Coping: Life-Long Friends

Got some keen insight into reality a couple of years back.

Oilman2‘s son was doing some work for us on a project and on a lunch break we got to talking about “friends” on social media.

He was just finishing college and had lots of friends on social media.  But, he was shocked at how real friends work out.  You see, he’d moved to rural East Texas and went into the local Tractor Supply store to pick up a few things.  Chatted with a couple of the younger TS employees.  You know, the catalog desk and checkout.  Normal stuff.

Nothing exceptional so far, right?  Where it became exceptional was when he went back a week or two later and the employees remembered him by name.

That doesn’t happen on social media.

Sure, there are silly “Like” and “Follow” buttons.  But once you reach a certain level of personal security and actual begin to own your life, rather than living in a rental shell life, the definition of a “friend” begins to change.

I have counted maybe three or four obvious levels of “friends.” The hierarchy goes something like this:

  1. No friends.  We probably all know people who are mostly devoid of “friends.”  Usually, seems to be a choice they have made…a bad one.  When a “friend” does something you don’t understand or like, there’s only one adult course of action:  Sit down and talk about it.  But, some people are so full of “pride” that they will burn bridges and damn whoever they don’t agree with forever.  Bottom line?  They don’t have many – if any – real long-term friends.
  2. Phony Friends:  This is where most of the social media addicts end up.  They pretend to have “friends” but when comes down to it, how do they reveal themselves to be phonies?  Well, on social media, how many of thief “friends” and “followers” have their phone number?  Have they ever even had a live conversation (Zoom and Skype count too) with them?  If they bust a leg, get fired, get dumped, of 1,000 followers, how many will pick up the phone and reach out?  Usually none.
  3. Friends In Training (FIT):  Not everyone gets to be my friend.  I have several people who are in the “friends in training” category.  These are people who you may not get to spend much “face time” with, but you admire and respect their skills, and wouldn’t mind hanging out with ’em.  On the other hand, you haven’t known them long enough to find out whether they have a dark side and are willing to accept whatever your shortcomings are.
  4. Short Term Friends:  These are people you’ve known for more than a couple of years but less than 10-years, or so.  Everyone is “on probation” for the first 10-years.  Usually, in 10 or 15-years, if the person has “issues” or doesn’t meet your personal conduct or behavior expectations, you cut ’em loose.  With 7.6 billion people in the world, there’s no shortage of potential friends.  There is, for all of us, a definite shortage of time.  And in the end, we get to judge ourselves at “life review” come the end of Life.  To work up a great Life Review, you need to invest in people the same way you do with the stock market, real estate, or any other asset.  Carefully!
  5. Long-Term Friends and Friends for Life: (LTFs or FFLs) These are people who are genuinely your  pals and have your back. Other than relatives, which are a whole different kettle of fish, FFLs are what takes life and turns it into a constant source of joy.  These are the key people in your Master Mind Group.  Sure, they get to be critical of whatever you’re doing, but the criticism is tempered with (first and foremost) a sense of “inquiry.”  They are not “rush to judgment” people.  They have your sincere best interests at heart so if you don’t explain yourself clearly (or if you actually do something dumb…) they will pin your ears back nut gently try to get their point of view into your thinking.

What are Your “Friend’s” Profiles?

Something I learned from my parents – though I doubt anyone would be so politically incorrect – yet success-oriented to say this any more – is that “You become like the people you hang around.”

I have what I’d consider 6 or 7 long-term friends.  Their typical net worth runs from half a million on up to many millions.  They tend to be in solid long-term marriages, grown children (if any) and have both amazing technical skills in their chosen professions along with a demanding philosophy of inquiry.  Average IQ’s are over 130.

They are also high-energy people.  They have gutted their way through life and working 60-hours a week doesn’t begin to phase them.  Not one damn bit. To a person (for the mix is female and male) they are all about building an outcome with any tasks worthy of their attention and effort.

Whether it takes 5-minutes or 70-hours doesn’t matter to them.  They are “owners of outcomes” and at any cost.

Much has been said (and written) about the David Goggins book “Can’t Hurt Me” on the topic of mental toughness.  To a person, each of my long-term friends has this “tough-as-nails” quality and each is harder on themselves than anyone else.

My buddy “the Major” is down here this week.  We have been friends since I was 3-1/2 years old.  We’ve spent a lot of time this week reflecting on this quality of some people to be brutally hard on themselves.  Most people are excusifiers.

You have no idea the savory pleasure of knowing another human being for 50-years or more.  Imagine being in a checkout line (at age 70) and recalling when we were both going through the 3rd-grade fad of making cinnamon toothpicks.

The Major would buy a quarter ounce of sweetened cinnamon oil from the old Owens Pharmacy on Beacon Hill in Seattle.  Cost him 15-cents, or so.  Then he’d  gather up toothpicks by the hundreds.  Soaked for a day and dried, he sold 10 for a quarter at the Catholic grade school he attended.  I already had a supplier (Harvey Toy) at my public grade school.

