Why Do We Need Friends?
Friends are very important.
So important, in fact, that it’s been proven that friendship can extend life expectancy and lower incident of heart disease. Friendship ignites the part of the brain that makes us feel good, which makes us want to keep hanging out with our friends.
Our friends influence us in so many ways, including helping us to develop critical life skills at every point in our aging.
Having friends can help you get more friends so realize those you are introduced to are important. People want to be friends with folks that are said to be nice and helpful – are you projecting that?
Close friends can be a vital lifeline of support.
Most of us know that “Couple Friends” can support your own relationship if they have a good one of their own and are respectful of one another.
One of the most valuable things that friends can do is give you a reality check when you are going over the edge of clothing choices, behaviors and attitudes too.
It takes effort all throughout life to make friends, to hold onto the ones you have and to replace those who move, die or are no longer compatible with your views and needs.
The older you get the harder it can be to make friends. It takes more work since you are no longer looking for someone to come out and play ball before dinner.
So how long does it take to make friends? How much time is involved?
A recent study from Kansas University found that the average adult needs to spend 50 hours of time with a person for you to be able to reasonably consider them a casual friend.
And then it takes 90 hours to become real friends and 200 hours for someone to be your close friend.
How can you make a friend?
It generally starts best by not under or over-disclosing or you will start the interaction on a negative vein.
Many people find that asking a couple of simple non-personal questions or giving a compliment relaxes the other party and encourages conversation. Hopefully, they will reciprocate in like kind. Your share might be as simple as admitting you are shy around strangers or that you are new and hoping to make friends or get to know people.
So, sharing a very small personal piece of information to see if they will do the same lets you know how willing they are to engage and possibly become friends.
Then in subsequent meetings you share very slightly more personal information and wait to see if that sharing at about the same level is returned.
And it goes on from there in small increments at each meeting.
If someone immediately over-shares personal information you might want to back off; if you over-share you should also expect some backward peddling.
How about work? In order to make lasting adult friendships with colleagues, you have to remove the friendship from the workplace and spend time together outside the office. And if you leave that work place you obviously need to work to keep up the friendship. Just being around someone at work and chatting with them daily doesn’t mean you are friends. You need to find common interests and invite them to go share some activity with you.
You make friends so you live long, so you are happier, and so your people skills constantly increase with the changing times. It’s important.
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Author: Sharon Valentino, MFT
Valentino Therapy – CA LMFT, RAS, ChT, CATC IV (#51746)
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