Understanding Friendship: How and Why We Make Friends
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Understanding Friendship: How and Why We Make Friends

We as humans long to be accepted and understood

Choosing Friends

As humans, we are sociable by nature.  We enjoy conversing with others and learning new ideas; we long to be accepted and understood.  The friends we choose reflect some aspect of our selves - good and bad.  Yet we are drawn to people, wanting to get to know them better.  What do you like in a friend?  Is it the person's appearance?  Character?  Interests?

How We Make Friends

Young children are generally less self-conscious than adults, so they are able to approach people who seem interesting to them.  They don't discriminate, they accept people for who they are, and launch into conversation.  It is only as we become more self-aware that we begin to zero in on the kinds of people we want for our friends.  Typically, this happens when we reach elementary school age, when we are faced with having to academically compete with our peers.

The first thing we do upon meeting someone is say hello.  First impressions are crucial - they will either make or break a friendship.  Does the other person respond in a positive way?  Once you get past that awkward introduction, you can gauge whether or not you might have anything in common with your new acquaintance.  Other times, as with school or the workplace, you know of people, but might not feel obligated to ever do more than greet those people.

Peer Pressure Makes a Difference

We tend to follow what other people do, listening to their opinions of others, especially when we are new to an environment.   After all, we want to fit in.  The same thing happens if a new person enters the scene - we want to hold that person at arm's length until we know if he or she is considered friend material by our peers or is not a threat to our reputations.  Sadly, this is not the way we ought to be with newcomers, since we have all experienced being in their shoes before, and know what that feels like to be friendless.

Factor in Personal Values

Despite the pull of peer pressure, how we are raised determines our ability to get past others' opinions of us and treat potential friends the way we want to be treated.  When we are active in our places of worship, or volunteer for community causes, we can become more of a friend magnet and start to care less about what others think about us.

Being a Friend

In the end, choosing who we want as friends becomes solely our decision, not anyone else's.  Who cares if you're made fun of because of liking someone who's different?  Our uniqueness is what draws other people to befriend in the first place.  There are always going to be character flaws in others, but we have to make the choice to overlook them if we want to in turn be accepted by others.  So before you decide to make a new friend, think about the kind of friend you want to be, and what is in your best interest.

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Comments (2)

hi l have lot of frirnds

Interesting article some very valid points made. I love the casual way children make friends! I find it easy to make friends in the real life but I am struggling to make friends on here