SELCO: The Importance of Friends and Family When the SHTF

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Author of The Dark Secrets of SHTF Survival and the online course SHTF Survival Boot Camp

In one of the previous articles, I mentioned how to deal with people who might show up on your doorstep once when SHTF, looking for help from you. And I mentioned that a lot of people worry about the fact that their friends and family will be among those people.

The topic that cannot be separated from that is trust, and it is something to think about (and write) here.

Friends and family in the world today

I was talking a few days ago with a friend about the issue of friends and family when SHTF. I realized that some 15 years ago if something serious happened, some event that needed a strong group of bonded people in order to overcome that event (riots, serious weather event, disruption of law and order, war…) I could count probably on 15 people I really trusted, organizing together with me in a very short period of time.

Today if something serious happened, I can count maybe on 5 or 6 people.

I am talking about the number of people that I can trust with my life in a strong core group.

That count includes all of my friends and family. Only 5 or 6 would be trusted enough.

And you need to know that I live in a region of the world where family connections are traditionally very important.

So yes, things are very bad, even here.

We are living in a world where, intentionally or not, we are being pushed or dragged into a reality where materialistic goods are the only thing that is important.

Or to use philosophic words, it has become more important “to have, not to be.”

It is visible in any aspect of life across the world, so without being too grumpy, I have to say that respect is gone.  Who knows how all this going to look in 10 years? Family as the most important unit of humanity is being twisted into something weird, and at the end, it has lost its basic purpose.

All this goes to the topic of friends and friendship. For many of us, it is almost like,“Who needs enemies when you have friends like this?” 

This is why the “lone wolf” has emerged.

Over the years of my survival /prepping work I have always mentioned and capitalized the importance and necessity of having a group or network of friends and family with you when the SHTF. Together with that topic I always emphasized how hard is to survive a real SHTF if you are alone, without that network, or if you are actually that “lone wolf”.

That problem got summarised in the comments on one of my articles. (Thanks for the comment, Gab.)

“I’m sourrouned by liars, cheaters, and backstabbers, but most of all they want to live off of the substance of other like a parasite. So this why the lone wolf is my only option.”

Indeed, we are all surrounded by them. The way of life that we are living today kinda pushes a lot of people to be liars, cheaters, and backstabbers. It is, to them, the easier way, and a lot of people choose it because of that.

It almost looks like a conspiracy to completely corrupt every bond in order to make it easier to manipulate folks.

It has kinda already hit the fan.

After all these years, I do still believe you have to find a network of people in order to overcome serious SHTF, but I also believe that it has gotten harder and harder.

So what are the solutions?

It is easy to say “connect with like-minded people” or “have trusted people when the SHTF”, but it gets harder and harder to achieve that.

Let’s keep it simple and use three words here: time, trust and skills.

Usually, it will be a combination of these three words.

The best case would be if you have enough time to get know people with whom you want to connect so you can trust them, and if those people have skills that can be used in hard times.

Time and trust

You need time to find good people, simply because there is a shortage of good people, as we already mentioned.

You will not find it by hunkering down in your home waiting for the end of the world, so basically, good advice here is to try to socialize, to meet other folks.

It is common sense.

The preppers movement has in its core a distrust of people around us, and while it is common sense not to trust to everybody around you it somehow very often turns into a parody of common sense. Nobody said you need to trust everybody, but it is a good thing to socialize and to meet other people. Otherwise, what is the point?

A lot of preppers tend to be waiting for the end of the world so hard that they simply forgot to live and have fun.

Go out, hang out with people, and enjoy life some. One day, when the SHTF, you will appreciate every memory of those moments.

The process of finding trusted people takes time because you obviously cannot go out and say “I am a prepper, and I look for other preppers”.


You need people with skills. It is simply like that.

Two points here are important. You need to think a bit outside of the box and you need to think from the opposite end of the spectrum of survival.

Often preppers think about a few most important fields of survival only when it comes to the skills, fields like violence (weapons, shooting) or food (farming, hunting.) Survival is much more than that, and it is often connected to your personal setting too.

One of my friends during the war had a lot of experience in building. He was actually a structural engineer.

My setting at that time included a lot of moving, sleeping, and living in partially destroyed buildings.

For the average person, a partially destroyed building looked like uninhabitable.  For example, an apartment building looked like this: the second floor was burned down, 3 walls on the 4th floor were missing, and the top 3 floors were completely gone. The walls in the apartments were full of holes, etc.

In that setting, it was a big help to have a man who could tell you that a particular wall or ceiling could collapse on you on the next distant detonation and that it was not a smart idea to sleep there. He could warn you that it was not a good idea to climb those particular stairs because some pillar under them was destroyed.

