Photo by Kasuma

What’s holding us back from becoming friends with everyone?

During the 4th Conversation Club we touched on a few points around why/how we make friends, the length of friendships, and when to call it quits. Here’s a recap of the thoughts shared that night:

A friendship is a two-way street. If it feels like it’s an effort to reach out to a person, you may want to reconsider that connection.
Photo by Mark Forbes

Why do we make friends & what do we get out of it?

Is it just for the company and the support (and the coffee)? Have you made a new friend recently?

The comfort zone of friendships

For some people, especially if they’ve lived in the same city for all their lives, true friendship is what they have with the people they went to school with. These people would normally belong to a big group of friends and may not feel the need to explore other circles as, whenever they feel lonely, they can hang out with anyone in their group. To these people, reaching out to “strangers” almost feels like stepping out of their comfort zone.

Expat life

On the other hand, when people leave their hometown they tend to welcome new friends as they start to experience the need to avoid isolation. But because pushing for a friendship to happen doesn’t always work, and one may not be exposed to situations where they’re introduced to many people, expats sometimes struggle to connect with other than work mates. In these situations, working for a big company may bring more friends than working for smaller ones.

Friends through experiences

Going through similar things is the best way to make friends. Situations such as taking a course, going on a trip, or even being stuck in a lift together may cause people to become good friends. And people with similar stories tend to connect instantly.

Of all the friends we make, we tend to have a special one

When was the last time you saw your best friend? Why do we develop stronger connections with some friends?

The BFF trauma

Some people think there’s a set of rules around best-friendships but expecting people to be something they are not can only bring them down. At early ages, some of us may have experienced emotional dependency that could only be fulfilled by that one best friend but, as adults, we seem to understand ourselves better and to agree that the moment we start finding it’s become an effort to reach out to a person, it’s time to take a step back and reconsider that friendship. If people come and go, there’s no point in creating rules for them to follow.

Friends through different life stages

If we all have a different path to follow, it’s only natural that people will come and go at different stages of our lives. Big life events such as moving cities, getting married, or having kids will send us ways we didn’t consider going before and, in order to keep going where we need to go, we’ll get to meet new people that are going through similar phases or that empathise with what we’re going through.

Why are we not friends with everyone we meet?

Assuming they are good people, what makes us not invite them into our lives?

We bump into too many people

We may see the same people over and over, but it’s nearly impossible to establish a relationship with everyone we meet because we interact with too many people all the time. We can always be friendly to everyone, but we probably won’t be able to develop a bond with all the people we get to meet in our lives.

We all have different interests

As we follow different paths, we develop different interests that narrow down the people we become interested in.

What’s the best way to nurture a friendship?

Does it really matter how many times you speak in a year? And when is a friendship over?

Do what feels right

Try not to avoid being in touch with people you miss just because they haven’t been in touch very much, we never know what’s happening on their end and we’re all busy all the time. It’s not a big deal if you haven’t spoken in a while, that shouldn’t matter. Show interest if you are interested and invite them into your life if you want them in there.

A matter of priorities

Everyone is busy so what (who) is your priority? Sometimes we need to make choices and some people may not be the ones we want to spend our free time with. How available are you to people you meet? If you keep cancelling on them you may not really want to be their friends. And that’s ok! But be honest instead of creating excuses. Everyone is running around trying to sort out their own lives.

Final thoughts

  • Like-minded people will stick together while other people will go away. And that shouldn’t be a big deal because it’s always better to hang out with people that you’ll have a good time with.
  • If excuses keep coming up, you probably don’t like that one friend very much. Because you may like a book better, or a movie, or your own beautiful company. And that’s totally ok!
  • Trying too hard to make a friendship happen won’t necessarily work but insisting a little bit gives people more chances to show you who they actually are. Everyone has something to add to your life.
  • Everyone is busy sorting their own lives out so they’ll understand if you’re busy too.
  • Perfection isn’t human, therefore, there’s no such thing as a perfect friend.

The Conversation Club is a bimonthly meet-up happening in Melbourne, Australia, where people get together to connect through conversations. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for the next event or get in touch.