How to Choose a Friend
The title statement might seem a bit odd. Do we actually choose our friends? Do they choose us? Surely friendships just happen naturally? Surely we don’t choose our friends based on some cold and unfeeling objective criteria, in the same way that we might choose a new car or buy a bicycle? But many psychologists are pouring cold water on the idea that these kinds of relationships are outside of our choosing - whether that choosing is conscious or subconscious - with many saying that who we choose to consider friends is largely based on subconscious choices.
But why would we even want to choose our friends? Friends can, at times, make us sad, frustrate us or confound us, but the benefits of having good friends hugely outweigh the drawbacks. Friends give you reality checks, telling you things you might not want to hear but which you might well need to. This might make you miserable in the short term, but you will likely be thanking them further down the road. Friends provide encouragement and support when you are at a low ebb. They help us deal with stress. Friends help us to learn new attitudes and behaviours. They help us thrive. It has even been said that, if you want to know where you will be in five years time, in terms of career and wealth, then look at the average success and wealth of your best five friends.
But friendships are like lifts - some can take you higher but they can also take you down and that is why it’s vital to make the right friendship choices. Along with career and partner, friends rank amongst the most important things to ‘get right’ in your life. So, what can you do to help yourself make the best friendship choices?
- Aim higher.
Whilst it’s important to feel comfortable with friends, there is much to gain from friendships with people who have achievements and personal characteristics which you aspire to or admire. These people will challenge you, expand you and help you reach outside your comfort zone to achieve more for yourself.
- Look for friends who are different to you.
It’s reassuring to have friends who are like we are, but it’s equally valuable to form friendships with people who are different to us. Whether this be in terms of class, interests, opinions, affluence or any other variation, forging friendships with those who might, ordinarily, not become our friends means we expand our world view and open ourselves to the benefits that can only come from knowing those who are different to ourselves. But how can you meet ‘fresh’ people? Start a new hobby, volunteer, meet online ‘friends’ in person. Get creative!
- Be The Person You’d Like Your Friends To Be.
Why would a potential friend want to be friends with someone who you, yourself, wouldn’t like to be friends with? Do you display the attributes of someone who would make a good friend? Can you listen? Can you be honest, but with tact and sensitivity? Are you prepared to help others when there is seemingly no benefit to yourself? If you act in the manner of someone who could be considered a worthy friend, you are more likely to attract people who, similarly, are likely to be a friend with the same values.
Want more advice? Why not post on one of our forums