One Question to Make or Break Your Friendships

Riley Blue
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What’s your opinion on Surfboarding?

“Surfboarding” refers to any activity you struggle to exercise self-control with.

I used to be an impulsive shopper. There was a time when I got multiple calls from delivery people each day. Nothing was a luxury. I felt I needed all those items — resulting in a closet overflowing with clothes, make-up, and shoes that still made me feel I had nothing to wear each time I had to go out.

But since November 2019, I’ve put myself on a clothes-buying ban. I decided to wear each item of clothing I owned until it could be worn no more and not buy anything else until then. It’s been three years, and I haven’t shopped for anything new.

A few of my friends are impulsive shoppers like the 2019 version of Anangsha. Seeing their stories on Instagram or hearing them talk about that cute new collection of yet another beauty brand was too much for me. Of course, I didn’t cut ties with them, but I drew my boundaries and asked them to not talk about shopping around me.

Turns out, aside from fangirling over how beautiful that new dress was, we had very little in common. There were awkward silences in the conversation that dragged on way too long, and over time, we lost touch.

How this question will help

Friends play a very important role in helping you stick to new habits or break out of old ones.

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that friends bond by providing each other moral support to resist a shared temptation. The researchers established that when it came to resisting temptations — like eating chocolate — sometimes friends were more likely to become partners in crime as they decided to indulge together.

On the other hand, friends also commonly conspire together to enjoy indulgences. A 2007 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that obesity spread through a “deeply interconnected social network” of more than 12,000 people. The findings underscored the link between social ties and health behavior.

If you’re trying to build a new habit or break out of a toxic one, the attitude of your friends towards that habit will affect you deeply.

Pick your “surfboarding.” Then, be very picky with who you choose to keep around you while working your way with building or breaking your “surfboarding” habit.

The bottom line

Friendships are deeply personal and no advice can be generalized to fit the bill for every connection you make — platonic or otherwise. That said, these three questions helped me choose my friendships more wisely, and made it easier to set ground rules in the relationships.

It might feel wrong to be “judging” a person and asking them questions before even being friends with them. But as Edna Buchanan quoted, “Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.”

A friendship is a long-term, if not lifelong commitment. There’s nothing wrong with choosing the most compatible family members for yourself.

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