Intentionality is foundational when cultivating strong male friendships. We probably all know what it feels like to run into a friend while out and about, only to end a short conversation with, “Well, it was good to see you. We should get together, soon.” Both parties know that really means nothing. It’s a nicety we tack on so we don’t have to admit the truth. Sadly, that truth usually sounds something like, “I really don’t value you enough to re-prioritize things in my life to accommodate a deeper relationship with you.” Many of us are busy, but how often are we “busy” due to our own lack of planning or failure to prioritize what we would say we truly value in life? You may find yourself thinking that the idea of investing in close friendships is intriguing, but you just don’t see how you can fit it into your schedule. If that’s the case, I’d challenge how much you truly value the idea.
You may already have a friend in whom you’d like to invest more deeply. If so, here’s a challenge for you. Instead of sharing a link to this site, or contacting them by email/tweet/text/snap/yo/insert-tech-du-jour-here…write them a letter. Issue them a personal invitation from you to join this meandering journey toward deep, healthy, growth-inducing friendship.
There are a few things you’ll need to make this happen, and in this day and age, you may have forgotten what some of them are. So, let’s review what you’ll need:
- A friend. I don’t say this sarcastically. I’m sure you’re a nice guy, and you have tons of friends. But, we’re not looking for buddies to share secret handshakes with. We’re looking for one, maybe two close friends who you trust and are eager to invest heavily in their lives. That may mean some people get “left out.” That’s acceptable. Committing to more relationships than you can realistically maintain does a disservice to all of them. Choose carefully, and know the reasons for your choice.
- An address. You may already know your friend’s mailing address, but it’s more likely that you don’t. If you don’t know their address, you don’t have to ask them for it directly. I’ll go so far as to recommend driving to their place and writing it down. Use the drive as a time to begin mentally composing your words to your friend. You can also use other resources to ferret out the numbers and letters you need. If you absolutely must ask them for it, DO NOT do it via any digital method. We are trying to foster real relationships. Open up your big boy mouth, and talk to your friend face to face.
- A medium. No, not a Miss Cleo-esque bayou psychic, but a tangible means to convey your words in written form. Remember, we are being intentional, so don’t just grab a sheet of printer paper and a Bic rollerball. It doesn’t have to be monogrammed, but more power to you if you want to invest in (or design) some personalized stationery. I’ve come to enjoy writing with a cheap fountain pen, as using it correctly forces me to slow down and focus on my writing.
- A message. This is not a generic, “Hey, how are ya?”, kind of message. This is an intimate (just go ahead and get used to me using the word intimate) invitation to a friend in whom you want to deeply invest. This is why I suggested mentally composing it before you ever sit down to write. Convey your reasons for choosing them, and ask them to be willing to join you on a journey that will change how both of you view your friendship. This is personal. If you write something like a Hallmark card that could be sent to anyone, you’ve missed the point.
Make sure you remember how to address an envelope before you mail your letter. Put your return address in the upper left corner, so they know where to send a response if they choose to respond in kind. Buy some postage stamps that fit your personality, you know, like your grandpa did. DO NOT spritz your letter with cologne before sealing it. That is a subtle trick to woo women, and should not be used on your friend.
Once you’ve posted your letter, wait for a response. You may receive a response in any number of ways. Whatever method your friend chooses, try to acknowledge their reply either face to face or with a phone call. Verbal exchanges are very important to the foundation we are building.