By: Gloria Scuccimarri
As humans, we are gifted with emotional and cognitive intelligence. These fascinating abilities come with the desire to interact with other humans. Going out with a group of friends is always a good time, and when you’re feeling down, it is often comforting to know you have a shoulder to lean on. Making friends doesn’t happen overnight, though. It can sometimes take time to come across someone who gets you, and when you do, maintaining this friendship may be harder than it was to find. True and successful long-term friendships develop over time - and seem to follow a particular pattern. I have had many ‘best friends’. Some of which lasted only the span of the summer break, others I never spoke to again after high school. Luckily, the best ones have been around for years. My experiences have led me to believe that if you and your closest companions go through these four steps, your connection is sure to last a lifetime.
First, is the dreadful yet inevitable awkward stage. The length of this stage may vary from person to person. Fortunately for some, relationships can develop very quickly. This is especially true when friends share common interests or goals. However, all friends begin as strangers, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t always think of something to talk about, or if your first few times hanging out don’t go as planned. I promise - it gets better! Eventually any embarrassing or uncomfortable incidents you may come across will end up being funny stories you later laugh about. It is completely normal to question yourself, especially when trying to make a good first impression. You may get anxiety before going out, and simple things like deciding where to hang out or what to do can end up being stressful. My advice is to be confident and try to have fun; if you two are a good match, everything else will come naturally. Awkward moments are normal when getting to know someone. Don’t stress, more often than not your potential BFF is just as nervous as you.
From this point, your friendship may progress to stage 2 - The trust stage. This is essential and really deepens a relationship. Trust develops once you begin to open up to someone. You also might make it a point to memorize their birthday and favourite colour. You may want to discuss things like their family life, and interests. As you and your new friend have more conversations and create more memories your relationship will naturally strengthen. You get to learn more about the type of person they are, and vice versa. During this stage you may also start to understand why you were initially drawn to the individual, and how your personalities may compliment each other.
Next, the BFF stage. If you are unfamiliar with this term, it stands for best friends forever. After you have decided that you enjoy and would like to continue spending time with this person, you rarely leave their side. Once you become truly comfortable with your friend you may feel incomplete without them. This tends to occur after you declare that you are in fact ‘best friends’. You become extremely attached to each other and may hang out on a daily basis. Other people may suggest that you are inseparable. I find that by now, every plan you make probably includes your BFF. You are probably even talking about things you want to do together in the future, near or far, with no doubt that you will still be closer than ever. Those awkward silences you once tried to fill with questions are no longer awkward, and you start to appreciate the other person for who they are. You display a genuine interest in each other. Either way, this doesn’t last forever because friends typically start to hang out less as life gets in the way. But remember this is totally normal as other responsibilities occur. Usually, this stage of the friendship is the most fun and determines if your bond is truly unbreakable, as you transition into the fourth and final stage.
The final stage consists of unconditional love and loyalty. Just like the others this one may take some time, but will come naturally after you and your best friend create countless memories. Being honest and loving towards your friends can speed up the process. Things such as keeping their secrets, standing up for one another, and showing compassion, will show your friend that you are committed to your relationship, and that you have their back no matter what. If you and your BFF can make it to this stage, congratulations, you will most likely keep in touch for a very long time. This is because you have stayed consistent and reliable. You know that you can depend on one another and that is a very important trait in a friend. You may not see each other every day, but every time you talk it feels as if nothing has changed. This is when you will know that you have reached the final stage, and from here you can assume that you have created a life long friend.
Friends make life more exciting and are also great when in need of support. Over all, humans perform the best when feeling accepted by others. When actively looking for friends it is important to understand the stages of friendship. Understanding what makes each step significant and important to the creation of the relationship can help you develop and maintain great connections from the start.