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While making new friends, you will DEFINITELY run into this puzzle.

While the puzzle is easy to understand, I don’t think there is any “easy” solution.

To start, let’s look at two strategies that must be employed while making new friends.


1: Commitment:

Social bonds are formed by sharing experiences over a long period of time.

This means, you need to COMMIT to building social bonds, BEFORE you have social bonds.

That might look like going to a group activity 10 times before you start to feel “connected” with the members.

2: Pickiness:

Since you are the AVERAGE of the 5 people you spend time with, you need to be careful who you spend time with.

If you discover that someone is not aligned with your values / goals / lifestyle, you should quickly move onto new potential friends. Waste no time.


Consider Bob:

He seems nice enough at first meeting, but on the second meeting he rubs you the wrong way.

Should you commit more time to the relationship? (Maybe it was just a fluke bad encounter, and more time will reveal he is actually awesome)

Or should you be picky and move on to another potential friend? (After all, why waste that time!)

This is a puzzle!

Being too focused on commitment means you will waste time building relationships with people you never should have had a relationship with.

Even worse, if you realize they are not good for your life deep into the relationship, the process of “defriending” them can be insanely awkward and uncomfortable.

On the other hand, being too focused on pickiness means you will end up with a long list of acquaintances, but no strong social connections.

No one to talk to when things are tough, no one to invite to your birthday party, etc.

Now that the puzzle is clear - what do we do about it?

You must get FASTER at knowing when a group or a person are worth committing to.

This comes with experience.

If you are an inexperienced friend maker, it might take 30 shared experiences with a group before you realize “these aren’t my people”.

With experience, you’ll learn to read people better, and pick up on subtle clues that quickly nudge you in one direction or the other.

Think back to people who you thought might be friends, but fizzled out. What were the earlier clues it would go that way?

Think about the same thing for your best friends. What are the things that make them your friends, and were you able to see them coming?

This is one of the tough parts about friend making.

If you are lucky, you strike gold right away. But for most people, you’ll have to go through a few different cycles before you find someone you want to be close friends with.