Why We Still Need a Little Help From Our Friends


Picture of Kevin Arnold and Best-Friend Paul

It’s still true that we get by with a little help from our friends.

So why have so many of us since college discarded them like that Christmas tree freshener under our passenger seat? What used to liven up our lives with pine-needle-fresh — now a piece of highway debris.

In my last post, How Did Making Friends Become So Hard?, I confessed that making and keeping friends post-college has been harder for me than Churck Norris’ abs. (That’s prison-walls-hard people). And from the comments in the previous article it definitely seems I’m not alone (a relief that I have friends with those struggling to find friends!)

For many of us the transition out of college has been ten-car-pile-up scary/gruesome at times. You can’t see, can’t steer, and have no one in the car to help grab the wheel. Because all the friends who used to be in the passenger’s seat have scattered like a dandelion in a hurricane.

So where have all the friendships gone and how do we get them back??

Three Tips to Making and Keeping Friends Post-College


1. Well…Are Friends Still Important?

That’s the first question. Because honestly I think some of us have concluded that in our much-too-busy lives, friends don’t even crack the Top Ten.

As C.S. Lewis wrote:

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”

Sure we “technically” don’t need friends just like we “technically” don’t need a roof over your head. But once life starts pouring some nasty shiz-i-rain, it’s sure nice knowing there is something there to help protect you.

Plus, relationships are the most valuable commodity we have in our 20’s. That job you’ve been praying for, that introduction, that opportunity — is all going to be linked to a friend.

No friends. No freaking chance.

So first we must ask ourselves: Are we willing to pursue this crazylittlething called friendship? Are relationships going to be a priority in our lives? Or are we going to Lone Ranger this thing, the final scene of our lives just you and your horse riding into the sunset?

And while that makes for a kick-booty Hollywood ending, who’s actually going to be in the audience to watch it?

2. Get Involved

In a recent guest article on All Groan Up, Joe Bunting wrote about our generation being afraid to commit to anything. He’s right. We need to get involved. In something. An ultimate Frisbee team, community service, young mom’s support group, polar bears club — whatever we find appealing.

It doesn’t have to be a calendar-hog. Just a once a week, twice a month type thing. Share some new experiences with some new people. And of course I write this as I try to successfully dis-involve myself from any formal or informal group, so I’m going try and take my own advice here.

Both Mike and Megan in the comments on the previous article made an appeal that church can be an amazing place to find substantial, rooted, community. And while I’ve had a love/mild-disdain for church my whole life (years of being a pastor’s kid might explain why), as I look at the friendships that have survived, most if not all, have revolved around some sort of faith-based place. If you’re looking for community, why not try the one that meets in your neighborhood every Sunday?

Plus, I mean, it’s most likely embedded in their religion for them to love you unconditionally. So even all the complete a$$holes reading this write now have a chance at getting invited to Sunday lunch. (Probably explains my faith-friending-success)

3. Pick Up the Damn Phone

Honestly, I struggle at this. I see a friend calling. I want to talk. I need to talk.  But as I begin reaching for the “Answer” button, something takes control of my hand, and turns it the other way as my phone slips sadly back into my pocket like a depressed river otter back into his burrow.

That thing that has Jedi-like-control over me? My schedule. My to-do list. My life. My time. Mine, mine, me, me, MEEEEEEE.

Oh yes, the dreaded ME-MONSTER has thwarted many a good relationship, conversation, (and Japanese city). The next time a friend calls, pick up the phone. Slay the ME-MONSTER. Yes there are things on your list that won’t be accomplished. That’s fine.

A conversation with a friend does more to spark your creativity and enthusiasm than five red-bulls combined.

So actually you’re doing yourself a favor by forgetting about yourself for fifteen minutes.

Bonus 4: Pride Comes Before the Friend-Fall

Or even worse, I don’t pick up for a good friend because I simply don’t want to talk about my life. I don’t want to do the ten-minute rundown about all the non-exciting, obstacles, little tangible success details of the last month. Especially if I know the friend on the other line is experiencing more success than I. Terrible I know. Maybe that’s more a guy thing, but I definitely need to combat my Obsessive Comparison Disorder and just pick up the damn phone. Just because I can’t one up my friend doesn’t mean I should hide from them.

Why Can’t We Be Friends…

We need friendships like a reality show needs dysfunctional drama. Friendship is just that important. But it’s not always going to be easy. As one of my favorite bloggerista’s Jamie the Very Worst Missionary writes in a recent post about pursuing a friendship:

“The thing about dating, I mean friending, is that it’s kinda risky. You have to be a little vulnerable, a lot honest, and totally willing to be rejected by the person you’re trying to connect with” ~ Jamie the Very Worst Missionary

Friendships require us to be humble, open, and more….well… us. Friendships force us to be real. live. human. beings. Friendships force us to pull our heads out of our asses once in a while to come out for some fresh air and a drink. And what’s more important than that? Just as you shouldn’t kiss dating goodbye, you shouldn’t say farewell to friending either.

