“Can you hear me now? Good….wait, are you still there?”

Which relationships do you put an effort into? What do you expect from others?

These are questions you should think about when evaluating people in your life. Whether you classify them as close, casual, or professional doesn’t matter (unless they broke your Nintendo Gameboy when you were nine, in which case they’re dead to you). It’s common that people lose touch and are closer to some more than others – but did you ever think about why this happens? Because with a little extra you can keep those relationships that fade to black and reap some potentially great benefits.

What I propose is a Machiavellian-like approach to acquiring, maintaining, and increasing personal relationships with others. In the professional world, this is simply networking on a less intense level. Too often, I see people who are Johnny-on-the-spot with returning phone calls and emails at work but when it comes to family or friends, they’re as scarce as a sober Bostonian on Saint Patty’s Day. Why? With their job it’s “important” and they get paid to do it….but why not put forth the same effort in your personal life with people that matter?


Step 1: Acquiring Relationships

Whether you’re looking for new pals to hang out with or a mentor to guide personal goals, this can be a tough one. Picture moving to a new town or wanting to make your circle of friends larger.

Your main obstacle will be that people like comfort and don’t make efforts to break out of their circles.

It’s the same as selling a product in that you’re gonna need to spark enough interest in them that they’ll wanna shoot the breeze with you later. This is where it’s important to focus entirely on the other person. Ask questions. Have a sincere interest in their interests. I hate to say this but in today’s social media centered world that’s fueled by attention-deficit disorder, the level of self-absorption for most people is at an all-time high.


Step 2: Maintaining Communication

Once you’ve got that seed in the ground, you’re gonna need to keep watering it if you want the plant to flourish. This is where a lot of people fail and potential (or even existing) relationships turn into lost encounters.

 Constant communication is key to any good relationship.

It’s understandable that people get overwhelmed by busy lifestyles: long hours at the office, kids(!!!), a boatload of extracurriculars, or just being that guy that has an obsession with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. But whether people forget or just don’t realize it, it’s important to maintain regular contact with people – you can’t expect them to call, text, or email you all the time when you’re not reciprocating the effort.

Just a few examples/suggestions:

  • Call your parents and siblings every week or two (you should be doing this anyway)
  • Call or email those best friends from college at least a few times a year to catch up
  • Don’t get in touch with someone when it’s convenient for you. Make time. Because often it’s never “convenient”, things fall to the wayside, and you lose touch.

Step 3: Increasing Bonds

“The only way to have friends is to be one” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is the part that depends more on what you want out of the people in your life. You’ll know better if you want intellectual challenges, emotional support, or just some fun times.

 Just remember it’s a two-way street.

Other people are there to be used as resources but you know what? So are you. Whether you’re a good source of advice, a badass basketball player, or a helluva Scotch drinker, you have a contribution to make as well. The second you start relying on others but flake on them is when you start weakening your bond with them. Selflessness, compassion, integrity. Some good guidelines to live by.

…what’s in it for you

If you can follow these three simple steps, you can make yourself ten times happier and take on any obstacle that comes your way. Stress, depression, and anxiety become small puddles to step over when you have reliable people in your life. Even if you don’t have any problems, having a myriad of great relationships can open doors to spectacular things. Careers, a family, whatever you’ve been hoping for since you were a starry-eyed kid.

We’re here on this earth to enjoy each other and spread good vibes.

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Buck the Trend

Perspectives change as we age and for the most part it happens for good reason. Having a family means more responsible thinking, focus on retirement means prudent spending, and not wanting life-threatening diabetes translates to no more “40 McNugget Challenges” (this is an actual thing, look it up). For all other changes, I have one thing to say:

Buck the Trend.

Some people are wired to be low key, anti-social, or homebodies their entire lives and that’s perfectly okay – it’s all you other yahoos I’m talking about here. Once we wrap up school, lots of people go from John Belushi style Animal House to what I like to call “Working Man Syndrome”. There are a lucky few who are constantly challenged by their career and love every second of it (like stuntmen, Scotch tasters, and Chuck Norris). For most, however, work is something that passes the time while it drains the energy to maintain the kind of social life you only see in Dos Equis beer commercials.

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Here are some symptoms of Working Man Syndrome

  1. You’re so tired from work you skip exercise more than half the time and pickup beer or wine on your way home.
  2. Rather than planning a night out with friends you often stay in to read a book or watch that trendy show on Netflix or cable. (This brings us to symptom #3 below.)
  3. When you finally do hang out with those friends you haven’t seen in over three months, all you talk about is what happened on the latest episode of that show everyone watches because nobody goes out much and creates fun memories of their own.
  4. The last spontaneous thing you did was order out for dinner to go along with that book or show you’ve been binge watching.
  5. Your idea of keeping in touch with friends is liking their social media posts and commenting on occasion.

