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The Potholes on the Way to Finding New Friends

By Andrew Burgon / phoenix@projectfellowship.com
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August 25, 2014

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The Search for New Friends, Good Friends May Be Strewn With Disappointments

Project Fellowship was an earnest and wholehearted attempt at drawing into my life the kind of friends I desired. It wasn’t without it’s disappointments. In this article I’m going to give you a heads up on some of the disappointing scenarios and realizations that can happen when you take your initiative up to a whole new level in the determined search for friends.

Why I’m Telling You About These Unpleasant Friendship Scenarios

In truth, many of you probably know about them already. However, if you take the Project Fellowship path to making friends and start taking a lot more initiative with others than you have ever done before you might be surprised as to the extent of them.

While I load people up with ideas, strategies and tools to aid them in their friendship endeavors I also believe in pointing out the potholes in the road. Examples of these are feeble efforts, limited social boundaries and poor self-esteem. I do this because some people do not have the mindset nor the stamina to make it to the end of the road. They may also have other obstacles and liabilities in their life that they are unfortunately oblivious to.

In addition, I think it’s important to give them a booster shot. A heads up on potential unpleasant scenarios further down the road. No doubt many people don’t need it. Some do though and it’s these people I’m keeping uppermost in mind as I write this.

Knowing these things in advance will hopefully help make you more agile. Give you a mental and emotional buffer. It will help you set your expectations to ‘realistic’ and prompt you to be more thoughtful concerning your friendship endeavor. You’ll also be less likely to get exhausted in the search for friends as well.

So, here are some of the things you might notice when expending a great effort to come up with the circle of friends you desire.

Chronic Passiveness: Your Friends Take Little to No Initiative With You

Let’s say you’ve spent a busy year hosting many different kinds of events, attending other people’s events and have been busy making new friends. What happens when you cease taking the lion’s share of the initiative? When you take one tiny step outside of your social circle?

You have what I call the Great Falling Away. If you have a large circle of friends you may find that many of them will either fade away or disappear never to be heard from again. You may find yourself cold and lonely feeling like you have been abandoned on a deserted street. Your cell phone deathly quiet. “Wow!”

Many friendships are either solely dependent on our initiative to survive or on circumstances. The vast majority of people are just passing through our lives and many of them have their eyes on the exit sign as they enter. Fortunately, it’s not the vast majority we focus on! Also, while many people lack initiative they may display a good number of other qualities like warmth, enthusiasm, humor and kindness. I learned long ago to downplay the importance of initiative. It’s a scarce commodity compared to many others and seems to be the domain of good friends.

The Cornucopia Dispassion

friendship problems

The cornucopia or horn of plenty is a symbol of abundance and nourishment, commonly a large horn-shaped container overflowing with produce, flowers or nuts. (Wikipedia)

It’s amazing how much people can overlook.

Regardless of how much you bring to the table of friendship a LOT of people will exit your life without a second thought. I call it the Cornucopia Dispassion.

You might have a great cornucopia on that table containing sterling friendship qualities. Polished qualities that shine and sparkle like diamonds.

Nestled among them are the great social events that you have poured your heart and soul into that people rave about. Golden nuggets of hospitality. The plethora of gold coins present represent the fistfuls of cash you have thrown into your social endeavors.

Most precious of all is a dazzling ruby the size of your fist that is shaped like a heart. It represents your genuine, heartfelt attempts at befriending others and the initiative you’ve shown.

While people do appreciate these things and they facilitate great times it’s usually not enough to keep many friendships in orbit around your life. Often what keeps people anchored to your life is initiative or circumstances.

There are a host of reasons why we don’t connect with people in a special, meaningful way.

Naturally, if you are befriending lots and lots of people you will encounter MANY who are not particularly interested in your friendship, who are simply too busy or who aren’t interested in making new friends.

Some people will palm you off nicely, others will acquaintance zone you while others are just unresponsive, disinterested and apathetic. Many will strongly prefer the company of others. To see the new people in your life nearly always gravitating away from you and towards others for friendship can become troubling. Such was my case before Project Fellowship.

Your Inner Circle of Friends is Not Immune

Indifference or a general lack of initiative can be present in your inner circle as well.

