The average American knows 600 people, according to a recent study by The New York Times. Now, you may have 900 "friends" on Facebook, but you probably don't "know" all of them.
Another study found that the average American adult has 16 friends. They have "three friends for life, five people they really like and would hang out with one-on-one, and eight people they like but don't spend time with one-on-one or seek out."
Now, there are all different kinds of friends. There are those that you see just to have a good time. There are those that you go out with on couples' dates. And there are those you may share a hobby or interest with, but the relationship doesn't go much further than that.
What sets acquaintances, friends, and best friends apart is how comfortable we feel around them. Two ways to judge how they make you feel is whether you spending a lot of time together and if they can be trusted.
Author Ross McCammon created a simple test to gain some clarity about the level of comfort he feels about someone, he calls it the "Two Beers and a Puppy Test."
The test is: To find out how you actually feel about someone, ask yourself: "Would I have two beers with this person?" And: "Would I allow this person to look after my puppy over a weekend?"
Some people are no and no. These people are to be avoided at all costs. Some people are yes and no. These people are to be cautiously trusted. Some people are no and yes. These people are no fun but they make the world a better place — for puppies, especially. And some people are yes and yes. These people are wonderful people and your life and work are better for having them in your life. Seek them out. Collaborate with them. Enjoy their company.
No, No — This is probably someone who shouldn't be in your life. You don't enjoy their company and they're not someone that you can rely on when you need someone to lend a hand.
No, Yes — Unfortunately, this person isn't that great of a hang, but they can be relied upon in a pinch. These are great people to have as neighbors.
Yes, No — These people are a lot of fun, but you can't depend on them to be there when you really need them. These are like drinking buddies.
Yes, Yes — These are the golden people that you should work to keep in your life.
The test is a great way to evaluate people in your life but it's also a way to look at ourselves. How would you rate yourself as a friend?
via Wikimedia Commons
Another fun way to evaluate people is a test I developed based on a quote by Oscar Wilde, the legendary 19th-century Irish poet, playwright, and author of "The Picture of Dorian Gray."
"It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious," Wilde once said.
Now, this test is more for those who aren't shopping around from someone to watch their puppy but want to find people who are the most enjoyable to spend time around. I picture it as a spectrum with charming on one side and tedious on the other.
Charming < ------------------------- > Tedious
Someone can have a great sense of humor and make you laugh (charming) but at the same time like to complain a whole lot (tedious). So they'd fall in the middle.
There are others who are nothing but a joy to be around and are self-aware enough not to impose their drama or neurotic tendencies on you. These people would fall on the charming end of the spectrum.
Then they are those people who bring little to the table in terms of good humor and likeability but have a whole lot of baggage. These people would be ranked further down the tedious scale.
To put things even more simply, as Wilde once said, "Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go."
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