The causes of Working Man Syndrome include decreased energy as we age, laziness, and going through the motions of things as a result. What’s the prescription for this?? You guessed it:

Buck the trend.

As I said, some things are meant to change and for good reason. Others just happen out of complacency and those are the things you should smack yourself in the face about. The first thing you need is WILLPOWER. Sure, a lot of that requires having physical energy in order to have mental energy (https://scotchreflections.com/2015/02/14/you-work-out-you-go-out/) but having the attitude to want more fun out of life is key.

But who are we kidding – this is where most people fall short like a kid who packs one pair of underwear for a week long camping trip. The other thing you need is MOMENTUM. Whether that’s a friend or significant other to jump start your coma patient of a social life or blasting your smart phone’s to-do list, you need constant reminders or else you fall back into complacent mode again.

So get out of that boring rhythm and quit being lazy. This goes for single, non-single, parents, and non-parents. I’m not talking about barhopping or clubbing like you did in your early twenties but there are plenty of things you can (and should) be doing that are much more fun than sitting on your couch day after day until all of a sudden you’re eighty years old and regret not having experienced more. Just because everyone else is like that doesn’t mean you have to be too.

Buck the trend and WAKE UP.

The Evolution of Dating As You Age

Dating. One of the most fun and sometimes nerve-racking activities out there. Regardless of whether your end goal is just having a good time or slapping a ring on that finger, strategy is different for each person and changes as they age.

Ever think about YOUR approach to dating? Let’s take a look at how stereotypes change over the years and examples of what not to do.


K-12: “The Wonder Years”

1(If you don’t get “The Wonder Years” reference I should slap you.) This is when kids start to realize they have a thing called “feelings” for other people. Most times, it happens before puberty hits so you may act like an idiot with that special crush but at least you’re not doing it cuz of something in your pants (yet).

Getting a First Date 
Teasing and hair-pulling (yes, this applies to grade school and high school). Impressing the other with brains or brawn (“I don’t know if you heard me counting. I did over a thousand curls.”). Do you remember what you used to do as a kid or teenager?

What NOT To Do
   1) Overdoing it on teasing: In first grade, I sat behind a girl I had a crush on and decided to give her a haircut to get her attention. #Detention #FirstDateFail

   2) Getting too excited: When I was twelve, I finally got assigned the desk next to another crush and ended up puking all over her book bag. I thought it was nerves. Turned out it was flu.

   3) The friendship tip: Became good friends with a girl at another high school and asked her to prom. She excitedly said yes. The night before prom she called sobbing cuz she got back with her boyfriend and couldn’t go with me anymore. #JohnHughesMovieWhat


College to Your Early 30’s: The Real Fun Begins

This is when the playing field really opens up. You’re meeting single people left and right. There are endless parties and barhopping galore. Guys are running around like it’s hunting season and girls are just trying to survive the onslaught. This time of your life is like the attention deficit disorder of dating.

Getting a First Date 
Think about how you started up talking with that interesting someone. Go for the flirty approach? The funny angle? Did you sound like a human Twitter feed spouting off random lines trying to seem cool?

What NOT To Do
   1) Start a conversation by buying them a drink: The one and only time I tried this was epic face-plant. I’m at one end of the bar, she’s at the other. I thought to myself, “What can I lose?” I call the bartender over and ask him to get her another of whatever she’s drinking. Said bartender can be seen walking over to her, serving her another drink, and pointing at me down the way. Said girl leans over the bar, takes one look at me with a blank expression, and proceeds to walk away from the bar. Turns out I lost my pride….oh, and she took the drink with her.

   2) Throwing “play hard to get” back in their face: Sure, you don’t want to come on too strong but don’t do the opposite. I met a girl I really liked, tried hard to get her interested in me, got nowhere so just became her friend. The second I turned it off, she started to2 have feelings for me (so she told me years later). Kind of noticing her change in opinion and not wanting to scare her off again, I played hard to get. She ended up dating one of my buddies instead. #ThisHasHappenedTwiceNow #ImAnIdiot


Your Late 30’s and Beyond: The Pond Gets Smaller

A small sense of urgency. This is when all the wedding invites and baby pictures on Facebook really ramp up the pressure. (Side note: Is anyone else tired of friends posting up endless pictures of their kids, pets, or what they ate for dinner? It’s not that we don’t care but it gets old when they’re doing it 10+ times a week…) Standards drop to the point that an oddly placed mole or lazy eye doesn’t bother you as much on a date. The word of the day is “compromise”, right?

Getting a First Date 
Online dating, getting setup by your friends, hanging out at a coffee house pretending to read a book when you’re actually scoping out people to “bump into”. Where do grown-ups hang out, eh?

What NOT To Do
   1) Trying what you did in your 20’s: Meeting people in bars is tough enough when you’re young. Especially since most people don’t go out to get hit on as they get older and just want to hang out with friends. Don’t be that creepy guy or girl who hovers like a starved dog waiting to attack leftovers on the table.

