Let’s face it: it feels good to be accepted. When you know you’re liked, you get a supercharged dopamine hit. The more people that like you, the better you should feel (theoretically). Unfortunately, the formula isn’t so simple, and with large quantities come variables beyond your control that can disrupt your balance. For this reason, you should keep your circle small as you advance in your path through manhood.
Sad Truths About People
While you intentions might be pure, the intentions of others generally aren’t. It’s a sad fact, but one every man must accept through his life journey. Most people are self interested, so if you don’t bring something to the table that they want, they may dismiss you. On top of that, haters are everywhere, and some actively want you to fail. They take comfort in seeing others as sad and desperate as themselves, and they will push you to join them in their pit of despair.
Some will sabotage your projects and relationships, and others will attempt to hijack your mental well being or happiness. This is why it’s so important to guard your thoughts like your life depends on it … and avoid negative influences at all costs. Many narcissistic people enjoy the simple idea of having control over someone else, and it’s possible they will target you next. You are a means to their end.
If you possess anything of value, trust someone out there will want to take it from you by any means necessary. This does not suggest you should live a life on the edge and full of paranoia, but rather it implores you to be selective with who you spent time and energy with. You can’t go through life inherently trusting everyone who crosses your path, and being that your time is limited you are best served limiting those who you allow into your tight circle.
Keep Your Circle Small: The Rule of “7”
A close friend once told me that in life, you only have time for seven friends, one of which is your significant other. I’m not saying seven is the magic number, but it could be a good place to start as you curate your list of friends and acquaintances. To have a strong, healthy relationship, time and energy must be invested. There are seven days in a week, so his logic may have been built upon that concept.
Whether its one friend or twenty, you are best served keeping your circle small. We live in a world where privacy is valued at a premium. Is it wise for lots of people to know your business? Do you want a multitude of people to have knowledge of your weaknesses, fears, and problems? Attention whores and victims who air dirty laundry may enjoy the drama and attention that oversharing brings, but most normal, rational people would not. So, tighten it up, and only confide in the worthy.
How to Keep Your Circle Small
You’re probably thinking about the most effective way to determine this elite list of your closest friends. If you ever decide to get married, you’ll go through a similar mental exercise when choosing your groomsmen. Consider the following attributes as you evaluate your circle:
1. Loyalty: Do they have your back, or would they stab you in the back if someone/something “better” came along? This is hard to judge over short periods of time, so longevity is key here. Ditch the fly by night friends immediately. If/when you ever get into trouble, you need a friend by your side who will go down swinging with you.
2. Selflessness: Relationships are a two-way street, and friends should demonstrate a willingness to do things for you when needed. Selfish people will use you up until you have no value to them. As such, these people should be left out of the inner circle in favor of those who demonstrate selflessness. In a study done about habits of lifelong friends, one of the most prominent features of relationships that stood the test of time was “showing up”. Real friends will make themselves present when they’re needed.
3. Pure Intention: Do they reach out to see how you are, or is the communication always followed by a request? Does this person show they genuinely care about your well being? If you’re sick, do they check in? If you had a serious life event, do they demonstrate interest in how you are? Actions speak louder than words, and it’s a lot more difficult to fake intention over time.
4. Relationship History: Step back and examine the relationship over the years. Have you been consistent friends without major issues? Is their friendship sporadic? Do they step up when needed? Consistency, or lack thereof, will tell you a lot about this person. On top of that, how do they speak about their other relationships? Are they bad-mouthing people, or showing signs of untrustworthiness? If they’ve done it to someone else, they have the capability to do it to you, too.
5. Moral Alignment: This is pretty straightforward. If you’re a pacifist and someone is violent, it will be difficult to maintain a healthy relationship. The people in your inner circle should live on a foundation of similar values to you. If not, you’ll find yourself in some compromised situations.
6. Positivity: Are they a Debbie Downer, or do they bring positive energy to interactions? Avoid the energy vampires. They will wear you down and dilute any smiles you put on your face. Guard your mind from negative thoughts by ditching these guys.
7. Genuine: The moment you sense a hint of phoniness, trust your gut. You only want to surround yourself with genuine, salt-to-the-earth people. If they aren’t genuine, it means they’re hiding something: their intention, their shortcomings, or something else. Proceed with caution…
8. Trustworthiness: The circle being tight means the circle will know a lot about you: your weaknesses, fears, insecurities and vulnerabilities. You should never entrust someone unworthy with this information, as it will surely be used against you at some point.
A good way to test this is to see if these guys open up to you with genuine information. If you’re reciprocating, that’s an initial sign of trust. Over time, observe to see if they honor the trust you’ve given them by keeping things private. If they do, and they check all of the other boxes, they’re potentially one of your bros for life.
Bros for Life
These blood brothers should be folks you’d trust with your life, or your wife. There aren’t many of these ride of die guys, so when you find them, keep them. Assume anyone who is not trustworthy will turn on you at some point, and keep them at arm’s length.
Know the difference between brothers and acquaintances, and treat them accordingly. The world needs strong men. 💪
– Your Big Bro