Why You Should Hang Out With + Date People You Admire

Looking for dating advice? Friendship advice? It can't get simpler than this: hang out with people who make you a better person.  #friendship #datingadvice #makefriends

Friends, gather round while I share a personal story of which I am not particularly proud.

Long ago and far away, I was not very discerning about the people I surrounded myself with. I wasn’t befriending drug dealers or puppy-kickers but I definitely had a few friends who required disclaimers and post-event apology emails.

There was the girl who’d get into yelling matches with people she just met.

There was the guy who initiated fistfights, in clubs, on the regular.

There were many, many people whose names required the unspoken asterisks “You’ve just got to get to know him” and “She’s an acquired taste” and “She’s a lot better when she’s sober.”

I’m equally sad to report that I dated a few (generally nice, well-mannered) dudes who inspired their fair share of eye-rolls and blushing. The boyfriend who would invite people over and then get so drunk he’d pass out before the party even started. The guy who’d dated half my city and treated most of those ladies poorly.

None of these were humans I was particularly proud to know.

I liked them! They had redeeming qualities – they were funny or interesting or smart – but they also pretty regularly engaged in choices and behavior that made me want to cross the room and pretend I didn’t know them or follow behind them with a broom and dust pan, cleaning up the literal or emotional messes left in their wake.

You deserve friends who leave no mess and require no explanation or excuses. Share on X

Have you heard that clever saying that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with? I doubt this is based on science (because if it were I’d have developed a taste for craft beers by now) but our friends undoubtedly rub off on us.

Their political opinions, the slang they use, even how they manage their money and their health – in small but real ways, who our friends are affects who we are.So why would you want to be affected by people who were anything less than wonderful?

Slowly but surely, I’ve filled my life with amazing people I’m thrilled to know, the sorts of people whose awesome will (hopefully) rub off on me. Jeremy and his wife adopted three siblings from Ethiopia. Ewa runs super marathons. Elizabeth co-created an organic skincare line that’s carried by Anthropologie.

Grant made a music video. Amy owns a successful, all-women tattoo shop. Justin doesn’t own a car and rides his bike 14 miles (each way!) to work every day. Jen has two (!) M.A.s from Harvard. Kelly wrote a a New York Times bestseller. My husband made a whole damn movie.

You deserve friends and partners who inspire more boasting than blushes, people who are exactly as amazing as you are.

Are you proud of the people you surround yourself with? In what positive ways have your friends rubbed off on you?

P.S. How to make friends as an adult + How to get the love life you want

photo by Asaf R // cc

Welcome to Yes & Yes!

Want to spend your time, money, and energy on purpose? I'll show you how.

You might also like…

How To Stop Researching + Start Taking Action

How To Stop Researching + Start Taking Action

I can see the tiny ‘like’ notifications piling up under the comment on my Instagram post. 12, 13, 14 likes. And honestly? I get it. Because the comment is so, so relatable. Who among us hasn’t done this? Who hasn’t spent weeks or months researching:  How to launch...

read more


  1. angieeatspeace

    I definitely can relate and agree with this.
    I used to surround myself with people who I did not necessarily admire and I felt that they brought me down and drained me.
    Although my circle is much smaller now, I feel like I am only around people I can learn from and respect.

  2. Anonymous

    I certainly agree!

    I can tell when I have been hanging out with people who inspire me. I become more focused on work, personal goals and dream bigger. Maybe a new post could be "How to meet inspiring people and become their friend!"

  3. Mandy V

    I just discovered your blog! Thanks for making me pause to reflect on who I surround myself with. I totally agree with it though!

  4. Emily Conrad

    This is so true, and I'd say the same goes for coworkers. I worked for an athletic footwear company and the people I worked with there were pretty active. The company had some events where you tracked your activity, but my work friends also made it a habit to workout. It rubbed off, even though I'm not an athlete. I've been gone from there for about two years, but I still make it a point to be active. I've had experiences where I found myself drawn in by less-positive habits by coworkers, too. Thankfully, I'm out of that situation, but it speaks to the point… be careful about your friends and coworkers. Thanks for the post 🙂

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Isn't it crazy how that stuff rubs off!? I need a few more uber athletes in MY life! 😉

  5. Audrey Lin

    At the end of high school, I realized that although I was so sick of many of the people at my school and couldn't wait to get the heck out of there, there were actually quite a few amazing people that I bet will make great contributions to society and who I wish I got to know more. Now that I'm a freshman in college, I hope to graduate without the regrets I had in high school, so I'm going to make an effort to befriend people I admire! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

  6. Jen N.

    After I read this post, I ran across my office to find out if the Justin you refer to was the Justin I know. It was! Small world. Justin is a great guy!

  7. Kalani

    At the risk of sounding, "Yes and yes!" to this post. We draw so much inspiration, for better or worse, from the people we see most.

    • Kalani

      *corny (oops, forgot a word!)

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Not corny, totally sweet and super appreciated! 🙂

  8. walking dot photography

    Ahh, that seems like a neat movie! (Especially having lived through that winter's slightly less intense, but still incredibly ridiculous cousin over here in Chicago!) Will it be available for viewing on a wider scale?

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      They're pitching it to PBS and I think it might be available online for a nominal fee ($2-3). I'll let you know when/if it happens!

  9. Claire

    Hmmm.. I have to say I have/had a friend (this would be back in middle and highschool) I often found myself saying things like 'oh, that's just her way' and 'she's great once you get to know her' and I wouldn't have changed a thing about her. Other people found her abrasive and intimidating, and they were right. She was fearless and had no qualms calling people out for things like racist jokes, sexist comments, and wouldn't back down from challenging peoples ideas about politics and religion. Yeah, she could be blunt and some people didn't like how frank and confrontational she could be, but she also wasn't scared to stand up for what she believed was right, even when most 14 year olds just want to be accepted by the crowd.

    I know people like her aren't exactly what this post is about, but sometimes the difficult people are some of the best people.

  10. NiNi

    "Date people you admire"… what fun!

  11. Lena Mitch

    Thanks for the good post! I downsized my circle of people about 4 years ago and have never looked back! Being naturally people-pleasing oriented, I found I was making very poor choices and investing my time in things that I honestly didn't really care about. Not that the people were bad, it was just that I needed to be influenced in other directions and listen to my own soul. 🙂

    I was pretty interested in clicking on your friends organic makeup link but it was a bad link. Any way I can get the name of her organic skincare line??

    Thanks for the great and inspirational sharing!

Pin It on Pinterest