Being Intentional about Friendship

A friend sent me an article about intentionality in friendship, saying it sounded a bit like me. (see link here) Actually, this described someone more anal than me when it comes to Intentional Connections! 

I’m mentioned this many times, but when I retired, I lost 75% of my daily connections. Our Big Move to Florida created a new set of losses in daily connection.  I’m sure the COVID pandemic hit a lot of others similarly as daily interactions disappeared from life.  Recognition that being intentional is important in making and keeping friendship connections is a good thing!

Here are some points from the article on how to be intentional in your friendship making actions:

  • The author encouraged you to list your friends. She had a listing 25 people she was being intentional about the friendship.  I wondered if I have 25 people I’m being intentional in friendship connections! It sounded like a lot.  Since I do have lists (is anyone surprised about that statement?), I checked and I have 21 people (mostly women) I consider friends at this point. That surprised me.
  • The author also talked about keeping a spreadsheet to track connection timing and key information about the conversations.  Just to be clear (friends who are reading this) – I do not do this!  I do have my list of folks that I review when I’m setting up something. But I don’t keep track of conversations, which is probably why I can never recall exactly whose daughter has recently moved where or whose son started a new job and lives in Chicago now.  Or was it Denver?
  • Then there is the idea about planning topics of conversations before meeting. Another thing I don’t do. But now I’m wondering if I should, because I often don’t recall whom have I told about what.

On reading this article, I did realize I have some approaches I follow for my own Intentional Connections.  Connection is in my retirement lifestyle vision!

Active Body, Connected Heart, Creative Spirit, Contemplative Mind.

For my long-term long-distance friendships, it is all about maintaining. Each month, I try to set up 4-5 long-distance connects for a long conversation – my beach-walk & talks or a happy hour whine & wine or even a sit & chill. I don’t need to figure out topics because those conversations easily flow topic to topic. I believe that these friends are long-term because we can have those easy long conversations! I do make a mental note of how long between connections, as for most (not all), I’m still the connection instigator.

My Fun Tribe friend list is for when I’m scheduling local things to do.  Here, new people I meet start more in the acquaintance zone on this list. I have a 3-invite and out personal principle. If I invite you to 3 things and you say no to all, with minimal excuse and no reciprocation, or even no response at all (yes, that has happened), then you’re off the list.  But, most folks on this Fun Tribe list are really appreciative of my finding and logistically coordinating activities.  And I enjoy their company! I do hope in time that one or two of these folks will turn into a long-conversation friend!

Do you have some intentional tools for creating and maintaining friendships?  Or is all this just too anal?

picture credit: a sunset from this week!

24 thoughts on “Being Intentional about Friendship

  1. This struck me as funny since, about a year ago, I made a ‘people chart’ of family and friends not because it was suggested, but because I felt lost. I don’t track conversations or ideas for them, but I’m trying to note contact dates.

    I’m always losing time–daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. Poof! I’ve been up 5 hours and nothing to show for it. POOF! It’s 2022 and I haven’t seen Suzie in 2 years.

    I always feel like we can just pick up where we left off, but I’ve learned that’s not true for everyone, especially young people. What seems like a short time for me is a long time for them. I want my friends and family to know I care. If that means I need a chart, I don’t mind if someone would find that anal.

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    1. I’m certainly not gonna judge… I have lists! You are so right that time passes and it’s “when did I last talk with her”?!? For me, sometimes, I’ve had to say that maybe it’s time to say goodbye to that connection (life does move on), other times It’s a “reach out moment”. And to be clear – the past 2 years has been really tough on in person connection!

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  2. Definitely anal. Although, Malcolm and I do sometimes prompt each other to be sure to ask about ‘such and such’ when getting together with friends. That is as close as I will get to a spreadsheet of conversation details. Who has time for 25 friends?

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    1. I recall years ago hearing that most people only have about 5 close friends, and to be honest, most of my list are more like “close acquaintances” who I do things with. Few of these things are one-on-one things, and few of these people have even been to my home. I’d often love a prompt to “ask such and such” for some gatherings…keeping track of who’s gone on what trips or what their kids are up to can be a challenge!