I am not saying that you are gonna be in same settings that I was. I am saying when it comes to skills you need to think out of the box. Starting to look for like-minded people from the opposite spectrum of survival is common sense.

Let’s say you believe that the world is going to face a cataclysmic event because of the eruption of a supervolcano and that the climate is going to change after that, then food shortages will come, and everything else that happens after that.

Are you going to approach people and say, ”I believe Yellowstone is gonna erupt! Let’s prepare together”?

Probably not a good idea.

Start from the opposite end. From the point of skills. So you could look for people who share your love of the same skills, like farming, gardening, shooting, hiking, nature, solar energy or anything similar.

They do not need to believe in SHTF or already be preppers. They need to share the same love for activities and needed skills.

After you socialize with people, you are starting to make a bond with them. Out of ten people like that, you might find one that is worth the trust.

He still does not have to believe in SHTF, because one day if a supervolcano erupts, he will believe then, because it will be a fact.

People usually do not want to believe in a bad future, so do not start from that end. 

Don’t be afraid to network.

We must be aware of OPSEC and we have to hide our settings and prepare in order to be safe. But it does not have to go into paranoia. We have to use modern communication – like the internet to connect like-minded people through the careful process of getting to know people.

Let’s use this what we have today – there is a huge help from the internet in connecting with like-minded people. Blogs, forums, and even Facebook groups (like Prep Club) can help you to connect with people who think the same way.

It is a process that usually takes some time, to find good people and gain trust and connect with them, but it is possible and this media giving us great opportunities for that.

About Selco:

Selco survived the Balkan war of the 90s in a city under siege, without electricity, running water, or food distribution. He is currently accepting students for his next physical course here.

In his online works, he gives an inside view of the reality of survival under the harshest conditions. He reviews what works and what doesn’t, tells you the hard lessons he learned, and shares how he prepares today.

He never stopped learning about survival and preparedness since the war. Regardless of what happens, chances are you will never experience extreme situations as Selco did. But you have the chance to learn from him and how he faced death for months.

Real survival is not romantic or idealistic. It is brutal, hard and unfair. Let Selco take you into that world.

Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • I was given this little piece of advice 37 years ago, and it is this; “Time is the incubator of trust and sincerity, if either are broken only time will heal the wound” !

    Also be mindful of who has lied or betrayed you in the past, that might be coming for your help. Those who have broken either should be shunned, and told why, then shut the door in their face.

    We fully understand that it is hard, but don’t be drawn into their web by tears, threats or apologies. They had their chance, but those whom you can determine are truly remorseful, you may help them to become an asset if they want to play by YOUR rules, because in a SHTF scenario your SOC, (Self Organized Collective) is not a Democracy, and all who want to join must understand that at the onset.

  • I am 75 years old, I learned a long time ago, I was in my early teens, you cannot trust anyone. They will all use you, spit you out, then come back and ask for something and try to use you again. When it hits the fan, you are on your own.

  • REMEMBER it was a trap right from day one,TO see who was worth saving and who wouldn’t be saved,IF YOU KNOW OUR LORD,you already know the trap door will close SUDDENLY,90% of america will be caught in the trap…and lose their life to SATAN,9% will survive it,1% will be leaving with the innocent children,THE BRIDE OF OUR LORD,YAHUSHUA….

  • I’m unmarried, childless and middle-aged, so most people consider me worthless. I have no doubt my relatives are in dread that I will be the one to show up on their doorstep begging for help like the stereotypical maiden aunt of the 1800’s. What’s hilarious is that I am a hundred times more prepared than they are and could be of far more aid to them than they could ever be to me. Consequently, I am absolutely fine with mutual avoidance in times of trouble. I fully plan on doing the lone wolf thing because it sure beats being taken advantage of.

      • Daisy ,you and your brood, and Maggie would be most welcome at my house too here in the great country of Texas, which looks like we may be heading that way eventually. Certainly hope so. LOL And Selco if you ever get to Texas you are most certainly welcome as well.

    • Maggie,
      Worthless you are not. As you get older search out someone who can help you around the house and in return help them. God bless.

  • I believe in the idea put forth by President Reagan:
    “Trust, but verify.”
    I would also add that the sooner you figure out who is trustworthy the better.

    • You can weld.
      That implies you have at least some minimal knowledge of metallurgy, and how bonds are formed in metal. Now think about how that knowledge could be put to use with a pile of coal, or charcoal, a bellows, and an anvil.
      Perhaps learn how to hammer weld multiple layers taken from some wrecked car fender into a quality knife or spear point using just heat and a hammer. Or hinges, brackets, an oil lamp, a vermin proof bread box.
      think outside the box…
      An in demand skill can be more valuable than a decade worth of supplies.

