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  • Writer's pictureDavid Stamation

Friends: Cultivating Meaningful Connections

Friendship dynamics evolve significantly from childhood to adulthood. In our school years, friendships seemed to effortlessly form through shared activities on the playground, after school bike rides, or getting into mischief together. It felt almost magical, easy, and effortless, and we didn't fully comprehend how it happened.



As adults, particularly men, the quest for that seemingly elusive magic to forge new friendships can be perplexing. Research and anecdotal evidence from my clients highlight a common challenge – many struggle with having few or no friends, and making new connections can be daunting.


Friends of mine in a personal development group based in the Chicago area have been helpful putting some form to all this. The takeaway? It takes work. If you are unsure how to start, try these approaches then tweak and adjust based on your findings.


Be intentional about what you want. That means being open, vulnerable, and candid. While coaching won’t necessarily help get friends, I do help people learn how to be open, vulnerable, and candid. You can start by naming a meaningful activity you could be involved in such as rock wall climbing, dancing or a book club.


Be curious about each person you meet. I’ll translate, ask questions, and listen to the whole answer. This is the art of conversation and may take practice. While it may sound odd, I do teach people and practice with them how to be curious.


Be brave by putting yourself out there knowing that not every encounter is going to work out. Keep going, keep being intentional and curious. Build on the last interaction and use it going forward.


Make time. Acknowledge the importance of making time for social connections. Some may claim they are too busy, but understanding oneself and evaluating the cost of lacking friends can be a powerful motivator to create time and step out of comfort zones.



I’ve had wives call me asking me to make friends with their friendless husbands. I said “No, he has to do it". You can’t be intentional for someone else. The individual must take the initiative.


It’s Not Magic

A newsletter from Men Living shared insights from researcher Jeffery Hall at the University of Kansas. According to Hall, it takes 40 to 60 hours for an acquaintance to become a casual friend, and an additional 140 to 160 hours to transition to 'close friends.' Friendship requires dedicated effort – it’s not magic, just like that degree on your office wall.

 

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