Where did they go?
We’ve all experienced it. You’ve got a really close friend, or it’s one of your friends in a specific circle of friends. Everyone hangs out together. And then suddenly they are gone. What happened? Well they started dating someone.
So you make jokes about “wondering if they are alive still?” and “oh you still live here?” And you roll your eyes when your group is going to something or other and they “can’t make it”….again!
But we often don’t think about what happens to the guy or girl in that new relationship. Studies show that the presence of having a new romantic partner in your life costs you on average 2 close friends. That isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, it’s just the reality of having someone in your life that you are that invested in. And this lasts as the commitment strengthens. A wife or husband who has time for a hundred friends probably isn’t investing very much into their marriage.
So here is the rub. Investing in your boyfriend, fiance, wife etc. is totally fine, but is that the only reason why your other friendships are suffering? Is it your significant other who is taking up all your time or is it your torrid love affair with the internet that is really taking up all your time. Remember calling friends just to talk? When we moved across the country when I was 16, I would call my old friends and we would talk for hours, and some of those friendships still exist today. I remember when my grandparents would call and take turns chatting with each one of my brothers and sisters. It was always worth dropping what we were doing to chat with the ones we loved.
As our communication moved to texting we still used to text our friends constantly. I remember a coworker telling me that she bought her 14 year old a flip phone for christmas (this is back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and everyone just had flip phones) and pre-paid for 400 text messages. Later that afternoon her daughter came running telling her that “the phone is broken!”. She had already used up all her text messages.
Now of course what texting has done to our communication is a whole other story, but the point is the 14 year old girl had spent the whole day conversing with friends. But now we don’t do that. We “browse”, “surf” “wander aimlessly with no purpose” about the random fields of the internet. I don’t have to call friends on the other side of the country to find out how they are doing. I can see it all on facebook/twitter/instagram.
Add up all this time and ask yourself the question. Is all this time costing you friendships? Or deeper friendships? What if you took just a bit of that time and invested it in building relationships. Being there for others.
The problem is that even if you pick up your phone to call or text someone, it’s so easy to get distracted by your facebook/email/snapchat notifications. So the challenge here is to reverse that! Over the next month, schedule 5 notifications on your phone that will remind you to text a friend to ask how they are doing instead of just browsing your phone. Have THAT notification waiting for you the next time you go to glance at your phone for no reason.
Don’t date the internet. It doesn’t love you. And all the false affirmation of likes, comments and retweets will never replace actual conversation friends.
Turn your phone back into a communication device! Meet the challenge.
Challenge #7: 5 times in the next month I will text a friend instead of a browsing the internet!