The process of making a friend is a very unique one. Itdepends on the person one is trying to become friends with, itdepends on one’s gender, it depends on one’s age, but mostimportantly it depends one’s personality. Every individual isdifferent and how they make friends differs just as greatly. Theway I make friends depends heavily on my personality. As anintroverted person, I tend to first meet potential friends throughwhat I call forced association. After the initial meeting, Ievaluate them and determine whether or not I think they should bemy friend.
Bonding, specifically male bonding, follows andacceptance is the final stage. Before I can delve into the sometimes mysterious process ofbecoming friends with someone, I have to divulge some personalinformation. I am a great believer in personality typing: thetheory that a great majority of people fall into one personalitytype or another. A complete analysis of my personality is notwithin the scope of this essay, but suffice it to say that I amvery introverted. This does not mean I am anti-social, it merelymeans that new and non-routine interaction with others taxes myenergy.
The process of making a new friend is by definition a newand non-routine interaction, therefore it is quite difficult for meto initiate the process. This is where the concept of forcedinteraction comes in. By forced interaction, I mean a situationwhere another person and I are placed in an environment where wehave no choice but to interact with each other. The largest andmost important type of forced interaction for me is school, andmore specifically, classes. It is impossible to be completelyseparate from other students in a class.
Consequently, I met allmy best friends in school (of course, it was a place that I spentmost of my time so it is not a big surprise). Another type offorced interaction comes when you meet a friend of one of yourfriends. It would be extremely rude to not interact with someonethat your friend considered to be friend. That is the way that Imet a very close friend of mine and one who I will use as anexample of my friend-making process throughout this essay. Hisname is Andres and I originally met him through another friend ofmine, Josh.
We were all going to the same high school next year(more forced association), so it was only natural for Josh to tryto have us all become friends. But I was not friends with Andreswhen I first met him. I had to figure out who he was before thatcould happen. Evaluation has always been very important to me. I constantlyevaluate and re-evaluate myself, my friends, my schoolwork, and soforth, almost to the point of obsession. I am ruthlessly self-critical and it is only natural that this same criticism wouldextend to those I consider my friends.
Before I can become friendswith someone, I have to determine whether or not I want to befriends with them. I have been told that this is an extremelyarrogant way of conducting relationships, but I find any other wayto be lacking. If one’s own needs in a relationship are not metthen it is impossible for them to fulfill other’s. The first stepin evaluation is the establishment of common ground. It is veryunlikely that I will become even casual friends with someone who Ihave nothing in common with. The more important to me thecommonality is, the more likely I will desire to become closefriends with someone.
One of the first things I look for isintelligence. Part of my personality is the love of intelligence,which means: doing things well in varying circumstances. A veryimportant part of a friendship for me is intellectual stimulation. If it is missing, the friendship will invariably begin to wane. Sointelligence and knowledge are two things I look for almostimmediately in a new acquaintance. Andres possesses both of thesequalities and he possesses them in areas that we both findinteresting. Both of us have an aptitude for the sciences. Thiscontributed greatly to me finding him worthy to be my friend.
Butknowledge and skills alone make a person boring, so I also look for common personality traits. A love of humor is also necessary, asis a low degree of self-monitoring: the degree to which peoplechange to match their surroundings. I am extremely low in thatarea as I tend to act the same in any situation. An actor wouldhave an extremely high degree of self-monitoring. I also look fora certain callousness in potential friends. Someone who cannottake or give criticism will not likely last long in a friendshipwith me. Andres had all of these things to some degree or another,so it was only inevitable that we spent more and more timetogether.
After I get to know someone and I think we should becomefriends, I try to spend as much time with them as possible. Mostlyfor the purpose of bonding (the sharing of experiences) but alsofor continued evaluation. The evaluation never really ends, itjust becomes easier as I get to know them better and better. Butif at any time, they fail to meet my standards for friendship, Imake it clear to them, either by direct confrontation or byspending time with them less frequently. If change is not affectedthen the friendship will fade away into either casual familiarityor outright rejection.
But the main purpose of bonding is to getto know them as well as possible, and for them to get to know me aswell as possible. To this end, we will frequently go out tomovies, participate in after-school groups together, and basicallyspend 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 lunchtogether at his house every day, went out to movies on the weekendfrequently and we all joined the Auditorium Tech group (responsiblefor lights and sound for all school shows) at our school.
Alongwith being in the same magnet program (and consequently, many ofthe same classes), these experiences enabled us to spend anextremely large amount of time with each other. This getting toknow 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 afriendship. True acceptance for me only exists with my closestfriends, the friends who I think know me better than anyone else(with the exception of my immediate family). Acceptance is thetime when I can truly be myself.
It is when I can say what I meanwithout having to worry about hurting people’s feelings or havingthem think less of me. This is possible because after acceptance,I know that most anything I say will not hurt my close friends andvice versa. Acceptance is a nice break from the process ofbecoming friends because it is where the evaluation is almost non-existent. Unless something extraordinary changes, I will befriends with that person for a very long time. But acceptance isby no means easy to come by. It is unlikely that I will reach thatstage with more than a handful of friends in my lifetime. This isin part due to my introversion.
I concentrate more on depth in arelationship than breadth. I prefer to have a small group offriends that I have lengthy contact with as opposed to a largegroup of friends who I do not know as well. Also, once I havereached acceptance with a couple or a few friends, it is almostimpossible for me to reach it with any other friends. I only haveso much time to spend with people (less than other people becauseI always provide ample opportunity for solitary activities) and Ido not want to split it up in too many ways. Therefore I prefer tokeep a few very close friends with whom I can share a deep andmeaningful relationship with.
Friends are one of the things that make life worth living. Along with my family, they provide a support structure and a groupthat I can share happiness with. Making friends has never been,and never will be, an easy process for me. My personality could bedescribed as arrogant, abrasive, callous and territorial. Theseattributes are usually not conducive to making friends. But Icould also be described as intelligent, genial, humorous,insightful and supportive and hopefully that is how my closefriends would describe me. Although my process of making friendsis a long and arduous one, the end result far outweighs any risksof rejection I may take.