I see a lot of people on this forum struggling to comprehend why they can't make friends, or why acquaintances don't always progress into deeper, more emotionally fulfilling relationships. And I stumbled across this portion of a Wikipedia article
and thought some people on here might find it useful. Wikipedia of course is just oh so reliable and credible
, but I found it informative enough to not warrant further Google searching. (At least not on my part.)
The Wikipedia article in question I was looking at talked about the natural progression of interpersonal relationships, and highlighted five distinct stages (which I pretty much copy-and-pasted from the original text):
1. Acquaintance and acquaintanceship
- Becoming acquainted depends on previous relationships, physical proximity, first impressions, and a variety of other factors.
If two people begin to like each other, continued interactions may lead to the next stage, but acquaintanceship can continue indefinitely.
- During this stage, people begin to trust and care about each other. The need for intimacy, compatibility and such filtering agents as common background and goals will influence whether or not interaction continues.
- This stage follows a mutual commitment to quite a strong and close long-term friendships, romantic relationship, or even marriage. It is generally a long, relative stable period. Nevertheless, continued growth and development will occur during this time. Mutual trust is important for sustaining the relationship.
- Not all relationships deteriorate, but those that do tend to show signs of trouble.
Boredom, resentment, and dissatisfaction may occur, and individuals may communicate less and avoid self-disclosure. Loss of trust and betrayals may take place as the downward spiral continues, eventually ending the relationship. (Alternately, the participants may find some way to resolve the problems and reestablish trust and belief in others.)
- The final stage marks the end of the relationship, either by breakups, death, or by spatial separation for quite some time and severing all existing ties of either friendship or romantic love.
Some social skills that determine the longevity of our interactions with others are:
* Verbal communication
- What we say and how we say it
* Nonverbal communication
- What we say without words; body language is an example
* Listening skills
- How we interpret both the verbal and non-verbal messages sent by others
- Working with others to find a mutually agreeable outcome
* Problem solving
- Working with others to identify, define and solve problems
* Decision making
- Exploring and analyzing options to make sound decisions
- Communicating our values, ideas, beliefs, opinions, needs and wants freely
The point of this entire thread is basically that friendship isn't determined by unforeseeable factors, and that just because you might not make friends easily, it isn't a hopeless endeavor. You might be giving off nonverbal vibes that you aren't interested in communicating, or have difficulty stepping out of your comfort zone. You might just simply not be surrounded by people that share common interests, which is what perpetuates your sense of loneliness and isolation. A variety of obstacles can come into play here, some of which might have nothing to do with your ability to socialize. Whatever the case, if you struggle to connect with others odds are it's due to either environmental or internal factors, and with time and effort most of them can be worked through -- naturally beginning with introspection and self-awareness.
Acquiring and sustaining friendship, of course, comes with its own challenges even for those who don't deal with any degree of social phobia. Unfortunately, no interaction with another human being is guaranteed to result in a fulfilling, emotionally close relationship -- many get stuck in the acquaintanceship
phase -- but that's not necessarily a bad thing. You're not interested in getting to know everyone you speak to, right? So try not to take it too personally when it happens to you. There are always other fish in the sea. (That's one of the most overused, eye-roll-inducing phrases ever. Run me over with a car.)
Congrats, by the way, if you managed to get through this entire post without closing the tab. I tried to avoid making everything a gigantic wall of text so hopefully this is at least somewhat readable. I definitely didn't cover everything, but hopefully some of you learned something in the process anyway.