When I first got this request it was quite funny to me, “people don’t know how to make friends?” it felt odd to me but on second thought I knew it was foolish of me because I know in my life there have been many times when I just didn’t know what to do. If you ready to find out how to make and keep friends then... Let's gooo!
Who is a friend?
“A person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically one exclusive of sexual or family relations.”
Benefits of Friends
According to Greatist, it is no secret that friends have a lot of benefits in our life such as helping us maintain a stable mental health (see 11 Ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health). Research shows that because of the hard wiring of human nature, we benefit a lot from close relationships such as friends and family since we’re social creatures.
Most people tend to be affected mentally when they lack friends and other close relationships. Research also shows that a network of close friends can reduce stress and promote good health and longevity. Despite what I’ve mentioned, there should be a balance where you have some alone time which is also good for your mental health. Here are some more benefits of friends in your life according to Help Guide.
i. They Can Improve Your Mood: Spending time with happy and positive friends can elevate your mood and boost your outlook.
ii. They Can Help You to Reach Your Goals: Whether you're trying to get fit, break a bad habit or just generally improve your life, friendly encouragement and/or participation can really boost your willpower and increase your chances of success.
iii. Support System: Even if it's just having someone to share your problems with, friends can help you cope with serious illness, the loss of a job or loved one, the breakup of a relationship, or any other challenges in life.
When you get older and older, friends become more important to get you through retirement, illness, and everything in between. Having people you can turn to for company and support can provide purpose as you age and be a buffer against depression, disability, hardship and loss. You know the infamous line of the song, "We all need somebody to lean on."
iv. They Can Boost Your Self-Worth: Friendship is a two-way street, and the "give" side of the give-and-take contributes to your own sense of self-worth. Being there for your friends makes you feel needed and adds purpose to your life.
What Are You Looking For?
According to Personal Excellence, if you are looking to make new friends, you have to get clear on what kind of friends you want to make. Broadly speaking, there are 3 types of friends:
i. Acquaintances: These are the ones you see at school/work because the context calls for it. These are people you say hello and good bye and are only cordial with, the depth of this sort of friendship is as deep as a water puddle after a light rain. This sort of relationship never lasts when the context is removed, i.e. when you graduate or get another job. In short, it is an out of sight, out of mind sort of relationship.
ii. Regular Friends: These are friends you link up with on a regular basis either to catch up or hang out with. These are the type of friends you go to parties with, double dates, and other social activities and they're good to have around because they fit your interests and you can talk about almost anything with.
iii. True, Soul or Best Friends: People you can talk anything and everything with. These kind of friends can endure distance and infrequency maybe because you moved away or you guys are just busier with your own lives but when it matters, these people will show up and even show out for you. They will take a bus, a car, a boat or even a plane if the occasion calls for it so they can be there for you. In short, ideally these are friends that will go the extra mile for you.
Most of us are looking to make regular friends and if possible, true, soul friends. We probably have a lot of acquaintances — more than we can count. It is obvious that if you have a lot of friends, most will be acquaintances, followed by regular ones and the least would be true or best friends.
Friends can be seen from a biological perspective in terms of symbiotic relationships…
i. Parasitism: Parasitic friends benefit from you and cause you harm, it could be both physical or emotional or both. If it were a relationship, it will be an abusive relationship filled with domestic violence.
ii. Commensalism: Commensal friends are similar to parasitic ones but the one difference is that they benefit from you but don’t cause you harm. You can categorise this person as greedy, stingy, etc. In these sort of cases, there is a power imbalance in which they are weaker than you and are not in any real position to help you. This would be like your unemployed friend who asks you for money repeatedly.
iii. Mutualism: This is a more ideal type of friendship, a give and take relationship where both parties benefit. It’s one of those “pay for dinner today and I’ll pay for it tomorrow” type of friendships. Of course, you can’t always get these kind of friendships in this world sadly.
All I’m trying to say is to mind who comes into your life and who you call your ‘friends’ because they’re a very important art of the human experience and you know what they say “show me your friends and I will show you who you are.”
It is also important to note that a friend can go became any of the above at any time and that is because the dynamics of friendships can change.
8 Ways to Make & Keep Friends
A lifelong and strong desire of many people is to make friends, there are different reasons why you may need to keep making friends, you moved to a new class, school, workplace, city, for networking and business purposes or you cleaned out your closet of old friends and need new ones. Here are some tips to help you out as you make friends.
If you want to make friends, you first need to make yourself available. You can’t make a successful call to a number that is “not available at the moment.” So, it is less likely that if you’re looking for friends, they’ll come to you without you actively doing nothing and staying indoors all the time. Yes, I’ve gone to talk to someone in her room who was playing some loud music but that’s more an exception than a rule. It’s not everyday people will come looking for you or knocking on your window, sometimes you just gotta put yourself out there and go get it. A big contributor to success is just showing up and for making friends it’s no different. The easiest way is to find a communal place where people share your interests. For example, if you’re into anime, you can join the anime club in your school.
2. Be Yourself
Continuing the last point, following your passion, hobbies or activities you enjoy, you have a good chance of meeting people with similar interests. This is good because you can find friends that fall under mutualism and they can even make you better. For example, if you love football and you find people who share this interest, when you play together you can improve your skills. Being yourself doesn’t mean telling someone you just met that you have a collection of Nerf guns at home or telling them your life story straight away, nor does it mean being rude. That may be sharing too much too quick because there will be time you’ll “begin to unfold” like my ex house master, Mr Momodu used to say. People are like onions, if you peel the layers too quickly, you might end up crying.