      • @meager bumble: You could take up blacksmithing welding with a forge, anvil etc. My brother was hired as a blacksmith to make some very unique pieces using wrought iron. Maybe it’s a dying trade, but it might be a necessity some day soon.

  • Beware of anyone who says “It’s not personal”. What they are really saying is “I don’t see you as a person, or even human. I just see you as an opportunity to exploit.”

  • Been reading your blog for a while now. My wife and I have no one except our 2 boys. 2 lovable Pitt bull mixes. The lone Wolf thing works for us. Every time we feel that someone is trustworthy. Turns out that they are takers. Keep doing what you are doing. Love the blog.

  • Thanks for your blog. Recently discovered you. I’ve learned quite a bit from it. I’m a single 60-yr-old female caring for a parent w/ dementia 24/7. None of the family really helps except my daughter who lives a thousand miles away (when she visits once a year). None of my relatives believes anything is going to happen so they don’t see the need to prep. They question my sanity. My two younger brothers have skills, but have proven untrustworthy and unreliable over time. It’s a real quandary. I would love for someone to address the caregiver angle of prepping. If that’s already out there, please respond w/ a link. Thanks!

    • KCThinks, same here. My hubby and kids are questioning my sanity and that right there makes them liabilities. Anyone that would suggest a shrink for a prepper needs to go back to their city and try to survive there when SHTF. They think the government will save us. My brothers as well have skills and I gave one of them that’s here in the US a piece of land for him and his family right next to me. He’s been helping me clear it and get some stuff done whenever he’s in town. He a truck driver and has seen the breakdown and disruption of the supply chain first hand. My other brother is a libby who moved to Puerto Rico and regrets moving to an island that is still in disarray from Hurricane Maria. I found one link that might help you. Hope it helps.

  • I actually sat down and made a Trust Ranking entry in my prepper notebook. I listed those closest to me, and put them on a scale of one to ten. One being no trust and ten being able to lean on them during hard times. Out of the 14 people who are in my inner circle, not one could I rely on in a long term shtf situation. They are all self-absorbed, materialistic, and care only about appearance. They are greedy, easily angered, vindictive, selfish, gossips, back stabbers, gullible, and display no sense of loyalty whatsoever. It really makes me sad. I am preparing to be on my own.

    • Halle,
      You might look to your local small town church. There might be people like you in similar situations.

  • I have started this exercise as an extension of the realization that (due to the increased politicization of social media) I was not “visiting” with a fair amount of people I have met over the years and the additional realization that most of the relationships that develop at work, which is where I spend a great deal of time (as do most people), tend to expire when you leave the job.

    I realized (after doing a count) there were less than 15 people I interact with on a non-work weekly basis including family. Of those, I don’t know but one or two beyond my family would fall into the sort of thing that is being discussed here.

    The fracturing of social ties is real. What it will leave in its wake is disturbing.

  • Trust but verify. Past performance is often an indicator of future results.

    Time and reciprocity.

    All of this revolves around an investment. You keep putting more and more in expecting it to be there when you really need it. Doesn’t matter if it is your 401k, people, or MREs.

    Do not get trapped in a sunk cost fallacy.

    The ones you can truly trust are the ones you can rely on. If you were broke down on the side of the expressway on a Tuesday morning and needed someone to stop at the auto parts store to pick up a widget, who would answer the phone, leave work immediately even with repercussions, get you the widget, bring some tools and some bottled water, and help you get it repaired and home? No hesitation. No asking if you can call someone else but will come if they really need to, no be there in a while, etc.

    You can teach skills. We are all born with the capacity to learn regardless of natural aptitude.

    Does this mean you can’t be friends with your fairweather beer-drinking buddy or you fickle wine shopping woman? No, it doesn’t. But while in a time of need they may think of you do not plan on doing the same. Those people can be grown into reciprocity and reliability but maybe 1 in 10 will get to that point. It largely takes time.

    They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in a skill. They say it takes 200 hours a year to maintain true inner circle of reliable friends. This doesn’t mean you need to spend 4 hours a week with a person building rocketships. It can be you just stay in contact and be a useful sounding board.

    You may not have the time to invest in more than a few people you can really trust. This is OK. Just do not get caught in the sunk cost fallacy. Some may not work out and it is difficult to acknowledge. There is nothing wrong with this. Remember they are doing similar things, even if they don’t realize it. They likely have other people.

