Friends. Friends? Friends!

So I get asked about this with some frequency, so let’s address it: How do friends? Let me tell you some ways to friends. We’re gonna start with making the friends, then move on to keeping the friends. Acquisition, upkeep. Feel me? That’s the plan.

Number the One: Cai, how do I make some friends?
1.1: Fucking talk to people.
If you want to become someone’s friend, the first productive step you’re gonna take is establishing communication. Speak, sign, type, text, perform semaphore, whatever it is that you do to make the ideas in your brain exit your body and enter the brain of the person with whom you want to communicate, please initiate that behavior at your earliest convenience.

“But, Cai!” you screedle, throwing your arms around like a fool. “Talking to people is hard! I’m a freak and they’re normal, surely it’s damned from the start and I shouldn’t even try!”

Shut up, Anxiety Strawman, it’s my time to talk. Here’s a lifehack: Hold yourself to the same standards you hold others, and assume other people are just other people and not weird monoliths to be worshiped and feared from afar. That cute guy whose Insta feed you’re having trouble posting a comment on has probably peed his pants in a public place at least twice. We were all kindergartners once, it’s just statistically likely. Everybody’s fucked up, everybody wants to impress new acquaintances, everybody has baggage, and everybody looks six degrees shittier when they first get up in the morning. Fucking talk to people. If somebody’s a dildo to you and acts like you’re a weirdo just for saying hey, maybe they’re the jerk and you should cease friend-making behaviors immediately.

1.2: Say yes to stuff.
This is practically general life advice. In general, accept more invitations. Do you wanna go to the mall with your new proto-friend on this Friday afternoon wherein you have fucking nothing going on otherwise? Do you wanna go see a movie just to see a movie and eat Del Taco after? Do you wanna jump on this Skype group call and say hey to other people this person knows? You sure the Hell do, because building your social bonds beats Minecraft a solid half the time. Don’t trip yourself up overthinking shit, either. If they invited you, they wanna go with you. Go. Do the thing. You don’t have to do all the things, but do substantially more things.

1.3: Be you. Like, the good you.
Or: Don’t hide shit that doesn’t matter and project an invented Cool Persona, that’s weird and not a thing adults should do. My valuable budding friendships have never been ruined by people finding out I’m obsessed with Power Rangers. The majority of people either don’t care, find it charmingly strange, or give me minimal ribbing I’m expected to return about their weird obsessions. People worth being friends with don’t care if you play Magic: The Gathering, or listen exclusively to The Eagles, or don’t know what sucking dick is like. For one, it’s generally irrelevant to your friendship and won’t come up, and for two, shit like that doesn’t determine whether or not you’re a fun and supportive person to hang out with. Be yourself, wear your charming eccentricities tastefully on your lapel.

This is not free license to release your inner shitheel. You can’t just go around acting nasty and ugly just because that’s how you happen to feel today. That, again, is weird and not a thing that adults should do. Yes, you have to do stuff like act contrary to how you really feel when shit’s not going your way, because guess what? Shit not going your way is temporary, and it’s not your place to be a Bad Day Plague Rat and ruin everybody else’s good time. And when you do, you gotta apologize. Be you, but be good you. You’re not in deep enough to get away with bad you yet.

Number the Two: Cai, I was a decent person who interacted with other humans for a few weeks and now I have at least one friend. How do I keep them from abandoning me?
2.1: Never forget your friend’s time is important.
So, while we’ve established that if somebody invites you to do something they definitely want to be around you. Same goes for their accepting your invitations. You just gotta assume that’s the case and not overthink shit like socializing is some twisted cosmic game of Fuck You Chess. But! Keep in mind that, while they’ve chosen to chill with you now, they could be doing pretty much anything else. That’s not to devalue you as a person, it’s to reiterate the value of everyone’s limited time on this goddamn Earth.

Very few people want to sink their time into listening to you turbo-puke negativity about shit that doesn’t affect them, or trying to tease an answer about where you’re gonna go out to eat out of your indecisive, people-pleasing, no-really-whatever-you-want-is-fine brain. Nobody goddamn wants that. Chill out efficiently. Sit-n-bitch sessions are to be scheduled and reciprocal, not spontaneous and unilateral. If somebody asks where you wanna eat, and you don’t know where you wanna eat, just name a place that’s close and go and have fun. That’s it. Efficiency.

Side note: Devaluing yourself in the presence of your friend is poor form because it implies they don’t know how to pick friends or properly allocate their time. They obviously chose to hang out with you, so you’re doing good in their book. Let that uplift you a little bit. You’re beautiful.

2.2: Don’t make being your friend a failure-only job.
I don’t know how widespread this term is, so I’ll define it briefly: A failure-only job refers to a position in which no one acknowledges your effort or achievements, you only ever hear from higher-ups when you slip up, and you feel like a chronic failure as a result. It’s bullshit, and it’s a pattern of behavior that strangles a lot of friendships.

I think we’ve all been in relationships where we didn’t feel valued. Where we only ever hear (sometimes over and over) about the times we forget something, or misstep, or fail to deliver on a promise, or don’t have enough time to hang out. We don’t experience the cumulative results of all the times we lent them ten dollars, or picked them up from some place, or stayed up entirely too late just running our mouths over Skype because we were having a good time and didn’t mind going into work a little zombified the next morning. That is draining. Don’t do that to people.

2.3: Make peace with the number of friends you have.
Look, I’m about to be really real with you right now and you have to hold it together. Aight?

In terms of sheer numbers, like, adjusted for how many people there are on Earth and how many people you’ve interacted with over the course of your life, you have very, very, very few friends. So do I, so does just about everybody, and that’s not weird or freaky or pathetic. It’s why pretty much everybody freaks out a little bit when they have to move far away: Real Friends are hard-won and precious, and the prospect of doing all that crap I just outlined above all over again is daunting as shit.

Why’s this in the ‘keep your friends,’ section of the post? Well, consider the possibility that nobody’s going to like hanging out with you and listening to you talk about how you don’t have any friends. Motherfucker, what am I? Friend lust can turn you into an asshole, so try to keep some perspective and practice gratitude with the friends you do have. It’s gonna grate on people if you treat them like your first stop on a campaign to build a friend-making empire. That’s a really weird way to think about friendship, and by weird I mean maladjusted, not uncommon. Plenty of people think like that way because insecurity is a Hell of a drug.

Soooo, that’s it! Some advice on making and retaining friends that I hadn’t seen repeated all over creation yet. I hope it’s helpful, and if it’s not, I hope you laughed at all the times I said swears. Bye!