Week 1 of Healthy Friendships: Making Friends
As humans, social interaction and connections are essential to personal growth and well being. Conversely, bad relationships may take away from these things in our lives. So this summer, we wanted to talk about healthy friendships as a way to help us all make friendships that feel safe and supportive and how we can be safe and supportive friends to others.
We posted our Healthy Friendships series across our social media throughout the month of August, targeting children and youth navigating the ebbs and flows of friendships (though adults are welcome to use the tips, too!) We focused on 4 themes over 4 weeks:
Week 1: Navigating Making New Friends
Week 1, is focused on "Making Friends". Setting a strong foundation for healthy friendships can support us throughout our lives. What does that include? Navigating boundaries, respectful communication, and seeking compatible values are all part of the mix. If you missed it, here's a summary of what we covered:
Tip #1: Look for Things in Common
Think about the kinds of friends you'd like to have. Often, we're looking for compatibility - things like similar values & beliefs or activities you enjoy doing.
Maybe they like the same video games or sports as you do? Or they are more on the quiet side & don't need to fill in all the spaces with talking? Or they match your exuberance & passion for Lego!
Interests, or the things you love to do, help us meet people. Getting together to paint, build, or just show off your cosplay outfits can be great opportunities to start a friendship.
Tip #2: Qualities in Healthy Friendships
Values can help sus out whether your potential friend will cross your boundaries or if they'll respect what you think is important. If you value honesty & they constantly lie, it's not a good match. If they are unkind to you or others, consider if that person will be a good friend for you. Beliefs are also important starting points for connection & compatibility. You don't always have to agree, but if they laugh or make fun of you for your beliefs, well, who wants a friend that makes you feel bad about yourself? Chances are that if you feel comfortable to be yourself with someone, the more likely you will have a great place to start a friendship.
Tip #3: Starting to Make Friends
It may seem daunting to start a convo with random strangers. So let's take a moment to reflect on what you might be most afraid of or why you get nervous. Chances are that it's being rejected or ignored in some way. Because we have expectations!
Remember how we started talking about things we have in common? Those create points of connection help us take that 1st step to introduce yourself without it being a big deal. Not everyone will be compatible with us. Not everyone will be the right friend for us. And that's okay. No expectations, right?
If you're doing something together like playing on the same team, introducing yourself is a natural thing to do in these situations. Or, it may make you feel more comfortable having another friend introduce you to others/a group. As you work, play, or build together, you'll find reasons to chat about what you're doing. Showing an interest in what they're doing gives you a chance to get to know them without the pressure of being friends right away.
Tip #4: Healthy Communication is Respectful Communication
Okay, you've introduced yourself and you're getting to know people without expectations. Yay you! ⭐️ Healthy communication is respectful communication & how you communicate is just as important as how they communicate. Are they welcoming, open, or friendly? Or are they kind of rude or impatient when you take an interest in what they're doing?
It's important to read communication cues & listen to what they're telling you, too. If they tell you directly that they don't want to talk, respect that. If you're getting the feeling that they don't want to talk, respect that. If you're not sure if people want to talk with you, you can ask them if it's okay to chat. Then respect their answer. It is not okay to try & make people like you or try to make them explain why they don't want to talk with you. Alternatively, if you're talking too much & not letting them get a word in edgewise, they're likely not going to feel great talking with you anymore.
Tip #5: Respecting other People's Feelings and Boundaries
As you get to know people & find compatibility, you may want to test the waters. You can ask them to come over to your house to play video games. Or check out your newest Lego set. Or whatever it is that you have in common that may be a chance to connect. If they say no, that can be hard to hear but be cool. Maybe they say they can't this time. That's okay. You can ask again another time. If they say they can't again, then let them make the invitation the next time. Maybe they're trying to say 'no' but wanting to be kind about it. Or maybe they really can't that time but now that you've asked, they might feel safe asking when they are free.
If they say yes, that's great! Now keep your excitement in check (*deep breath*) because good things take time and people go at different paces. Some people prefer to keep physical distance & maybe don’t like hugs or to be touched. Notice their behaviour & respect their wishes.
In the process of Making Friends, be kind to yourself. For some, introducing yourself is a big step, while others may feel that people don’t put forth as much effort as they do. Be patient, genuine, & keep your expectations in check & you’ll get there!