Our lives will largely be the result of who we surround ourselves with and the values the people in that group holds, but for many people doing this strategically and meaningfully is no easy feat.
People seem very commonly convinced that making friends after 25 is some infinitely difficult that’s impossible to fix, so they often don’t even bother trying. However, like learning, fitness, art, or making money, this is something you can get better at with practice. This is a skill that anyone can learn and improve upon. Also, we all only have one life and the people we keep around us is one of the most important factors that will dictate the quality of our years. No matter how difficult, you can and should change your social circle if that’s what’s best for you. It’s common for us to tie ourselves to the wrong people too due to fear, complacency, or guilt, but it is a grave error. The only people you’re tied to your children and maybe your spouse, everyone else is an active choice.
If you believe that this is an important problem and one that can be fixed, apply the five point method to creating deep and meaningful friendships:
- In a world of robots, be a human
- Find people with intention, not through proximity
- Annoy people until they give in
- The internet is one half of the friend dynamic
In the age of robots, be a human
If you want people to actually like you, you have to show them who you really are, flaws and all. Do you want friendships that consist of empty conversations and sterile pleasantries that only revolve around not saying anything offensive? While this may be popular, the vast the majority of people are not that easily offended they just pretend to be offended on the internet. The truth is that humans respect humans with self respect far more than they respect those who only say the right things.
I realized this was a common occurrence over the last few years as people would reach out to me and say things like “Alex I just love how authentic you are”. I find it a bit obscene and disappointing that in our culture being authentic is such a rarity that it warrants a fanbase. It’s not like I’m doing anything special, just telling my vulnerable truth and refusing to pander, is everyone else being fake? I hope not. Disappointingly, 75% of American adults identify as being lonely, and my opinion is that these feelings of loneliness and people’s lack of authenticity have a high correlation.
Humans can spot a fake. Have you ever had your BS detector pinging about a new person but you give them the benefit of the doubt only to later get burned by them and realize you were right about them all along? This isn’t to say your assumptions are always right, but I want to convince you of something you already know: you have an innate ability to sense when someone is not being real with you, and you don’t like it. So why is it that some are so arrogant to think that they are the only ones with this same skill set? They go into the world displaying their always appropriate harmless representatives, saying all the right things, while simultaneously trying to get real honesty out of the rest of us without giving up any vulnerability of their own, and they think the world isn’t going to notice.
“Love without sacrifice is like theft” – Nassim Taleb
Consider that there are probably millions of automated social media bots having literally empty and pointless private conversations with each other for eternity. Is that what you want your social life to be like?
To be human is to be flawed and to share those flaws is scary but to avoid this fear is to avoid your own humanity.
Find people with intention, not through proximity
From a very early age we’ve learned how to make friends with people who are in our similar age demographic and geographic location. This has been acceptable for centuries because the people in our communities didn’t change much. Everything is different now, and the whole world is accessible to us which makes friends by proximity extremely ineffective in comparison. For humans this is a whole new aspect of social interactions that we are learning on the fly, luckily it’s not that difficult and even trying a little bit is highly effective.
The most impactful common denominator we have with people in high school is that our parents lived in the same school district, hardly a unifying force to shape your whole world around. As an adult with a job, unless you have a passion for your company or mission, the most impactful common denominator we have with our coworkers is that we all need an income. These are not good reasons to make lifelong friends with people, this is just making friends with those who are close in proximity, the trouble is that this is where we make most of our friends.
The internet has created a myriad of easy to use apps to find your people, and most of them are free. Between Facebook groups and Meetup.com you can find a group that shares an interest in anything you can think of, these are no longer people who happen to share the same zip code as you but share the same goals as you. Maybe they think like you, maybe they will understand you better then other people, maybe you can accomplish something bigger with these like minded people, maybe they can teach you something you’ve been wanting to learn. Friends with shared values and interests become productive and meaningful, while work relationships are often ones we just tolerate to keep the peace during the day.
Choose people with intention, proximity is not choosing at all.
Annoy people until they give in
When I was 9 years old my brother and I shared a room and we were the appropriate amount of messy that you would expect from a child. Mom would tell us to clean our rooms and as you would expect, resist. I remember a regular occurrence, one of us starting to clean while the other would not, kids are easily distracted and getting them to work as a team is near impossible. It wouldn’t take long before the one of us who was doing the cleaning would start to get upset about this injustice and run to the family with the extremely mature argument “I’m not cleaning the room if he isn’t doing it”.
This reciprocal nature of equity is built deeply in human behavior, but it’s a relic of past social structures where it was likely more useful, in modernity its immature and self defeating.
First impressions are generally my worst interaction with people, so if I stopped trying to be friends with everyone I met at our first interaction, I would have no friends at all. When I meet someone interesting or someone I can learn from, I work hard to befriend them and I don’t quit very easily. I’m not suggesting you do anything creepy or aggressive, what I’m suggesting is that you try hard and try often. Do you reach out to people and try to add value to their life or do you sit in your loneliness hoping someone will come save you? Do you wish you could hang out with someone you know but you never bothered to ask them? How many people know acquaintances in their area but still spend Friday nights alone because they won’t take the initiative to make plans due to fear of rejection.
I titled this part to “annoy people until they give in”, but that’s just click bait theatrics. The real advice is, “don’t be scared to try first, even if it means trying first most often.” It’s ok to be a leader in your relationships and like anything in life, things that are valuable require a little persistence and tenacity to attain. You
The internet is one half of the friend dynamic
This is where magic really happens, and it’s an area that I’m lucky to have been thriving in for a very long time. I have been turning internet friends into real life friends for literally 20 years. Before Myspace, before Facebook, and it was still considered weird to meet people off the internet, I was doing it regularly.
Some people look at social media as all bad, they are very wrong. Some people think their entire social life can come from social media, they are equally very wrong. The correct way to think about digital relationships is as one part of a whole friendship.
Social media has an inherent fraudulent aspect to it, and despite that it’s social in nature it can also be extremely isolating. People have online persona’s that are generally some variation of their in person self, but you’ll never really know what that is until you meet them face to face. Conversely, once you know a person from a face to face relationship their online persona makes a lot more sense. As long as you can find a way to see these people at some reasonable interval, this allows you to be friends with people all over the country, maybe even all over the planet. This is why conferences are so popular for networking, it’s not about the content they provide, it’s about the one time a year you can shake hands with all the people in your social circle that you only see once a year or that you’ve never met before.
This is an incredibly powerful feeling. Without meeting face to face your digital relationships never feel real, mostly because they aren’t, and without digital relationships you can’t build a deeper connection with those face to face friends in the off-time. If the whole point of making friends is genuine and ongoing friendships then in our current technological era making an effort to curate relationships as both digital and physical is a necessity.
Why is this all important?
This site started out as a blog about real estate but has morphed into something bigger. Investing solves an important problem that many people have: they need money. Unfortunately along the way I’ve learned that money can only solve money problems, and maybe I can help people solve all the other stuff that’s plaguing them. Money certainly won’t buy you genuine friends, but blogs like this might be able to help.
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