“As we go on, we remember
All the times we had together
And as our lives change, come whatever
We will still be, friends forever”
These lyrics of the ‘Graduation Song‘ express our desire for life-long friendships. For most of us, friends are an important source of happiness and strength. Yet, sometimes inspite of our best intentions or efforts, we may find that with the passage of time, we no longer share as close a bond with some of our friends as we had hoped we might.
This article looks at not only how we make friends but also how we can truly to remain “friends forever”.
For most of us, making friends is not usually something we plan on, rather it seems to happen quite naturally. Research suggests that we often begin a friendship based on proximity, like with a classmate, colleague or neighbour. So it’s likely that we make friends with those who cross our path often. In addition, we tend to like people who are similar to us. Making friends with people who share similar attitudes and beliefs makes us feel good about our own judgments.
However, not everyone we come across becomes a friend. If we find that we share common interests with them and tend to have positive experiences together, then we are likely to develop a friendship.
Keeping in touch with friends
Often keeping in touch with our friends becomes difficult due to circumstances such as moving to a new job or city or even to a new life stage such as having a child. Such a separation or losing contact with a friend, could give rise to feelings of loss or sadness. We may also feel hurt or let down, thereafter finding it difficult to establish emotional bonds with others, at the level at which we did earlier. At certain stages in our lives, we may find that we shy away from making friends, almost as if we are unknowingly protecting ourselves from possible emotional hurt in the future.
When keeping in touch with a close friend is important to us, we could consider the many factors that seem to play a role – in the context of our own friendships:
- Providing each other with emotional support.
- Self disclosing, when done from both sides.
- Interaction. Even when friends are far away, friendships sustain if there is some form of interaction – even an email or text.
- Being positive. We are motivated to put in efforts to maintain a friendship when it an enjoyable experience for us.
Understanding unique patterns in our friendships
In addition to the above factors, there a number of aspects that depend on the two people themselves or the pattern of communication between them. For example, friends with different personality types or with different cultural backgrounds may have different needs or expectations from a friendship.
Similarly, an unhelpful pattern may get established between friends. For instance, one friend feeling that the other is distant and therefore calling more frequently while the other friend withdrawing even more as a result of being called frequently.
Examining how some of these factors maybe playing out in your own life could be helpful in taking steps to maintain your close relationships. If you would like to understand yourself and your friendships better, feel free to contact a counsellor from the TalkItOver team.
Baron, R. A. and Byrne, D. (1997). Social Psychology, 8th edition. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
“Friendship”. Encyclopedia of Psychology. FindArticles.com. 19 Sep, 2010. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_g2699/is_0004/ai_2699000473/