I have a lot of experience meeting and making new friends. From the stoners to frat kids to Ivy League graduates with ambition, I’ve spent time hanging out with a huge cross-section of guys. I’ve learned a lot about friendship, with some common lessons coming up again and again. Things like,
99% of friendships are based on a commonality/common activity that you both enjoy.
To hang out with cooler guys you typically need to be cool yourself/offer some kind of value.
Friendships tend to occur when you’re least concerned with making new friends.
Before addressing these points, let’s take a second to look at a word that gets used a lot throughout this article: cool. This word is 100% subjective. Your idea of a cool guy is different than mine. That’s OK though, this article is based on human nature. The lessons apply whether you’re trying to make friends with the local surfer or a postdoc.
Commonalities Rule the Day
The most durable friendships are built on at least one commonality, preferably an activity. If you and the other person enjoy doing something together you have an excuse to hang out. When you’re not doing that activity you often end up talking about doing that activity.
It’s difficult to make friends when you don’t have a shared interest because your time together has less meaning. In my life, I’ve found 90% of my friends through,
Learning and practicing a language.
Talking to girls. Typically you call these guys “wingmen”.
Working together. I suppose this is how most people make their friends.
Drinking/doing drugs. This has consistently been the easiest way to make the worst friends, in my experience.
The reason that commonalities matter is twofold. First, they give you an excuse to start hanging out and second, it’s a reason to see the person over and over. So having established what the root of most friendships is, let’s look at what it takes to develop friendships with cooler people.
You Attract What You Are, not What You Want
Most of the time you attract the friends you “deserve” not the friends who you’d like to have. This is the most important idea of this entire post. If you want to have cooler friends, you need to be a guy who other people want to hang out with. While there are ways to circumnavigate this rule, which I’ll talk about in the next section, personal growth is the way to permanently become a desirable friend.
Personal growth is the reason that this website exists. You can do so much more with your life if you’re willing to accept responsibility for your flaws and make an effort to fix them. For example,
Improving your eye contact and posture.
Getting into shape.
Learning how to listen properly.
Being bold in how you express yourself.
Having the confidence to dream big.
Learning how to properly handle your money.
Taking up an interesting hobby.
As you focus on improving yourself you’ll begin to effortlessly attract cooler friends. At a some point you end up being so content with your life that you feel ambivalent about needing new friends. People sense the lack of neediness and they’re drawn to it, just as people are repelled by desperation. Once your life reaches the point where it’s awesome being you, you’ll look at the people you’re hanging out with and think holy shit, these guys are amazing! But it won’t seem so unusual, because you’re equally amazing.
Why do you need to change yourself to hang out with cooler friends? If you dissect the idea of “attracting what you are, not what you want” you’ll find that again it comes down to commonalities. For example, here’s what makes a guy cool to me (my subjective values, yours will be different),
They like to travel.
They’re good with girls.
They’re open minded.
They’re comfortable in social situations.
They prefer reading to watching television.
They have a positive attitude.
They’re not obsessed with work to the detriment of everything else.
They prefer experience and wisdom over money.
After years of changing my personality, these are qualities that I embody. I’m not asking my friends to be like me, I’m being me and trusting that I’ll befriend people with a similar mindset. Once you reach the point where you embody your ideal values, you’ll find that guys with similar values are drawn to you. That’s a beautiful thing, because when it happens the friendship has a good chance of being successful.
However, growth and change take time. In the meantime, there are a couple of friendship hacks that you can use to bring cool guys into your life right now.
Bring Something to the Table
Offering something in exchange for friendship sounds creepy right? After all, a friendship should grow of its own accord, it shouldn’t rely on one person “bribing” the other. That’s generally true, but when one person has more value than the other, the dynamic changes. In many cases it may be something closer to a mentor/mentee relationship. While the following blurbs are concerned with finding a mentor, the same advice can be used to foster a friendship with someone higher in the “social hierarchy”.
predicated on how much value you can provide before you try to get something from them.
Exactly! Most cool guys have a bunch of other people who would like to hang out with him. What are you going to do to distinguish yourself from everyone else?
Ryan Holiday, bestselling author and protege of Tucker Max, advises,
Bring something to the table. Anything. Quid pro quo. Even if it’s just energy. Even if it’s just thanks.
Value doesn’t have to come in a gift wrapped box. Sometimes being enthusiastic and having a positive attitude is enough. Whenever I hear someone extremely successful talk about the people they hang out with, the common denominator isn’t that the other person is as successful as they are. It’s that the other person is fun, positive and easy to get a long with.
The key here is to offer in areas where you have some relative strengths, and where the person you want to connect with might need some help. Each one of you has an area where it’s very likely that you can offer a lot of help to people around you, including powerful and influential people.
Ellsberg believes that you can help another person in any of the following four areas: money, relationships, health and spiritual development. Although a person may be wildly successful in one, or several, of those areas, they’re definitely lacking in another area where you’re stronger. How can you put your knowledge to use for their benefit?
Offering value is paramount. When you’re hanging out with friends it would be weird to frame the relationship in terms of value giving since you’re in the same place. However, when befriending guys at a higher level, it pays to think about how you can improve their life.
How to Find Good Friends
On a beach in Koh Samui, we like to travel, talk to girls and speak German
Instead of asking how to find good friends, ask, what do I want to do with cool friends? The answer will tell you where to start looking. For instance, I prefer to do a majority of things alone, like web design and writing. So it’s really only in a select set of activities that I’ll look for friends.
Talking to girls, AKA having wingmen.
Shooting YouTube videos or podcasting.
Traveling, preferably somewhere with a beach.
80% of the time if I’m hanging out with someone, I’m doing one of those things. What about you, what are you interested in doing with a friend?
Watching the game?
Creating a business?
Doing club sports?
Traveling to Thailand?
Once you pick an activity, instead of searching for friends, start practicing the skill. As you work on it you’ll be exposed to new people. The better your skill, the cooler the people you’ll end up hanging out with (if we make the assumption that being good at something generally makes someone cooler).
To close this article I’ll state this: I’ve found that when you least expect/need a friendship, that’s when it develops. The harder you search for friends, the more needy you become, the less likely a good friendship is to form. Do you agree? I’d love to hear your thoughts, leave a comment below.
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