Who Are Your Friends?


Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso) Give me a forum ...
Jan 21, 2008
For whatever reason, I have begun to read about how people choose their friends, consciously or sub-consciously. For example, I have known lots of people who very deliberately exclude others from their friend network based on socioeconomic class and/or political views. Clearly some people exclude others based on age, race, education, shared interests/activities and any number of other factors.

I have never used socioeconomics as a litmus test, my best friends are almost never in the same socioeconomic range as we are. It seems to be the first thing some people want to know, but I am never inclined to ask people what they do/did for a living, it just comes up organically and the later the better IMO. I never used to use political views as a litmus test either, still try not to - but let's leave that out of this thread.

So I assume there aren't any universal similarities, nor am I seeking to persuade anyone of anything. However, from a broad perspective it may be that some of us tend to associate with people like ourselves, while others of us tend to prefer associating with people unlike ourselves. I tend toward the latter.

I am just starting to explore the topic, and I thought some here might have some thought provoking views?

I was going to do a poll, but I doubt it would be as meaningful as narratives.
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Many Acquaintances, but only a handful of dear friends that I would do anything for !!!
My 2 best friends are locals who I have known since 2nd grade. We went thru grade school and high school together. One of them went to college with me. We all reconnected after going separate geographic ways after school. The other 2 stayed local to our home town area and I returned several years ago. We see each other every few weeks and sometimes vacation together. I'm the only one that is retired. So they have more time commits elsewhere.

In addition, I have 2 other very close friends who live in another state that I now see several times a year including several weeks in rental houses and occasional weekend visits. Thru them, I have met 4 others that I consider good friends -- they are usually at our rental house vacations.

All-in-all, we are very similar age, race, education, shared interests, politics, etc. We get along -- even though we all have our quirks. I don't think any of use intentionally exclude anyone, but that's how our cards have unfolded. I am in frequent phone, Facebook, texting contact with all of these. Nearly daily for the 4 closest friends.
Many friends, some from childhood, some from the military, some from various jobs, some just from being neighbors at one time.

They are all over the spectrum, whatever spectrum you care to use, but my way of keeping them as friends is to shy away from any divisive issues (like we do here in the forum).

While I was still a teenager, it was drummed into me that when you go into a bar, the two things you must never, ever talk about are politics and religion. That was a good start, and the advice has served me well. It's easy to either change the subject or walk away.
I have never used socioeconomics as denominator for choosing a friend. I have friends and even my wife that are political opposite of me, and I consider them as great friends. Religion is from about every denomination there is I don't pick a friend because of that even though I have one I have been brought up in.

The people I have as the closest friends are complete opposite of us financially. Most just make it year to year financially but are the greatest people in my life.

I have a lot of fringe friends and they come from all kinds of occupations and wealth.
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My current friends and regular acquaintances run the gamut. Some are on the left and some on the right (my level of friendship doesn't depend on the leaning but blind dogmatism and intolerance by either side reduces my affinity for them). Most, but not all, happen to be Caucasian and white collar but I think that's more due to exposure. Ages range from 29-late 70s. I'd guess incomes range from $30k-ish to $400k-ish. Education from HS to advanced degrees. Some are corporate stooges and some are entrepreneurs. Some are frugal and some are spendthrifts. Some straight, some gay. Almost all met through common interests or social groups or through other friends. Few, if any, are religious/regularly practice. My best and closest friends probably have the least in common with me wrt many of the demographic categories.
Almost all of my DW and my friends are people we have met through various clubs or organizations or on group trips. Cycling, kayaking, hiking, skiing etc. we get together not just for events but for dinners and/or parties or to help someone with a project. We recently spent a week skiing with a couple we met while cycling. There are some childhood or classmate friends that we see less often.
Almost all of our friends are from the same socioeconomic range although we didn't consciously decide this, it just worked out that way. Most are retirees although some are still working. Most retired early.
Many of these friendships are decades old now. I often wonder if we weren't as active would we have this large group of friends, probably not.
Most of my friends are high school classmates or DW’s former coworkers at the nuke plant. All similar ages, politics, race, economic status. Lots of sports fans. Most now have health issues that prevent us from hiking/ running etc like we used to.
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I have too few friends. :( When I was younger I had a tight group of friends, mostly connected through Megacorp. We got together at least once a month to cook an amazing feast and enjoy each other's company. My best buddy in that group was my main playmate for hiking, skiing, cooking, you name it.

