Perhaps you have been thinking about making new friends? Perhaps you need to find better, healthy friends? Perhaps you need to be a better friend? Friendship with family and others is one of the most meaningful ways to spend your life. Vulnerability, honesty and loyalty are all features of a quality friend. Success in friend-making is partially determined by your discretion in knowing what NOT to do when making friends.
- Don’t underestimate what you have to offer. If you are reading this blog or listening to the companion podcast, remember that you have interests, feelings, thoughts, talents, questions and dreams. With all that you have to offer, you bring a value to a friendship.
- Friendship takes time. True friendship usually has history. History takes time. If you have a new friend, you might want to keep alert to opportunities to meet a need. We have just moved to a new state, into a new home and subsequently have new neighbors. Yesterday, I loaded up on ingredients to make Chocolate Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies for a next door neighbor we want to meet, another neighbor who literally gave us a chipper and another neighbor who shared the name a of a sub-contractor who is solving a problem at our house. Baking cookies for these new friends seemed the best plan.
- Be Authentic. Insincerity and mask wearing never ends well. Eventually, the real you will emerge. Why do the drama? Just be yourself from the beginning.
- Don’t force a connection. Some people are just casual meetings while others become close friends. Relax. Usually your interest in others coupled with your kindness will attract others to you. It is okay to interact with people who are vastly different in order to be friendly and kind. Remember kindness is free. Give it away generously.
- Don’t focus on yourself. If you are overwhelmed with how others are thinking you look or feel, you will never be aware of how their needs. For example, when I walk into a social setting such as church, a party or even just a brief interaction in public, I am keenly attentive to other’s needs, their body language and eye contact. To be clear, we are all geared toward selfishness and inward thinking. In the context of making friends, this is toxic. Making friends requires selflessness and attunement toward others. Our reactiveness toward others is an ongoing learned behavior. Be teachable and always growing.
- Don’t go negative. When we are choosing our words, it is critical that we select life-giving words and limit or eliminate negativity in our conversations. Others will feel encouraged and you will feel emotionally lifted as well. This likely takes self-awareness and practice. If you are a sunshiny personality, you have a natural advantage!
- Talk too much. To attract friends, practice active listening.
- Don’t work yourself up with worry and self doubt. Relaxed awareness, listening, understanding, and mutual responsiveness are key to quality friendships. When you focus on giving what comes back to you will be overwhelmingly more!
Aim to resonate with those you live with, those you work with, those you do life with, those you neighbor with and new people you meet once. See needs and meet them. Don’t focus on your needs and wants. Attunement is a deeply connected emotional attachment. If making friends is hard for you, ask someone that you love and trust to share with you honestly what you might do or not do to increase your wealth of quality friends.
As a person who is always taking care of others, I do have to be careful to aim for balance in friendships. Many times I have found myself just covered up meeting the needs of others. Currently, I am working hard on symmetry in friendships. This means I am looking to spend more time with my walk-beside friends who are friends that I can grow beside while contributing to their lives. It is a mutually shared friendship. Friendship is showing up with presence and care for people in our life.
If you are one of those adults who has made countless adult friends since you have been adult, please leave your friend-making wisdom in the comments below. Plenty of people would love to hear your advice. Please share!
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