How do I cultivate genuine friendships?

General, Social & Friendships / Wednesday, March 7th, 2018
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Hey, Alana!

I have a hard time separating real relationships from superficial ones. I want to say I have close relationships with my friends, but at the same time, I don’t know if they are at the conveniences of the other person or truly genuine. This causes me to have my guard up and just stay in my inner circle of family. What should I do?

Hey, There!

Relationships are so complicated. Romantic or non-romantic, interacting with other human beings is stinkin’ hard. But, we were created for relationship, so it’s important that we figure out how to make it work.

Here are three tips to help you figure out what a genuine friendship means to you how to cultivate authentic connections with your friends.

1. Know what you want.

What does a “real” or “close” friendship look like to you? Do you want someone who will prioritize their time with you? Is it essential that they get along with your current family circle? Maybe you want someone who is willing to go on adventures with you. Whatever the case, it’s important to know what you want, so you know what to look for in a friend.

2. Know what you don’t want.

Sometimes it can be hard to identify what you do want, so I invite you to also think about what you don’t want out of a friendship.

You’re already on the right track by identifying that you do not want a friendship based on convenience. Let’s break that down: What exactly does a friendship of convenience look like to you? Maybe it’s when the other person only comes to you when they are in a crisis but makes no effort to share the love, leaving you feeling like its a one-way street. If you start to notice that certain relationships are falling into that pattern, then you can decide if you want to continue pursuing that friendship or not.

3. You have to risk rejection to see if there’s a connection.

It sounds like you want to branch out from your current circle of friends, but you’re hesitant because you don’t want to get hurt. I know it totally sucks when you let your guard down with someone, only to find out that they just aren’t that into you. However, when you embark on the journey towards love and friendship, you’re always taking a chance because mutual acceptance isn’t promised in human relationships.  

In your question, I hear that you’re wanting the promise of mutual connection before you decide to open your heart and let your guard down. But, it can’t and won’t work that way. You have to let the other person in before there is ever a chance for a connection to occur. Dr. Brene Brown puts it best, “In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen.” Finding closeness with your friends is less about determining what their motives are and more about you letting your most real and authentic self be seen by others.

I encourage you to do a little experiment and let your guard down with just one friend who you are interested in being close to. This might be a friendship that fits within the guidelines that we talked about earlier. I’m not saying to spill your deepest, darkest secrets all at once. Just be a little vulnerable. You could share how a situation actually made you feel, rather than keep up the “perfect” and “put-together” version of yourself. Whatever that vulnerability looks like to you, just see how it goes. Observe how it makes you feel. Even if it is super uncomfortable at first, you might be pleasantly surprised to see how the real and raw parts of yourself connect you to the other person. If it doesn’t turn out that way, that’s okay, too. At this point, you’re just checking things out to see if a connection is there.

Off you go!

I am so hopeful for you, my friend. It’s a challenge to cultivate deep and meaningful relationships, but you asking for help and being self-aware is an incredible step that you’ve already taken. Now, all you have to do is figure out what your ideal friendship looks like and let your guard down a little.

I am confident that you have some beautiful friendships in your future!


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