Go Where Your Friends Are
As soon as I reorganized Twitter to focus my attention on my most valued relationships, I noticed how many of my dearest pals weren't on Twitter at all: They were on Facebook. In my enthusiasm for the shiny novelty of Twitter, I'd forgotten all about Facebook—but went back to checking Facebook regularly when I realized that's where my closest pals hung out. You wouldn't hang out at the latest trendy bar if your friends were still gathering at the neighborhood pub; don't get caught up in the race to join the latest hip network if it takes you away from the online communities that engage your dearest friends.

Prioritize Your BFF
Before I had kids, I spent hours on the phone every week and stayed in regular contact with half a dozen good friends. But the after-work hours that I used to spend yakking with my girlfriends are now filled with feeding, bathing and reading to my kids; I'm lucky if I can find an hour a week to talk with a friend. That's enough time to talk with each of my close friends once every three months—or to talk with one good friend every 10 days. Focusing my phone time on my oldest and dearest friend means that when we talk, we can actually have a meaningful conversation about the latest chapter in our lives, rather than using an hour to catch up on news highlights. Social networks can make staying in touch a lot easier, but they can't actually cram more hours into the day. If you focus your online and phone time on a couple of close friendships, you'll have more meaningful conversations than you can sustain with a large circle.

Don't Confuse "Friends" with Friends
"You know S., don't you?" a colleague asked. The name was familiar, but I couldn't place it. "You're friends on Facebook," my husband reminded me. Make that "friends," not friends. The fastest way to erode your commitment to the relationships that matter to you is to confuse that long list of buddies you have on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn with actual people you know and love.

Take the Move Test
A year after our daughter was born, my husband and I interviewed for a number of jobs in another city. As we contemplated moving towns, we found ourselves pulling back from our extended circle of friends. We decided to turn this instinctive withdrawal into a conscious choice and stopped making plans with anyone we didn't expect to stay in touch with after moving. Ironically, this contributed to our decision to stay put: Once we focused our time and attention on the people we saw as lifelong friends, our social life became much more meaningful and satisfying. Whether you move every year or plan on living in one place your whole life, an imaginary move is a great way of focusing your email, chat and Facebook time on the people who you love most.

Friendship takes balance and compromise


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