   2) Ask your friends to set you up: While they’re all good intentioned, your non-single friends somehow develop the idea that you’d be a good match with “such and such” based solely on the fact that you’re both single. The only thing you have in common is that you both have ten fingers and ten toes….or in some unfortunate cases, not even.


what’s your end goal???

First, you’ve gotta make sure you’re dating for the right reasons. Don’t be selfish. Don’t get married just cuz everyone else is getting hitched and you don’t want to end up alone. Being with someone makes things better in life but don’t forget that they’re hoping the same thing from you.

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“You’re so money and you don’t even know it!!”

Second, ignore all that “just be yourself” crap. The first ten or so dates should be treated carefully. It’s like doing your impression of Sloth from “The Goonies” on date #1 as opposed to date #15. Let the other person get comfortable before you weird them out.

Lastly, I’m guessing I’m not the only one tired of all the “dating is like a game” malarkey. “Did I call too soon?” “Should I wait two days?” (Swingers movie reference – a must add to your watch list) Over-think stuff and you’ll end up as a 62 year old hermit living with four dogs, two cats, and a turtle.

The game can be fun if you play it right. Just change up your strategy as your priorities change and keep getting back on that horse.

Best of luck!

You Work Out, You Go Out

All that “mind, body, and spirit” shpeel?  There’s definitely some truth behind it.

The more we age, the more falloff in performance there is of our cellular machinery.  Metabolism slows, our minds aren’t as sharp, we get tired easily.  To compensate, we rely more on sleep and stimulants such as caffeine to keep us going through the day.  Or for you crazy yahoos out there: Five Hour Energy Drink, Red Bull, and Monster.

All of these physical highs and lows have an impact on our daily outlook and, in turn, our social activity.

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and then you’ve got

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It’s a direct correlation: the more energy you have, the more social you tend to be. Slack on exercising or good diet and you’ll most likely be going to bed early and spending time with your “true” loves: Netflix, Hulu, and cable TV. Don’t get me wrong, I love kicking back at home for some peace and quiet; it just shouldn’t get to the point that you see friends and family only a couple times a month.

Let’s do a quick survey, eh? If you’re not too lazy, answer these questions, yes or no….and be honest:
1) Do you choose a book or movie more often than going out with friends?

2) On weekends or nights that you meet friends, are you in bed before 11pm?

3) Do you tend to only go out on Saturday nights because you’re too tired on Fridays?

4) When you show up at a party, is the first thing you do is to find somewhere to sit?

5) Do you ever shoot a friend down because he/she lives too “far” away (i.e., 30min)?

6) Does it take you three cups of coffee, a cold shower, and a Red Bull to recover from food coma so you can head out with the gang?

If you answered, “yes”, to three or more of these you’re in danger of being lazy, both socially and physically. You probably don’t have a regular exercise routine (working out ten minutes every ten days doesn’t count) and/or don’t maintain a healthy diet. As a result, you’ve developed a complacent lull when it comes to social activity and prefer to have a monotonous, low-key life outside of work. Your mental outlook isn’t just regulated by everyday events; you’ve got to take into account your body’s energy levels and hormones that fluctuate day to day and hour to hour. Diet and exercise are tantamount to these effects.

what’s the solution??? ….you need “SINGLE STAMINA”

“Single stamina” is a term coined from the TV show, “How I Met Your Mother”. It’s a pretty funny but very telling concept that points out how different single people are compared with couples when hanging out.

1Single people tend to:

  • stay on their feet to maximize mobility and social interaction in the room
  • choose different forms of lubrication (liquor, shots, etc.; I don’t know what you were thinking, bub)
  • go from group to group like a sugar-loaded, hyperactive six year old with attention deficit disorder
  • hit the dance floor like it’s their job
  • stay out late and close out the bar

Couples prefer to:2

  • battle other couples for seats…which technically is social interaction but not the kind that I mean here
  • stick with wine and weaker drinks so they don’t worry about hangovers the next day
  • avoid eye contact with strangers and spend a lot of time texting or reading email
  • avoid the dance floor like the plague
  • check their watch every ten minutes getting ready to go home

I’m not saying only singles have exciting lifestyles (insert “marriage = death” jokes here). “Single stamina” only serves as an example to point out the benefits of exercise for social activity. Let’s face it, most of the couples you know don’t work out much anymore or at least don’t have a chance to. They’re the ones that tend to stay home a lot and keep it low-key. The friends, singles and couples, you’ve got that do keep it healthy are more inclined to stay active, outgoing, and adventurous. (By the way, my entire argument is based on couples that don’t have kids. That’s a whole other story.)

    Choose the easy route and go through life somewhat satisfied.

    OR put in some work and reap the benefits.