Friends

Acquaintances who you have become familiar with and have met you criteria for friendship can, if asked, become a Friend. You may consider someone a friend but if they think you are an acquaintnace or a relative stranger then you might have a problem maintaing a friendship. Friendship must be mutual and acknowledged by both.


Note: It is important to show all the skills previously learned plus what what is described in this section.

 

Criteria

Everyone is different so it is important for you define your own criteria for friendship.

We as individuals must define for ourselves our own criteria that defines a friend. Without setting a standard it is hard to know which relationship layer someone we know fits into. These layers determine how to best to interact functionally with the people in our life. If we fail to do this then it is likely we will have relationship issues, and/or have low self-esteem.

 

Create two groups of criteria, mandatory and optional. Keep it short, lighthearted and most importantly do not be too rigid with the criteria for you will certainly be disappointed with the outcomes.


For example, my criteria are;

Take some time now and write down some criteria to define a friend. Do not make up criteria to fit around current or desired friends - do it for your own peace of mind.

Trust

I suggest reading the page on Trust first in the Section Being Content.


It is important to build trust slowly as most people are naturally cautious, and cautious they should be. Experience has shown them that others have let them down often leaving them injured, vulnerable, hurt, and many other negative feelings. People from unhealthy families are particularly confused and challenged by trust as they were never given a strong foundation from their parents. While many can forgive, the pain is rarely forgotten. Understanding what trust really is first can make quite a difference in preventing future pain.


It is difficult for a person to build a trust relationship with more than 6-7 others. It is just our natural limit of concentration and effort. Much effort is required, and going past this limit greatly reduces the quality of a friendship. This is why most are cautious because strangers and acquaintances cannot possibly be completely trusted as no effort has been devoted to build trust. It does take time and experience to see a consistent pattern of behaviour before someone else sees you as a trustworthy person, their experience of you creates it.


The time it takes to build trust depends on how often you are in contact and the level of positive behaviour demonstrated, that is, it needs to be often and of high quality for people to believe in you. People are different but it would expect to take at least one month, often many months, and as long as years to build trust depending on the two individuals. In my experience most people require a 2-3 months to truly develop solid trust.

Exclusivity of Friends

You can have many friends but only one Partner. There is a reasonable limit to the number of friends we can keep as we need to focus and put in much effort into maintaining the friendship. The fewer the number of friends, the better the friendship. Others can remain acquaintances, close or not.

Commonality

 

Bonds of friendship can be formed when two people share;

There may be other personal aspects to consider but it is mainly about trust and enjoying each other's company.

Friendship Skills

Be genuine, respectful, supportive and positive. The opposite of these traits cannot be tolerated by most for long periods of time and thus those who practice them tend to remain acquaintances or strangers Being consistently supportive shows you are dependable and strong bonds grow from this.


Stay up to date with your friend's life by staying in contact. If you are not in contact daily or every other day (unless there are special circumstances) you may want to re-assess this friendship as a close acquaintance.


Good friends meet or talk once or twice a week. They make the time as personal contact is very important. Verbal communication is considered to be only 7-10% of actual communication. We humans need visual input like bodily expression, smiles, hand gestures and even touch.

 


Do activities together to share the experience. Positive emotions shared with others help grow strong bonds, but be careful as trust is the primary reason for a friendship. Notice how some people can be fun but not around when they are needed?


Being dependable means setting your priorities well and making allowances in your schedule for the odd supportive task. If your schedule is too full of your own activities then you are not making room for others. You must give up some of your time for close friends and you will have to drop your own things if there is no time otherwise.


Keeping your word is crucial. Make agreements and keep them regardless (see Trust). Also make sure the two of you keep each other honest when the other acts poorly. A gentle reminder, not an outburst, is the best way. If someone finds it hard to keep their word and repeatedly lets you down then it is time to put them back into the acquaintance category for your own protection. Don't give up on them but do protect yourself from potential pain of being let down. Importantly let them know why beforehand so they have a chance to do the right thing.


Ask for permission to change an agreement, don't just change it on your own because you are then violating their trust. Sit down and discuss the difficulties and maybe the two of you can find a solution. Importantly this is about consultation.


You are not perfect nor is the other person, so forgive them when things genuinely do not go to plan. Keep up with the friendship unless a pattern develops as most of the time allowances need to be made to adjust for the unexpected. It is as much your responsibility to be flexible as it is theirs.


Seek forgiveness when something goes wrong. Apologising, regardless of who's fault it is, helps clear the air and minimises someone being upset with you. Those that are always right no matter what the circumstances are always thought less of. Let yourself be human, that is imperfect.


If someone is so angry with you that they want some distance, give it to them. By holding on you are keeping the 'wounds open'. Time and distance helps settle things down. If you have truely let someone down you may have to pay the price and lose the friendship, but DO learn from the experience so that it doesn't happen again. Often the other person is being unreasonable and unfairly demanding, sometimes moving them back to an acquaintance is better for you.


Teasing is a reasonable way (apart from telling them straight) to let a friend know they are a little 'off the rails'.  Teasing is not a licence or excuse to pick on people, and must only be done between true and trusted friends. Teasing a stranger or acquaintance without trust is a recipe for disaster as it is often seen as annoying or insulting. If you don't know how to tease properly then make sure you do before you actually try.


Friendship is not a test and there should be no pressure. You are just seeing if mutual trust can be gained. If it cannot then don't give up, but at the same time be wary of them not being a friend, just an acquaintance. If you are constantly testing people then there is a problem with you. Maybe someone important to you let you down in an unforgivable way, and you are sub-consciously trying to make it right but with others. If they pass a test then they will only be given a harder test to complete, until a point arrives where they cannot possibly pass. They are then seen as untrustworthy and thus it proves to you that no-one can be trusted. You may need the help of a professional to move past this as they have the proper skills to deal with these issues.