What You Should Know About Friendship

When you only become friends with like-minded individuals, you risk becoming narrow-minded and trapping each other in the preconceived notions and judgments everyone shares.  If you expand your mind and your social network, you can be exposed to more ideas that challenge you, and you can learn to be tolerant of others instead of judgmental.  (Don’t Be Yourself)

The more activities you have in common, the more likely you will be friends.  Note I did not say the more you have in common, I said the more activities you have in common: it is in the time spent together that friendship is made, not in the amount of similarities you have–the similarities just increases the potential for friendship, it doesn’t build the friendship in reality.  (Getting Comfortable With a Friend)

“As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other” – Why is it Hard to Make Friends Over 30? NY Times

Time alone is necessary, but not sufficient, for friendship.  Vulnerability is absolutely necessary for friendship to exist.  If you are not your genuine self, then you can’t consider someone your friend because that person is only friends with the act you put on, not your true self.  And if you don’t believe the other person is genuine, then you can’t trust that person and be friends with what you believe to be just a character or act the other person puts on for you.  Also, people in general don’t like being lied to, much less friends.

Money will be a problem.  If you are lucky, you will have friends who make more than you, friends who make the same, and friend who make less.  Some activities cost more than others, so some people will be excluded as a result.  This is just part of life.  (Birthdays and Wealth Distribution)

Not all friendships will last forever.  Do your best to preserve the ones you want to, but move on and let go when need be. (Friendship: Drifting Apart)

All friendships will be different: everyone is different, and your experiences with each friend will be different.  There is no detailed formula for friendship, nor is there a detailed model for friendship, only tips, guidelines, and descriptions of friendship.  Also, a Friendship Contract is impossible because it cannot fully capture all possible outcomes and circumstances.  If enforced, it would limit interactions to pre-defined acceptable behavior, resulting in repetition, which from the Nature of Your Own Identity we know means no identity is formed, where identity in this case refers to the identity of the relationship.  Furthermore, contracts are for business, not personal. (A Time and Place for Business vs Personal).  In fact, it is in how you go above and beyond the social contract that you demonstrate personalized friendship, which is the most sentimentally valuable.  It is one thing to say Happy Birthday because it’s someone’s birthday, it is another thing to, on a normal day, spend time and money to give a gift just to make that person happier.

People become friends for a variety of different reasons, some are activity, location, occupation, mutual friend: the why and how can make for an interesting story, but doesn’t need to–the friendship makes the friendship, not the start.

Unfairness is a fundamental part of friendship.  You will like some people more than others: that is normal, and you must respect that in order to be honest and genuine in your interactions.  (What I Learned About Friendship In 2013).  There is also no need to feel bad about prioritizing friends: it’s just a part of living in an imperfect world with constraints; no need to get depressed from trade-off decisions.

Selfishness is an unfortunate part of friendship: everyone needs and wants to get something out of it. If you get nothing out of a friendship, then it might be time to find friends that are a better fit for you.  However, there is also something I call charitable friendships: someone wants to give, and you just happen to be someone they can give to; that person doesn’t care what they get back.

Tips on Friendship

  • Be consistent – Don’t be a fair-weather friend.  It will confuse other people about whether you are actually their friend, which leads to suspicion and distrust, all of which will ruin or end the friendship unless you fix the problem.
    • Fake friends reveal themselves in how much or how little they care about you.  The mainstream definition of “friend” is just someone you hang out and have fun with.   However, there is a deeper kind of friend, and that is the kind that you care about, and who cares about you.  This is a much more exclusive list both because getting this level of friendship is difficult to achieve, and because you have a limited amount of time, and you can’t care about everyone equally.
  • Focus – If you could only pick 3 people to be your friends, who would those 3 people be?  If you have trouble deciding who to be excluded, then all the people you had difficulty deciding about are your friends.  If you easily picked less than 3, then those are your friends.  To make more: How to Make Friends
  • Take Initiative – Be the one to take action and contact those you want to stay in contact with, don’t be passive or wait for the other person to make the first move.
    • Gary Blauman - How I Met Your Mother Season 9 Episode 21 – “You will be shocked when you discover how easy it is in life to part ways with people forever.  That’s why, when you find someone you want to keep around, you do something about it. ” – Ted

More on Friendship and Social Skills

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