Photo by Briana Tozour via Unsplash

At some age, making new friends becomes more difficult.  It’s not so hard to make casual friends (neighbors, the local grocer) but close friends—the ones you can let in on your ugliest thoughts or shameful wishes, the people you think of when something funny happens and you can’t wait to tell them about it—are hard to come by.  I have been wondering why.  Julie Beck’s 100th and final installment about friendship in The Atlantic has her answer to that question.

According to Beck, “I have come to believe that there are six forces that help form friendships and maintain them through the years:  accumulation, attention, intention, ritual, imagination, and grace.  By Accumulation, she means time together:  at work, in school, church or extracurricular activities.  Attention means being open to chance encounters.  Intention is a hard one. If you see an opportunity to make a friend, you have to put yourself out there and risk rejection.  Ritual involves something continuous, like a walk together once a week—something part of your normal schedule.  I once made friends with a wonderful but very introverted woman who used considerable Imagination to get past her discomfort—she taught me to knit.  I think of her every time I pick up my knitting.  I’m not sure what Beck means by Grace, but I think of it as tolerance of a friend’s foibles and flexibility to bend to what she or he might need sometimes.  I think of my husband as I write this.  After all, a successful marriage is a solid friendship.

What about you?  I am interested to know what experiences you have had that have led to lasting friendships.  And meanwhile…




About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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