Coexistence 105: Making Friends

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Coexistence 104: Tact & Charm

Everyone needs friends

Friendships keep us grounded in reality

  • They kill motivation for unhealthy things by giving us the truth
  • They challenge our views of the world through alternative lifestyles and incomes

Friends support us

  • They encourage us when we’re down with support and love
  • They motivate us to better things by pushing us when we’re discouraged
  • They back us up and cover our weak spots

Our friends connect us to the world in a meaningful way

  • They express intimacy and confide back and forth about personal details
  • We mentor and teach each other through observation

Great friendships are fun and healthy

You will want to be with this person

  • You’ll feel comfortable and natural around them
  • Your time with them is usually fun and usually includes laughter
  • You should find your friend stimulating and interesting

A healthy friendship brings out the best in both of you

  • The core driving passion for both of you is love
  • You both share optimism together
  • You both have strong feelings of trust, acceptance, and support
  • The two of you possess an equal power dynamic
  • Friends should make each other a priority

Friendships come through shared interest

We make friends based on what we have in common

  • Similar experiences (e.g., military, school)
  • Same taste in media (e.g., music, movies, books)
  • Similar food preferences
  • Same hobbies or pastimes
  • Similar philosophical, religious or political beliefs
  • A shared hatred of a common threat or enemy
  • Opportunity for mutual business or profit

Friendships are rarely permanent because interests and circumstances change across life (Knapp’s Developmental Model)

  • Coming Together
    1. Initiating the relationship and opening a dialogue
    2. Experimenting what kind of friend that person could become
    3. Intensifying the relationship after finding a role for the person
    4. Integrating lifestyle decisions together
  • Relational Maintenance
    1. Bonding with quality time together
    2. Differentiating from each other once the commonalities start fading
    3. Circumscribing by finding unrelated things to do
  • Coming Apart
    1. Stagnating from little to no continued contact
    2. Avoiding any contact at all, which may include significant lifestyle changes
    3. Ending the friendship officially with a tense conversation

Personalities and context make friendship with everyone impossible

Shared interests aren’t the only ingredient for friendships

  • Whether both people have free time available
  • Each person’s maturity relative to the other
  • Society’s or others’ opinion of the friendship
  • Necessary effort to dismiss others’ quirks

Every friendship comes from mutual trust, but most people have legitimate reasons to distrust

  • Prior experience of being deceived or taken advantage of
  • Associating certain personalities with untrustworthiness
  • Prejudice based on uncontrollable factors like race or ethnicity
  • Bias against someone from a poor first impression

Our personalities are a preference for behavior and opposing personalities often irritate us

Extrovert vs. Introvert – how we emotionally recharge

  • Extroverts need to respect that introverts recharge through alone time
  • Introverts have to look past the callous nature of many extroverts

Negatively Affected vs. Negative Impervious – how much adverse events and thoughts affect us

  • Negatively Affected have to set proper boundaries and keep most of their negative opinions to themselves
  • Negative Impervious need more patience and empathy toward others’ challenges accepting adversity

Agreeable vs. Resolute – how open we are to suggestions to change

  • Agreeable people need to stand more firmly on their convictions
  • Resolute people need to allow others’ views more frequently into their thoughts

Conscientious vs. Relaxed – our approach to duty and responsibility

  • Conscientious people have to accept others’ less devoted efforts as legitimate
  • Relaxed people need to accept others’ more intricate attention to detail

Open to Experience vs. Resistant to Change – our tendency to embrace change

  • People open to experience need to accommodate others’ desire for consistency
  • People who want consistency need to open themselves to new experiences with others

Friendship has four levels

1. Close Friends

  • The most important people in your life
  • Close friends are both high risk and reward
  • The depth of close friends ensures we can only have up to two or three of them at one time

2. Good Friends

  • Relatively essential but not part of daily life
  • They may help you move, or you might invite them to your wedding, but they live a separate life
  • Good friends give little risk or reward and are safe to spend time with, though you can’t fully trust them

3. Peers

  • Peers usually share a common lifestyle component or are friends on a social network
  • You might spend time with them but will fail on a followup meeting, even when you both talk about one
  • The closest friends many people have are peers

4. Acquaintances

  • You know acquaintances by name only
  • Peers and acquaintances often blur together

Friendship levels usually spread into a few predictable forms

Close Friends with everyone

  • Every single friend is almost immediately a Close Friend
  • Desires acceptance and afraid of loneliness
  • Tries to please everyone, but fails with proper boundaries

