What does it take to develop a friendship?

Friendships may be one of the most underrated relationships when it comes to feeling loved and supported in your life. And finding a best friend is no easy task. I can name on one hand the number of really best friends I have had through life. And sadly, if you don’t keep those relationships going with a lot of intention, best friends can become distant as well.

Given the stress we often feel related to time–time to relax, to chat and just hang out with those with whom we click, best friends can be hard to find. You have to click with that person and then engage in intentional behavior. And in the process, you may decide, this isn’t the person I want to befriend in a deeper way.

But when the process goes well and you want to move forward, it takes time. It is estimated that it takes about 50 hours to convert an acquaintance to a friend and then 90 hours to become a friend, and more than 200 hours until they become a best friend! Time is definitely a factor, but it is not the only thing needed to become a best friend. While hanging out with someone gives you opportunity to develop closeness, how and what you talk about matters.

Now you might just hit it off with someone and have an immediate bond, but deepening that friendship requires both time together and meaningful conversation, not simply small talk. Your ability to slowly and steadily reveal parts of your life to a person begins to deepen the friendship. In fact, researchers think that a lot of small talk does little to move a relationship forward. So to progress the relationship, you have to dig deep and talk about things that matter.

In addition, people who are agreeable, open to experience and conscientious make great friends as well as marriage partners. Those characteristics help you be a friend and connect with others easily. It just may be that if you have those characteristics, you have an easier time of being a friend and developing friendships. So think about it-do you disagree a lot, think you are always right, are afraid to branch out and try new things or have a “whatever” attitude? If so, it might be more difficult for you to find and be a friend. If you want to find better friends, consider the positive characteristics and work on those.

Overall, a best friend is hard to find, but worth the effort. When you find one, the relationship can enhance your life!

The importance of friendships