Interpersonal relationships are complex processes, even if we do not realize it when we are involved in them.

Before the bond of friendship is fully established, an unconscious selection process occurs that focuses on the things we have in common with other people, which is what is known as “compatibility”.

In this article we are going to review a little bit how we can go from the unconscious to the conscious regarding the choice of our friends. In other words, we will see how to choose our friends better , so that we can avoid disappointment in the future when we realize that those we thought were our friends were not really our friends.

Why is it important to know how to choose friends?

It is important to know how best to choose friends, since they represent a fundamental part of life and it is in social groups where we develop in several aspects very relevant to our identity. In friendship circles we have the opportunity to live with people who, despite being different, show coincidences that make the emotional bond possible .

In order to be able to opt for an adequate development of the personality, it is necessary to experience what it is like to have a group of friends with whom to relate frequently. For this to be not only a pleasant but also a constructive experience, it is necessary to know how to choose correctly which groups we relate to.

If we have a tendency to relate to people who have dysfunctional lifestyles, we will eventually have some problems similar to those of our friends. This is because socially learned behaviours are not conscious , and we end up acting as our social reference group.

Whether or not we approve of the way our group of friends behave, if we spend too much time with them we will end up replicating inappropriate behavior. That is why it is advisable to be clear about our principles and values, and when starting new friendships, make sure we share the same values and styles of prosocial behaviour .

In conclusion, it is important to choose friends correctly in order to maintain an adequate development of social behavior, within the social norms, and also to avoid the frustration that comes after realizing that the friendships we had chosen really do not suit us.

How to Choose Friends Better

Now let’s look at some tips that will be useful when choosing our friends.

1. There must be sympathy

No friendship is capable of functioning properly without sympathy. Even if we have many things in common with the other person , if we don’t feel that the other subject pleases us, there’s no way we can establish a solid friendship, and it’s not worth forcing the issue.

2. Talk about your interests

A good way to get people with common interests to be our friends is to make a habit of mentioning our hobbies and interests in the small talk we usually have with anyone. We never know when we might run into someone who has things in common .

3. Frequent different places regularly

When we make a habit of frequenting the same places on a recurring basis, it is quite likely that we will meet people who do the same thing, regardless of the reason that leads them to that place. Sometimes, the limitation in terms of the social contexts we are exposed to means that we do not have many social relationships to choose from, which increases the chances of accepting almost anyone as a friend. The best thing is to vary, to have the opportunity to meet new people ; gym, library, parks, etc.

4. Tolerance must exist

Tolerance should be reciprocal , taking into account that despite all the things in common you and your friends may have, there will always be differences within the bond of friendship. These differences should be handled in the best possible way, within an environment of respect for each other’s ideas.

5. Notice how people treat others

Sometimes the fact that an individual treats us well does not mean that he is a good person. To avoid making a bad decision in letting someone into our lives, it is important to look at how he treats others, and to draw conclusions .

6. Initiates controversial conversations

Controversial and controversial topics function as a gauge of tolerance as to the quality of friendship that others can offer us. If when you deal with sensitive or controversial topics the other person feels uncomfortable or reacts with a defensive attitude, he or she may not be as tolerant as you would expect.

Be sure not to bring up controversial topics that talk about problems your friend has personally experienced in the past, since irritability about these topics may only be due to traumatic experiences and anxiety generated by the concepts discussed.

7. Check if she likes spending time with you

In many cases people are only interested in our friendship to obtain some specific benefit and then leave our lives, which need not be negative as long as people know how to express their intentions honestly. Otherwise, it is preferable to avoid people who approach us only for favors.

The ideal is to check if your new friends have time for you from time to time, or if on the contrary whenever you invite them somewhere they have an excuse. Not investing time in you and being present only to receive some kind of benefit is a warning sign; then it’s a good idea to start questioning whether there really is a friendship.

Bibliographic references:

  • Kassin, S., Fein, S., and Markus, H.R. (2017). Social psychology. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.
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  • Vanman, E.J., Paul, B. Y., Ito, T.A. and Miller, N. (1997). The Modem Face of Prejudice and Structural Features That Moderate the Effect of Cooperation on Affect. Journal of Personal and Social Psychology, 73(5), pp. 994 – 959.