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  3. Oh wow, that sounds like way too much work and way too anal. I don’t like talking on the phone, especially with those who LOVE to talk. Because of that, I don’t do a great job keeping in touch. Because I live in my home town (such birth), I have a lot of friends here of various levels. How many, how often do we connect, and what do we discuss? I have no idea.

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    1. Janis, Such a different experience than me – living there your entire life versus still trying to meet the neighbors! With my long distance friends, if we didn’t talk on the phone, the friendship would be very very different, if at all. Covid helped me get more comfortable with virtual connecting, and that’s actually been a good thing.

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  4. A bit anal, but thought provoking. If I were to make such a list, I would first have to define friendship….complete with criteria on a spreadsheet. But I pretty much freestyle it. When I think of someone/start missing them for some reason, I text, email or call them on the fly.

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    1. Tracey, I think I need to try and use text a bit more – on the fly — to say something to a friend. Is that very Millennial of me? But defining friendship is hard – I’ve always thought it needed more terms – like how the British have various worlds for rain. Best friends to close friends to acquaintance zone friends to blogging buddies – they all fill different needs.

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  5. Spread sheets, tracking connections & conversation and planning topics of conversation seem anal to me when it comes to friendships. Having said that, I do note p/c to & from friends. When too much time goes by, I make a connection. I do believe that relationships take work. This topic is interesting to me as friendships have evolved over the years – friends from what I call my formative years as a young adult; friends from work; long-time friends from school years; community friends that seem like family; family members who are more friends than family. I’ve become more intentional in choosing & maintaining friendships as I’ve become more of myself. I value reciprocity in friendship. I have also come to realize that different needs are met by my various friends. Pat, your posts have contributed to my thoughts on friendship. Thank you.

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    1. Thanks for your comments. Your descriptions of all the variations of friendship are wonderful. I wish there were more terms for “friend” to distinguish the different relationships. I’m working on trying to find community friends who feel like family. We have no family close by, so I’d love to have this relationship space filled! My (biological) sister has a “chosen sister” and I love that she has that type of relationship. One I’d love to have as well. You’ve contributed to my thinking on friendship too!

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  6. Interesting….I am going to have to think about this one. Currently, I am in the process of trying to make some new friends. All of my “close” friends are moving away (one passed away about a year ago) so I need to work on creating a “Fun Tribe” but need a little more time to see how these new friendships develop as we are just in the acquaintance zone. Most of my new friendships are the result of group activities – ladies lunch group with my church, a ladies’ lunch group through Meet-Up, and two or three other group activities. Like you, I hope to find one or two long conversation type friends. I still have my book club and a little foursome of college friends and an occasional get together with my BFF who moved about an hour away, so all is not lost.

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    1. Moving from the acquaintance zone to the “close friend” does takes time. I’m working on that locally (we’ve been here over a year now) and still struggle to say that shift has been made. But the group Fun Tribe is wonderful, even if it is still really more like close-acquaintances (!), so that helps a lot.

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  7. I found that whole idea a bit creepy to be honest. I don’t think I’d like to be on a list where someone has to think up conversation topics before they saw me at their scheduled time. I do think it’s important though to make an effort with friendships (even the blogging variety!) because people so easily drift off these days and taking the time to meet up and chat about life is very enriching for the soul. I think your approach is much healthier than the one in the book 🙂

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    1. Leanne, I thought the spreadsheet was a bit over the top myself. But I do need to remind myself to take time and connect with folks because, as you say, it is enriching for the soul! I realized it was so easy to let weeks and weeks go by without a connect if I’m not being intentional. I get so caught up in doing other things versus making a phone call.

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  8. Friendships are so important. Good friendships, it seems, are sometimes rare. I like the idea of being intentional at friendship. I don’t pursue this near as much as I should. I do make it a point to walk across the street to talk with a neighbor but I’m not so good at reaching out to friends. You have motivated me to be better and more intentional in this area!

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    1. When I lost so many connections when I retired, i started being intentional about making new ones. The Fun Tribe list is really a result of a multi-year effort in intentionality. And accepting that I’m the designated planner. Luckily the (current) Fun Tribe folks are all very (verbally) appreciative of my efforts… and since words/affirmations is one of my love languages, this works for me!