Never shares secrets to anyone

  • Many Good Friends but no Close Friends
  • Afraid of connecting from trust issues
  • Tends to care about others, but often gives more than receives


  • Only friends are Acquaintances
  • Hasn’t learned sufficient social skills to build friendships

Well-adjusted person

  • Two or three Close Friends, about a dozen Good Friends, many Peers and Acquaintances
  • Comes from frequent involvement in various events and activities
  • Very uncommon, but is the most well-rounded social state

The fewer friends you have, the harder to make friends

1. Social skills, like any other success, are frustratingly challenging at first

  • Social awkwardness is typical while learning social skills, but successfully managing it comes through experience
  • Antisocial people find building up enough self-esteem to connect with others extremely challenging

2. Making friends involves sifting through dozens of people until you find a good fit

  • Each friend has friends whom you could meet, so few friends create few opportunities to make more friends

3. People from dysfunctional family backgrounds believe lies about making friends

  • We will often repeat what our family members had done and thereby self-reinforce those lies
  • Many people from dysfunctional homes will connect back with their dysfunctional family instead of persevering for better friends

4. To have friends, you must be a friend, and most people find the necessary changes too much work

  • You are guaranteed to make friends who act just like you, but your ability to connect determines everyone else
  • Getting along with others comes from your ability to sacrifice expectations appropriately

The art of making friends is mastering some techniques

After about 34 minutes of conversation, most people already know if they want to be friends with someone

You do have something to offer, but you have to believe you do

Get into a routine of happiness

Being happy and optimistic is necessary to face the inevitable rejection of finding friends

  • Nobody likes associating with depressed and miserable people
  • Thankfully, your feelings of worthlessness are worse than what others can see
  • Have zero tolerance for self-criticism unless it points to a solution

If you feel you need friends, your social needs are unmet

  • Clinging too much to a new friend is common, but it drives them away
  • Make multiple new friends to avoid over-dependence on one friend
  • A great romantic relationship requires far more than a great friendship, so don’t expect a friend to become one (more on that later)

Learn happiness in solitude and find ways to enjoy life alone

  • You can listen to your favorite music anywhere you want
  • You can walk around your home without clothes and can take your time doing chores
  • You can fill free time and vacations with whatever you feel like doing
  • You save money when shopping without peer pressure
  • You can work more diligently without others distracting you

Learn to be proactive

Most people passively look for friends, which means that typically nobody makes the first move

  • Passively pursuing friendships shrinks the number of potential people you could spend time with
  • If you want to talk to them, make the first move

Making friends is a combination of experimenting and trial-and-error

People don’t care about you less than you think, especially if they don’t know you

Don’t be afraid to ask for their number or connect on social media

  • Take a picture of them and ask for their number to send it to them

Do uncomfortable and new things

The number of friends you have is from your lifestyle

  • If you feel you don’t have enough friends, change what you do

Go out of your way to start conversations

  • Get to know the people you work with
  • Bring gum to offer it to people
  • Wear a funny T-shirt to start conversations
  • Keep your door open if you live in a dorm or apartment
  • Take out your headphones or earbuds and put away your mobile device
  • Use a large umbrella when it rains and invite others to walk with you under it
  • Take mass transit over driving or biking and strangers to chat with

Explore anywhere you can find others with a common interest

  • Make others connect fun things with you by choosing exciting and unique places to go
  • Go to public events like concerts and clubs
  • Never decline an invitation for an even, since it is always worth the experience
  • Connect with a church or volunteer organization
  • Find social hobbies or things to do with others on Meetup or Heyevent
  • Connect with friends of friends
  • Connect in person with people you know on social media

Be an inspiration and connection leader with others

  • Bring a power strip to a coffee shop, cafeteria or airport
  • While eating with friends, make everyone place their phone face down and whoever checks it first pays the bill
  • Invite others to try something completely unknown and new to you

Learn how to be interesting at social events

Take an interest in the event and its associated culture

It helps to be at least somewhat savvy about different parts of the culture

Contribute to the group conversation in a positive way

Resist peer pressure unless you find it worth doing

Be willing to try out something that could be potentially embarrassing, especially if everyone else is doing it

Learn to be likable at your workplace

Respect important things and moderate all irrelevant information

Avoid taking anything personally

Go above and beyond what others request you to do

Speak openly with others in a straightforward way

Observe the unspoken rules of the workplace

Respect others’ feelings and thoughts

Continuously improve your conduct and work-related skills

Spending time online or playing a video game isn’t socializing

Even though social media feels like socializing, it doesn’t provide the one-on-one experience our minds need

Any social media post that doesn’t benefit the reader is harming your reputation and wasting their time

Ask yourself these questions before you post anything on the internet

  • Is it interesting or informative?
  • Is it amusing, entertaining or funny?
  • Does it add to anybody else’s life who will read this?

