Those who know me know I’m a time management guru…or at least, I try to be. I’m able to fit a lot of worthy activities on my plate. Recently, however, I’ve taken a closer look at which of my friends are worthy of my precious time…and in the process, I’ve come to the understanding that not all friends are created equal.
The past month I’ve spent more time with my good friend Dallin Large. I’ve recognized how beneficial and fulfilling our experiences have been, especially in contrast to other not so fulfilling social experiences. At one point we went camping and did a service project at a boy scout camp. Along with spending time with a good friend, I established new friendships with a number of wonderful people. All in all, I felt I had grown as a person through the experience. Almost immediately after the camping trip, I hung out with a different group of friends. It wasn’t that these friends are bad or unexciting people, but spending time with them feels more superficial and leaves me feeling empty. I may not have even noticed this emptiness had I not had the camping trip and other recent experiences with Dallin to contrast it against…but it opened my eyes to how and with whom I spend my time.
One of the many stimulating conversations Dallin and I have had was on this very topic. Through our conversation I realized that people are often drawn to others because they fulfill a need of theirs. Sometimes, however, because one person in the relationship is either too kind to say no, or simply figures any companionship is better than none, only the other person’s needs are met.
You might remember learning about different symbiotic relationships between organisms in a science class. A commensal relationship is one where one benefits, but the other is receives no benefit or harm. It also possible that a friendship becomes a parasitic relationship, in which one is brought down to the level of the other, and acts below their potential. The magic of a good friendship begins when each person is able to fulfill the needs of the other.
A shy person may need to get out of the house and be pushed to cut loose and open up. An intellectual may need to have a friend they can bounce ideas off of and who will contribute to the development of their thoughts through stimulating conversation, which happens to be my main need. Some may seek a friend who will help fill a spiritual need, while others just need someone athletic to go surfing, cliff diving, and rappelling with…again, one of my needs.
Essentially, the important thing to remember is that with so many things demanding your time, and so many potential friends crossing your path, it is worth while to take a closer look at the give-and-take aspect I’ve described. While this often happens subconsciously, many establish and continue non-beneficial and even damaging relationships because they occur by happen-stance and they figure any companionship is better than no companionship, or they don’t have the heart to say no. I’ve determined sometimes getting more sleep or reading a good book is more beneficial than an empty and superficial social outing.