A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out
That says it all really – In the modern sense, friends have become just as important as the family; they support you when times are hard and they celebrate with you when times are great. If you need something, your friends may be the first people you turn too – just like a family, but a family that you can choose. When you throw in the stresses and strains of the modern lifestyle, with those symptomatic of living in a fast-paced, and very often lonely, city like London, needing that support becomes increasingly important – especially if you are new to London or from elsewhere, and therefore, there’s no family to turn in times of need. On the other hand, you may already have made friends in London, but how do you know they are good – will they help you in your time of need? You certainly can’t have a blasé attitude about choosing your friends in London – they can affect you mood, your decisions and ultimately your quality of life. Choosing your friends is like choosing a partner, in many cases the relationship may be just as intimate and probably last a great deal longer.
Work out what you want and need in a friend
There are many different types of friend; the first thing you need to work out is what does friendship mean to you and what exactly it is you need in a friend, for example, do you need a friend who is a good listener, a friend who is strong and motivational, a friend is who only around occasionally or a friend who is constantly there, a friend who is sporty, artistic, a friend who shares the same music taste as you? – The list goes on; knowing what you need from your friends from the outset will save you time, hassle and tears.
You don’t have to agree on everything
They do say opposites attract – a little bit of disagreement between friends is healthy, for instance you could have differing tastes in music, film or indeed anything – the beauty is it forces you question your taste, opinions, valuesand makes you think differently, thus expanding your mind and opportunities. However, everyone has a limit; you need to work out what’s important for example, you could be religious and your potential new friend is an atheist – would this be a problem? If it is then you need to move on and find friendship elsewhere. It’s all about finding a level of agreement.
Do they really care?
The next thing you need to look for is compassion – do they or will they genuinely care for your compassion? It’s easy to tell – when you call or meet do they spend ages going on about themselves? When you talk, do they look bored or fidgety and are waiting until it their turn to talk? This is a good indicator as to whether they will ‘be there for you’ in the future. If this happens to you, do not discount this type of person, they could be great for occasional meetings but maybe not the person you’d necessarily turn to for support or comforting. Also, you should be totally at ease when you are around a friend, if you don’t feel right around someone the chances are they will not make a good close friend for you.
Avoid unhealthy friendships
As with any relationship, friends can be, and/or go ‘bad’; they can inhibit you from moving on from ‘a bad place’ or even from making good friends – your friends say a lot about you. If you realise a friendship is unhealthy the problem is ending it, which can prove as problematic as ending a romantic relationship, it’s much better to spot a potential ‘bad’ friend before you let them in. Firstly, consider the environment where you meet or how you meet potential friends; for instance, you could meet someone in a scuzzy bar or on a dating site – may be an indicator of the type of person you’ve just met is like deep down.
When you meet people look for the hints; how do they react around their other friends? Are they needy, obsessive, aggressive, or manipulative? Do you suspect them of being a borderline sociopath? If you are unsure either walk away or do not open up.
The ideal friend is:
A good listener
Someone you can trust
You also need to feel totally at ease around them and you need to see a future for the friendship. Of course, you may not get all this in one person – you need to find out which qualities are important to you and which you can forgo.
Different types of friends
These are people who know, maybe from university, work or from one of your hobbies, with whom you sometimes socialise, outside of that environment, but you have not yet become real ‘friends’ per se. This type of friend is great to be around when you want a laugh but you can’t, necessarily, share any deep feelings with and you can’t always rely on them to be ready for you when you need them. That is not to say they won’t take it to the next level with you.
This type usually comprises acquaintances and/or people we meet online. Generally, we never end up meeting internet friends, so be careful not to invest too much time into a virtual relationship that may never become ‘actual’. Internet friends however are great for casual chats and playing internet games with. They are also great for flirting with and paying you a bit of attention when you need it.
Nevertheless, using the internet can be a fantastic way to screen potential new friends in London – you can work out shared values from viewing a profile, see comments left by other friends and comments to other fiends, allowing you to see how they are with their friends etc.
Friends of friends
Once you have made one friend in London they should introduce you to a whole new group of people – their friends can become your friends. You can ask your friend what they are like, instantly finding out if you have common ground and whether they would make a good friend for you – remember though, just because your friend gets on with them doesn’t always mean you will.
“My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.” – Henry Ford
And they are the person who would drop anything for you and you for them; they are like a sibling to you, only one which you’ve chosen and without the baggage.