Don’t expect anything from anyone

Circumstances may prevent you from connecting with someone

  • Another friendship might add more stress to someone’s life
  • The venue where you meet is too uncomfortable to open up
  • You have an irreconcilable language or cultural barrier
  • They have a bias against you, potentially from your reputation or conduct
  • You’re breaking cultural norms by having a friendship with them

Don’t try to involve yourself in others’ lives continually

  • They had their own life before you met them and you must respect it as the friendship develops

People you expect will be great as friends may fail your expectations

  • It takes months and years to know someone and build trust and intimacy
  • Meeting lousy people, however, is always worth the experience

Good friends know how to love

Focus on how you can give more than take

  • Many people often never give back, which is always worth the lessons about friendship
  • Selflessly giving for others’ benefit makes more friends than getting them to feel sorry for you
  • When you’re sick or need help, observe what your friends do since it’s how they prefer help or support

If a new friend has a joined a group, call out the other people by name to give them a chance to memorize them

Keep track of their birthdays, anniversaries, children’s birthdays, and anything else that matters to them

  • Set recurring events in your calendar to congratulate them
  • Call or text them instead of merely social media
  • Get ideas for their birthday by giving them three guesses to figure out what you’re getting them

Friendship only comes through trust and openness

Consistently ask your friends for small favors to prove to them that you trust them

Learn how to express your feelings openly and sincerely

  • We are often irrationally obsessed with what others think of us
  • Discover your authentic self-talk, then express it with others
  • Authentic self-talk is the internal dialogue that sounds like your ideas and voice
  • Look for clues to find your self-talk
    1. Your fears and what drives them
    2. Abnormally good feelings from others’ approval
    3. Discomfort in decision-making without getting “permission” from others
  • Expressing your authentic self requires understanding how you and everyone else are irrational and silly

Everyone has a few of the Five Love Languages that affect them the most

Kind words – compliments or verbally expressing care

  • Affirm them about how they matter to you or who they are
  • Affirmations should be free of any criticism
  • Express true excitement about seeing them when you first meet them
  • Like and comment on their social media posts

Quality time – focused uninterrupted time together

  • Make quality time a priority with them
  • The time isn’t quality time if someone is using their phone or watching television

Gifts – surprising with a meaningful gift

  • The cost of the item doesn’t matter as much as the meaning the recipient attaches to it
  • Consider what that person can use and what they would already have with their lifestyle
  • Avoid awkwardness by not giving a gift too high or low in value for the context
  • Give three smaller gifts if you can’t find the right one: one serious, one humorous and one homemade

Acts of service – actions to make life less stressful or more enjoyable, like chores or planning

  • Acts of service can be anything: chores, planning, professional services, tasks that nobody wants to do
  • Approach acts of service carefully, since they require the recipient to be vulnerable and open
  • Listening without judgment is often the best act of service you can give

Physical affection – showing a connection by holding hands, hugging, and sharing physical contact

  • Affection varies in different cultures, so learn and honor their context and background
  • Others will easily misconstrue affection in some places like a work environment as sexual harassment
5 languages

Don’t let anything get in the way of your friendship

Friends will inevitably hurt you in some way

  • Forgive them immediately and move on without holding it against them

Always keep in touch with them, even after they move

If you borrow anything from them, promptly get it back to them

If your friend is rejecting you, however, accept it and move on to new friends

You will likely sabotage a friendship if you date someone your friend had dated, though asking permission can save it

Get along with friends you live with

  • Always openly communicate household responsibilities
  • Take initiative to maintain the common areas

Hold onto great friends, no matter the cost

Keep looking at whether your friends are still great people to be around

A great friendship has clear indicators that both friends share

  • Both feel energized and encouraged after spending time with each other
  • Trusting each others’ talents and abilities
  • Respects each other
  • Takes individual responsibility for words and actions
  • Both encourage differences in opinion and thought as healthy forms of expression
  • Communication is open and honest
  • Both see the friendship as an opportunity for both personal goals and the other’s interests

