Why is it so difficult to find a loyal friend?

In answer to the Quora question: "Why is it so difficult to find a loyal friend?"

Thanks for the A2A.

I myself have felt this way many times in my life, and there does indeed seem to be little rhyme or reason to the quality of friendships that serendipitously occur in our lives. However, here are some observations from my own experience...

1) First I would consider taking a look at this chart: Integral Lifework Relationship Matrix. It can help categorize the nature of any relationship and refine certain expectations. I've made good use of this in couples coaching and in situations where a client is feeling frustrated that they aren't connecting with the right sort of people or are having trouble navigating friendships, romantic relationships and even work relationships. So perhaps it will be useful!

2) Culture does make a difference, and the region of the country where you live, work and socialize will have a huge impact on the quality of your friendships. I've lived in several places around the U.S., as well as in Germany for a few years, and have travelled extensively. People really are different in different geographical locations, and their expectations of friendship (how quickly they trust, what they are looking for in a friend, how generous they are, etc.) will have a lot to do with the local culture and its traditions. It is true that there may be folks who share our values almost everywhere...if we can find them. But it will be a lot more likely that we connect with potentially deep and lasting friendships that reinforce our values in cultures where a large percentage of the people around us share those values and worldview. And this is of course equally true of our immediate social community - where we work, with whom we recreate, how we engage our interests, and so on. If we are around incompatible sorts of people, we may feel very alone or unable to connect on levels we find most nourishing.

3) Be cautious of high standards. I say this only because I myself have fallen into the trap of expecting too much from my friends. I am slowly learning to apply something I read in the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (which I highly recommend reading, btw) years ago: “People exist for the sake of one another. Teach them then, or bear with them.”

4) This fourth point is a little difficult to convey without knowing all the variables of your life experience and your beliefs, so please forgive me if I miss the mark. But there are phases in our lives where we must learn to be less reliant on what we may have experienced in the past as nourishing connections and relationships; where we are "forced to grow" as it were through new or uncomfortable situations. I am not saying this is what you are experiencing now, but only that there are times when previous patterns of relating no longer support or nurture us in the same way, and we must learn new ways of being that entail more personal effort and responsibility on our part - or different skills - than have been required in the past. Just something else to consider.

5) And, lastly, I will share one of many nuggets of wisdom my wife has shared with me. She has a saying that has cheered me up in countless situations where I felt let down by someone: "Happiness is lower expectations."

My 2 cents.


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