If This Is True, Then I Should Have Lots of Real Friends

In his latest Pinkcast, Dan Pink asks: why are successful people so lonely?

To help find the answer, Dan engages the help of Arthur Brooks, Harvard professor and author of From Strength to Strength.

Brooks claims that the problem is that while successful people may have many friends β€” they may not be the right kind.

Brooks distinguishes between “real friends” and “deal friends”.

Deal friends are the people who really can help you in a transactional way and they probably do care about you and you probably do like them.

But real friends are the ones who might call you at two in the morning with a crisis. A real friend is someone with whom you might share intimate details of your romantic life, without feeling weird or worried that the details might be divulged.

So if you do have lots of friends, but you still feel lonely, here is Brooks’s suggestion.

Make a list of the five people you are closest to, not including family or your spouse..

Then ask yourself, are these people real friends or deal friends?

If the list is dominated by deal people, then you need to do the work to have real friends.

And what do real friends have in common? Brooks claims real friends are useless to you. They bring you joy solely on the basis of the friendship itself.

if your friends are too useful, you’ve got a deal friend problem. Having deal friends might be good for you and your career.

But to stop feeling lonely, Brooks notes that it’s time to start making some useless, but real friends.

Or as Dan sums it up at the end: go out and find yourself some useless people.

And that’s where I come in.

On paper, I should be everyone’s best friend, because I am completely useless.

So all you successful people, feel free to reach out.

And if you do, maybe there’s something you can do for me…

*image from Shorty Awards

58 thoughts on “If This Is True, Then I Should Have Lots of Real Friends

  1. Hmm…not sure I would call my real friends “useless”. They may not help me get rich or climb the ladder of success, etc, but they help keep the men in white jackets from taking me to the nice rubber rooms with pretty flowers on the wall!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. “Haha!’ Smartie!
        Nope, they are real for I can call them at 2am if I need too! πŸ™‚
        Of course then there are the friends who make me sometimes wonder if I already am in a rubber room! The stooges may fit in that category. 😜

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Some people just collect friends or people they want to call friends. I guess it makes them feel better. Or perhaps they are very successful at networking. I prefer quality over quantity. I think that’s where real friends become important.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Anyone who calls me at 2am with a crisis ain’t no real friend to me. That’s being worse than useless.

    But I like the point Ariely makes, distinguishing deal friends from real friends. I’m not sure I’m with him all the way on this, but I do find it interesting food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Friends come in all shapes and sizes. I don’t think we need to put labels on any of them. I share my most personal stuff with some friends and others I simply enjoy hanging out with.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’d say I’m useless, too, but I feel like I am a bit too full of myself and consider myself helpful. Not necessarily financially, or socially, or professionally… but you can count on me and stuff. That’s gotta count for something, right?

    It seems like most friendships are the deal type these days and I think that if you don’t have friends from back in elementary school, you might never have real friends again.

    Liked by 1 person

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