You know how cats make friends? They rub up against you and mark you with the scent glands in their cheeks. At least, that’s what my daughter tells me. It’s a way of “claiming” you as their property, just like when a male cat pees to mark their territory. It’s now theirs and other cats should know to stay off their property! It’s the kind of behavior that makes me cringe when I see it in my own circle of friends.
What This Can Teach Us About Human Friendships
People can be equally as neurotic with friendships, I’ve noticed, particularly when it’s a male/female friendship. You can even see some of those dynamics online, where people try to associate with particular friends so that some of their glamor rubs off on them. There’s nothing wrong with that, but making friends online may be easy to start, but not so easy to maintain. You have to nurture both your offline as well as your online friendships to bring more relationship wealth into your life. You should never be a passive participant in any relationship, if you want it to be mutually satisfying. And, you want to behave in ways that show you appreciate the friendship, without being overly possessive of it too.
Here are some ways to establish a good mutual reciprocity in friendships, both online and off:
- Do give tit for tat – I’m sorry but one-way relationships are draining, both in virtual reality as well as physical reality. If someone comments on your blog, be nice and comment on theirs too. If someone invites you to a social event, try to include them in your list of social events too.
- Earn their trust – If you start out by sending too many Facebook pokes or flowers before you’ve even gotten to know them, it can make people suspicious. Start by reading their blog, their profile, or whatever else is important to them in their lives. It helps you build your appreciation of who they are and can help you relate to them on a deeper level.
- Interact – Do ask questions, make helpful comments, and contribute to the conversation, however, don’t dominate the interaction. There’s a fine line between an admirer and a stalker.
- Give it time – All good friendships take time to develop. If you really start to connect with someone, it will develop naturally as you continue to interact with them. However, if you’ve given it several months and the reciprocity fails, well it may be they ‘just aren’t that into you’ as a friend. Time to nurture other friendships that are more mutually satisfying. It may be your absence makes them realize what they took for granted.
- Establish good boundaries – Let’s face it, this is particularly important with male/female relationships. If you find someone making assumptions about the relationship, propositioning you, or just making you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to let them know that’s not your cup of tea. If they persist, you can always end the friendship. This is even trickier if there appears to be a good reason to violate the boundary, don’t fall for it. Good fences make good neighbors.
- Network your friends – Does one friend seem like a good contact for another? Network them at a sit down dinner together, or using online tools. Facebook even has an application called “IntroduceMe” that can help make that easier. Maybe you know that one friend is looking for a job and you know of another friend who is a headhunter or does professional resumes. Hook them up!
There are probably more points that could be added. Do you have anything that makes you cringe about online or offline friendships? How do you know when a friend is a keeper or not?