When you’re 5 years old, your friends are the ones that share their crayons with you.

When you’re in middle school, your friends are the ones who don’t talk behind your back.

When you’re in high school, your friends are the ones who take all the same classes as you or play on your sports teams.

When you’re in university, your friends are the ones who work on problem sets with you or are members of the same extracurricular activities. But friendships are also formed with people that you simply enjoy hanging out with, regardless of whether or not you are forced to see them every week for class or meetings. Friends play football with you in the snow at midnight. Friends eat meals with you when they have other things to do simply because they enjoy the conversation and jokes. You are friends because you like each other’s company, and any other benefits follow afterwards.

But out in the real world, I find that this type of friendship formation is more rare. Instead of starting off as a purely social interaction, most of my friendships start off with each person doing something to benefit the other. If I help you with some technology information, you will help me get all the logistics of my travel straightened out. And if this information exchange works well, then we’ll start to hang out more and discuss non-work related issues. We will form a social friendship over time.

While the order of events in these “real world” friendships makes logical sense and benefits both people, I struggle with how less focus is put on spending time with those that simply enjoy your company. Sure, maybe those that you’re helping will turn into people that you also really enjoy spending time with, but it makes friendship so methodical. It is harder to find the people that will share their crayons with you simply because they like you.

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