Are you ready to make meaningful connections? Explore 5 foolproof ways you can make – and keep! – real friends.
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Finding Sam in a world full of Judases
“I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!” declared one little hobbit.
He then lifted another little hobbit. And together, they saved the world.
Anyone who’s watched The Lord of the Rings knows that line – immortalized by Samwise Gamgee, who was portrayed by Sean Astin.
The Lord of the Rings movie is many things. But beyond the action, beyond the special effects, beyond its roots in a classic story, it serves as a shining example of what true friendship could be like.
Who doesn’t want a friend who will literally carry you on his back when you’re going through your worst? Someone who will face off with anything – even a giant spider – to save you?
But we’re talking real life, you might protest, not fiction. In real life, you’re more likely to be sold out and stabbed in the back by a modern-day Judas for a whole host of trivial reasons.
True friends? Hah! They don’t exist in real life.
But is it really such an impossible dream to find your ride-or-die?
Isn’t it just a numbers game? Kiss enough frogs, and you’ll eventually find a prince (or a princess), surely? Maybe if you meet enough Judases, you’ll eventually get lucky and find your Sam.
Is it worth a shot?
Since a fake friend can cause disastrous consequences, we want to minimize the number of frogs you have to kiss in order to find royalty. So, how can you reduce your chances of building a friendship with Judas incarnate? How do you find Sam in a haystack of eight billion people?
The five steps below will help you out.
Note: To learn how to identify real friends, read our post, “How to Find Real Friends in a World Full of Fakes.”
1. Do some soul-searching.
If you were to go to a travel agency to book a vacation, what’s one of the first things they ask? When and where, right? When do you want to book and where do you want to go?
You need to know the answer to these questions, or you’re not going anywhere.
It’s the same thing when you’re looking for a friend. There are things you need to know if you want a successful outcome.
Except that in this case, the successful outcome is the making and keeping of a real friend.
To start, you need to know what a “real friend” means to you – and to do that you need to take the time to sit with the question and ponder.
Do you want someone who’s upfront and direct? Or would you prefer someone who keeps the peace?
Would you rather meet someone who will be a safe refuge when you’re lashed by life’s storms? Or someone who encourages you to keep going and helps you gain the strength you need to brave them?
Do you want an equal mix of the two?
And, in the midst of your search, make sure you know who you are in relation to the friend you wish to meet. Will you be the yin to their yang? Or will you be like two peas in a pod?
So, yes, sit still in the silence.
What do you want out of this friendship and what can you give in return?
When we’re doing the looking, we often want someone who is loyal, reliable, kind, and trustworthy. Can we be this kind of friend for another?
Once you have your answer, you’ll know if the next person you meet is Samwise-material or not.
For that matter, you can also start evaluating your current friends. Are there any wolves in sheep’s clothing? If so, cut them loose. Life is too short to spend time with people you can’t trust.
2. Live in hard truth.
Living in hard truth doesn’t mean that you go around telling people you hate them (or detailing exactly why); that’s just cruelty.
It also doesn’t mean walking around with your heart on your sleeve, completely open to others in a bid to secure their friendship. That only gives people the power to hurt you.
What living in hard truth requires is for you to get clear on your true needs and boundaries. And stick to them.
It calls you to be honest with yourself because ignorance is not bliss.
So, if you get an invite to Disneyland and you can’t afford it, you decline the invite and say you can’t afford it. Not that you’re busy. Not that you’re not a Disney fan. The truth: You’d love to go, but it’s not affordable at this time.
This kind of honesty gives the people around you a chance to show if they’re really on your side. Will they keep forcing you to go even once you’ve said no? Will they now stay away from you because they think you’re poor?
The truth, after all, isn’t always comfortable. Honesty isn’t always welcome.
But if you want to attract a friend who is loyal, reliable, dependable, loving, authentic, honest, and trustworthy, you need to commit to living your truth.
3. Listen to the third voice.
You’re trying to console a friend after she got upset with someone else.
Her anger is an explosion, and it’s making you uneasy. It’s like she’s forgotten all the good things she shared with this other person.
Would she do the same to you?
Between that space of speaking and listening, you hear another voice – a third voice – that warns you: She’ll be exactly like this when you have a fight.