    • And that 200 hours a year building a reliable inner circle of trustful friends can, in part, be spent mutually building SHTF skills without these friends even knowing you are building this skill set in them (evil laugh LOL).
      Example: I live in the suburbs prone to wildfires and have joined the suburban civilian fire fighting unit. Got to know a few people in the group who also like hiking and camping so we have gone on a few “back to basics” weekend camping trips which I do anyway but it’s great with a few more people. I’m thinking of trying some rock climbing to increase fitness.
      You could also enlist some trusted friends in helping get fitter, helping each other in landscaping, gardening, basic construction tasks. Also spending time volunteering. I helped set up as part of a very large team, an outdoor festival site a few months ago with a few friends. Yes a know these a very basic survival skills for experienced peppers but I now know a little bit more about basic temporary building construction, etc
      All the best.

      • Yes, a great cache of friends to make are first responders: police, fire, volunteer firemen, ems, medical, etc. They typically love helping others and have great skill sets.

  • Many of us have black sheep or human parasites in their family. This does not mean that they cannot be useful members of a team, as long as you keep their weaknesses in mind.

    A sister has repeatedly stolen from the family, but I would still take her in if she showed up. An EMT and master gardener with herbal pharmaceutical knowledge is very nice to have. She’d be helpful with a friend that I absolutely trust, a mechanic that has diabetes.

    My oldest daughter has been a drug addict, prostitute, thief and burglar. I would happily take her, even if she didn’t have two good kids that I care about. She’s street smart in a way that I’ll never be, and has survived in very bad situations. Keep her from temptation, and she’s a definite asset.

    A friend is an artist and musician, totally inept mechanically and unsuited to surviving on his own. Parasite, right? No, his skills with people make him the glue that keeps a group together instead of splintering. The guy can make a room full of people that hate each other work as a team.

    As SEDCO notes, look beyond the obvious liabilities. Don’t stop at what they know, look at what they can learn as well. Friends and family are (mostly) known, and you have to sleep sometime.

  • if such people survive, a lot of people post SHTF will be left on their own not by bad planning but by sheer bad luck.
    I chose to be a lone wolf because I trust no one in the materialistic 21st Century, better to be alone than with people you cannot trust.

  • Why don’t all the Lone Wolfs form a group … oh, yea, ain’t gonna happen being narcissists. Why would anyone want them to be in their group?

    From Selco, above, “And you need to know that I live in a region of the world where family connections are traditionally very important.
    So yes, things are very bad, even here.”
    Sad to hear that.

    Person to person encounter: Don’t trust anyone who tilts their head while talking to you, steadily looking at you with their dominant eye while the other eye is looking behind, around you, occasionally turning their head for an escape route after they attack you, all the while scratching themselves and using the word “We”.

  • Does no one but me see the irony in an article that deals with one of the touchiest subjects to a prepper, finding others one can depend on during SHTF and mentions OPSEC, then, IN THE VERY NEXT PARAGRAPH, suggests joining a prepper group on Facebook, perhaps the ultimate antithesis of OPSEC?!?! …YeahNO!

  • Great article again Selco.
    I have been fortunate to always have had a few friends that I can really trust. a couple of them have moved far away though, but we keep in touch. I’m not so sure I would trust someone who doesn’t trust anybody.

    @KCThinks- being a full time caregiver is hard. I did it for about five years and the person had dementia also. IT is much easier if the person is just physically disabled. Easier to keep opsec too.
    I don’t know of a link but know that you are not alone. One thing- you need to look at all options for finding a little time for yourself to recharge your own batteries. Since I don’t know your circumstances or if your parent can be left alone at all I don’t know how to advise. Perhaps a discussion on that subject on the forum?

  • Great advice Selco. Thanks. I am having this issue within my own family and community but I have found a few like minded people here. My issue is that I am going about my OpSec wrong, and so I appreciate this suggestion and will implement in it my search for like minded people.

  • Within the last four years my family has passed away. My neighbors are elderly. I work in a different town. I’m not sure who I would turn to for help. I’ve always prepped long before I knew there was a term for it. If and when SHTF I’m afraid I’ll be a lone wolf. Not a good feeling

  • I just learned an effective psychological test for vetting potential partners and associates; the shopping cart test. Take your prospect shopping and let them run the shopping cart. If they return the cart without prompting they have an innate tendency toward cooperation and trust. The jerk that leaves a cart in the lot for somebody else to attend to will also leave you in the lurch, so consider accordingly…

  • Selco is always the MAN. I have been prepping/survivalist for 40 years and live on a small farm/homestead. But I always worried about support people. My daughter moved to the farm a few years ago and that gave us some “young blood”. But during Covid we joined an anti vax group in NZ called Voices for Freedom. Through that group we met so many people of “like mind” that we have a whole new group of friends. There are now several people and couples whom I would have no hesitation asking them to join us on the farm if the SHTF.
    So great progress…. 🙂

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