My second-longest friend is Gaye Levy whose Strategic Living blog is a constant source of “better living” ideas.  We met in 1973, or so, when she was with the federal government just after college. So, we’ve been friends for 46-years. I haven’t known her husband quite as long.  It took her a couple of years of sorting out the “Mr. Wrongs” to finally get to Mr. Right and it’s been a pleasurable friendship with both.

She introduced me to essential oils (see her site as it’s a gold mine on topic) and I’ve got some personal experiments coming up using verbena oil as a result.

It should be obvious that friendship between partners in a marriage is the greatest constituent of marital bliss.  If you have your absolute best friend (in my case, Elaine) and toss in enough money to keep the wolves at bay, even at 70 every day is to be savored.  Elaine and I are now almost 20-years into our marriage and the quality of friendship continues to be marvelous.  I learn from her, she learns from me.

Seems in today’s world – and maybe this is brainwashing at work – that people are far too focused on their sexual energies and not enough on the mental and emotional aspects of life partnering.  The key point this morning being that when materialism trumps friendships, the end is nigh.

One of the best measurements of a friend is (borrowing an Army recruiting phrase) whether they “Help you be all that you can be…”  Nice, easy metric.  All of my close friends nail it.

Mark your calendar: National Friendship Day comes up August 4th.

You don’t need a lot of “short term” friends. The cost of not having a bunch of “likes” is what?  As I’ve got it figured, “likes” and “follows” are worthless unless you have a monetization plan. Otherwise, it’s a useless time sink with no payback or return on investment (of time).

Instead of large empty numbers, focus on who  the 2 or 3 really high-quality people are in your life and don’t screw those relationships up.  With any luck, you’ll collect that precious handful that make the 20-year mark.

Sure, there’s a category for “casual friends” – people you meet who you’d like to be friends with.  But that’s a hard one to sort through.  Because friends take time and that’s something we all have too little of.

If I ever offend anyone who wants to be my friend, rest assured that it isn’t because I don’t like friends.  It’s just that when you have solid, quality, long-term friends, they come first and you need to be there for them. That doesn’t mean you don’t “cover your own butt,” however.

Quandaries of life, this friendship stuff.

Write when you feel friendly,

12 thoughts on “Coping: Life-Long Friends”

  1. Hi, George,

    That was a beautiful post about friendships. I also have a friendship with one person that began at age three. I might add that sharing a crisis can either make or break a friendship. With five of my dearest friends, we all shared many a crisis; I with them, and they with me. A crisis can either be personal, or it can involve being in the same situation at the same time, like a grim mountain rescue. In those cases, each life crisis was so intense that the friendship solidified as something akin to being forged in metal and etched in stone, having the ability to weather anything thrown at it. However, in one case with another friend, he withdrew from us all after being helped with his crisis. I like to think that a deep relationship with a friend forever can transcend time.

    • Good stuff Nancy. The kind of stuff that builds, restores, renovates, remodles and constructs not destroys and tears down.

      Healing words with depth, that transcends and brings resoration to spiritual wounds. Like a spiritual salve, that nurtures, softens, heals, lifts, with the fullness of empathy and roots out decay. Nulifying spiritual disease and infectious bacteria. while bring forth the full measure of restoration in wellness and prosperity to the core of ones being.

      Thank you for your words and the golden “halo’s” within them. Absolutely beautiful.


  2. I have two hobbies that are populated almost entirely by old men. The lack of females and young people is quite obvious.

    I don’t go to the club meetings. Allow me to say why, please.

    Some years ago — I am now 75, myself — I was a practitioner of film and television production. This is largely a young person’s business, and the sex mix is close to a natural balance of 50-50. I happily attended that monthly.

    You hang with younger, stronger, more vibrant people, and you automatically and unconsciously adopt some of their manner, and you gain much of a positive nature and world-view. I benefited from this. Better than Vitamin B-12 shots!

    The other activities I mentioned above feature a lot of discussions of age, drugs of the non-recreational kind, illnesses and conditions, and drain my natural vigor. Sadly, the activities themselves are extremely Worthy — the mise-en-scene, the pursuit itself is artistic and technical and involved and subtle. Sadly. I wish the alte-cockers that dominate them could see themselves… Ham radio, and model railroading. Younger folks are just not very comfortable among them, although these clubs count many Wise Heads with advanced skills and knowledge, who could teach much…

    • Thanks for this post! IMHO, we as a society suffer seriously from age segregation and it’s a factor in the political schism that’s Balkanizing our country. I hang out with millennials and youngers to the best of my ability and learn their pop culture. It’s refreshing even though I often have to break their frame of peer group thinking. I have acquaintances of all ages(thank God) and that helps me remain at least a somewhat rounded person. Sadly, I don’t have enough dear friends – those we’d risk our lives to help the other. I don’t think the actual length of a friendship is determining – it’s the sincerity that matters. I have no friends from childhood and only one from high school. I do have two more that exceed the 30 year mark. I’m still trying for that handful of dear friends, though I’m making progress at the level of good friends.

