the whole time? I was listening to a sociologist speaking about the correlation between time and the amount of people we meet on average in a lifetime. I was dozing off until he mentioned a profound observation: in a case study of 25 young adults like you and I, every single person reported a consistent decreased interest or drive in meeting new people the older they grew.
This got me thinking.
For many reasons the observation made by the sociologist appears to be accurate. We get busy with work and tired from the long day. Some of us move to new cities; the idea of a creating a new network of friends feels exhausting. We then meet coworkers who introduce us to their friends or use app after app, even dating ones, to “meet people”, but in the end we usually end up even more exhausted from the entire process. We become exhausted because we end up comparing the close intimacy we’ve experienced with our friends from college or childhood with the people we just spent three hours chugging down drinks with, and being sorely disappointed after the first few meetups. In other cases certain values aren’t shared or assumed societal norms are not viewed in the same light and we feel a significant disconnect. As a result, we become massively disillusioned with our current circumstances and opt to simply stay in touch with the friends we already have made and carry on with our stage of life. We begin to lose the ability to discern what exactly excites us about being in relationship with people. At the end of the day you and I still desire to, in a sense, “do life with people” who understand us and where we come from, it’s only natural we would want such a reality for ourselves.
As we venture into the post college world here are five signs you’ve found a good friend and can hopefully make meeting new friends, identifying their immense value, and growing the relationship a bit easier:
- There is a mutual feeling of brilliance: in any relationship people like to refer to this mutual brilliance as “chemistry”. The beauty of finding great friends is that this “chemistry”, spark, or whatever you want to call it inspires us to discover more about the person across from us and seek to develop the friendship
- They possess a unique combination of the ability to support you, but call you out on your “B.S.”: acquaintances, and even “good” friends, will move to only offer words of support in our most vulnerable moments. Great friends worth keeping around not only hold us up when we’re down, but shoot us down when we are getting too high on our horse.
- A seamless, yet constant exchange of leadership occurs frequently: in great friendships ego tends to dissipate. The friends we ought to pursue are comfortable enough to discern whether to take more initiative or default to you in certain situations; this can be seen when it comes to any issue whether it’s what restaurant to eat at or where to go on a Friday night.
- They’re intentional; they ask great questions and move to encourage you: great friends simply know how to ask intentional questions that go beyond the superficial front you and I know so well. These questions inquire deep enough to the point of making us feel known, but not intimate enough to make us feel too vulnerable.
- Openness exists between you two: Perhaps the final sign a friend might show to indicate their promising friendship is a transparent openness. When great friends get together transparency takes an underlying precedent, but doesn’t become the center of attention. In other words, you aren’t spending your time simply spilling your guts, but rather, moving towards resolution for whatever issue(s) you may be having.
The tendency in mundane or difficult situations is to resort to one stop shop methods and run short in patience; the latter becomes an even greater temptation in developing relationships. As we seek phenomenal, life giving relationships in a new stage of life we can choose to trust in the process and take time to see the community in front of us grow before our very eyes. The five signs listed are simply the top five ways in which I personally identify relationships, but there are different indicators for each of us. We all have unique tendencies and brilliant ways in which we see life, relationships, and everything in between. Perhaps this conversation can be a catalyst for your next season of life.