The Friendship Factor: Get Closer To Those You Care For

If we build more windows and fewer walls, we will have more friends.Friendship is one of the most rewarding aspects of life, but real, deep friendships don’t just naturally come along. When I was growing up, we moved many times, and it was difficult for me to really build deep friendships. Plus, I wasn’t comfortable with “being real” about myself.

I first read The Friendship Factor by Alan Loy McGinnis when I was in college (yep, way back in the 1980s) and my copy of the book is now dog-eared, highlighted and well-used. It gave me some concrete steps to develop deep friendships, and of course, living in one place for more than 20 years has helped too!

No matter what your life story has been, you probably have experienced at least some difficulty in a relationship. I don’t think any of us are exempt from that. Subtitled “How to Get Closer to the People You Care For,” The Friendship Factor asks you these questions:

  • Do you have at least one person nearby whom you can call on in times of personal distress?
  • Do you have several people whom you can visit with little advance warning without apology?
  • Do you have people who will lend you money if you need it, or those who will care for you in practical ways if the need arises?

McGinnis writes that if your response is largely negative, it may be that “your friendships are being impeded by your social life! Some people immerse themselves in such a whirl of parties and social affairs that there is no opportunity to establish a close relationship.”

Here are four (plus one!) of my favorite tips from McGinnis that I have used and will continue to be purposeful about as I develop friendships with both young and old:

  1. Assign top priority to your relationships. “Why do we seldom relate at such a deep level? Why is there such a shortage of friendship? One simple reason: We do not devote ourselves sufficiently to it. If our relationships are the most valuable commodity we can own in this world, one would expect that everyone everywhere would assign friendship highest priority.”
  2. Cultivate transparency. “People with deep and lasting friendships may be introverts, extroverts, young, old, dull, intelligent, homely, good-looking; but the one characteristic they always have in common is openness. The human personality has a natural built-in inclination to reveal itself. When that inclination is blocked and we close ourselves to others, we get into emotional difficulties.”
  3. Dare to talk about your affection. “For fear of seeming sentimental, many of us hold back expressions of warmth and thereby miss out on rich and profound friendships. We say ‘thanks’ when we mean ‘God bless you’ and ‘so long’ when we mean ‘I’ll miss you a lot.’ Why are we so reluctant to say openly that we care for another? There is the possibility that our overture of warmth will not be reciprocated and we will be rejected…. But those who are loved widely are usually those who throw caution to the winds and declare their love freely.”
  4. Learn the gestures of love. “The best relationships are built upon the accumulated layers of acts of kindness. Small acts of kindness demonstrate that you haven’t taken your loved one for granted.”
  5. Create space in your relationships. McGinnis writes about the tendency to control others, and he says this villain frequently masquerades as love. “The overly protective mother will say, ‘Honey, I’m just doing this for your own good,’ and the man who constantly corrects his friend thinks, ‘It’s all for his benefit.’ But the effect is always to suffocate, and I have never known a person who did not try to flee from manipulators. Those who have successful friendships allow their loved ones room. Rather than possessing their friends, they try to help them expand and grow and become free.”

I’m thankful for learning these steps to deeper friendships, and I hope they help you too!

Purchase a copy of The Friendship Factor by Alan Loy McGinnis on Amazon. It’s also available for Kindle. 




4 Signs Of A True Friend


I’ve always been intrigued by friendships. Curious thoughts such as:

  • Why do we form bonds with certain individuals, but we don’t really “click” with others?
  • How and why do women form friendships differently than men?
  • How can I be the best friend I can be?

In college, I read Alan Loy McGinnis’ book, “The Friendship Factor,” and it really impacted my life. I think I’ll write a blog on that at a later date!

But since I just returned from a Girls’ Weekend in Malibu, California, with my two besties, I’ve been reflecting on what makes us connect with each other. We talked about this together, so here’s our “4 signs of a true friend”:

  1. A true friend will always seek to do what is in your best interest.
    She wants what is best for YOU — not necessarily what is best for her. Both my friends moved miles away from me in the past few years, but I knew that was best for them and their life circumstances. I rooted for them — even if I knew it would be hard for me.
  2. A true friend accepts you for who you are and doesn’t try to change you. She will know you and love you anyway. So you repeat yourself all the time? Your friend will love you anyway. You worry too much and can’t let it go? She will love you anyway. You root for the heated rival of her favorite sports team? She will love you anyway!
  3. A true friend is real about herself. She doesn’t wear a mask around you or try to be that “perfect” person. In fact, “perfect” people are boring. It’s so much more fun to be around someone who owns up to her mistakes, faults and worries. Being real — we can all relate to that!
  4. A true friend puts God first — before you and before herself. If her focus is on God — on something bigger than this life — then she will be true to you. She will walk beside you even when times are tough. She will have perspective when you hurt her and don’t live up to her expectations. She will persevere with you. She won’t judge you. She will love you!

I’m thankful for my two best friends. Very thankful. I hope to be a “true friend” to them each and every day. And I pray that you find your “true friend” too.