One of the things you may note is what I call comparative disinterest. An example would be a friend who gravitates towards another friend in your circle and fuses! If one of these is the very enthusiastic kind you will note the difference between how the person responds to you and his or her special friend. You might get the vibe from this friend, “Hey, I’m in your circle of friends because I really like our mutual friend, Ken. I love this particular event you hold, too. As for you, well, I really couldn’t care less.” Lol

Friendly cliques are similar. It’s a group of friends within say a social group that get along really well together but don’t share a special connection with you. If you are a particularly sensitive person you can start to feel like a second rate member whose friendship will never truly be valued. It’s like watching campfire revelers from the fringe of a forest.

Dead End Zones

You join a social group that has some people you really like and end up establishing some friendships that mean a lot to you. After a while a good friend leaves as well as two other friends you really liked. Another friend inexplicably changes and no longer seems to value your friendship.

One day you wake up and you realize you don’t have one good friend in a group of people you’re spending your prime social time with. You know the members, you have sounded them out and realize there is no potential for better friendships. This is a dead zone.

A fervent hearted person like myself simply cannot afford to hang out in a dead zone. It’s depressing and the opportunity cost is just too great.

Friendship Inconsistency

Even good friendships do not chug along consistently. I often come across people on-line who are disappointed and troubled about close friends who have become distant and cold. As the saying goes, change is the one thing we can count on in life.

Some Encouraging Words for those who are depressed about their friendships and seek a breakthrough.

I think one of the most important things I could say here is don’t be too clingy or too attached to certain people especially those who are not mindful of your friendship. As I see it, we are all like magnets. Certain people in life will respond to us just like iron filings respond to a magnet. These are the friends I want most of all.  When I meet people who seem as though they couldn’t care less about me I think to myself, “Well, I know there are good friends out there. These people are obviously not them.” So I move on.

Three Burning Questions

Figuratively speaking, when I emerged from out of the dark crypt of severe depression in 2005 I thrust open the doors of my life to welcome a multitude of new friends.

I had three powerful stones in my hand that remind me of the elf stones in the novel, The Sword of Shannara. They were the three burning questions that I dwelt on for a long time.

1. How can I live on a higher strata of satisfying and rewarding friendships?

2. How can I draw good friends into my life?

3. How am I responsible for my friendship situation?

These three questions had a profound effect on my life and rocked my world. If you constantly struggle friendship-wise know that one of the keys to having a breakthrough is going through a period of growth and burning questions do a great job of starting that process. These three questions I now give to you.

A Few Close Friends

I learnt that the distance from the abyss of severe depression to the glorious peaks of friendship is just a few close friends. Since I have a visceral sense of that distance this truth strikes me as somewhat bizarre and unbelievable but it’s true none-the-less.

When you have close friends you will feel more than content friendship-wise. You will thrive regardless of how many people are indifferent to your friendship. So focus on this critical inch of your life. The search for good friends.

“A faithful heart makes wishes come true.”
– Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

As I mentioned in my article, The Gifts of Perseverance, there are many benefits to those who persevere in coming up with the kind of friends they desire. I think of them as gifts bestowed to the faithful.

When we set out on a serious friendship endeavor and truly persevere and make the effort required certain ‘gifts’ become ours. They are acceptance, hardening, discernment, illumination, wisdom and understanding and healing. All of these things help us navigate the scenarios I just mentioned.

For those who have been troubled by the very things I have talked about here is a mental trick that may help. Before Project Fellowship the world’s indifference, carelessness and apathy were like the huge elephants in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Now, I think of it as the walls of the Grand Canyon.  My mind has impersonalized it. There I am on the river below having the time of my life with the friendships that matter. Always focus on the assets of your life. See if you, too, can change the way you see it

Boating down the Colorado River below Havasu Creek in Grand Canyon National Park. NPS photo by Mark Lellouch.

Boating down the Colorado River below Havasu Creek in Grand Canyon National Park. NPS photo by Mark Lellouch.

By Grand Canyon National Park [CC-BY-2.0]

There is a lot of indifference, carelessness and apathy in the world. For those searching for friends I wish you all the best in your endeavor. Learn and grow and remember. A faithful heart makes wishes come true.

* For women living in the United States and who are looking for a breakthrough friendship-wise consider joining Shasta Nelson’s website, Girlfriend Circles.

Girlfriend Circles matches women based on age, location and interest. Introductions follow at a local cafe and friendships are formed. Meeting up with other people who are just as interested in making new friends as you are makes for a great start. Even better, Shasta Nelson is a friendship expert who has many helpful ideas concerning friendship that you can find on her blog.
 
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