Cultivating Great Friendships in an Age of Shallow Connections

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One of my best friends is getting married this week.*

I’m looking forward to seeing more friends from back home and being a part of the festivities with Seth and Shea, but I’m also grateful to sit back and think about the people who mean a lot to me.

That Kind of Friend

When I first met Seth, we were sophomores in high school. He was a band nerd, I thought, but after a few times hanging out, it became apparent that we had overlapping social circles and similar interests. His brother Nate and our mutual friend Brian became regular staples in my social life. Seth grew into a friend who invited me to road trip to his rural farm town when he got his braces removed, and taught me one of the best things friendship can do for someone’s life. [You can read about that in my book.]

He was the friend you wanted to be around because he made you laugh and feel better about life. When most of our friends had to sleep before early high school classes, we stayed up late watching Conan. We graduated together and traveled a few summers during college, and when the fall rolled back around, he wasn’t sick of me; he wanted to share more adventures. During the same time, we played music and learned how to work hard at something we believed in. In those college years, spending more time with Seth, Nate, and Brian, they weren’t only my friends; they became my brothers.

For over a decade, we’ve all seen each other’s attempts at romance, the girls we’ve dated and broken up with, the jobs we grew disillusioned in, and our hopes for adult life change in a hundred little details. We’ve moved different places across the country, but somehow now, after meeting the women who would become our wives, three of us live in South Carolina and Seth is about to get hitched to the woman he met here.

The Art, Science, and Mystery of Great Friendship

The power of relationships is something I love to learn about because it has impacted me so deeply—or rather, my close friends have impacted me so deeply.

Social studies report that “the vital friendships—the pals you hug and laugh and lament with—are the ones who have the greatest impact on your health and happiness.”

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In an age where the most common response to the question, “how many confidants do you have” is ‘zero,’ we somehow bucked the trend. Especially because adult men are particularly bad at cultivating friendships. It’s not to say I think my friends better than everyone, but to wonder at the rare kind of everyday miracles that our connections to each other have somehow survived and even thrived. It makes me grateful.

Great friends draw us into the world and help us connect more deeply to others and to ourselves. (tweet that)

The Only Way to Have a Friend

I hope you’ve been able to enjoy friendship like that. I would not be who I am were it not for these friends who became my brothers. Who knows what your life will hold when you dig into the work of friendship and enjoy the reward of companionship.

“The only way to have a friend is to be one.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am proud of Seth, this week of his wedding, because I know his story and his hopes. I know he has been a great friend to me, to many more, and he is already a great friend to the woman becoming his wife.

Here’s to you, Seth and Shea.

*from the archives

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What is one thing you’ve learned about friendship?

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Thanks for reading! My book includes stories on how relationships help us move forward and take bigger risks with bigger rewards. Start reading for free.

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