How to Make Friends

Step 1 of 4. You just met and you don’t know anything about each other.

Step 2. You start getting to know things about each other from other people, from your own observations and judgements, from conversations.  If someone doesn’t shake your hand, you might think they are impolite, or they don’t like you, or they are a germaphobe who never shakes anyone’s hand.  Which one is true?  Your mind will probably guess one and convince you that you’re right, but to find out the truth, only time will tell. Few of your initial impressions of the person are likely to be accurate because you don’t know the person well enough to know what certain things mean to that person.  If you decide to ask directly for an explanation too early in the relationship, they might be shy about telling the truth–being vulnerable and honest is scary–so they might lie to cover up the truth, or they deflect the question with a joke or a change of subject.

Being able to judge someone based on what you see only works if it’s true that the person is behaving in a way that is representative of who that person is.  This is not always true because people’s moods change, and that mood change results in different behavior: If I’m tired, I’ll be slow and quiet; if I’m excited I’ll be loud and active; if I’m having a normal day I’ll be responsive but reserved.  Who I am as a whole changes every day, but pieces of who I am as a person will stay with me as I change over time, and the only way to learn who I am as a person over time is to watch and observe me over time.

Step 3. You build common ground.  This could mean you realize that you both like similar things or have similar backgrounds and experiences, or, if you have nothing in common prior to meeting, you can create common ground by spending time together and experiencing life together.  This part requires a lot of patience, because it takes many hours to learn enough about the other person that you can easily filter what to say and how to say it, based on what you know about the other person and yourself, and what you hope to achieve out of this relationship.  This part takes weeks, and in my experience it usually takes months. The trick is to stay with it, and ask questions: have people explain their actions so you know the truth, and you can refine the accuracy of your judgments of that person.  If they don’t know you well, they’ll give you superficial answers.  If you’ve know each other for several weeks, they might share with you a more detailed answer, but still not the truth because they want to hide it.  Few people go around wearing their heart on their sleeve, telling the absolute core truth.  For most people, you will only get that when there’s a need, when there’s a problem, challenge, or struggle.  Be there to help, and you will complete your quest and unlock the friendship achievement.

The common ground between every two people is different: no two people are identical, or else they would be the same person.  What this means is that your friendship with each person will be slightly different–different personalities will bring out different sides of your own identity.  This is normal–you don’t have to act the same way to everyone, and you’re not being disingenuous by doing so.

Step 4. Both sides make the choice to be friends. Who you run into is influenced by your life decisions, but ultimately it is out of your control.  If you went to the event an hour early you would have had an entirely different experience and met entirely different people, and given them entirely different impressions of you.  Of all the people you meet, however, you choose which ones become your friend, and at the end of the day, the choice must be mutual: if neither person considers the other a friend, they aren’t friends; if one person considers the other a friend, but the feeling is not shared, then the friendship is in limbo.  With time, one of them could change their mind and accept the friendship, or one of them could change their mind and abandon the friendship.  Only if both people say yes is it real friendship.

What You Should Know About Friendship

Resources

1. How to Meet People

  • Google for activities, hobbies, events that you’re interested in, or just go to one for fun to meet people.  www.meetup.com
  • Next time a friend invites you to something, say yes.
  • Go outside for any reason at all, maybe you need some bread and milk <–funny video

2. Get to know the person

  • My articles on: Conversation and Communication

3. Build common ground with the person (this common ground IS your relationship with that person.  This is where it happens.)  I plan to release an app for this, subscribe to hear news.

4. With time, effort, and honest emotions, the common ground grows, and the relationship grows, and if you’re lucky and it works out, the relationship becomes a friendship.

More articles on Friendship:

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