Make New Friends As You Go

Herbert Bayard Swope once received tributes paid to him at a testimonial dinner. He replied to them by saying, “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure – try to please everybody.”

One of the mistakes frequently made by people is to believe you should keep all of your friends — all of your life.

It not only cannot be done… you shouldn’t do it!

H.L. Mencken once said, “One of the most mawkish of human delusion is the notion that friendship should be lifelong. The fact is that a man of resilient mind outwears his friendships just as certainly as he outwears his love affairs and his politics. They become threadbare, and every act and attitude that they involve becomes an act of hypocrisy.”

As usual, Mencken put it as bluntly as the English language will possibly allow – but again, he was right.

If you believe otherwise, you believe that a girl or boy should marry their first crush. Or that we should still be going around with the same group we went to school with.

Mencken went on to say, “A prudent man, remembering that life is short, examines his friendships critically now and then. A few he retains, but the majority he tries to forget. ”

George Bernard Shaw once said, “The only man who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measure anew each time he sees me, while all the rest go on with their old measurements, and expect them to fit me.”

Living means changing.

Changing means, or at least should mean, forming new friendships and discarding some of those we outwear. No two people mature at the same rate; some move ahead faster than others. It is just ridiculous to try to retain all of our old friendships.

Often, people will feel guilty about outgrowing a friendship. They’ll think they’re becoming snobbish or too fussy about their friends when actually it’s perfectly natural.

I do think that as we get older, we form stronger and more lasting friendships than when we were young, changing, and moving around a lot.

Our best and most lasting friends are those who think along the same lines and believe in the same things we do.

The friends who continuously challenge us to move ahead with them into increasing mental and emotional maturity will last. They are the friends we enjoy spending an evening with, with much good conversation over dinner and, maybe, far into the night.

I have a friend in St. Louis, an architect, and every time I spend a weekend with him, or he comes to visit me, we sit up until dawn, discussing one thing or another. We disagree violently on several issues, and it makes for really lively conversation; while on most significant issues, we’re in complete accord.

We may outgrow this friendship someday, but I know we won’t until it’s best for both of us to move ahead to new and equally interesting friendships and discussions.

It’s wonderful having good friends, and it’s good to look forward to the new ones.

Again, regarding friendship, Mencken said, “A prudent man remembering that life is short, examines his friendships critically now and then. A few he retains, but the majority he tries to forget.”

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