Is There Time in Your Type-A Lifestyle for Friendship?

When being busy trumps being friends

Posted Feb 19, 2015

This is a tough one, especially for men.  We are not taught how to arrange the logistics of keeping in touch.  Our mothers or other women in our lives often made our social arrangements growing up.  And many of us never learned to pick up the slack later on.

When making plans with my heterosexual couple friends, the man usually asks me to contact his wife, as she is the one who takes care of the social calendar. And my women friends complain that their husbands don’t have social connections of their own.

Is it any easier for gay men to keep up with friends?  If there is no wife or girlfriend to do it for him, he has to do it all by himself, right?  The truth is that most gay men are not very good at keeping up with friendships either. Business connections or just plain busyness take precedence.

In thinking about my own close friendships with guys, I am struck by how many friends I hardly every see. It is accepted as okay by both of us, even when it really isn’t.  The assumption is that we all live chaotic lives and that when things settle down we will find a way to reconnect, to have that leisurely dinner, to catch up. Uh huh.

We can fool ourselves for a time that following each other’s Facebook posts or tweets is staying in touch, but really it’s a bit of a scam when it comes to more than acquaintances.  Clicking “like” is not the same as a conversation or a shared laugh (or cry).

If you are the type-A gay male, you have to work extra hard to stay connected. And most of us live type-A lives, no matter our personality category. If you have children, you have to work even harder. I chuckled with a client yesterday who confessed that he had recently enjoyed going to a funeral because he got to see people he hadn’t seen in years.  He admitted that if the event had been something other than a funeral, he probably would have told himself that he was too busy to go. Great. In order to see our friends somebody needs to die?

The message is that we have to remind ourselves how healthy it is to stay connected and to have a well-rounded life.  Stress is diminished, the possibility of having fun is increased, and our overall mood escalates. And, of course, productivity actually flourishes in a grounded and balanced life as opposed to one that is scattered and threadbare.

So, here's the plan:

  • Prioritize chosen family as much as you do biological family.

Who gets the most of your attention, friends or family?  Give the same if not greater weight to enjoyment over obligation.

  • Consider joining.

Form groups, partnerships or a buddy system to do things such as exercising, taking classes, or participating in local neighborhood or political groups.

  • Take another look.

Make a list of people you haven’t seen in awhile, and reach out to them. Follow through (just as you do on other projects).

  • Schedule social time.

Designate blocks of time in your weekly schedule to connect with others.  Maybe it’s one evening a week or a few hours on the weekend, but make the time because it won’t just happen.  In your heart, you know this.

  • Remember the benefits.

Increased happiness based on a sense of belonging; decreased stress; elevated mood and increased energy—worth the effort, aren’t they?

The type-A lifestyle can be exciting, but if friends are sacrificed to it, things get out of balance very quickly. You can make time to finish the report in the morning. You can let the business call go to voicemail on the weekend. You can reschedule that work dinner. Friendship is something that enriches the soul. Sometimes we don’t realize just how much until we have lost it.