You shake your head. Surely not. You’re good friends, after all.
Eight months later, you have your first fight. And that voice was proven right.
That third voice is the voice within – your intuition. And you need to listen to it. The more you pay attention, the louder it gets. And it can get pretty loud.
So, if a friend is saying the right words or even doing the right things, but there’s this nagging doubt you can’t quite explain, pay attention.
That’s your intuition saying, “This is all an act. Tread with caution.”
The problem is that our brain interferes. Your intuition could very well be screaming that something is wrong, but your brain might be saying, “Oh, but she seems so nice. That can’t be right.”
If there’s a disconnect between what your brain and your gut are saying, go with your gut. It’s never wrong.
So, if your intuition is screaming for you to sever a friendship because something’s off, listen.
Never be Lied to Again: Advanced Lie Detection Course
4. Dispense trust like salt.
Trust is an essential ingredient in human relationships – but dispense it sparingly.
Just because someone you’ve just met seems nice, that doesn’t mean you get to tell them your deepest, darkest secrets right off the bat. Wearing your heart on your sleeve in this way is a recipe for disaster.
When you meet someone new, you want to vet them first because you need to know if you can trust this person. Are they Sam or Judas? You need to know. This is especially important if your secrets can leave you vulnerable.
So, don’t be blind if something feels off in your relationships. Keep an eye out for sudden red flags, and if your intuition tells you something, pay attention.
That said, expect the good. Cultivate a glass-half-full mentality. Don’t approach a possible friendship believing that the other person is out to get you. Maybe they’re just nervous. Or, maybe they do want to be a friend, but they’re not good with social interactions. According to Vanessa Van Edwards of The Science of People, it’s easier to spot fake people if you’re expecting the good. For more information, check out the video below:
5. Learn to let go.
It feels just like when you broke up with your high school boyfriend.
Except way worse.
Your best friend moved to the other side of the world a year ago. You took her to the airport. Both of you cried until you looked like raccoons, your faces streaked with black mascara.
You phoned each other every day for a week. Then she met a guy. You started your new job.
Those phone calls dropped to once a week, then once a month. And now, six months later, your daily calls had dwindled to occasional texting.
This friend has been with you since you first met in kindergarten. You went through so much together. She held you close as you sobbed your heart out after you failed math, and again after you got fired from a job you loved. You temporarily moved in with her when she had a panic attack during her parents’ divorce and when her fiancè left her days before her wedding.
And now, because of various reasons, it feels like your friendship is over.
Sadly, some friendships aren’t meant to be forever.
People change. Things change. Life throws you curveballs, and you don’t have a choice but to roll with it.
In these instances, you need to let go.
I read this quote on Facebook just a few days ago, “Sometimes you will have to make a decision that will hurt your heart but heal your soul.”
Ending old friendships that no longer serve you is like breaking up with your high school boyfriend. It will hurt your heart. But if you keep holding on, trying to make it work (and especially, if you’re the only one trying to make it work!), it will continue to hurt.
To heal your soul, you need to move forward, and moving forward requires you to release your tether to the past.
Once you do, you can make space for new friends. Maybe this time, they’ll stay forever. Maybe they won’t. You won’t know.
But it’s not really about forever, is it? It’s about the journey. And if, in the journey you take together, you are the best friends you can be to each other, then you’ll remain friends no matter where life takes you.
Remember, even Frodo left Sam at the end of their story. And even though Frodo went where Sam couldn’t follow, they remained friends. Sometimes that’s all that matters in the end.
Becoming the friend you seek
Now that you’ve learned about the five ways you can make and keep genuine friends, it’s time to start building those meaningful connections.
Reflect on the current friendships you have and the ones you’d like to build.
Take a deep breath and put yourself out there.
Be honest with yourself and others.
Expect the good in everyone.
Trust your instincts.
Soon enough, you’ll find your very own Samwise Gamgee to share life’s adventures with. And when you do, remember that every great friendship requires effort from both sides. Be the friend you want to have, and watch as your connections grow stronger and deeper than ever before.
Remember, the journey might be challenging, but the reward – a true, loyal friend – is priceless.
You’ve got this.
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