The Power in Having Only a Few Friends.

Via Jennifer S. White
on May 28, 2013
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Friendship is few and far between—and that’s a good thing.

I’ve been to a rave only once in my life.

For those of you who aren’t aware, a rave is a “large overnight dance party featuring techno music,” according to Merriam-Webster, that is.

I have some funny memories from this time, when a girlfriend and I went along with two other friends who frequented these late-night parties. However, even in my exuberant youth, I couldn’t stay up late—and thankfully neither could she.

It was still the middle of the night, though, and one of the others had driven. In short, we were stranded and needed to find a way home.

We weren’t desperate enough to wake up our parents, since it was still a ridiculous hour even though it was pathetically early to the other ravers.

I remember standing outside the club—and I use that term generously, as I’m pretty sure it was just an old warehouse in a gross part of Toledo, Ohio—with my buddy trying to figure out what to do.

Mind you, this was B.C. (Before cellphones.) I can still see her face contort with sorrow as she realized that we didn’t really have anyone we wanted to call. She turned to me and said, “This is when you know that you don’t have as many friends as you thought you did.”

I remember another time in college, a few years after this above-mentioned scene, when yet another friend told me that her car had broken down at 3am the night before. She told me that when you think about who you can call at this unusual hour, you discover who your friends are. (Needless to say, she hadn’t called me.)

As I grow older, I realize how much these lessons have taught me, even if much of it has remained in the deep recesses of subconscious mind.

I’m a Scorpio. If you know absolutely nothing about astrology, I’ll explain to you what I mean.

I have only a handful of close friends, although I socialize well and have many friendly acquaintances. Still, the point is that for these few people who I bring into my heart, and into the heart of my life, I would do just about anything.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with owning up to the reality that most of us don’t have 20 people you would call in the middle of the night for help. If you think about it another way, would you want 20 people calling you?

Friendship, real friendship, requires skill, work and dedication. It’s simply not possible to give all of yourself to a billion people. I guess you could, but would you have any love leftover for yourself afterwards?

I think my—I guess you could call it demanding—nature with friends most likely results from the fact that I’m an identical twin and am married to the man who has been my best friend since I was 14 years old. They both set the bar pretty high.

My twin sister taught me how to have a close relationship. Luckily, I consider us both to be independent, so I don’t feel that we learned co-dependency from our relationship either.

For me, it came naturally to fall into a long-term relationship with a boyfriend early on. I prefer genuine intimacy over b.s.-spewing conversations, and always have—and I think this helps explain how I feel about friendship as a whole.

Are you the sort of person who is different with different people or are you simply you, regardless of who you’re with?

I consider myself to be “me,” no matter who I’m talking to. I do know I had to work to be this way, because I think it’s easy to default into people-pleasing and chameleon-changing when you’re young and, quite frankly, still not entirely sure who this “me” even is.

It also seems to me that if you have a plethora of people you think are your friends, you might want to get yourself stuck in a bind and see who you turn to—and who answers.

Not everyone answers.

Not everyone picks up the phone for you in the middle of the night, ready to grab a coat and dash out the door even if you call expecting it.

Friendship is a two-way street, and this is the secret to any long-term or successful relationship: you must find other people who want these same things.

Not everyone is capable of being a good friend, and maybe not everyone wants to be a good friend.

My husband and sister still set my relationship bar high.

For lack of a better explanation, my back went out for the first time this weekend. My sister told me that she would figure out a way to come help with my daughter if I needed her. My husband did much of the work around our house and he played with our daughter so that I could do the only thing that makes me feel better—curl up on my back in a fetal position.

Having the inability to stand up straight and pick up your child makes you feel pretty vulnerable, let me tell you.

When you’re vulnerable, who will you let in? (Because in serious pain, whether externally, like mine currently, or internally, as the case usually is, we don’t have the strength to put up those phony walls for people who honestly are not our friends.)

Well, as it turns out, I do have a couple real friends. (Even though I recently told you about how lonely I’ve felt since my semi-recent move last year.)