What does being yourself mean? It’s just being comfortable in your own skin, not sharing too much but just enough to be amiable and as you get closer with people, you can keep sharing more and keep unfolding.
3. Remember Names
A name is powerful and has a lot of value attached to it even if it’s just a personal one. Remembering someone’s name especially a difficult name is a skill to be had in the game of making friends. Why? It give you an edge others don’t have and you can make someone happy when you say their name right. For example, my name is literally 4 letters but time and time again, Nigerians have butchered my name and the common offenders are “Ofia” or “Offai” so when someone comes along that can say those four letters with ease, I gravitate to them all the more. It may surprise you but it is a rare occasion. I’m not gonna lie, I butcher names but I find it quite easy to remember names but once in a while, I see people and give them a name in my head and even though I know the name their parents gave ‘em but I call ‘em the names I gave them. In one occasion, I call the guy “Alfred” but his real name is “Jeffery” and in the other occasion, her name is “Rebecca” but I call her “Precious.” If you're doing this, i,e, giving someone a nickname, make sure it's not offensive.
Sometimes you’ll find yourself in a situation where you don’t feel like you click or resonate with anyone, it could be a party, club, lecture, etc. Maybe you had your hopes up but when expectations met reality you became disappointed. Well, it’s not time to give up yet! Sometimes, you just gotta give em a couple more tries and you’ll find yourself connecting like Wi-Fi. But why should you try again? Because in many cases, you're limited in how much you'll connect with others on the first meeting. You may warm up to each other before long.
If someone refuses your invitation because they're busy or not sure if they can make it out then don't give up. Try again another time. Try to assume the best. Don't automatically jump to the conclusion that they hate you and you're fundamentally unlikable. Also, even the act of making an invitation sends the message that you like someone and want to hang out with them. They may be unable to meet that one time, but now see you as someone they could possibly have fun with in the future.
5. Be Personal
Friendship to a large extent is about trust. How do you get someone to trust you? You gotta open up, this may take your friendship to the next level. It’s like a closed hand versus an open one. The former is more suspicious than the latter, close implies hiding something whereas the open hand is seen as welcoming. Sunflowers are at their most beautiful during dusk when the first sunlight hits ‘em and they start to open slowly. Friendship is similar in the sense that openness can be a beautiful and bring people together.
According to Vox, you should talk about your real problems, and ask people about theirs. Invite someone into your home instead of going to a bar or coffee shop. Give thoughtful gifts. A big part of friendship is understanding someone for who they are and having them understand you for who you are, and that’s not possible without some degree of vulnerability. I like to say this “You’d be surprised how much people will tell you if they find you relatable.” How do you get to this point? Open up first.
6. Say No to People You Don’t Wanna Prioritise
I know it may sound a little harsh but saying no is better than in a way leading people on. You’re not doing anyone favours by acting and you’re certainly not gonna get an Oscars for it if that’s what you were looking for. Instead of saying you’ll grab lunch and then cancelling yet again, you can just part ways and make friends who are better suited to each of you. Friendship no be by force, las las you go find another friend.
There’s also a level of flakiness one person can take from you before they give up but I suppose that’s what the flaky person wants. For example, there was this Arab girl I was trying to go out with, how I even came to asking her out was kinda confusing to me but I did it. We were gonna go see Deadpool, everything was dandy and a day before she asked if she could bring her friends, it was a date so I don’t see why they would be coming. Anyway, we were still good to go and on the day she texted me the infamous words “sorry I can’t make it, something came up.” I had a feeling she’d cancel on me so I made up my mind I was gonna go with or without her.
We fixed another thing but at a club and everything was still honky dory and obviously on the day she said her friend broke up with her boyfriend so she has to stay to console her. Whether these things were true or not, you can imagine that was the end of whatever it is we were trying to do.
Don’t be flaky on a regular basis and if you don’t wanna go just say so or come up with an excuse as to why you can’t go, it’s better than raising people’s hopes and then bring ‘em tumbling down like humpty dumpty.
Friendship is usually a two way street and so they do stuff for each other. If your friend is always the one doing the inviting, it’s your turn to invite them to do something with you or hang out, whether it be drinks, cinema, party, etc. If you do have to cancel on someone for one reason or the other, initiate future plan(s) with them and actually make sure that it happens.
8. Show Your Support
Like I mentioned previously, one benefit of friends is support. This support can be both physical, mental and/or emotional. We all go through tough times and we want people to be there for us because it makes these tough times all the more bearable. It is also true that strong friendships are sometimes forged from the fires of hardships or adversity.
There will always be reasons not to be there for someone, you had to work, you had exams, etc. but if you keep choosing things over a friendship, that’s a signal to that person. Friendships don’t stay at the same level. A friend you know today may because someone you used to know if you guys don’t put in the work.
In conclusion, friendship isn’t a one day thing and true friendships require continuous effort especially when you’re on equal footing. Your friends can’t always be people you automatically have common ground with, it’s people you gotta build with and work with and keep choosing them time and time again because yes, there’s always other options out there. Lastly, online friends are cool but real thing is still better. The GOAT, Justin Timberlake put it best in Ayo Technology when he said
“Why don’t you come over here…
I’m tired of using technology.”
I know he was talking about a different situation but it still applies here.
QOTD: "There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship." - Thomas Aquinas
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WELL, THAT’S IT FROM ME GUYS. NOW…
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My name is Ofai and I'm passionate about blogging and it gives me fulfillment that I can help you out so sit back, relax and enjoy your weekly carats of #SelfImprovementGems with me!