In a society where loneliness is on the rise and technology can sometimes hinder authentic human interaction, the importance of friendships needs to be shouted about more. But how do you improve friendships, or build one, in a way that doesn’t feel forced in amongst the busyness of life? Well this great tip should help us as we pursue real and worthwhile friendships.  

Do you ever have one of those eureka moments?

Where you pause and think that is genius and yet so simple?

Those times when you think you kind of knew that already, but could never put it into words?

Well, one of these moments happened to me when I was chatting with a friend recently. We were talking about work. He asked me how Naked Truth Relationships was going, and then I asked him about this relatively new job.

He was talking about how he is trying to make the team more social. Like getting them to go out somewhere as a group away from the office; e.g. going out for drinks after work sometimes, or going for a walk, or playing sports together, etc.

Context Over Time 

He’s always been good at doing things like this and trying to foster relationships. But he was emphasising the need for different contexts. I was intrigued, so asked him why this was important.

He said he remembered reading this theory which stated that if you want to build a friendship, you do need to spend time together, but that isn’t enough. You also need to hang out in different contexts as well.

In a new environment, the strength of your relationships doubles

According to this theory, just by spending time with someone in a new environment, the strength of your relationships doubles. So while spending time with someone increases the strength of your relationship, experiencing a different context together multiplies it.

Therefore, spending time with people at work and then going out for drinks all the time, isn’t as beneficial as spending time together at work, going out for drinks, doing team-building exercises together, sharing a meal in each other’s homes, playing sports together, etc.

Applying Simplicity  

It’s strange because this is something we probably realise already. Our close friends are people we see in lots of different contexts, not just in one place. We already know it’s true, but probably wouldn’t have said that or explained it like that before now. (Read What A Fishing Proverb Taught Me About Relationships)

This is why, for example, just going out on dinner dates isn’t a good way to get to know someone. Doing something like a dance class, going on a hike, visiting a museum, spending time with each other’s friends, means we truly get to know someone.

Just spending more time after the service together feels a bit forced

Another example is taken from church. Lots of churches now (like many have always done) emphasise community. The need to build relationships and be family. To build authentic friendships. (Read I Wouldn’t Have Survived Without My Church Family)

Yet we live busy lives and we feel like just spending more time after the service together feels a bit forced and a bit awkward.

But we can follow this new theory. We can arrange a social at the church, or arrange to meet up outside the church, do an activity, go visit somewhere else, spend time with each other’s families, in each other’s homes. Just by changing the context, we experience a different bit of each other.

Imagine If…

Obviously, this isn’t foolproof. There will still be people we will not fully ‘click with’ because of different personalities or whatever. And obviously, the more time you spend with a friend the closer you become. But carving out time is hard sometimes.

Friendships are so important but often forgotten

Imagine if we weren’t put off from investing in people because of time pressure, but rather put the effort into trying new things or activities in order to gain shared experiences and see each other in a new light.

Friendships are so important but often forgotten. This theory from my friend revealed how we can all build better friendships and a real community. (Read How To Tell If Our Relationships Are Thriving)

What is the best advice you’ve ever heard for building friendships? Comments welcomed below.

Originally posted 16/7/2018