Two of my (as it turns out, best) girlfriends are going to watch my little girl so that I can have a visit with my miracle worker, I mean massage therapist. They didn’t even hesitate when I asked them for help (and I don’t think it’s ironic that these two are sisters; I think that in my aforementioned deep, subconscious recess of my mind, I look for and value other women with this type of special bond).

Also, perhaps not ironically, I was just talking with one of these amazing women the other day, mentioning to her that I think for some of us the real difficulty lies in learning how to ask for and accept help rather than being overly dependent on others. (Although, this conversation came up in the first place because we were talking about people who had these tables turned.)

And that’s another beautiful part about people—we’re all different.

Finding people who are exactly like you is not how you find friends—but finding people who like you exactly as you are might be.

Relationships are odd things. They require attention, but not so much attention that you suffocate them; they require love, but the necessary patience to get to know someone in order to arrive there; and they give more than they take, if you’re really in a good one.

I don’t know about you, but I would rather have that handful of people who truly know me, love me, believe in me and support me through thick and thin than I would a mountain full of people who are none of these things to me.

Life isn’t lonely at the top; it’s lonely when you’re in the middle of it, and of everyone, and you’re still alone.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go lie down in a fetal position while I have a few minutes, and while I’m there I’m going to send all my loving gratitude out to these beautiful people in my life. I’m especially thankful that my initial feeling of vulnerability led ultimately to an immense feeling of strength.

There is strength in love.

Here’s another definition from Merriam-Webster for you: strength is “the quality or state of being strong : capacity for exertion or endurance.”

That’s another thing about love—it helps move us through life, and it helps us enjoy the process while we’re at it.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ~ Lao Tzu



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Ed: Bryonie Wise

Source: via Nicole on Pinterest




About Jennifer S. White

Jennifer S. White is a voracious reader, obsessive writer, passionate yoga instructor and drinker of hoppy ales. She’s also a devoted mama and wife (a stay-at-home yogi). She considers herself to be one of the funniest people who ever lived and she’s also an identical twin. In addition to her work on elephant journal, Jennifer has over 40 articles published on the wellness website MindBodyGreen and her yoga-themed column Your Personal Yogi ran in the newspaper Toledo Free Press. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in geology, absolutely no degrees in anything related to literature, and she currently owns a wheel of cheese. If you want to learn more about Jennifer, make sure to check out her writing, as she’s finally put her tendencies to over-think and over-share to good use. Jennifer is the author of The Best Day of Your Life, available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She's also as excited as a five year old to announce the release of her second book, The Art of Parenting: Love Letters from a Mother, available on Amazon.


12 Responses to “The Power in Having Only a Few Friends.”

  1. Cat B says:

    Thank you for this! Your insight is so helpful as I struggle to define and evaluate my own "friendships". And I especially appreciate this line: "If you think about it another way, would you want 20 people calling you?" Unexpected perspective!

  2. @Kokitsuneko says:

    It's interesting to hear this coming from a scorpio. We're so alike (I'm a cancer/leo) yet so different. I've been struggling with a deep inner crisis for years now, I've been feeling like wanting to be more alone and rejecting everyone but at the same time, I'm stuck in my loneliness and wanting someone to come out. I've felt selfish these years but I acknowledge that it's there and that it's a huge problem, it's affected my friendships and made me confused greatly.

    I love friends but sometimes I feel so superficial, looking for those extra special things that make them stand out rather than accepting them for who they are, even if we don't have many similarities with each other. It sucks.

    I've stayed away from making friends with Scorpios (I research a lot of astrology) lol since I get sucked into their magnetism so greatly, I start to suffocate them . . . . and suffocate myself too. Ugghhh, I don't know how I'd deal with them now. They still intimidate me lol and my so-called Scorpio friends, ended up suffocating them even though they set the bar high for what kind of friends I wanted for the future. (Oh, terrible) . . .

    The bars have been set down now and even now, I don't have many friends whom I can rely on nor whom I can really think of as special or feel like talking to every day. It sucks, I have such big social issues with people nowadays ( _ _) lol

    Thank you for this article though. It helps a little and makes me re-think what I should this summer to reconnect with people, -sigh-

  3. pat says:

    Scorpios rock. Just sayin' 😉

  4. JMo says:

    Thank you for taking the time to post this article. It was just what I needed to read given the low spot I have hit lately with regard to making friends and keeping friends at age 43.

