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Building Community:

Developing Genuine Friendships

--Adam Maisen, LPC-S/TA

· Communication,Genuineness

In my last post, Get Real: A Call for Genuineness, I began addressing the reality that many people have a hard time making genuine connections with other people. I offered some practical thoughts on ways to begin going deeper with others. Today, I want to do some follow-up.

Let me start by acknowledging that our ideas about how genuine we want to be with others are largely influenced by our past personal experiences. There are many reasons a person would not want to develop a deep relationship with others: emotional injury, lack of familiarity, personal timidity, or lack of time.

However as I mentioned before, people were always meant to be communal. Therefore, if we want to really connect with others in a meaningful way, we need to be intentional.

Stages of Familiarity: Building the Friendship

First Impressions Stage: You meet someone new for the first time. You exchange pleasantries such as, “It’s nice to meet you. What do you do for a living?” You try to remember their name.

Acquaintances Stage: When you have seen and communicated with the person a few times, you start to feel a low-level sense of congenial connection. At this point, you know each other’s names, and you give a friendly handshake or hello when you see the person. You may even “friend” them on social media . For some people, this is as deep as the relationship goes.

Deepening the Relationship Stage: You have established some commonality of experience or interest with the person, and you get to know some personal details about each other, such as family, likes, and dislikes. At some point in this stage, you indicate that you would like to hang out and/or stay in touch, so you develop some plan for staying connected. This can be easier and feel more natural when you plug into a group of like-minded individuals.

Moving Towards Friendship Stage: You actively make time to spend with one another. This may range from taking breaks at work together or scheduling a meal/coffee once in a while.

Deepening the Friendship Stage: You regularly connect with each other on an ongoing basis. You share important details of your life with each other. You become part of each other’s support group. You consider each other friends.

The Benefits of Genuine Connection

I have a few people in my life that I feel extremely close to. I would even go as far to say that I consider them like family. I have known some of these people for decades and others for only 2-3 years. However, with each of these deep genuine friendships, we have been intentional in spending time together frequently.

The outcomes include:

  • Feeling like I am mutually a part of something greater than myself.
  • Feeling like I am unconditionally loved and accepted.
  • Being able to provide love and acceptance for my friends.
  • Enjoyment of camaraderie.
  • Being able to mutually encourage each other to be the best possible version of ourselves.

What does it take?

  1. A willingness to be real and vulnerable with others.
  2. A willingness to trust others.
  3. A willingness to support and encourage genuineness from others.
  4. Commonality.
  5. Consistent togetherness.
  6. Intentional Communication.
  7. Time.

Thanks for reading!

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As always, I would love to hear your comments below.

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