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Acquaintances to Close Friends

February 5, 2009

Have you ever been popular and surrounded by people who enjoy your company, but still felt like something was missing? Do you enjoy the company of many acquaintances, but lack that deep connection with select few close friends to share your hopes, problems, and dreams?

Last year when I wanted to make new friends I committed to attend every social occasion I was invited to. I rigidly adhered to this pattern for about six months, and my social network exploded at an exponential rate. I certainly hadn’t planned on that when I set out to make friends.

The Saturation Point of Friendship

Business-like as it sounds, it became much more time-efficient for me to catch up with acquaintances in groups as opposed to one-on-one. Over time, this method became exhausting. There are only 24 hours in a day, and I no longer had enough hours in mine to see everyone. I was also growing dissatisfied with having a large circle of acquaintances, but limited close friendships.

How many close friends is it really viable to have? For example, let’s assume I have 120 friends. If you committed to see one friend every day of the year, and were to give each friend a good few hours of quality time to catch up, how many times a year would you see each friend? It equates to approximately three times per year. How close can a friendship be if you only put in few hours in three times per year? Personally, I wanted my friendships to be much closer than that.

Pull Back and Recalibrate

I gradually began to shift my focus away from social networking and sought to create closer friendships with my most compatible acquaintances. I performed a complete social back flip and entered what I affectionately term my ‘Nanna’ phase. My interest in hitting the clubs, regular social drinking, and attending loud parties waned. I now preferred to catch up with a small group of friends for dinner, or one-on-one for coffee, or have a girls night in with DVDs, food, and long chats. I wanted to talk and connect more deeply with people rather than yelling over blaring music.

In order to reclaim my time and spend more time with those I wanted to be closer to, I stopped actively seeking new friends. I was no longer interested in being the social epicentre. It had been fun, but I was ready to move past that stage. In addition to my lifestyle change, I completely overhauled my diet, turning vegetarian and then trialing veganism. In hindsight, perhaps it was my subconscious way of eliminating my least compatible acquaintances.

Developing Close Friendships

There were about 20 acquaintances whose company I really enjoyed. Going back to the one-friend-per-day example as above, I would see one friend every three weeks. It was still a stretch for close friendships, but I had no desire to end friendships with any of these people. In order to maintain the bonds but not completely exhaust myself, I would still need to catch up with friends in groups every once in a while.

The people with whom I chose to build closer friendships satisfied one or more of the following criteria:

  • They chose me – meaning that they put in at least as much effort as I did to catch up regularly.
  • Accepted and supported my decision to overhaul my diet and lifestyle
  • Had compatible interests, for example personal growth, diet and health, relationships, career, etc.
  • Were highly positive, energetic, and fun to be around.

I practice releasing incompatible relationships from my life, and it serves me well. Choosing to spend less time maintaining weak social bonds with acquaintances gives me more time and energy to spend on my close friends.

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