There’s always a certain kind of guy who calls me “Buddy”. He’s usually casual, intentionally easy to get along with. He’s often the magnet that draws other people in to hang out. Whether they’re drinking buddies, workout buddies, golfing buddies, fishing buddies, fantasy football buddies, work buddies, whatever.
Buddies Aren’t Necessarily Friends
Buddies and friends are often not the same people. Buddies are the convenience food of friendship. You have a few things in common. You don’t discuss controversial topics. You don’t know each other’s struggles, fears, or insecurities. You get along because it’s fun and it’s easy. Buddies occur because of proximity, shared interest, and the complete lack of any required uncomfortable effort.
Buddies aren’t bad at all. Buddies are valuable parts of our lives. Unless they take the place of friends. When we only make time for buddies, we get the superficial benefits of companionship without the growth or depth or real substance.
I need buddies. Five days a week, I’m in the gym, training to get in shape and become a better and more functional version of myself. And every day, the smiles, laughs, and conversations with training buddies keep me focused and motivated to complete the day’s training. Without them I’d be alone, working out and facing my self-doubts and laziness and probably bailing on this crucial aspect of personal development.
Can Buddies Become Friends?
Buddies can be lifesavers in their own right. If you don’t have any close friends, buddies are the best place to start. Pick up a hobby or activity that you love or know you want to learn and get to know a group of people who do the same. You’ll eventually uncover who in the group has real friend potential.
But just know that things change when you make the leap from buddies to friends. You start crossing those boundaries, and you can’t go back. You can’t unlearn the unattractive, annoying, or disgusting quirks about a person you used to joke around with. Sometimes it makes sense to keep your buddies your buddies and make friends elsewhere. Use your best judgment on that one.
Friends Aren’t Necessarily Buddies
Friends aren’t always fun. Sometimes they’re serious. Sometimes they’re annoying. They might refuse to hit the gym every morning or the golf course every weekend. They might have their own lives that limit free time.
But friends come through when you need someone. Friends know that you care about them because you make them a priority, sometimes at your own expense. Friends don’t stop at the end of common interests or shared worldviews. Friends step beyond comfortable and show up for the uncomfortable.
Friends allow themselves to be vulnerable and honor each other’s vulnerability.
Why Don’t I Have Friends?
My favorite quote about friendship was the hardest for me to swallow:
If you want to have friends, first BE a friend.
Feeling sorry for yourself won’t get you anywhere but where you already are. If you don’t have true friends, look inward first. Who are YOU being a true friend to? Because it’s not up to anyone else to recognize your value off the street and make the effort to befriend you.
It’s up to YOU to be a friend to others, whether they asked for it or not. You’ll swing and miss on some. But you’ll find a few who reciprocate, and you’ll end up developing a friendship with people you’d never have known otherwise. The power is in your hands. Be a friend to have a friend.
So now its time to get real and evaluate yourself: Are you a friend or a buddy?