Everyday Grace

thoughts and inspiration on emotional health by colleen p. arnold

Archive for the tag “friendship”

5 Ways to Tell if Someone’s NOT Your Friend

We’re still on the theme of making friends and creating lasting connections. Many people in their 20’s (and older) come to realize that the people they’ve hung out with for years, whom they called “friends,” aren’t really friends.

Of course, there are different levels of friendships. You can be acquaintances, or even friendly, with lots of people. I believe that for the most part, people are good, honest and caring. But the ones you let into your inner circle really need to be trustworthy. Here’s a short list of how to tell who isn’t:

1. You always get drunk (or stoned, or otherwise anesthetized) together. If you’re friends with someone, you can do more than one thing with them, and you enjoy being around them when you’re both sober, too. The tricky thing about these people is that when you’re both high, you might easily mistake them for friends and even think you love them.

2. They talk crap about people behind their backs but are friendly to their faces. If they do this to others, it’s a fairly safe bet they’ll do it to you, too.

3. Somehow, you always end up listening to their problems. This is a tricky one, because friends do listen to and support each other. But it has to be reciprocal. If you find yourself always listening to their drama, but they don’t seem to have time for yours, they’re not really your friend.

4. They try to change you. I don’t mean your stylish friend who has a really good eye and is great to go shopping with. I’m talking about the people who try to get you to listen to their music and are crushed when you don’t like it. Or, those who keep trying to get you to get involved with their hobbies, their sports and their travels even after you’ve explained you’re not interested. It’s one thing to want to share something they love with you, but if they can’t handle that you have different interests, they’re not looking for a friend, they’re looking for a mirror.

5. They flake often, with many excuses. The excuses are often good ones – ones you can’t argue with (or verify). You may even catch them in lies but they can come up with some convoluted explanation about why it’s not a lie. They somehow fall short of really making it up to you or taking full responsibility for their actions. If you find yourself saying, “That’s OK, I understand,” a lot, you need to rethink how much you can count on this person. Of course, sometimes people really do have lots of complications in their lives, and you can still be their friend. But if it seems to be never-ending, with one thing after another for a long period of time, or if you start noticing that they avoid taking opportunities to improve their situation, you might need to distance yourself a bit from their drama.

Not everyone is trustworthy, and trusting the wrong people is a really common mistake – we’ve all done it.  But if you start noticing these signs, let them inform your inner compass and just watch. You don’t necessarily have to call these people out and create a fight, but it might be wise not to share your innermost thoughts and feelings with them.

Image Credit: h. koppdelaney on Flickr

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How Grownups Make Friends, Part II (5 Tips for Introverts)

1. Get out there. We all need our alone time, but you’re not going to meet new people in your living room. Be places. Get out of the carpool line, park a few blocks away and walk to pick up your kids. Notice the other parents. Make eye contact and smile. Take your kids to birthday parties and instead of dropping them off and leaving, stick around. Go to events. Accept invitations. Eat in the cafeteria instead of at your desk.

The “mere exposure effect” says that the more we see something, the more we like it. So the more your neighbors, co-workers, etc., see you out and about, the more positive feelings they’ll have toward you. Let people become used to seeing you and recognizing you.

2. Start conversations. This is the hardest thing for us introverts. But if you’re in close proximity with someone, there’s ALWAYS something around you that you can comment on. “Thank goodness it’s not raining on us as we stand out here.” “The clouds are beautiful today.” “Wow, look at that headline on the magazine in the grocery store.” “Where do you get your son’s hair cut? It looks great.” “Did you hear what he said about _________? I didn’t quite catch it.” Don’t sweat it if it turns into a short interaction and not a full conversation. If you have several short interactions with the same people, they will turn into conversations.
Try to stay positive. Unconsciously, people attribute traits to us based on what we say about other people or things. If the only thing you can think of to say is a complaint or something negative, try to insert humor into it. Making people laugh is always a good way to connect. Smile! Remember, other people are nervous, too, about starting conversations. Make it easier for them by asking questions they can easily answer (most people love to talk about themselves), and they’ll remember you as a friendly, kind person.

3. Join Groups. Most bookstores (the ones that are still around….sigh) have book groups for different interests. Meetup.com is a great place to find groups based around an interest. Volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about. Make sure that the groups are based on something you’ll enjoy even if you don’t find someone to click with. Sometimes activities are worthwhile to do just for the sake of doing them. Plan activities and invite people you think might be interested. One thing that’s worked for me is planning to do something I already planned to do, like visit an outlet or take a short hike, and inviting one person who might be interested to come with me. If they decline, nothing’s lost because I was going to do it anyway.

4. Be Selective. Talk to as many people as you can, but be selective about those with whom you pursue friendships. Make sure you’ve enjoyed those conversations, and that you have a feeling the person might be trustworthy. Pursue those who say nice things about other people and don’t talk behind people’s backs (remember – the way people treat others is the way they’ll eventually treat you). Choose those with similar interests. Friends of friends have great potential because you already have something (or someone) in common.
5. Courage! Fight your urge to run and hide. You don’t have to turn into a complete extrovert to make friends, but if you make a goal to do one thing each day that connects with someone new, you’ll be well on your way to making new friends without too much stress. Take a break and congratulate yourself for each new step you take. It does get easier with practice, I promise.

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