How To Do Life

Fresh ideas about career and personal issues

Making a New Friend

The many flavors of friends and how to find one that’s right for you.

Recently, a few clients told me they wish they had more friends. Might you? If so, perhaps this article can help.

Flavors of friends

Friends come in many flavors. Perhaps seeing the list will get you clearer on what you’re looking for:

  • The conventional friend: someone you regularly get together with for fun activities and to share intimate issues.
  • The sexual friend, as they say, “a friend with benefits.” Conventional wisdom is that it doesn’t work but I know of examples to the contrary.
  • The activity partner. You may bike, do yoga, or play tennis together but your relationship is pretty much limited to that.
  • The long-distance friend. I’ve known my friend David Wilens for 57 years now. We now live 3,000 miles apart but we check in once a month or so for a half-hour phone call.
  • The occasional intimate. Although close, you see, phone or Skype this friend only once or twice a year. Yet you feel like you’re as close as ever.
  • The family member friend. It can even be your adult child, perhaps especially your adult child.
  • The mentor. Mostly, you’re guiding the other person.
  • The protégé.  Mostly, the other person is guiding you.
  • The co-mentor. You are each other's sounding board and sometimes advice giver. I get together for an hour every two to three weeks with a friend. In the first half hour, I try to help him with whatever problem(s) he brings up. In the second half, we reverse roles.
  • The group friend: Two years ago, I invited six people I respect and like to teleconference once a month for an hour. We call ourselves The Board of Advisors. Anyone can take the floor and ask the others’ input on a problem they’re facing.

Finding a well-suited friend

Might you want to try one or more of these?

  • Deepen your relationship with an existing friend.
  • Ask a current friend of the type you’d like more of if s/he’d like to get together with you and one of his friends?
  • Join an organization in which you’d likely meet a kindred spirit: a charity, political organization, religious organization, hobbyist club, theatre or musical group, etc.
  • Go to meetups at which your kind of friend would likely attend.
  • Join or start a book club.
  • Join or start a dinner club in which, each month, you all rotate having dinner at one of the member’s homes, each of you making one dish. Or just go out to restaurants. Lots of time for conversation.

Prefer solitude?

While most people are social animals, some usually prefer solitude. They may seek friends more because it’s the norm than because they really want to spend much time with others. Forget the norms. Do you want to spend more time with friends or by yourself?

Marty Nemko's bio is in Wikipedia.

Marty Nemko is a career and personal coach based in Oakland, Ca. and the author of 7 books. 
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