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Making Friends: The Unspoken Rules.


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“I don’t have friends,” Sherlock had once snarled at John. John, quite rightly, had been awfully offended, murmured “Wonder why,” and walked away. The thing is, John doesn’t have many friends either apart from Sherlock. So while it’s okay to laugh at Sherlock for not having friends, how easy is it to have friendships that actually matter as an adult?

Most people don’t understand that as an adult, along with various other ‘real-life problems,’ various old problems crop up too, but in its modified new form- like the inability to make friends. In class KG, it wasn’t easy to approach new people unless they were automatically nice to you. And most kids are not usually nice to you because all the scared kids wait for someone to be nice to them, and all the future bullies are not nice.

As time moves on, we all make a few friends, and if we are lucky, we don’t feel the need to start making new friends for at least 10 more years. Of course, if you are a kid who is always on the move- you’re usually one of these two kinds:

1. The diva who has come from maybe Germany and the other kids are too deeply in awe of her to actually approach her for friendship. However, these kinds of people attract sycophants very easily.
2. The loner who does not really make friends at all because he knows that it’s pointless- they are just too used to losing friends in an old city.

The thing is, kids who don’t naturally make a lot of friends or have to keep changing groups in school are usually better at making adult friendships work. Because that’s sort of how adult friendships work anyway, you’re not friends just because that happened, and you’re friends because of well-definable reasons- maybe you think that these friendships are going to prove to be advantageous at some point of your life when you need something from them or simply because there’s someone who is sitting right next to you. You can’t help but start a conversation to avoid the awkwardness.

On the other hand, as one of my friends pointed out to me (and she belongs in the last category), people like me, who have always just… had friends for some reason around here, don’t actually learn the nuances of friendships. Unlike the last category, these kinds of people don’t ever have to hone their friendship-making and maintaining skills because they don’t really see it as a skill. It’s not a big deal to them. And while all that works out just fine in school, it does not particularly work well in adult friendships.

Making friends still seems very easy because it’s like breathing; you don’t really think about it. But when it comes to slightly more complex situations, we are clueless. I mean, how angry are you supposed to get at a friend for being terribly and horribly late? Are you still allowed to scream at them, or will they take offense? Is it even worth waiting for them because you don’t really feel like it? It feels like a much bigger obligation than it did when you were waiting for a school friend. How much of your emotions can you expect them to understand?

This makes friendships more complicated than love as an adult. At least, romantic relationships have a certain set of guidelines (unspoken rules) that everyone follows. So does friendship, I guess, but no one ever told us about those rules. As a kid, it felt so effortless; even if you messed up as a friend, you knew that the others wouldn’t get too mad about it. But as an adult, there are just SO much more opportunities to screw up. And people actually take offense this time- even I do. Why do I, or anyone else, take offense then? Why didn’t friendships feel this temporary in school?

And mostly, why on earth am I actually thinking so much about friendships for the first time in my life? Because I don’t really understand how I am supposed to behave with my friends. Of course, it’s not the same old “How do I talk to that girl?” problem I had in KG; it’s the new and improved “How am I supposed to stop myself from pissing off that girl and yet not get pissed off myself?” problem of adulthood. Friends are in a twilight zone that is really unclear to me. They aren’t lovers, and they aren’t strangers.

How much are you supposed to trust them? How much are you supposed to love them? Or are you just supposed to like them? How much love (or liking) is too much or too little? Are you allowed to expect things from them? If yes, what things? How do you stop yourself from appearing too needy or too detached?

I know I sound like an absolute idiot for not understanding something as basic as friendships. But that is the problem here; I have never thought of it as something complicated, something that one should perfect- it was always ‘basic.’ And now, suddenly, it’s not that basic anymore.

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