This week’s tips are focused on older kids, teens, and the young adults that I have met over the years.
The steps to creating friendships aren’t really written down anywhere. They are invisible and can be mystifying. So this idea popped into my head one day in talking to a teen assistant, and I think it may break down those steps in a more concrete way. Building friendships takes a number of actions. These are:
MOTIVATION: Do you want to have friends? Some people are quite introverted and happy to go on their merry way without the complications of relationships. The thing about motivation is that no one can create that for you. It has to come from within. If you decide you do want friends, the next step is:
LOCATION: You’ll need to put yourself into places and situations where you will meet like-minded people. This can be afterschool clubs or activities, age-appropriate Meet-Up type events, or taking a class in something that interests you to meet other interested people. Then, it’s time to engage in:
CONVERSATION: This is a hard one if you are shy or socially anxious. Conversations are how all friendships begin. There are many resources to tap into that can offer ideas for conversation starters and ice breakers. Again, if you are in a location where there are people interested in the same things you are, it will be easier to get started. Conversations include questions, responses, and statements. Every conversation should have a mix of these. Think of conversations like a tennis match, with the elements going back and forth. Conversations are how we find out if we have enough in common with someone to pursue a friendship or if they will remain an acquaintance. Conversations lead to the step:
FORMATION: If conversations lead to a friendship spark, the next step requires a little bit of risk. This is where you want to throw out a friendship feeler, such as, “Would you like to catch a movie sometime?” or “I have a collection of these, would you like to come by and see them sometime?” Not putting a specific time constraint on the question, lessens the chance of the person rejecting the idea. If you get a solid yes, proceed to set up an actual day and time. If you get a maybe, say something like, “cool, just let me know” and if the person says no or seems uncomfortable with the invitation, you will know that this is a:
TERMINATION: Not everyone is going to be a friend, or even want to be your friend. In a conversation, they are as much deciding that as you are. This is also very true if you are starting to think about dating. If a potential friendship or event a current friendship terminates, then show some:
DETERMINATION: Don’t give up. There are LOTS of people in the world and friends are out there. Just go back to MOTIVATION and go through the steps again!