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  9. I found this very interesting, Pat. Now I’m going to make a list of friends, just to see how many I actually have and think about whether I’ve intentionally cultivated those connections since retirement. I think it’s great that you have a Fun Tribe list. I wish we lived closer…I’d try to work my way on to that list! Perhaps I need to build my own and be that person who arranges get-togethers.

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    1. Christie, I’ve accepted my “designated planner” status…and almost everyone of my Fun Tribe is very (verbally) appreciative of me creating events for the group. Since my top love languages are words and quality time together, this works out well! One positive aspect in being planner…. you plan things you like to do! Last night was dinner and the theater. There were 7 of us – lovely time.

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  10. This is an incredibly timely post for me. I spent part of yesterday creating a “checkins” list in the Notes program on my phone. I divided it up into weekly (kids, local closest friend, far away closest friend and my sister), biweekly, monthly and occasional.

    The impetus for the check-in list was a recent e-mail from an old college friend whom I had not seen in a while. He invited my husband and me to meet him at a location where he has started giving tours in retirement, He gave us a great tour, and we had a lovely dinner with him and his wife afterwards. He mentioned to me that the combination of the pandemic and advancing age made him realize the importance of maintaining touch with old friends while we still can.

    As I’ve moved closer to full retirement from a busy career, I want to make intentional time with friends more of a priority. I am good at keeping in touch by phone, but am not a great keeper in touch via text. You need time for phone calls, and when life is busy, they don’t always happen. I plan to refer to the checkin list weekly to remind myself to check-in with a few people-even if it’s just via text. I’ll try to put the date of the checkin in my note-whether I check in with them or they check in with me. I don’t think I will jot down notes about what we talked about-that does feel a bit too anal.

    I have a few friends who are not hyper-local to me, but live an hour or two away. Months can go by without us seeing each other, but when we plan a get together , we both remark on how soul-filling it is to spend time together. I am in 2 book clubs that meet monthly, and I recently started inviting members of my longest-standing book club for one on one lunches every so often. I also keep birthday dates of long-time friends in my calendar and send out a few birthday cards at the beginning of each month. One of my close college friends started texting me her Wordle results every morning,-takes a few seconds, and even that brief daily connection always makes me smile.

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    1. I love your intentionality in connections! I have not really embraced texting to stay in touch. I am definitely going to try and do it more! My niece for one is a big texter – so that’s my first. I’ve noted I also stopped doing BD cards and Christmas the past few years, as it was not reciprocated and it was certainly not soul-filling anymore. But maintaining contact with people who do fill-my-soul… yeah, those are the ones I’ve got on my intentional connection lists.

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  11. That article sounds way too anal for me LOL but I really need to do better with intentional connections. I’m such an introvert that staying isolated during covid did not bother me one bit…but I did miss the feeling of connection! I don’t have anyone local to me that I feel a strong connection with so I’m sure that means I need to try harder. I’ve scheduled a few short trips with one person over the last 6 months and we go to lunch once a month but I don’t feel a strong connection with her 😕 There is a book club in our neighborhood that I probably should try out… and I found out a few weeks ago there are other quilters in my neighborhood!! I should try to setup a ‘sewing day’ in our clubhouse… uh oh, there goes my anxiety!!! 😳

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    1. I’m an introvert as well, so I understand it. I’ve taught myself how to small talk, get to know folks, be intentional with connecting to try and make friends. So less anxiety, but still come back from many of these early connecting events exhausted. Love the idea of a quilting sewing day – at least you’ll get some project work done… and I bet everyone will be so happy to connect over a shared hobby.

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  12. I think I’m pretty anal and this sounds like too much to me!! I’m terrible at keeping connections so I’m grateful for the monthly lunches scheduled in advance, book club, and my annual trip with childhood friends. I’m not a phone talker either.

    My list of friends has to include way fewer than 21, at least if you base it on those I see regularly. And COVID really stopped some connections that I need to reestablish. Hmm, is that a word? Well, you know what I mean!!

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    1. A number of years ago, I recall reading that most people only have 5 really close friends. The others are more casual acquaintances. That is probably true of my list of 21. There’s only a handful I’d call if I really needed something/someone. I love that you still have an annual trip with childhood friends! I am not closely connected to any childhood or even college friends.

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