  3. George, good points. I have counted about 5 friends over a lifetime. These are the people you can call up in dark of night and say “I need some help” and they reply “Where are you” or “what do ya need”. Hard to fine these kind of people! But, to have friends you must be a friend. Cheers

  4. Is there such a thing as a mental and emotional “virtual marriage”? Someone that’s physically apart from you by thousands of miles yet you contact every day or few and have deep conversations with? Someone that you share most values with? Someone that you have a serious sexual history with? Someone you may only see every few years? I’ve been pondering this. Though your life goals are different and you’d never be compatible for more than a few weeks in the same house, you still see as ideal? Someone that qualifies as a dear friend and you still lust after?

    This is one conundrum that’s still unresolved, though I’m still in the market for a real LTR/marriage with physical intimacy, though someone who meets my particular desires is quite rare and would have a world full of choices.

    • Yes, there are emotional marriages that cannot be together. However, this is the key, does it hold you back from moving forward? Sometimes these emotional marriages become road blocks to being open to someone new. You even admit, you don’t think it would work, so it is a ‘mind relationship’.

      The sad part can be, years go by, as we live in the past in our minds going over it all, as it rekindles up the sexual feelings that can never be nor last.

      IF you really want a mate, you have to break free from this spell.

      Keep the friendship, leave the emotional tie, be open to a more fulfilling relationship.

      OR make your case and go get her; don’t let mountain nor valley keep you from her.

      Oh, this is a petty petty wonderful example, look up Alana and George Hamilton. That’s quite a little saga. Somehow, they made it, after ALL these years!

      I’ve seen a lot of nice advice given to you on this comment board by men and women. Take mine with a grain of gold, okay?

  5. Friends… I have two from childhood… but having moved so many times and so far away it is hard to keep in touch. Life has a way of distancing ones self. I have always been a self-sufficient person that could easily solo circumnavigate in a 30′ sailboat, after reading “Dove” when I was 13 years old. I have a great wife that has been by my side for over 20 years and she is my anchor and North Star. I have a few casual friends, but never worked at honing them any further. Does this make me a “Bad person” or just a pathetic looser?

    • Anono: Neither, it makes you human, self sufficient, and fulfilled. At any time, a new friend can come along in the form of a kitten, dog, young child, older person, etc. Be on the lookout, when you are ready to share what you know or give what you can, a new being will come along. You might be ready to invest then. And, of course, you will again be reminded of this incredible saying: The Good You Do Comes Back To You.

      I met a couple on a cruise ship in 2004. Saturday night before the cruise, I had my first date which would end up becoming my spouse. Monday morning who did I tell about the date, well the people at my table for breakfast. That’s where I met these 2 most incredible people, one a highly talented Jewish artist and musician, and the other a WW2 German citizen survivor (yes innocent Germans survived a war they didn’t want and didn’t fight). These two amazingly accomplished incredible individuals would become fast friends with myself and my spouse. We were there for each through many years, they attended our wedding, met our family members, supported us through thick and thin as we lost our parents. They called us for anything, we would help and did help in any way we could. One day, the accomplished artist and musician passed away, we were there for her. When I was so ill, she was there for my spouse. I just got back driving 200 miles to go see her today; she is 90 going on 91. We have known each other 15 years. I happened to ask her today, have you made any other friends from meeting them on a cruise? She said, oh my dear, I have met many people on cruises over the years, and at first, all excitement, we exchange phone numbers, but we never meet again. You were the only one that actually called me up and came to see us! The secret is, what a blessing they have been and now her for me and us all these years.

      So, I know of which I speak. That new friend might be just around the corner.

      P.S. A feral cat befriended my spouse, then she had 2 kittens. We have brought them home to care for them before they are adopted out. We will spay the Mom and keep her as she has settled in with love for us both and responds to our love as well. I just had my first kitten snuggle since I was 10 years old…..this little six-week old amazing kitten decided I was the cat’s meow, it snuggled right up to my neck, decided my chin needed a wash, and then fell asleep under my chin. I swear I just felt so much joy to have a new life sitting on my chest. So, I hope my 2 stories inspire you for hidden opportunities.

  6. Most of my FFL are the guys I lived with in College. I was in a fraternity, so there were a lot of us that stayed together fornallmofnthose 4 years. There’s something about experiencing that first four years of freedom from your parents with a bunch of guys planning your futures, developing your personality and grit and enjoying a bit or a lot of alcohol, that you never forget.

    Even though they are all coast to coast, thousands of miles away, it IS social media that keeps us together. If you use Facebook and Instagram the right way, you can have full on knowledge of the guys and women you knew the best. We plan annual trips, congratulate them on successes, sons and daughters graduations, jobs, new grandkids, etc. The real close ones, we call, but we also relish Facebook for being able to share the photo experience, when we can’t be there. For all of social media’s bad press, it’s social media that has kept me closer to the people I really care about.

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