Then I got married to a woman who (I realized too late) was basically an asocial hermit. I loved her to death, but she didn't love spending time with my friends. I wanted to be with her, and as a result I spent much less time with my friends. Then we had kids and I focused all my time & energy there. Then after 20 years she dumped me and took the kids. My family vanished, I had lost touch with most of my friends (most had moved out of town), and I was an emotional wreck so it was hard to start over.

I finally built up a new circle of friends and had many good times with them. Then Covid hit, and I got cancer (suppressed immunity) at the same time. People with my cancer had a 50% fatality rate with Covid, so I hid away from people. Isolated myself at home for 2 years, and as a result I lost touch with most of my new circle.

I'm trying to build a new group of friends AGAIN, but... it wasn't that easy when I was younger. It seems to be harder to connect with like-minded people now.
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For me, it's all about communication. If I say something, and you reply in a manner that reveals you heard me, even if you disagree or don't understand, that keeps the friendship going. I'll do the same for you. Without such communication, there is no friendship connection for me. A specific example: from time to time, an acquaintance likes to recommend a TV show he likes, says I might enjoy it. So, I'll give it try, and later talk about it with him. However, when I recommend a show to him, he never replies with any feedback, and gives no indication of having tried the show. This also holds true for other topics. The lack of two-way connection is causing this friendship to wither.
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My closest friends are from high school and college. My oldest friend is from the first grade and he was also my college roommate. Ended up working with him too which was just by chance. Most of my other friends are from meeting them on the golf course. Occasionally I might meet a couple of them for a beer but they are primarily golf friends. I do know many more people from other avenues. Generally speaking I wouldn’t classify them as close friends tho.
My 2 best friends live about 3.5 hours away in the big city. We went to kindergarten together all through high school.

I have 3-4 other high school friends I am pretty close with. We have done a fantasy football league since 1988. It keeps us connected. We see each other 1-2 times a year usually.

My 2-3 friends I "do things" with like golf or pistol shooting at the range or lunch are friends I worked with in the past. It is interesting how you end up doing things with some friends and others are just acquantances.

I'm not sure how it works. After direct family and parents and work, there just isn't much left. Which is kind of sad.

I wouldn't be concerned about sheer numbers. Sometimes 1-3 good friends are plenty enough. Especially if you have shared interests and hobbies.
Being a strong introvert, I have a few close friends and many acquaintances.
My close friends are from high school and early work life, and I can, and do, discuss anything with them, even if we disagree. We are able to keep it civil and respect each others view points, still maintaining the friendship.

With Acquaintances, I avoid money, politics and religion, and rarely have an opportunity to discuss much beyond basic small talk.
Interesting comments so far. We're outliers in that we have relocated all our lives (both Army/Nave brats, and many job promotion/transfers as adults), so maintaining a friendship with anyone from my youth, as some here have, wasn't really in the cards. "Home" probably doesn't mean the same thing to us, as it does to others - we were never in the same state/country for more than 5 years until our 40's. As we've relocated, as a child and into adulthood, DW and I have let most (not all) of our those prior location friendships lapse.
I like rocks. People I can count on down deep. Only know a few that I'd categorize that way. Think I've given evidence that, as my gal says, I'm at the other end of the rope if they are at the end of theirs. Primarily i count on me, but in time of need there are those I can count on.

Religion or politics or wealth don't seem to have much to do with trust. Is trust friendship? that's a real question.
Speaking in general terms, there are different levels of friends.

1. True friend that would help you in need if you needed to move or needed a ride to the airport

2. hang out friends (think Seinfeld, Friends, How I Met Your Mother)

3. shared purpose - volunteer, same w*rk group

4. An enemy of my enemy :( is my friend

I've probably left out some more, but those are that come to mind.
I have picked up a few friends at each stage. Several from junior high, college roommates, a work related friend or two at each job, dear friends from church.

Most similar in views but some very dissimilar. Socioeconomic runs the gamut. For us, few folks are age are retired or able to so very dissimilar in that way.

s you go forth in life it seems more difficult to find friends with as much in common as was true at earlier ages.