Whether in our 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, whenever — friendships don’t lose their value just because we’ve decided we’re too busy for them.

So consider this a collective challenge for you and I both to give friending a chance. What do you say?


Do you have any other tips for making friends?

Need some friendly-inspiration? Watch probably the best TV show intro below to The Wonder Years.



Snag the FIRST FIVE CHAPTERS from my new book All Groan Up: Searching for Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job! And free chapters from my debut best-selling book 101 Secrets For Your Twenties. AND weekly All Groan Up inspiration. All. For. Free. Enter your email below and then check your email for instructions.

Like advice from a wiser, funnier, older brother Paul's been there, done that, and wants to save you some pain and some trouble.

– Seth Godin, New York Times bestseller and author of The Icarus Deception

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  • http://Website Tracy G

    In regards to the part of this about picking up the phone…STOP TEXTING. Sure, occasionally those funny texts from a friend you don’t see too often are great, but actually taking a few minuites to hear their voice, to laugh together, THAT is what keeps you connected. Texting is so…robotic. And friendships are about the HUMAN connection. I know I sound like an old lady complaining about technology, but while technology connects us in more ways then before, it is also disconnecting us in other ways. Rock on, Paul. You are amazing for posting your thoughts. Thanks for reminding me that I am not out of my mind. :)

    • admin

      Thanks Tracy. Yep, I’m definitely someone who you’ve just described. Many of my friendships have been reduced to random texts here and there because it’s easy. Thanks for the encouragement to pick up the phone and talk like real.live.human.beings

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  • http://Website Greg

    This website has helped me so much since the moment i found it (10 minutes ago) really going thru thoes feelings of not wanting to do anything but work. and I make music wich is good….. but i NEVER see my friends anymore. Its like im afraid…. i used to be a SOCIAL BUTTERFLY. I think i just got burnt out? now all these conversations i have w ppl at the rare party i might go to seem so fake and they seem like ive done it all a million times, so i hide frm it

  • Cait

    This website is rocking my world; found the book on Amazon, and followed it here. I have it bookmarked now because it is so germane and has already inspired me! It’s just nice to know we’re not alone in some (almost all) of these sentiments. It helped me to pick up my phone and call a friend – granted she didn’t answer – but it’s a start. I will echo another post – I think texts are hindering our generation in the friend arena. With all due respect to the written word, there is more social virtue in a conversation. ** Conversations can be short, and still more meaningful and connected than a 10 bubble text.

    • http://www.allgroanup.com/ Paul Angone – All Groan Up

      That’s amazing Cait! Thank you for the kind words and well-written sentiments! Glad it even motivated you to pick up the phone. That’s huge! Hope you’re digging the book as well!

  • Evenstarscribbles

    I am in this position, and it sucks. I’ve been bad at making friends since my peers were old enough to realize I was different. “Weird”. Not like them. (I’m a bit of a nerd)
    But I always had my family, and as the eldest of 12, I was accustomed to being surrounded by other people. Then, last year, I met and married my husband, moved back to NY state with him, and realized I was all alone. My husband goes to work (taking our only car with him), and I am alone. I am ecstatic on the rare occasion one of my far away friends or family members calls, taking a short break from their busy lives to chat for a moment. But as soon as they hang up, it’s over. It’s quite. Too quiet.
    So I tried making friends at church. There were exactly two couples sort of close to our age there. Now there is one, and they are so busy we barely have a chance to say two words to them. We went to a Bible study, and there were only 4 older guys there. We went to a moms meet-up, and ONE person showed… we were not friends material. :-( The only community events/groups/clubs within walking distance (and I’m pregnant, so that won’t be walking distance for long), and interest me at all are for teens only. I am at the end of my rope. I need human interaction beside just my husband. I see pictures of friends’ baby showers and feel so jealous… not because of their piles of presents, but their huge groups of smiling, excited, supportive friends! How do you make friends when you can’t seem to find any potential candidates?!?!?
    Sorry, just very fed up with how hard this is for me.

    • http://www.allgroanup.com/ Paul Angone – All Groan Up

      I definitely feel your pain! I went through a couple different stints in my twenties were I felt like I was living in the friendship-desert.

      It’s not easy, but the best thing you can do is keep showing up. Keep giving. Be the first to encourage and speak life into someone else. The more you give, the more connections you’ll make.

      • Evenstarscribbles

        Thanks. I will definitely keep trying, it’s just discouraging. Pregnancy hormones don’t help, either! 😛