Watch how the friendship changes

Friendships develop from the context they formed in

  • Look at who and what you know them through
  • Work relationships typically only last as long as you keep working there

Everyone has three levels of identity

Your ability to judge others on all three levels will determine very clearly whether they’re worth associating with

1. How they appear in public

  • The comfort level they bring to acquaintances
  • How kind or friendly they appear to be
  • Pleasantness in public
  • Kindness to strangers

2. How they are once you’ve learned about them

  • How much they gossip about others versus approaching them directly
  • How much they stand against an injustice
  • How petty or judgmental they are
  • The amount of time they talk about themselves
  • Their ability to keep a secret
  • Their ability to tell the truth versus exaggerating or lying
  • Whether they return borrowed items or pay others back quickly

3. Their deepest motivations and values

  • Willingness to let strangers suffer or die for personal gain
  • Meanness or cruelty toward others
  • Selfish versus altruistic

Often, people who possess a horrible appearance can have some of the most redeeming qualities

Conversely, some of the most charming people are self-serving and evil

Observe how people behave in a few specific instances

  1. How they treat small children or animals
  2. How they behave in a group of strangers
  3. How they manage conflicts with others
  4. Who their five closest friends are
  5. How they handle hardships and setbacks

Carefully consider with whom you spend your free time with

Watch for lopsided friendships where a friend finds you more or less important to them than them to you

  • They may desire to spend much more or much less time with you
  • One side will spend much more time listening than the other

Listen to any strange gut instincts and look at where they originate

  • They take hours to text you back but always use their mobile device
  • They always seem to have a full schedule or consistently cancel at the last minute
  • They seem busy with everything but you

When people laugh, they instinctively turn to the person they are most comfortable with

People point their feet to where they’re interested, so observe their feet when they talk with you

You can salvage many unhealthy relationships

You may have a hard time sharing with someone one-on-one in a group setting

  • These discussions are naturally uncomfortable if you both don’t share anything in common
  • They will often have shared interests if you look into their interests further

Some people have a genuine fear of authenticity or openness

  • They are terrified of having an intimate and genuine interaction
  • They’ll often become clingy or overly identify with something
  • Disagreeing with them destroys your connection with them
  • Break through the ice with genuineness
  • They will either respond back with authenticity or despise you, but staying around them for long is unhealthy

Some people will keep changing the subject to avoid you from bringing up your own life

  • If they change the subject from an obsession with themselves, stay away
  • If they have intimacy issues, keep them as a friend but avoid bringing them into your inner circle
  • If they suspect you of being self-absorbed, then learn more about yourself

Avoid or cut off friendships with irreconcilable issues immediately

Friends always trying to “fix” you

  • Telling you to calm down or relax when you’re upset instead of listening to you
  • Making a quick judgment and advising before hearing the entire story

People who lead you on

  • The promises they make and attention they give are for power and control, not out of genuine interest

People who don’t like you

  • They’re never worth the time to win their affections
  • Avoid people who keep up a facade to watch your downfall closely (“frenemies”)

Morally sketchy and unrestrained people

  • Foolish and extremely insensitive people
  • Violent or constantly angry people
  • Drunks, over-eaters, alcoholics, substance abusers, and anyone who loves excess
  • Gossipers, liars, and cheaters
  • Thieves and con-artists
    • If someone borrows a little money and you never see them again, it was worth the expense

Friends who talk poorly about others

  • They will talk poorly about you elsewhere if they speak poorly about others

As you demote friends, replace them with new ones

Don’t go to former friends who haven’t fulfilled what you expect from a friend

However, if you and others change enough your friend may not even be the same person

Be careful about any family you make friends

Cutting off friendships with family can cost dearly, and ties with them are high-risk

If you cut off a family member, expect other family members to create a complicated dynamic

  • Circulating negative remarks and slanderous gossip with the rest of the family
  • Adding their own opinions and inappropriate attempts to bring the family together
  • Choosing not to talk to you without any explanation

Only sever family if you have friendship-building skills that support your needs elsewhere

Keep your long-term goals in mind

Eventually, you should direct your friendship skills toward a positional advantage with more influential people

Even if you’re concerned about others’ benefit, your ability to influence determines your ability to connect with the correct people

  • The more diverse a group of friends you have, the more opportunities you have and the more connections you can pull from
  • Stay legally safe by making friends with a police officer and a law student

Being friends with as many people as possible creates endless happy and fulfilling life experiences

Next: Coexistence 201: Lying