No New Friends

Listening to the radio yesterday, I heard DJ Khaled’s latest song, “No New Friends,” featuring our favorite go-to guy for hooks, Drake. I tried my best to listen with a musical ear (not possible), but I kept it on long enough to notice some things: (1) It was inspired by and uses a sample from Drake’s “Started From the Bottom” [No new n****, we don’t feel that…Where your real friends at?] and (2) people aren’t taking applications for homies anymore. They just aren’t letting random newbies come along for the ride. Makes sense.

This isn’t a new concept though. For the most part, we pride ourselves on keeping our circles of friends tightly knit, only dealing with people we’ve known since Day 1, whenever that was. Since then likeability, trust, reliability and consistency have all been tested and proven among the group. We’re so close, we refer to each other as family because we are, in some cases the only (reliable) family some of us have.

A couple of years ago, during a Housewives of Atlanta reunion, Nene Leakes was asked if she and Kim Zolciak could make amends of their broken bond, she replied, “No thanks, I’m good on friends.”

For the first time, I agreed with Nene. Then, I wasn’t open to the possibility of making new friends either. For what? In my small circle of friends, I’ve known each of them for atleast 15 years, and I consider them to be sisters. In a group, usually everyone plays their own role that’s crucial to the group dynamic without even knowing it. You know their attitudes and issues, and they know yours. You’ve shared both good and bad times together. Why risk that comfort for someone new? When welcoming someone new into your life, you’re open to the chance for drama or getting hurt. In the words of the great philosopher, Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

So, though I understand the logical side, I wonder if we’re shortchanging ourselves when we practice this “no new friends” mantra. What if you don’t live in the same place as your friends? What happens when you outgrow your bestie (it can happen) or there’s an irreparable rift in a friendship? Do you just shut your life down?

Often you hear about the benefits of “stretching yourself” when referring to your professional life, but it can be applied to friendships, as well. As an adult if you’ve been with the same group of friends since you were in middle school, by shutting others out, you might be missing out on things, perspectives and experiences someone could introduce you to. Sure, you and your current homies should be growing and evolving, but often we fail to take inventory and realize that as a collective, sometimes we’re not. We can say we’ve known each other since for forever, but yet, no value has been added to either of our lives.

No one’s really acknowledging the elephant in the room either. It takes work to build a friendship, it doesn’t happen overnight and it can happen randomly. Maybe it’s just easier to say “no new friends” because we think we’re too old, or we don’t think we have the time or the energy to invest in new folks. None of those things are actually true. One of my girlfriends once suggested to me that there’s no age limit on making friends. A new job and the mass exodus of college girlfriends left her wondering who there was to hang out with and wax philosophical. Right there in her work department were two women who have been great friends for atleast five years now. I guess she was right.

In shouting “no new friends,” we’re treating these relationships like slots or positions to be filled, instead of the blessing they can be whenever they may happen and with whomever they happen. If you’re good on friends, be thankful for them and keep it moving, but don’t intentionally keep the door closed on potential connections that can add value to your life. Tread lightly, but atleast get in the water first.

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  • I had to go and look up the Drake song to which this piece referred so that I could have a foundational context. I am inclined to agree with the no “new friends” concept mainly because as Drake said we have friends who have been there since Day 1. That’s the folks who stuck with us through thick, thin, not so thick and super thin. We all have those people in our lives (well I hope we do) who would drop everything to come to our aid and vice versa. They are the ones who encouraged when we meet setbacks, cried when we hurt, and celebrated every every triumph with us.

    I get it. We all eventually, hopefully, get to a point in life where our inner circle feels complete so we don’t need to add anyone else. True friendships are cultivated, they take diligence and hard work to maintain, to keep strong and resilient.

    Sometimes we use the term “friend” too loosely and it does not have the same connotation from person to person. In this instance and in Drakes’ song, I think the term “friends” is more in keeping with the idea so close personal friends – the people who grew to know the real you, the folks who are there for you and not for what they can get out of you.

    I look at it more as I am not closing off avenues to meeting new people and developing relationships, but I am not in a hurry to add any more close friends to the mix I already have.

  • As I’m learning, no new friends can be dangerous. I’ve painfully learned that you are an individual. You’re not going to have the same goals and visions as your friends. You don’t have the same threshold for pain, struggle, or success as your friends. Holding on to old, established friends will hold you back from opportunities. When I started my career, I learned that eventually to really get to where I wanted to be I’d have to let go or at least distance myself to be able to connect with people my age who are in my industry. Those are the people who will look out for me, counsel me, and provide opportunities as I would do the same. If you want to be a business owner you have to hang out with them. If no one in your group owns a business you’re cheating yourself. Sadly, growth happens when you least expect it and you never know how either party will react to the growth. You’ve heard it before, someone in a group is experiencing success (losing weight, a new business, paying off debt, a new relationship etc.) all of sudden that person is bad for neglecting the group or w.e. Now the person is feeling guilty for changing…for the better! At that point it’s time to move on from people. Sadly I’ve seen people pass on great opportunities of growth because they feared losing friends, which is insane to me! If you’re goal is to move up in life and do bigger and better things with yourself you’re going to outgrow some people. I’ve lost a few friends this exact same way. Personally, it’s never love lost and I don’t view it as negative. This perspective determines whether you’ll be cool with your old friends or not.

    As I get older I realize, just as money or a man shouldn’t define you neither should friends. Your loyalty should always be with yourself as an individual. People no matter how good they are or how long they’ve been your friend can betray or disappoint you, so why give them that power?

    • E1usive_Man

      This is the most logical thing I have read all day!