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How to Create Authentic Friendships

Create friendships that last a lifetime.

Source: Friendship/Unsplash

The Dalai Lama once said, "You should only be friends with people who see who you are, value, and validate you." And, in fact, you can only be a true friend with people who share your values.

Reach out to people with similar interests
One must first reach out to others. The best place to look for friendship is in your areas of interest.

It would be best if you overrode both reticence and shyness. You have to get out and reach out to others who have common interests. Great places to start searching for friends with similar interests include clubs, organizations, churches, synagogues, mosques, meet-up groups, and online groups.

You have to know how to be a friend to make a friend

  1. Create intimacy. In all relationships, bonding is everything, whether it is your mate, child, family, or friend. The moment you meet someone on a date, the first thing the two of you do is share your history. That is the first step toward intimacy and bonding. By telling your story and listening to the story of others, you learn about shared experiences, challenges, and what you have in common. You discover who that person is under their skin; how they view and experience the world; their likes and dislikes; and their interests and passions. This information connects you and gives you a way to relate. Such sharing is so powerful that it becomes a vehicle to help you emotionally touch one another and even help confirm each other's feelings.
  2. Listen and learn. Be respectful and value both yourself and others by recognizing that each is a unique human being. When you give your full attention to another's story and life experience, you gain insight into the other person and yourself. The message you give to the other person is that you appreciate and value what they say, who they are, and their passions.
  3. The exploration of self and others also yields good information to help us to decide whether this person is the right friend for us. Do you share common values, goals, and interests? Do you see the world through similar eyes? And most important, can you be your authentic self with them?
  4. Be authentic. Find your inner voice and vocation and dare listen to it. By being yourself and respecting yourself, you will find others like you. Nothing is worse in friendship or relationship than feeling your friend is so high-maintenance that you can never be your essential self or meet your needs, that you are not liked or valued for how you are but for how you perform.
    Each of us has our unique talents and gifts. By listening to that inner voice, you will find a good friend who likes you for yourself and your place in the world.
  5. Leaving a legacy. If you change the course of one person's life for the better, in a sense you change the world. The ripple effect of kindness is transformative. Finding friends with common interests, passions, and values can give you the support you need to recognize and acknowledge your inspiration and your dreams into reality. Value-for-value is how legacies are born. When you help someone, you lend value and meaning to your life, and that validation allows you to give value to others.
  6. Don't pressure anyone, including yourself. In relationships, people react to pressure by either shutting down or withdrawing from the source. Pressuring another to see or follow your point of view can frighten a friend away. The most common desire is to be free; when we force our perspective onto others, we threaten their sense of self.
  7. Never manipulate or dominate. Manipulation and bullying diminish who you are and define what you think of your friend or mate. It is difficult enough to control yourself, never mind the actions and behavior of others. People who need control are often feeling out of control. When you move into friendships with low self-esteem, you attract friends with low self-esteem., forfeiting the opportunity to make a mutual and healthy relationship. The best relationships are crafted from a sense of strength, not weakness.
  8. Don't be a critical parent. Whether in a relationship or friendship, grownups have passed beyond the stage in which they need or want to be judged and criticized by their parents. It's best to keep judgment away. You usually project your own flaws and vulnerabilities when you criticize others. By recognizing, acknowledging, and integrating your projection, you have the opportunity to redeem it.
  9. Weed your garden. It takes a lot of effort to be a real friend. It takes commitment, obligation, mutuality, and responsibility. As a result, that level of interaction cannot be shared with everyone. There are levels of friendship, and the wise person understands the differences

Value Your Friends

A good friend is hard to find, and a true friendship takes commitment. it is worth the effort and time.

More from Gail Gross Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed.
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