Growing up there were built in friends almost everywhere I went. I had friends in my neighborhood, friends at church, and friends at school. Because we were all roughly the same age, we played together and we practiced in the skill of having friends. Some of the happiest memories I can remember in my youth was spending time with my friends.
As I got older and moved off to college and into adulthood, I realized that having friends wasn’t as obvious as it had been before. People have different obligations, relationships, and needs than before. People get busy doing things and it suddenly takes something new to maintain and cultivate a relationship with another adult. It’s one thing to do it in a romantic way,and it takes something different to grow and thrive a friendship.
What I have realized over time is that it also takes different things to cultivate different relationships with different people. There is no formula for how to operate with every single human being in the world, we are not robots after all.
What I have discovered in cultivating my relationships with adults is that it takes:
1) Time: Yes! Just like everything else it takes time. It takes scheduling, planning, and significant amounts of time to create long lasting relationships. This is also true of the time that you spend. If you are looking to create a deeper friendship with a work friend, you will actually need to spend time cultivating that friendship outside of your work place. Otherwise the friendship will hit a plateau and dissolve if either of you ever leaves the job.
2) Effort: Yes! Even friendship takes work!On both parties accounts. I’ve had friendships in the past that expected me to do all the work to plan to create the time to spend together. When this is the case, it sends the signal to me that the person isn’t generally interested in maintaining the relationship and the friendship will generally fizzle out.
3) Communication: Talk! Outside of the times you spend together. This doesn’t mean texting all the time, or talking every night on the phone, and it will require some effort to do. (see item 1.) Fill them in on your life. Talk about the things that you love, are interested in, even the things you struggle with. This last one is important as in order to build depth in a relationship you must connect on things other than your love for clothing, or complaining about your boss. If either of you holds back on sharing some of the less pleasant things about yourself while the other shares, again the friendship will fizzle. It’s challenging to connect with and stay connected to a person who gives the illusion of perfection. (plus it’s really boring and a lie).
This is why true friendship is a luxury. It doesn’t happen to everyone you encounter and it takes effort to maintain and cultivate. And this is why it is so precious and worthwhile.