What makes people friends?

This isn’t a post about how to make or keep friends.  This is about an article that dives into the pyschology of friendship.  So if you don’t like analyzing things, skip this post!

What makes people friends?  How do we choose who we are friends with?  The bottom line according to Friendship: The Laws of Attraction:

We become best friends with people who boost our self-esteem by
affirming our identities as members of certain groups, and it’s the
same for both genders.

In English, that means that if we think of ourselves first as moms, we will probably either hang out with moms or people that tell us we are good moms.  If we think of ourselves first as engineers, we will probably be best friends with engineers or someone who tells us we are great engineers.

Once you’ve found your best friend, there are four key ingredients to friendship:

  • self-disclosure – we share personal information and wait for the person to disclose equivilent personal information.  For example, I share that I’m having a hard time dealing with my brother and you share that you are having a hard time dealing with your husband.
  • supportiveness – friends listen to those problems and support their friends either by commiserating, offering advise or just listening.
  • interaction – you have to talk, email, write, … it doesn’t have to be in person.
  • positiveness – nobody wants to listen to rants all the time.  People want to feel good so they tend to hang out with people that make them feel good.  (I had a friend who told me she loved hanging out with me because I always made her feel good I was so upbeat.  I had never thought about it but I found myself thinking about all my friends and how upbeat they were or weren’t after that!)

So knowing all that probably won’t help you find or make friends but maybe it will make for an interesting, postive, supportive interaction with your existing friends.