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Uploaded:2013-01-25
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In which Hank talks about friends, why they're important, and how we make them. TL;DR, don't take advantage of good friends, they are extremely important and very rare. Acquiring new ones is hard, especially inorganically...but you can increase your chances by finding places where you can have repeated, unplanned interactions with the same people, being receptive to people, and open to conversation. And, of course, thinking carefully about people, being thoughtful, and asking them to help you out every once in a while.

Also, don't get married to people who aren't your friend. UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!

Good morning, John. Let's talk about friends. So, the physical insides of any given person are roughly the same. We've got, you know, the skull and the backbone and the ribs. On the other hand, underneath the emotional skin we create and show to the world, we are all very different. We are differently broken, semi-functional, rusted-out love machines. And I don't mean "love-machine"... I mean, like, we are just good at, you know, aside from eating and making babies, we're also really good at creating important relationships with each other.

The process of becoming friends with someone. This is what friendship is to me, is physically removing all of that constructed emotional putty that we make ourselves pretty to the world with, and uncovering all those rusted edges beneath, and then actually continuing to like that person, not just in spite of all of that asymmetry, but because of it. And that's simply not something you can do with very many people, like that takes a lot of work and it's a lot of upkeep, too. And that's why when people study the number of friends that people have, they're not looking at the number of Facebook friends you have, they're looking at the number of people you can share really intimate things about your brokenness with. And on average, it's not very many. It's between two and three people per person.

In the last video, John, I will take exception to some of the things you said. I would not belittle the difference between that emotional intimacy of friendship, and the emotional and physical intimacy of romantic relationships. That's a big difference. But I do agree that friendships in our culture are undervalued, and romantic relationships are- I just almost said romanticized. Our culture spends a huge amount of time celebrating and glorifying romantic relationships. The process of getting two romantic partners together has become an industry, and people take in-depth compatibility quizzes to make sure that they find the right romantic partner. And we don't do those sorts of things for friends. Which is too bad in some cases, because when you don't have good friends, it can be really hard to find them. I know about that.

So, yeah, to the title of the video, this took a long time, but how do you make friends? Psychologists in the 50s figured out the thing that is necessary, which is repeated unplanned interactions, and that's a hard thing to fake. And it's also why a lot of the friends we have are from school or work where those unplanned interactions take place. So if you don't have those two things, which a lot of us don't these days because we don't work in a physical place, to get good friends you gotta put yourself in a place where those unplanned interactions are gonna happen. I won't give you a list of how to do that, you should use your mind and figure it out, it's not that hard.

And then you also have to take advantage of those interactions when you have them, so don't forget about that. You gotta take the initiative sometimes, you gotta start conversations. You have to share yourself, you have to start working away some of that emotional putty from yourself. Don't think of each interaction as a means to an end, but an end in itself. Help people, yes, but even more important, let them help you. Don't be afraid to ask someone for a favor because that's how friendships are started. And like top of the list, be thoughtful and listen to people and think about them complexly, which is... yeah.

That's sort of how you create acquaintances, Facebook friends. But to get to the real friend bits you have to start having important conversations, and so you have to start asking some not super comfortable questions, like 'What do you want to be in five years?" 'What do you not like about yourself?' 'What do you like most in the world?' 'What do you hate most about the world?' Those are the questions that let you pull out all that stuff and reveal the raw, intimidating, bizarre, amazing sculpture within. And it's hard to do non-organically and so we should all be very thankful for the organic friends that we do have, especially if they make us comfortable and like us for who we are, and if they don't, it's okay to break up with friends, just like it's okay to break up with romantic partners.

And last, as a thought that I just had, if you have a romantic partner and they don't appreciate the bizarre broken sculpture within or you don't appreciate theirs, that's okay, but don't get married to that person because it's probably not going to work out if you're not friends. You have to be very good friends. And John, you and I are both very lucky to be married to our best friends.

And I'll see you on Tuesday.