  5. scorpiorose87 says:

    thank you for writing this article! I have been socially confused…pretty much my whole life (I'm a fellow scorpion as well). I would drop everything I'm doing to help those who I love, no questions asked. I have been so saddened and disillusioned to find that most of my "friends" are terribly flaky and think only of themselves. I used to blame it on myself, like there was something terribly unlovable about me. Everyone else seemed to have piles of friends and a booming social life. But not me. I have a hard time tolerating fake people who obviously will not be sincere and deep with me. No one's fault, that's just how it is. I think it is so much more worthwhile and meaningful to have a few close soul sisters, or brothers, rather than a group of surface-chatting, flaky, shallow "friends" who will flee the second you hit something real, either in yourself or reflecting it back to them.
    Again, thank you!

  6. Jennifer White says:

    Thank you, and I sincerely wish you luck and happiness as you work through your rough patch.

  7. Jennifer White says:

    Don't close off from society or from yourself. Consider talking with someone professionally who can offer you useful advice and steps towards happiness.

  8. Jennifer White says:

    In these situations, personally, it helps me to remember the ways that I too occasionally flake out or disappoint without wanting to or even meaning to, and it helps me with perspective, understanding and forgiveness towards the people in my life and their less than stellar moments.

  9. lanashlafer says:

    I haven't read an article in the last few weeks that has touched me as deeply as this one. I have felt different and alone so much in my life and it has brought me the greatest gifts. One of those gifts is true/deep/intimate/lasting/powerful/transformative friendships with a very small handful of people. And yes, I have called them at 3am and they've answered.

    Thank you Jennifer for your beautiful and soulful writing! Just shared it on my facebook page

  10. KGhhh says:

    Not a fellow Scorpio but a Leo with Venus in Scorpio, if that counts. 😉 Your article really spoke to me. I have grappled with the same issue for many years now. I refuse to act differently around certain people and will often speak my mind, in a kind way, but a way that distances me. And that's okay. I have learned to be okay with my loneliness.

  11. EmpwrdDstny says:

    Interesting to come across this post, even though it's from last year – one of my dearest girlfriends just sent me a link to it as we've been having an ongoing, months-long discussion about quality over quantity in friendships due some developments in her social circle.

    I relate to a lot of what was posted here, as does she – and it's really no surprise seeing as we're all fellow Plutonians. For those who find themselves in similar dilemmas, I think it might be helpful to question the emptiness/loneliness we experience in situations like this so that we can come to see this void as something else – I actually wrote a post on this topic about a month or so ago:

    I don't think we should fill the vacancy with just any old person in order to plug this hole – I think there is power in consciously cultivating space for the *right* person(s) to fill that parking spot and that we can find integrity in our willingness *not* to accept the things, people, and circumstances we don't want in our orbit.

    Finding people who want the same level of friendship we are willing to provide is absolutely key, otherwise it can become a losing investment. Some people do absolutely fine with a more superficial level of involvement where they don't need/want the kind of friend who will show up at your house with a shovel, flashlight, and bodybag if asked, LOL – and there is zero judgment on my part if that's how you roll. But I also know that I am geared very differently and that it's OK for me to be the way I am, too. I *have* to be able to count on you as a clutch player in my life, because I tend to give a lot in a friendship and can't wind up in a lopsided situation where my chips are invested in someone who won't provide a Return On Investment. It's not selfish to think in these terms; it's sensible and self-full as reciprocity is what keeps any good relationship balanced and healthy in the long haul. Especially if you're not the kind who discards friends easily, it's smart to think about it in these terms.

    My heart breaks when I hear of other ladies feeling apologetic because they prefer relating to others on a deeper level, and if I could urge one thing it's not to shortchange yourself/grasp at straws. There ARE other women out there who want this same level of friendship – they absolutely DO exist! You just might have to step outside of your normal ponds/fishing spots in order to connect to them. Don't give up – keep trying!