Psychologists have studied friendships and have broken down the reasons that we make new friends into 6 criteria, where 1 or a combination of these criteria are apparent in the forming of a new friendship.
Proximity is where 2 people become friends because they are in a closed environment together. For instance as children we may be continually grouped with another child because of our geographical location (eg next door neighbour), or because our parents spend a lot of time together, or maybe as adults, if we share an office together. Of course Proximity can lead to problems if there is a power struggle in the relationship, or if the relationship is not mutual and even too close proximity can break a previous friendship (eg if 2 friends move into a house together).
Reciprocity is where 2 people become friends because it is mutually beneficial for them to become friends. To reciprocate is to share the same feelings, or behave in the same way as someone else. An example could be in the workplace, where 2 people have the same view, they could become friends because they feel mutual support for each others ideas, therefore they behave in a similar fashion.
Association / Projection is when one person wants to become friends with another because they feel they can associate with them, they can understand their feelings and again there is mutual understanding. Association is where there is actually a commonality, projection is where there isnít actually a commonality, but the friendship is formed because 1 party projects association on to the other, ie they would like to think there is association and this belief that there is allows association to be created in the other party.
Attraction between 2 people often forms friendships to enable a close bond even if a physical relationship is unlikely to follow (in the case where 1 friend feels stronger about the other friend). There can be many reasons why attraction just leads to 2 good friends, however if attraction is mutually felt, a physical relationship can often develop, often however if a plutonic friendship has blossomed the friends may want to maintain this status to avoid than chance of ruining the friendship if the relationship didnít work out. Often attraction is only part of the reason we become friends, and is often combined with one of the other criteria.
Similarity is probably the most common reason for making friends. If you remember back to childhood in the school yard, the children you often became friends with where the people you had the most in common with. Where you identify a similarity you automatically draw towards the similar person because you feel a sense of comfort. If someone is like you, psychologically you can feel more comfortable with that person, as though you can understand them better. Strategic friendships occur when it is advantageous for one person to be friends with another. Maybe one of the parties is being bullied and the strategic friendship can help this situation. Maybe in competition, making friends with your competitors can help you to improve your own game. There are many many reasons for forming strategic friendships, you will be able to think of many examples from school or in the workplace and though this sort of friendship appears false, if combined with some of the other criteria, as a secondary feature, can often lead to a strong bond between two people, whatever the initial reasons for the formation.
It can be difficult to make new friends, particularly if there are no similarities, or there is a difference in the apparent status of each party.
Often, just meeting new people or a group can be very daunting, you may feel shy or embarrassed and may feel like you donít have anything to offer the group, and so you become quiet and distant. If you feel like this, donít worry, this is very common and most people will be feeling the same as you are.
We often feel shy and nervous when we meet new people because we find ourselves outside of our comfort zone. This is why we donít experience these feelings when with people we know, because communicating with them is within our comfort zone. Spending time with old friends is wonderful and it can often be new and refreshing to make new friends and understand the diversities of the human personality.
If you struggle to meet new friends and feel you lack the confidence to push yourself in new relationships, why not take our confidence test and see how we can help you develop the confidence to tackle new situations.
Overall you need to trust the people you are friends with and if they are real friends then they will respect and trust you too.
It is important that you feel an equal part of any friendship, otherwise the Ďfriendshipí can actually become destructive to your own confidence level.
Look at the friendships you have and think about the benefits you get from each. You will often find that you get very different feelings from each, and in turn you will offer your friends different contributions to the friendship, depending on the particular relationship you have.
In strong and healthy friendships there is a level of mutual respect, you can have a disagreement without fear of losing a friend, and if you do end up losing a friend simply because you said no, or didnít agree with them, then they do not respect you and therefore they are not a true friend. When you do disagree and accept each others points of view, it doesnít mean one of you is compromising, it simply means you agree to disagree and move on.
The term Peer Pressure is used when someone else (the peer) pressures you into doing something that deep down you do not want to do. Examples could be pressuring you into using drugs or alcohol. Remember, if the friend really was a friend then they would respect your right to say NO Ė saying NO is the best option for you and by doing so you could maybe then begin to help your friend understand the problems they may face getting involved with drugs.
If you or your friends have been using drugs, we can recommend a website that you can visit for more information, help and advice www.TalktoFrank.com or call 0800 776600
When you are in a group of friends and you are being left out because you wonít conform, be it due to peer pressure or for other reasons, such as because of the music you like or the clothes that you wear you need to stop and realise that these people arenít your true friends. This can be a very difficult thing to do, particularly if you have been friends with these people for a long time and are concerned about having to make new friends. Essentially you are being subject to bullying.
If you are a child and you are being bullied there are many resources that you can turn to, we recommend visiting
Of course bullying is not just a child phenomenon, bullying affects many adults too. Generally in a friendship an adult can tell when bullying occurs and often has the resources to stop this, but in the work place this can be very different. Bullying at work can often be very subliminal, including hiding objects, talking behind ones back and generally making someone feel very uncomfortable. Being bullied as an adult can be very difficult to handle, particularly at work where you may feel like you are imagining things or donít want to tell tales, but you need to realise when this is happening to you, make documentary evidence and the first point of call should be to a manager who is not involved in the problems you are facing.
Having friendships will teach you about respecting others and their boundaries and knowing how far you can take a joke and when you need to be serious. Most importantly you will also learn a lot about your own boundaries and how to communicate your pleasure or discomfort to a friend with whom there is mutual respect.
If you have respect you will gain respect and your friendships will be as fulfilling for your friends as they are for you, so enjoy them.
If you are looking to meet new friends we always recommend that you attend social events where you will find new friends with similar interests to yourself, such as sporting activities. If you initially feel concerned and would prefer to use online resources to find new friends, in you area we can recommend our top three following our research into the various websites offering a service.