We’re onto the last of our slow relationships episodes, and this week is all about new friends: where to find them and how to get from barely know each other to BFF, slowly. It’s all about taking the time, being intentional and paying attention, as well as discovering the joy of spending time with people based on what’s important to you rather than the situation you find yourself in (bye awkward office/school drop off chats, hi fellow slow living friends). First up, Ben asks if, given last week’s episode about maintaining existing friendships and the time it takes, as well as the effort involved in meeting new people, do we even need any more friends? I give an emphatic yes and share some of my own story and the challenges I’ve faced around friendships. (i.e. I struggle to make them and to put myself in the position of vulnerability required to deepen them). In case you need convincing, I also highlight some of the benefits of friendships according to science, including everything from improved self-esteem to reduction in stress and depression, finding like-minded folk to while our days away with is absolutely worth the effort. And now the question is: how do we find these new friends? I talk about the importance in shifting our attitude and being open in social situations (even if that feels difficult and scary). Think about the values you’re looking for in a new pal, and find ways to put yourself into a relevant community, whether IRL or online. I’ve got some helpful strategies for the introverted among us (I feel you) and some coping mechanisms for those inevitable awkward first conversations. It’s also important to keep in mind that not all fledgling friendships will work out, and that’s OK. It’s a cheesy cliche, but I really do believe that we have friendships that will last for a short time, an important time and also a life-time, and just because a new mate doesn’t become a bestie isn’t a reflection of us or our failings. It’s just life. Here’s to more listening, more mateship and in those lucky instances of true connection – more friend love. It’s important, just like you.
Active listening is the cornerstone to developing meaningful, longer-lasting relationships.