There’s just SO MUCH to talk about when it comes to relationship and friendship. Today I want to talk about some elements to developing friends and to look at how it works in real life.
How to Make Friends
If you do some “research” on making friends with people, studies say you need three things:
Proximity, Unplanned interactions, and Privacy.
Here’s how those break down. Proximity means you have to be near by enough that you are actually in each others lives. This is why kids end up being friends with neighbor kids, and why you might be friends with people from work. You might even *sorta* feel like you’re friends with the your local barista or the checker at your most frequented grocery store just from exposure, always seeing them. Unplanned interactions means well, exactly that. You have interactions that you didn’t have to plan. Privacy is needed so that as you develop a friendship you can be real. You know? So that you can be yourself. Because apparently making true friendships requires you actually being yourself. Imagine that.
There are two more things that I see as necessary to build friendship. I don’t have any great studies to prove this YET, but maybe when I’m old and more awesome I’ll do my own research. Here’s the two that I’m adding to the list.
Kindness and (mutual) affection.
Kindness, because it doesn’t matter how much time you spend with someone, if its all built in sarcasm, talking about how dumb other people are, or if it’s about putting yourselves first and everyone else second, it just doesn’t build a good foundation for true relationship. Mutual affection, because it doesn’t really matter how much time you get with someone or how real you are able to be with them if they don’t actually care about being friends. Kinda blunt, kinda obvious. Really important. They have to at least care, even the tiniest bit.
My Accidental Friendship
Ok, so that’s out of the way but I’m sure I’ll come back around to it. Now, I want to tell you about how I accidentally found a friend.
I’d known her as an acquaintance for a while. Probably at least seven years. We have lots of mutual friends, have crossed paths plenty of times, but we weren’t friends. It wasn’t even a thought in my mind.
Then this happened:
I said to her in passing one day, “You look really pretty this morning.” And she said, “Awww, thanks.” We were both set to go our separate ways when something so very fateful happened. A half a second before our ways would have parted, she turned back around toward me and said, “Here let me give you a hug.” Now, I’m all about hugs. Hugs make me feel LOVED. Like people want me in their life. She hugged me, and I said, “Aw, I love that. Hugs make me feel loved and like people want me in their lives.” (I’m not just saying that for the sake of the blog. I really said that out loud.) We exchanged another paragraph or so and then when on our merry ways.
What happened there? Kindness and mutual affection. I told her she looked beautiful, (she always does,) she made me feel significant. It wasn’t a big deal. Really. Except that it was. Because it started sometime. It told us both that we could trust just that tiny bit that the other person was happy for us to exist. Isn’t that the beginning of friendship?
Carry on. I ended up having to text her and take a baby shower invite to her house from one of our mutual friends, and we ended up having a hilarious text convo about how my day was going. About me having to deal with her redneck neighbors. That’s proximity. It was someone else’s idea she was getting invited to the baby shower. That’s unplanned interaction. How was I to know my day would be insane and we’d end up laughing over it together. Kindness and affection were present too. When I text people, I usually try to use words that keep them aware that I’m thankful for them. And she was kind. Kindness is big.
Honestly, especially if your dealing with an extrovert, if you are kind to them, I really do think they will see it as a hand held out in friendship. People don’t like feeling like they are being an inconvenience. In particular, extroverts can become accustomed to being the one who’s “too friendly.” This can end up meaning they try to tone it down, or pretend like they aren’t really interested in other people, as a means of self preservation. It gets tiring always seeming like a stalker. “OMG, You’re so cool, lets totally be friends,” the extrovert may say, and the introvert perhaps answers, “whoa, back up, Creepy. You’re way to friendly.” I’ll try not to talk to much extrovert/introvert stuff here, but HONESTLY, this is how being an extrovert can feel. It’s kinda exhausting. A bit of kindness, and knowing that people aren’t annoyed that you are texting them or wanting to hang out can really go a long ways here people. It’s the little stuff that sometimes can make big differences.
To finish my story, we ended up seeing each other at a small birthday party, then we ended up at a large birthday party together, I ended up being with a friend who was dropping some stuff off at her house. Proximity, Unplanned Interactions, Kindness. We actually started to feel a bit like real live friends. Recently we met up for lunch. It was nice. I’m happy to be building friendship. It’s something that takes time and effort but is also somehow fun and effortless. In other words, its a journey.
Now, I couldn’t tell you what year she graduated high school, or what her favorite color is. (My guess is blue or green.) But I’m not looking for a second grader type of BFF to make matching necklaces with. I’m looking for a grown up version of friendship. I’m looking for someone who is going to walk together with me in life. It doesn’t get more real than that. Someone I can text when I need encouragement. Someone who I can take a meal to when they get pregnant. Someone who will make me laugh.
Friends are those who walk together on the path of life. How does one find these people? It happens accidentally sometimes. But it also takes audacity and perseverance if you want the friendship to really stick. At least, thats what I have found. It’s accidental, and it’s definitely on purpose.
What is your idea of grown up friendship?