A week ago a reader emailed me asking me to write a post:
I think it would be cool to hear more advice on making friends. I know you have a post on networking though. I love hearing about networking advice though lol. Personally though, I struggle with connecting with people and making friends, and you seem like someone who knows a lot about that.
I think this reader gives me a little too much credit in this department. I’ve been thinking about this subject and I’ve realized the one thing this reader has to understand is that making and connecting with friends are two very different concepts. I believe making friend is one of the easiest things one can do in life, it requires little or no effort. Connecting with a friend is harder because it requires more time and trust with both parties involved. However, the main thing to keep in mind is that for both things to happen you cannot go in trying to be friends with anybody: you need to let it happen naturally.
As you can see there are three concepts we’re going to analyze and go through. Let’s begin.
Before we begin the process of this post, I want to make sure you understand that making a friendship isn’t a direct formula. Though I’m going to be analyzing the construction of a friendship, it doesn’t mean it’s a game to be had – like chess. Therefore, anything I say here should be used to spark a thought to contemplate your current interactions (habits) with the people you’ve met. Have your past actions brought harm? Have these past actions brought happiness? Have these past actions helped you?
The ideas I’m about to express should just be added fuel, but in no way should they be a formula to your success in making and connecting with friends. I ask you to take what I say in strides and my only hope is that it helps you, but that it doesn’t define your every move in the future.
Any successful and lasting friendship always happens when I let things flow. Every single time I’ve come into the interaction seeking friendship, seeking to be accepted, seeking to please just so I can be liked – has all led to fake or disingenuous relationships. In the long run this type of connection with that person will either disband or you’ll just feel empty inside as you know they won’t truly be there in despairing times. So how do you make sure your interactions with these people you interact with come off as natural?
It all starts with knowing yourself. Really take the time to sit down and figure out what you like and dislike. For the past few months I’ve been fortunate to take sometime off and write a list of food I favor, type of personalities that attract me, and been reading tons of psychological books to figure out my own emotional personality. (I do recommend taking the ‘Myer Briggs Test,’ which you can take for free from multiple online sites). Get a good sense of yourself.
How do you practice? How do you know? Cook or buy these foods, approach girls and go on dates, and test it out by going to clubs, libraries, quiet places, exercise practice during odd hours, and most of all, travel. It is in these activities that you’ll get a good sense of self. Of course you don’t have to do all of these things right away before you can make friends. However, if you keep pushing yourself every single day working on exploring the world, going outside of your comfort and online zone – you will gain life experience. This is why I believe that the most experienced people are the ones who have challenged themselves in hurt, pain, love, and anything else in between.
Some people move faster than others, while many it’s a slow process.
For the past 7 months I’ve been writing my own list and reflecting on my life’s journey so far: I’ve traveled and lived in 6 states and I lived in three different cities in one of those states. I’ve traveled to 8 different countries and I spent a month each in two of those cities. I’ve had 13 jobs, fired from 11. I’ve been a part of starting 3 startups (including one right now). I’ve failed in two of them (obviously). I’ve disregarded three working novels and other writing works. I’ve made mistakes with friends and vica versa. I’ve dated a lot. And, in all those instances I tried new techniques, new food, and talked to people everywhere.
It is only this year (for the past 7 months) that I began to sit down and reflect: writing every single thing down in a notebook. It is only now, at the age of 25 (soon 26) that I’m starting to figure out what makes me happy and what actions I need to improve on to become a better person. I’ve failed a lot of people and even my own goals. I know it cannot many of the hurt I’ve cause won’t be forgiven, but at least I can use these experiences to change my future for the better. And, this can only happen if you know yourself, which means you need to sit down and write, understand, analyze all your experiences from your life – it may take a while.
Knowing myself has led me to figure out who I trust, who currently trusts me, and who I can call as my friends. Once you do this, which is a work in progress, you can understand what you should be able to do in making and then connecting with friends in the future. I’m not saying you should fully get yourself BEFORE you make and connect with friends, but you should at least (from time to time) take a break from the world and analyze yourself so you can keep making improvements.
