Making Friends


The process of making a friend is a very unique one. It
depends on the person one is trying to become friends with,
it depends on one's gender, it depends on one's age, but
most importantly it depends one's personality. Every
individual is different and how they make friends differs
just as greatly. The way I make friends depends heavily on
my personality. As an introverted person, I tend to first
meet potential friends through what I call forced
association. After the initial meeting, I evaluate them and
determine whether or not I think they should be my friend.
Bonding, specifically male bonding, follows and acceptance
is the final stage.
Before I can delve into the sometimes mysterious process of
becoming friends with someone, I have to divulge some
personal information. I am a great believer in personality
typing: the theory that a great majority of people fall
into one personality type or another. A complete analysis
of my personality is not within the scope of this essay,
but suffice it to say that I am very introverted. This does
not mean I am anti-social, it merely means that new and
non-routine interaction with others taxes my energy. The
process of making a new friend is by definition a new and
non-routine interaction, therefore it is quite difficult
for me to initiate the process. This is where the concept
of forced interaction comes in. By forced interaction, I
mean a situation where another person and I are placed in
an environment where we have no choice but to interact with
each other. The largest and most important type of forced
interaction for me is school, and more specifically,
classes. It is impossible to be completely separate from
other students in a class. Consequently, I met all my best
friends in school (of course, it was a place that I spent
most of my time so it is not a big surprise). Another type
of forced interaction comes when you meet a friend of one
of your friends. It would be extremely rude to not interact
with someone that your friend considered to be friend. That
is the way that I met a very close friend of mine and one
who I will use as an example of my friend-making process
throughout this essay. His name is Andres and I originally
met him through another friend of mine, Josh. We were all
going to the same high school next year (more forced
association), so it was only natural for Josh to try to
have us all become friends. But I was not friends with
Andres when I first met him. I had to figure out who he was
before that could happen.
Evaluation has always been very important to me. I
constantly evaluate and re-evaluate myself, my friends, my
schoolwork, and so forth, almost to the point of obsession.
I am ruthlessly self- critical and it is only natural that
this same criticism would extend to those I consider my
friends. Before I can become friends with someone, I have
to determine whether or not I want to be friends with them.
I have been told that this is an extremely arrogant way of
conducting relationships, but I find any other way to be
lacking. If one's own needs in a relationship are not met
then it is impossible for them to fulfill other's. The
first step in evaluation is the establishment of common
ground. It is very unlikely that I will become even casual
friends with someone who I have nothing in common with. The
more important to me the commonality is, the more likely I
will desire to become close friends with someone. One of
the first things I look for is intelligence. Part of my
personality is the love of intelligence, which means: doing
things well in varying circumstances. A very important part
of a friendship for me is intellectual stimulation. If it
is missing, the friendship will invariably begin to wane.
So intelligence and knowledge are two things I look for
almost immediately in a new acquaintance. Andres possesses
both of these qualities and he possesses them in areas that
we both find interesting. Both of us have an aptitude for
the sciences. This contributed greatly to me finding him
worthy to be my friend. But knowledge and skills alone make
a person boring, so I also look for common personality
traits. A love of humor is also necessary, as is a low
degree of self-monitoring: the degree to which people
change to match their surroundings. I am extremely low in
that area as I tend to act the same in any situation. An
actor would have an extremely high degree of
self-monitoring. I also look for a certain callousness in
potential friends. Someone who cannot take or give
criticism will not likely last long in a friendship with
me. Andres had all of these things to some degree or
another, so it was only inevitable that we spent more and
more time together.
After I get to know someone and I think we should become
friends, I try to spend as much time with them as possible.
Mostly for the purpose of bonding (the sharing of
experiences) but also for continued evaluation. The
evaluation never really ends, it just becomes easier as I
get to know them better and better. But if at any time,
they fail to meet my standards for friendship, I make it
clear to them, either by direct confrontation or by
spending time with them less frequently. If change is not
affected then the friendship will fade away into either
casual familiarity or outright rejection. But the main
purpose of bonding is to get to know them as well as
possible, and for them to get to know me as well as
possible. To this end, we will frequently go out to movies,
participate in after-school groups together, and basically
spend time together. This not only leads to a closer
relationship, it provides a set of common experiences we
can both draw upon. Andres and I (along with another very
close friend) ate lunch together at his house every day,
went out to movies on the weekend frequently and we all
joined the Auditorium Tech group (responsible for lights
and sound for all school shows) at our school. Along with
being in the same magnet program (and consequently, many of
the same classes), these experiences enabled us to spend an
extremely large amount of time with each other. This
getting to know each other, or bonding, allowed us to
cement our relationship. Once that was accomplished,
acceptance naturally followed.
Acceptance is always the goal for me when I start a
friendship. True acceptance for me only exists with my
closest friends, the friends who I think know me better
than anyone else (with the exception of my immediate
family). Acceptance is the time when I can truly be myself.
It is when I can say what I mean without having to worry
about hurting people's feelings or having them think less
of me. This is possible because after acceptance, I know
that most anything I say will not hurt my close friends and
vice versa. Acceptance is a nice break from the process of
becoming friends because it is where the evaluation is
almost non- existent. Unless something extraordinary
changes, I will be friends with that person for a very long
time. But acceptance is by no means easy to come by. It is
unlikely that I will reach that stage with more than a
handful of friends in my lifetime. This is in part due to
my introversion. I concentrate more on depth in a
relationship than breadth. I prefer to have a small group
of friends that I have lengthy contact with as opposed to a
large group of friends who I do not know as well. Also,
once I have reached acceptance with a couple or a few
friends, it is almost impossible for me to reach it with
any other friends. I only have so much time to spend with
people (less than other people because I always provide
ample opportunity for solitary activities) and I do not
want to split it up in too many ways. Therefore I prefer to
keep a few very close friends with whom I can share a deep
and meaningful relationship with.
Friends are one of the things that make life worth living.
Along with my family, they provide a support structure and
a group that I can share happiness with. Making friends has
never been, and never will be, an easy process for me. My
personality could be described as arrogant, abrasive,
callous and territorial. These attributes are usually not
conducive to making friends. But I could also be described
as intelligent, genial, humorous, insightful and supportive
and hopefully that is how my close friends would describe
me. Although my process of making friends is a long and
arduous one, the end result far outweighs any risks of
rejection I may take.==_830089420==_ 

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