Building Friendships from Casual Friends

In most cases, the transition from acquaintance to friendship occurs gradually. We reach out to offer friendship by offering a potential friend caring, listening, talking, sharing, accepting, and affirming. It takes time and effort to build a friendship. They are built slowly, slowly, slowly…

Yet, nothing can add more to your life than having truly intimate friends. “Just friends” is a goal worth pursuing!

Attending builds friendships and acknowledging builds friendships. Friendships require equality and friendships require loyalty from friends. It takes three years to build true friendship.

Friendships can take up to three years to build! And building friendships is much the same for children as adults, but a bit quicker!

Self-Disclosure builds friendships.

Self-disclosure is usually the first step in establishing a confidant. And it is scary because of the potential rejection factor. Do it anyway!

Start by sharing a few private thoughts and/or feelings with one person you might want for a close friend. If the person is responsive, he/she will usually share a personal thought or two with you.

If he/she is not responsive to your overtures, don’t think of this as a rejection.People may be non-responsive for reasons of their own or merely as a perception of yours. Nevertheless, they can’t be rejecting you because they don’t even know you yet.

Listening and acknowledging builds friendships.

Often when your child, lover/partner, or friend tells you a story or voices a complaint, he/she is just asking for acknowledgment.

This does not mean that he/she wants agreement or compliance; it merely indicates a desire to be heard and understood.

Try these three steps to acknowledgment:

  • Repeat back.
  • Don’t invalidate.
  • Don’t try to change.
  • Don’t problem solve.

Many conflicts in your personal relationships can be avoided if you will take the time to acknowledge other’s feelings and points of view. For more information about acknowledgement, click here.

Listening and attending builds friendships.

Paying attention to someone is called “attending.” It means that your ears, your eyes, your body and your feelings are all focused on that person at one time. Attending is a very important part of any relationship. It includes:

  • Being there physically
  • Focusing
  • Eye contact

Looking at and focusing on another person shows that you are “there for him/her.”

Talking Is a Primary Building Block of Friendships.

Talking is an integral component of friendship.

When a friend talks and reveals ideas or feelings, he/she is expecting shared information in return. When the talk is not equal, the person talking feels as if the listener is uninterested.

In fact, the person who is always the listener is really playing the role of a counselor, not a friend. Anytime you have been talking for more than a minute or two without participation from the person you are talking to, you are lecturing, bossing, or putting that person in the role of a counselor.

Loyalty, Equality, and Respect build friendship.

Friends are equal. Without equality, you can’t have a close friendship.

Friends are loyal and trustworthy. No one can confide in someone they can not trust to be loyal and to keep his/her secrets.

Friends have similar values. Our value system is so important to us that our friends’ values must be close to our own or we will not have respect for this friend.

Allow Time for Friendships to Grow!

Jan Yager, Ph.D. , author of Friendshifts, says that it takes at least three years for “best friends” to evolve. She writes, “One of the reasons tried-and-true friendships take three years to evolve is that working through initial conflicts will determine if a friendship has staying power.”

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