As I’ve said before, I’m finally taking the time. It’s been an arduous and difficult to accept all my faults. But, it’s been harder to really get a good grasp of what makes me happy, though it’s been easy to figure out what I’ve done that has made others happy (and others angry) – now it’s all a matter on working on those happy moments and skills for the benefit of myself and others.
All of this is how you become natural at making and connecting with friends.
Making friends all starts through action and conversation. If you’re in highschool, the easiest way is to talk to classmates and the people you meet in school clubs. The same goes for college. And, the same goes for co-workers. If you’re not in either scenario, join a meetup site and really begin to converse with people. I’m saying, get the hell out your computer area, put down that phone, take out those earbuds, and meet people.
I believe it is human nature that socializing is the way you grow as a person. I’m not saying you have to be the most social, I’m saying that if you meet at least one person in each setting, you’re essentially making a friend. Humans must rely on each other for survival and it just helps.
You don’t have to be an extrovert. All you need to be is a little bit open.
It is in meeting these people and being consistent in talking with them that you’ll become friends: talking to them once makes them an acquaintance. Talking to them multiple times can lead to friendship. This doesn’t mean you’re connecting with them, but at least you can call them a ‘friend.’ I say ‘friend’ lightly here because you’re not really connecting with them until you start caring and having the urge to hang out with them.
So, making a friend just requires you to start conversing with someone you consistently see on the daily, weekly, or monthly basis. It’s not that hard if you just get out of the house and put yourself in a position (put that phone down) to be aware of your surroundings. You don’t want to miss an opportunity to meet someone amazing.
Connecting with a friend is totally different. This is when the person called ‘your friend’ turns into something stronger to ‘a friend.’ It feels good to hang out with them: you want to hang out with them and they want to as well. You chat online, you start having inside jokes, you trust them, and pretty soon you’re interacting so much that you both start opening up to each other on a personal level.
Personal levels means you can talk about sex (which is really personal) comfortably, your sorrows, your evil pasts, and say things that can be offensive (even hurtful) without hesitation. It even means that you can lecture each other and know that they’re down to listen. A friend you know you’ve connected with is someone who is down to help you move, pick you up at the airport, hug you without hesitation, and basically love you unconditionally – all awhile being brave enough to speak out with anything that bothers you.
And, you must be able to do the same.
And, you must have the mindset that you are not owed anything when you do these things. If you think that they owe you a favor because you did something nice, well – you’re thinking the wrong way. In addition, just because they didn’t help you out doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop helping them. Take it in strides, don’t over-compensate, and go with the flow.
If it comes to a point where you know that they’re just taking advantage of you, you no longer enjoy their company, and you get “that feeling” that you’re not comfortable hanging out with them – then you know you’re not true friends because you’re not really connecting together.
You’ll know because there will be an uneasy feeling to try to please them (or vica) when you hang out.
I would like to say that I have many friends (I’m a pretty sociable guy), but that I only have a few friends. There is only so much time in the world that there is no way in hell you can be friends with everyone you consistently hang around with because connection, to get to that personal level, can take a long time.
It is connection that leads to trust.
Once a person can trust you with almost anything personal, then you’ve become true friends.
I think the most important aspect of making and connecting with friends is knowing yourself and repeating the good things you’ve done over and over: compliment your friends, do your best to fight for them, and give them everything you’ve got to be there for them in any aspect you can. It also means not doing the bad things you’ve done: don’t break people’s trust, keep secrets, hide your ego, etc.,
I’ve failed many times in this respect.
Remember this, many times your true friends will move and disappear. It’s okay because their feeling for you will never change. So, if you leave on great terms, when you meet up again, you’ll still be in great terms.
This also goes for the same if you fuck up.
People won’t really remember the good things or the fuck ups (well the fucks up sting more and usually are remembered longer – the facts might change a little to either a harsher thought – but hell it’ll be there longer)… but they’ll always remember how they feel about you forever.
Don’t every stop exploring.
Don’t every stop improving.
At 26 (pretty soon) – I know I have even more to cover.
See you next time.