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Level Up Your Friendships: Simple Systems to Maintain Quality Connections

One of the common regrets people have on their deathbed is I wish I had stayed in touch with friends. As life becomes busy—when family and children come into the picture or we work hard to get recognised in our career—we tend to prioritize our immediate responsibilities over our secondary connections like friendships. Unfortunately, neglecting these relationships can lead to loneliness later in life, especially once the busy stage of life is over.


Don’t put your eggs in one basket

Relying solely on a partner is a bad idea; divorce or death happens all the time. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” might sound a bit calculated, but it holds true—having a mix of close and more casual relationships provides a stronger, more reliable network than depending on a single connection.


According to Dr Gabor Maté, friendships provide a robust support system, offering emotional security, a sense of belonging and acceptance. Strong social connections boost happiness, reduce feelings of loneliness and improve physical health. Research suggests that having a reliable social network can even buffer the effects of stress and trauma, helping us cope with life’s challenges.


I think you get my point - friendships are super important. So what’s a busy person to do? I have a few suggestions 👇


Gregg Schoenberg - The Relationship Matrix

Greg is a very interesting guy with a background in banking and finance. He came up with a simple system to stay in touch with people in your life, be it close or distant and it’s super easy to implement.


Greg’s view on relationships:

  • Life gets in the way and we let people slip through the cracks; we end up not keeping in touch with most people just through the natural attrition of life.
  • The most important thing in everyone’s life always seems to be relationships yet most people don’t have a system to keep those relationships in place.
  • Relationships don’t just happen, you need to invest time and effort in building them. It requires creating a discipline around connecting with people.


So he created The Relationship Matrix spreadsheet with 3 categories 👇


A - people I want to speak with or connect with at least once a week.

B - people I want to get in touch with at least every quarter.

C - people I want to touch base with at least twice a year.


If there’s someone you only connect with once a year, consider moving them into one of the categories or removing them from your life. Once you categorize the people in your life you’re able to maintain connections and invest your resources accordingly.


A few top-down rules Greg sticks to 👇


  • You get introduced to new people by investing in old relationships. Send an article, shoot an email or a funny meme you find online. When people are asked for a referral - you’ll be on top of mind.
  • Connecting with others is not about expecting a return but enriching the perspective of the people you care about.
  • About 20% of the list are As. If everyone’s an A, no one’s an A.
  • Etiquette is everything - a lot of alpha to be found in adhering to proper etiquette.
  • Respect the person - engage the same way the person engages with you. If someone calls and you can’t pick up - don’t send a text back with ‘whasup’ but call them back.


I picked up the Relationship Matrix idea in this podcast.


Now, how shall you decide if someone should be on your friend friend list?


George Mack - Treadmill Friends vs. Sofa Friends

George evaluates friendships by looking at energy transference.


1. Treadmill friends - After hanging out with them, you have so much energy you want to run on a treadmill to calm down.

2. Sofa friends - After hanging out with them, you are so drained that you want to lie down on a sofa to recover.


In his words: “[Energy Transference] a concept that is difficult to describe in words -- but everyone has felt it. You feel like you’ve done a double espresso after speaking to them. Steve Jobs’ energy transference was so strong they called it a ‘Reality Distortion Field’.“


People don't remember what you say - they remember how you made them feel.
  • There’s nothing mystical about energy transference but a mix of charisma, tonality, belief, facial expressions, wisdom, and worldview that blend together. Our subconscious understands it.
  • Energy transference can’t be taught but hanging out around treadmill friends transfers some of that energy to you. The same is true for sofa friends though.


Now that you’ve decided who stays on the list, how to invest in these connections?


Willard F. Harley Jr. - Love Bank Account Theory

This idea was laid out in his best-selling book His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage, but it could be easily adapted to all relationships.


The Love Bank analogy describes that everyone you know has a bank account with you that keeps track of how you treat them. When you feel good after interacting with someone, it means they put ‘deposits’ into your Love Bank account. When you have negative experiences associated with that person it ‘withdraws’ from the Love Bank.


If someone makes more withdrawals than deposits, your account with them will be zero which creates resentment, frustration and negative emotions, therefore that particular relationship won’t feel good any more.


Good experiences = deposit love units, leading us to like, or love, a person.
Bad experiences = withdrawal of love units, leading us to dislike, or even hate, a person.


Tips for creating deposits


  • Make sure to add deposits in your friend’s/partner’s favourite currency, not yours.
  • Don’t take the relationship for granted; invest time in building and maintenance.
  • Evaluate reciprocity: Is it a one-way street? Sometimes one person deposits and the other keeps withdrawing. End those friendships.


Recap

  • You don't have enough time to give your attention to everyone. Segment people into 3 distinct groups and vary the connection frequency accordingly.
  • Not everyone should be given the time and attention it requires to build a friendship. Identify people who drag you down and remove them from your life if possible.
  • Learn to build connection in ways other people prefer. Communicate your preferences as well.


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