But my focus now is keeping relationships we have, putting in the effort.
My friends 99% come from four sources:

1) People I bonded with in college like roommates, sports, frat, etc. and have known for 40 years - they are almost like family
2) Work-related where got to know each other fighting in the trenches together or even against each other (some of my best friendships have been formed with peers at competing firms - its a mutual respect thing)
3) Neighbors, especially where bonded by joining forces over community issues.
4) Folks I've served on boards with - kinda like work in that you get to know each other by working together and bonding thru group effort and crisis

Although I grew up economically disadvantaged, my adult life has largely been spent with extremely well-to-do folks, ranging from the people I met at the top-ranked university I attended who are now (or retired as) extremely well-heeled professionals, executives, and entreprenuers, to my many extremely well-heeled former colleagues and clients, to my extremely well-heeled neighbors. To a fault, these friends and acquaintances are virtually all multi-millionaires - I honestly can't think of anyone who isn't (family is a whole other mixed picture). That's not at all intentional - in fact I'm the pauper compared to a lot of these people - its just the way things have sorted out. Up until recently, my non-family social life has revolved around the above situations (i.e. work, boards, community, etc.). Now that I recently RE'd I expect to develop far more diverse relationships - in fact looking forward to that.

DW has done a better job of making friends across a more socio-economically diverse spectrum, partly owing to a very different educational and very very different career choices - just more opportunity to meet and get to know more different kinds of people. Also, she got a jump start on RE, so has been out there making new friends longer than me.
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We have very very few close friends anymore. They generally moved away or we did. A few passed away. We still keep in touch with a few. Generally common interests brought us together.
My ROMEO group (varied ages and backgrounds, some multi millionaires, some worked everyday jobs). Known most for 30 years.

Two close living friends one in Oregon, one in Missouri. Known both for 50 years.

No more friends left in Connecticut after 1/2 my life there (lost, dead, moved, etc).

Many good friends have passed away.

My dog is my best friend. :)
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When I look at my friend group, I see one major trend: all my friends without exception are foreign or, if they are local, they have lived abroad for a significant amount of time. Otherwise, they do come from a broad range of socio-economic, religious, and educational backgrounds. I’ve mostly met them at university or through other friends.
I am blessed to say that other than merchants, only friends go into my contacts, and if I called them up and said I needed to spend the night, I'd be welcomed. And vice versa. Some are ex co workers, wine and beer club members, church members, poll workers, people who help me coach basketball and baseball, classmates and friends of my wife and kids. I hike, camp and fish with some, and we have about 6 neighborhood parties annually. While some do not know which end of a screwdriver to use, when someone has an issue around the house and need help, there's a knock at the door or someone will give me a ring. Again, I'm blessed.

One of the neighbor's kids, about 35 now, thanked me last year about teaching him how to change brake pads on a car. After paying a shop an ungodly amount of money, he said he remembered how easy it was when him and my son watched me do it about 28 years ago. I'll never be remembered for how many dollars I have, but be remembered how I made a difference in someone's life.
I have many friends. Most are golfers. The rest are gamblers. More than a few are in both categories.

But no question, by best friends are my two German shepherds.
I can appreciate that...

Interesting comments so far. We're outliers in that we have relocated all our lives (both Army/Nave brats, and many job promotion/transfers as adults), so maintaining a friendship with anyone from my youth, as some here have, wasn't really in the cards. "Home" probably doesn't mean the same thing to us, as it does to others - we were never in the same state/country for more than 5 years until our 40's. As we've relocated, as a child and into adulthood, DW and I have let most (not all) of our those prior location friendships lapse.

I definitely can commiserate. Old Man was "Lifer"- - first theatre was "European Theatre" (yeah, THAT one) but he was at one of the Kent air bases and his last "in country" was Nam, where he lost his barracks in a mortar attack on Tet.
From third through seventh grade.... I was in 8 different schools !! (... and any pre-school would have been overseas (another one), but I can't remember it). Most moves were ~1000 to over 2000 miles, so no keeping track of anybody. Generally, "locals" tended not to spend time with the "military brats" since we'd be sent off fairly soon, so they figured "why bother". I looked on G@@g£€ maps and not one location from my past from before the eighties still exists!! all either brownfielded (could still see outlines of "what was") or demolished and replaced. (and we even avoided a different overseas deployment, which would have added another). {as "brats", for the one location we even had "dog tags" issued... still have them}
As for the question "where are you from?"... I say that it could take awhile to explain:rolleyes:

I've not relocated nearly as much since undergrad/grad school but did a few times; most can't come close to understanding our much different experience.
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Used to have a pretty close circle of friends in my teens/'20s (kinda like the show "Friends" - just not as pretty as those six. lol.) We all had differing beliefs, personalities, occupations, background. Didn't really matter. But some passed away, others moved or drifted away.

I haven't "clicked" with anyone in a long time. I'm an odd duck who hasn't found their tribe, I guess. Luckily, as an introvert, I like my own company. :)
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