Background: There is substantial research evidence done over the last 10 years that people who have a close circle of friends have less stress, fewer health problems, less depression, live longer, live happier lives. A “close friend” is someone that you can be yourself with, someone you can laugh or cry with, someone you can share your problems with or just kick back and relax with. A close friend” is someone you could call at 3AM in the morning and they will not hang up on you. A close friend could be a relative or a spouse but also could be someone other than your family. My own rule of thumb is that we each need a minimum of about three to six close friends that we see and spend time with regularly (once a month or more). That way we don’t risk burning any one individual out or not being able to connect if they are busy or away. Remember that to make close friend you might need over 100 applicants before you find someone who meets your personal “close friends job description” of being accepting and honoring your disclosures, etc. To make friends arrange to do things with others, disclose one thing, wait and see what they do with it. If you make one good close friend in a year you are doing well. This is why making friends is an ongoing process. But that one friend may be a friend for life, so the process is worth it.
Look at your own life. It will be easy to see your resources and how you might go about strengthening the powerful resource of friends in your life. Look at acquaintances, friends and close friends.
Instructions: Diagram your own support system here. Draw a circle in the middle, put your name in it. Then list your close friends, acquaintances, and distant friends. If you have someone that you feel you can’t confide in without it becoming public, they may still qualify as a friend, but perhaps not a close friend. Take a close look at each close friend and each casual friend. Write one sentence on who they are and what they mean to you, something that captures the relationship. “My best friend from high school, I only see her once in a while” or “When my pet was sick in the middle of the night, I needed someone to call and this person came over for me”. What can you do to strengthen this powerful resource in your life? Since RSR is about action, decide on an action you can take: call up someone you lost contact with after they divorced and apologize and see if you can put things back together. For example: “I’m going to call up my classmate I haven’t seen for a while and see if we can go out for lunch”. If you are embarrassed you have been avoiding your friends because of your depression or grief, try writing them “I suffer from depression and need time to work through it, so if I don’t return your phone calls it is no reflection of the value I place on our relationship”.