Over the years I have gained, and lost, many friends. I feel much of this might be due to my own attitude as I have been told that I can be difficult to be friends with. Part of it, though, is that I think many people do not know how to be a good friend, or what it means to be a friend to someone else. Defining what a friend is, or should be, is very difficult, and I am sure it varies from person to person, but for me the definition is pretty simple:
A friend is someone you can trust, someone you can rely on to be there even in the darkest times, and most importantly, someone you enjoy being around.
I think a lot of people today skip the first two parts of my definition, and go right to the enjoyment part. I imagine that a lot of people hold like-mindedness paramount as well. For me, having a like-minded friend is a bonus, but not at all important.
Growing up, I always had lots of friends. Some of that was interrupted when I moved away from my original home town when I was twelve years old. But I slowly gained a new “core” group of friends at my new school. Many of those friends I am still close with today, many of them I am not. When it comes to friends, as I have gotten older, I have also become a lot more picky, as such, I have decided not to be friends with certain people anymore.
As you get older, the opportunities to make new friends often lessen, combined with having less time than you had in times past due to family, or kids, or job obligations, making new friendships and properly nuturing those friendships can prove quite difficult. This is where I find myself: Wishing I had more quality friends, but struggling to find them. Most people would just look back to the old addage:
I would rather have 1 great friend than 10 good ones.
I am not sure, though, if that is always a true statement when people say it, or if it is just something they would like themselves to believe. Personally, I think I would love to have 10 great friends.
Over the years I am purposely ended a lot of friendships. I do not regret these choices, as most of those people were simply not good matches for me, and my definition of friendship. Although it can become a little awkward when mutual friends of myself, and those I am no longer friends with, are brought into the picture. It is very hard to explain to someone why you do not wish to be friends anymore, much like breaking up with a girl, except with old friends, there is always someone in your life with a connection to those old friends, and always someone who again wants you to justify to them why you cannot be friends anymore.
In middle school and high school, as I mentioned before, I had a great core of friends. Toward the middle of high school, for reasons I will never know, I became a very popular guy, and suddenly I had literally, hundreds of friends. If I had to guess, I’d say it was due to the very party friendly atmosphere which was my house, and nothing more. At the end of high school, something very interesting happened: I went to college.
I do not want to sound like an elitist or anything, but, the majority of my original friends, did not attend college. All those people I was friends (partied) with toward the end of high school, simply disappeared. Most of my core group of friends stayed home, sat around getting stoned, working at dead-end jobs. In fact, most of them still live at home with their parents and they are almost 30 years old. At some point toward the end of college, long after I had quit doing any sort of drugs, mostly quit partying, and had made a life and a career for myself, I had only a couple of friends left.
I do not feel bad that I basically wrote off a lot of my old gang for nothing more than being a bunch of losers. Mostly because I am friends with a small portion of them, and I do not judge them at all for their choices in life. The thing that keeps me friends with them fits my definition: I can trust them, I can rely on them, and I enjoy being around them.
Those who I am no longer close to are very spiteful toward me, and they feel as if I had passed some sort of judgment upon them for not living up to my expectations, I only wish I could make them realize that is not the case in the slightest. The truth is, anyone I am no longer friends with, betrayed me, more than once. Maybe I should be more forgiving?
Either way, the real point of this is about the sources of new friends. For me, there are really only a few ways to meet new people: At work, locally via clubs and meetup opportunities, and via the internet. Since I am a bit anti-social by nature, I do not generally venture out into the public or join some sort of club with the intent of making new friends, and having worked at the same place for over 3 years now, my options of socializing with co-workers have been exhausted, so I have found myself with a couple of very high quality friends whom I met online.
When I tell people that I met my fiance on World of Warcraft, or that I spent 4th of July weekend with a couple whom I regularly talk to on Twitter, I am normally met with a bit of an awkward look. I don’t mind though, because the people I have met online have turned out to be some of the best friends I have ever made. I think that more and more, people are meeting their best friends, and future wives, online. Any why shouldn’t they? Why should this be considered taboo?
To me, the internet is just as viable a place to meet someone as the local bar is. Sure the initial meeting can be a bit awkward, but once you have spent 3 years talking to someone online, you tend to have a pretty good idea of what you are getting yourself into. If you have spent a good amount of time talking to someone online, chances are they can become a great “real life” friend. If you have ever considered meeting someone online, but have been nervous about it, my advice is: do it.