I was not aware I had changed my Friend Factors until my wife pointed out to me that I don’t seem to hang out with as many “random mates” as I once used to. I kind of brushed the comment off with the reasoning that with 2 kids under 3yrs at that time meant 95% of all social activities were generally curtailed by the little people in my life.
By chance I had the following week a free Friday evening and where once I would have headed into the Rugby Pub and chanced my drinking arm at meeting a team mate for a beverage and maybe trapdoor spider a couple of other lads walking past for a cheeky drink, I actually found myself once again doing the opposite and picking up the phone and arranging a much needed catch up with a friend whom I had not seen for a while. The subject of our much reduced circle of friends came up as we sat in a nondescript bar both of us had never been to before and I was surprised and somewhat glad to hear he too seemed to have reduced his once large circle of friends. His reasoning was not kids or work or a hectic social life but simply he had taken time out from social media and had gone a little off the grid and as such a lot of fringe friends had dropped off his social life list. It got me thinking, was this coincidence or something real, was this social media related, was there a science to this or was this a subconscious decision process we had no idea we were undertaking.
The more I thought about it the more the jigsaw got jumbled. Surely in this age of connectivity and living in each others social media pockets we should be expanding our circle of friends at a linear rate based on how long we have lived in country along with the Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, linkedIN and whatsapp chat groups. I certainly have not gone off Social Media yet I was seeing less people. Add to that kids parties every second weekend and meeting new parents and their kids, add to that work and the love/hate relationship most people have with Singapore network drinks and meeting clients and their plus ones or business partners. Surely my circle of friends should be getting bigger not smaller?
These circles of friends seem to not be quality relationships but Society driven Quantity relationships (and for some of us a necessary evil in our business pursuits) and when it really counts, when it is our valuable time we have on offer, all we want to do is spend it with quality friends.
I like to think as the world spins faster and faster around us and we are bombarded with news, technology and the instant gratification of the new media we look to seek comfort in friends who add a calming influence in our lives, not adding to the mayhem. As life throws up it challenges we seek the support of the friends who are solid and dependable for advice and a listening ear, As time becomes an increasingly rare commodity as we get older we find we are more selective on who we wish to spend that valuable commodity on. As a person ages so does their circle of real friends reduces?
I am pleased to say I am not an anomaly, more and more people I speak to susbscribe to it, so much so another great couple I know now refuse to attend more than 1 birthday party a month having spent the last year cramming weekends with multiple kids and expat parties, rushing from venue to venue and buying meaningless and wasteful gifts for kids their own children see on a daily basis at school. All the while standing awkwardly in the corner of the condo function room, or by the condo pool or in a strangers house making small talk and looking at their watch knowing they had another one to go to that afternoon or tomorrow. Quality weekend time with the family is their new 2018 priority and I for one support their decision 100% as it makes perfect sense.
What constitutes a quality friend or friendship? Unfortunately there is no universal answer to this as friendships are relationships, and relationships are individual and complex associations between two or more people with the added contexts of social, cultural, religious, location, age and other influences driving the relationship for each party.
I can only speak for myself and outline what I now find important in friends and what drives my preferred friendship choices now-a-days
Energy Boosting – the opposite of emotionally draining, you seem to draw energy and pleasure from the conversations
Interesting Chat – There must be an element of interest in a person that makes you want to continue the friendship or at the very least the conversations are though provoking and inspiring in their content
Respect –respect of a person and/or their views. No-one likes to hang out with people they neither like nor respect.
Alignment of thoughts & values – linked to the respect aspect but friends who have the same values as yourself is a big driver
Timetable alignment – a timing curse but the little people in my life drive my free time for now and friends able to meet in that “zone” are important
My wife has asked a couple of times if I miss the social life before kids and the larger circle of friends I would engage with on the weekend. I miss aspects of it but at the same time there was always the chance of things being overshadowed by an individual’s drama taking centre stage of any gathering (work woes, relationship woes, over consumption woes, political incorrectness and just being whingy about the great life they have here). Whilst I may not be the social guru I once claimed to be I think I am ultimately better off engaging with a smaller group of friends that fit my much reduced social requirements. I measure this by the way I feel after a meeting. I am left somewhat sad by the fact the evening has to end, energised by the meeting and what we discussed and ultimately already looking forward to the next gathering.
This one’s for all you out there who continue to enrich my life with your friendship. Thank you!