Back in kindergarten, things were pretty simple. Whoever was willing to share their crayons and run around the playground with you at recess was your friend. As you get older, things tend to get a little more complicated. Moving to a new city, being away from family, and not being in school can make solid friendships harder to come by. Our team has been getting questions on this topic, so we thought we’d answer them in a blogpost.
Now you might be thinking, “Wait, isn’t this a website about healthy sexuality? Why are we talking about making friends?” Building solid friendships and having community around you is actually part of heathy sexuality. People often think their sex drive is out of control when they’re really just looking for a way to fill their needs for intimacy, comfort, and connection. Sex is one way to meet these needs, but it’s not the only way, and it’s definitely not the best way outside of marriage. Even inside of marriage, it’s important to have friends and community besides your spouse.
So here are seven ways to build healthy friendships:
1. Form a genuine interest in people.
Have you ever heard that saying, “No one cares what you know until they know that you care”? It’s true. A lot of times people make the mistake of thinking they need to find a way to make themselves really interesting. Then people will notice and want to form friendships with them. This may have some degree of truth to it, but what quality friendship really takes is forming a genuine interest in other people. Listen to their stories, ask questions, and find ways to relate and form connection.
2. Ask questions.
This was already mentioned, but part of showing an interest in people is asking questions. Asking questions sets people at ease and gives them a topic of conversation they are knowledgeable about- themselves! When you ask questions, you start to uncover things you have in common, which creates connection. C.S. Lewis said it well: “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “Wait! You too? I thought I was the only one!”
3. Be in it for what you can give.
If you enter a friendship, or any relationship for that matter, for what you can get out of it, you will probably end up disappointed somewhere along the way. Enter into friendships for what you can give instead. Ask yourself how you can benefit the people around you. How can you love them well?
4. Initiate hang-outs and be patient.
It’s always nice to have someone else initiate, but sometimes you’ve got to be the one to take this step. Remember when you start to hang out with someone, you don’t have to be BFF’s right off the bat. This might sound silly, but creating friendships can be somewhat like dating. When you’re first getting to know someone, you might not be ready for a 6-hour movie marathon in your sweatpants. You may need to ease into things. Friendships aren’t built overnight, they come from having shared experiences over time. Keep it light, have fun, have good conversations, and soon enough you’ll be saying, “Remember that one time…?”
5. Don’t force it.
Also similar to dating, don’t force a friendship. You may have just moved to a new town and be feeling desperate for friends, but resist the urge to force yourself to be friends with the first three people you meet. Sometimes it just takes a little time before you meet a friend you click with and love to hang out with. Just wait- it’ll happen. The people you surround yourself with are important, which brings us to the next point.
6. Surround yourself with people you want to be like.
Proverbs 12:26 says, “The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” We often become like the people we surround ourselves with. Choose to be friends with people you admire and respect. Choose people you wouldn’t mind turning out like. The more time you spend with them, the more you’ll notice their qualities or mannerisms showing up in yourself.
7. Learn to stick by people.
We live in an age of many options. If we don’t like our church, city, job, phone, or show we’re watching on Netflix, we can just hop on over to the next one. This can happen with friends sometimes as well. Maybe you have a disagreement. Maybe they did something that offended you. The easy option would be to hop on over to the next friend. We want to challenge you to work things out instead. Jesus doesn’t leave us the moment we have a disagreement. We should try following His lead.
So whether you love having a lot of friends in your life or just a few really great ones, surrounding yourself with good people is important. At the end of your life, you probably won’t be wishing you’d made more money or focused more on your career. You’ll probably be thinking about the people you spent it with, the people who are important to you. Make time to invest in people and build community. It’s worth it.