How to Make Friends
We are friends for? This isn't a rhetorical question, but of essential concern for everybody. We might find friends extremely valuable in difficult situations. The truth is that friendship is always one of life's most important features, and one too often taken for granted. As a matter of fact, making friends requires time and effort, sometimes involving strategy.
The human desire for companionship may be boundless, but research suggests that our social capital is finite—we can handle only so many relationships at one time. Social scientists have used a number of ingenious approaches to gauge the size of people’s social networks;these have returned estimates ranging from about 250 to about 5,500 people,though a Stanford thesis focusing exclusively on Franklin D. Roosevelt, a friendly guy with social job, suggested that he might have had as many as 22,500 acquaintances.Looking more specifically at friendship,a study using the exchange of Christmas cards as an friend group at about 121 people.
However vast our networks may be, our inner circle tends to be much smaller. The average American trusts only 10 to 20 people. Moreover, that number may be shrinking: From 1985 to 2004, the average number of bosom friends that people reported decreased from three to two. This is both sad and consequential, because people who have strong social relationships tend to live longer than those who don’t. So what should you do if your social life is lacking? Here, research findings can be instructive.
Generally speaking, people tend to dismiss the humble acquaintance. However, building deeper friendship from acquaintance may be largely a matter of putting in time. A recent study found that it takes about 50 hours of socializing to go from an acquaintance to a casual friend, an additional 40 hours to become a “real” friend, and a total of 200 hours to become a close friend. If that sounds like too much effort, reviving dormant social ties can be especially rewarding. Reconnected friends can quickly recapture much of the trust they previously built, while offering each other a dash of novelty drawn from whatever they've been up to in the meantime. And if both fail, you could start randomly confiding in people you don't know that well in hopes of letting the tail wag the relational dog. Sharing personal stories makes us more likable, and as a bonus, we are more inclined to like those to whom we have bared our soul.
The academic literature is clear: Longing for closeness and connection is pervasive, which suggests that most of us are stumbling through the world yearning for companionship that could be easily provided by the lonesome people all around us. So set aside this article, turn to someone nearby, and try to make a friend.