Where would we be without friendship? Being socially and emotionally connected to other people is part of what gives us purpose in life. The development of a very close friendship, one where we become best friends, is a process. One in which both parties experience a journey of discovery. While the events that unfold over this period will be different for each friendship the steps we go through are the same.
Finding a new bestie is an exciting experience, one where we learn as much about ourselves as we do our new friend. To preserve ourselves, we remember previous friendships and shape our behavior to avoid mistakes we’ve made before.
Some of us are conservative because we’ve been let down in the past but for a true friendship to thrive we must let go at some point and just be ourselves. These are the steps we take in building a beautiful best friendship
1. “Getting To Know You” Stage
When potential best friends first meet there is no rule book to say that they will immediately hit it off. In fact, I know best friends who were bitter rivals before they ever became comrades. Initially we need to take the time to get to know each other. Then, there is a chance those misguided first impressions will be replaced with a more realistic opinion.
At this point in the friendship we aren’t so comfortable with each other that we just turn up at each other’s homes without warning – we text or call in advance – and we quite possibly bring a little gift with us . But we are learning more about each other and discovering that we actually have quite a lot in common. We initiate outings or friendship dates and talk for hours about things like our families, work, your neighbor arguing at three in the morning – everyday stuff.
2. “Building Trust” Stage
This stage is crucial if this person is to ever become your best friend. This is the time during which we open up about the things in our lives which are most personal to us. The high school secrets we prefer to forget, the affair we had last year, the reason why we got kicked out of college. Everyone’s got their secrets and to make it to the best friend category you will find yourself wanting share, share, share. (On the other hand, you also should be listening).
Of course, as we pour our hearts out, we open up old wounds leaving ourselves at the mercy of our new best friend to console us. If we do a good job of consoling each other during this outpouring, we are on the way to sealing the deal on our friendship. Now, we have qualified as best buddy ever.
3. “The Adventure” Stage
Now that we are super close, it’s okay to turn up unannounced. Hell, we practically live together at this stage.
This is a time for fun and adventure. Best friends going through the adventure stage like to go out together all the time – often to the detriment of their romantic relationships. They go to dinner, the park, each other’s families, holidaying in Europe, lets not forget shopping – you name it, they’ve been there and they have the photos to prove it.
There is a great bond between the best friends now as they know each other very well and they’re making memories together everyday. They have learned to trust each other. They feel a sense of loyalty for each other and they know they have a shoulder to cry on when they need one. These are the qualities of a close friendship – one that can last the distance… or does it?
4. “The Breakdown” Stage
It has to happen eventually- someone slips up and lets the cat out of the bag on a secret – or maybe someone leaves the other in a club to find their own way home. Either way, every friendship is tested eventually when someone messes up and does something to hurt the feelings of another.
We are all human after all and sometimes we make mistakes, but when you have been let down by someone you thought you could trust, it can take some time to forgive.
This is where the friendship is truly tested – where both parties, given the time to reflect must decide whether or not they value the other person enough to try again. No doubt the offender will feel terrible and will be trying desperately to get through to the injured party. Copious amounts of texting and calling will take place until eventually the victim will soften and open discussions.
5. “The Make-Up” Stage
Before making up there must first be a re-hashing of events. This could get messy for the less mature amongst us, in some cases you may need to expect tears and tantrums. But for the more mature duo ,this will involve some over and back of “I felt hurt when you laughed at my chubby ankles, I told you I didn’t like my ankles” followed by “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings, you can laugh at my big toes if you want”.
Good communication is key here, talking and listening to each other – that way we reach a conclusion fast and can get back to being best friends again just like before. On making up, the friendship is even closer than before. We come away with a more realistic perspective on the relationship. Things may cool down a little before balance is restored finally.
Steps 4 and 5 may be repeated again throughout the lifetime of any friendship. Friendships are tested over and over because without intending to we are all capable of hurting each other. Only true best friends manage to go the distance despite this.