Tag Archives: psychology

6 Stages Of Friendship

1: Strangers

Everyone in the world starts out as a stranger (and potential friend) to you.


2: Loose Acquaintance

The first time you meet a person they’re just a random face in the crowd. Unless you meet this person at your arranged marriage, there’s little to no guarantee you’ll ever see them again. It takes time to learn enough about a person to know whether you like them or not. It also takes time to build shared experiences together with which you’ll come to base your friendship on. So even if you really hit it off with someone the first time you meet them, they’ll only be a potential friend until you see them again… and again… and again…and again.

There are over 6 billion people in the world. You only have enough time in your short life to become best friends with a few of them. Your brain understands this. So even if you don’t your mind will subconsciously size up every person you meet and come to a conclusion about whether or not this person is compatible enough with you to be worth pursuing a deeper relationship with. 99.9% of the people you meet in your life will fail the Loose Acquaintance Test. The first time they leave your sight, you won’t ever think about them again. Even if you do remember them, the thought will never occur to you to regret their absence in your life, because they were just some unimportant, random person.

That’s fine. We can’t all spend our lives obsessing over everyone we meet. In fact, we should be conscious of the fact that we should be sizing people up to assess who we can/can’t build meaningful relationships with. If we don’t pay attention we risk passing up the right people and attaching ourselves to the wrong people.


3: Regular Acquaintance

If you keep running into the same person over and over again you’ll learn things about each other and build shared experiences. In no time at all, they’ll stand out of the crowd. When you see their face it will mean something to you, and when you talk to them you can continue your previous dialogues. These interactions will evolve your relationship with each other. Instead of just being a random person they’ll become the person you met there who does this for a living and goes to the place you’re at to get… whatever.

Spending time with a person doesn’t guarantee you’re going to be friends. You’ll meet just as many people who, the more you meet them the more you despise them. However, some will pass the Regular Acquaintance Test, and some will pass it faster than others. You could buy coffee from the same barista for ten years before they become anything other than a friendly barista to you. On the other hand, sometimes you run into people who you just click with and end up spending the next two weeks together every day. Not only do you need to spend time with a person to get promoted in their friend book, but you have to spend meaningful time talking, opening up, overcoming challenges, learning and having fun together before your relationship has significant meaning.


4: Allies

Eventually, you’re going to work with people for so long that you’ll know their whole life story, their idiosyncrasies, and secrets. You’ll know them well enough to accurately predict their future. But they’ll still just be a regular acquaintance who you know at work. Intimate knowledge is a prerequisite for friendship, but it’s only one component.

Feeling affection for each other is another prerequisite for friendship. When you experience affection towards another person emotionally, you get those feelings from your brain. Consciously and subconsciously your brain has been calculating how valuable that person is in your life. If the results of that calculation are negative then you’ll dislike them. If the results of that calculation are positive then you’re like them. The higher they score, the more you’ll like them. The lower they score, the less you’ll like them.

Friendships are warm and fuzzy, but they’re also based on a cold calculation. Life is beautiful, but life is also war. Everyone and every living thing is competing with each other to survive in a dog-eat-dog world where only the strong survive, and only the alpha thrive. Every stranger is a potential threat to you. They could rob you, bully you, steal your lover, get your job, rip you off, betray you or kill you. You might not walk around all day grimly sizing everyone up, but if a stranger asks to borrow $1000 from you, you’re probably going to say “no” without even having to think about it.

The test that regular acquaintances have to pass before they can get promoted to an ally is the test of trust. When you put your trust in someone else by (for example) lending them money, you risk losing ground in your battle against nature to survive. That’s a profound thing to do because you’re choosing to bet or give a tiny piece of your life. That’s sharing life.

As you and another person reciprocate trustworthiness you cease to be regular acquaintances, and you become allies. Effectively you’ve signed an unwritten truce not to fight each other and to back each other up in their time of need even if it’s inconvenient.

There are different kinds of allies you make in life, and each truce is different. Some friends would only let you borrow $10. Some would let you borrow $100, but they wouldn’t pick you up from jail or give you a ride to work. You can open up to some of your friends, and some friends prefer to keep your relationship more formal or professional. Some friendships involve lust, and some don’t. Your expectations of each of your friends is different, but that doesn’t mean your contracts between them are unequal. Variety is the spice of life. We should be conscious of the different kinds of friendships we have and celebrate their idiosyncrasies.


5: Official Friend

When you make a truce with an ally, you agree not to take what the other person has. You can borrow from each other in your time of need, but you’ll be expected to pay your ally back. There’s also a limit to how much your ally will risk on you. An official friend will give you what you need for free without expecting you to pay them back. In fact, they’ll insist that you don’t pay them back. That act goes above and beyond the conditions of a contract. It’s not a bet. It’s a gift, and that’s profound. You’re sacrificing a bit of your life to make another conscious being’s reality better.

Ultimately, friendship is a choice. That choice is yours. Rocks and trees can’t make choices. Only living, sentient beings can. When you choose a friend you express the existence of consciousness in an otherwise inert universe. It also establishes a bond between you and another individual consciousness. The emotions and ideas you share will be unique in all the universe. All of this is valuable enough to justify the existence of life.

But I digress.  Sacrifice is the cost to become an official friend, and it’s not enough to just be willing to make that sacrifice. As admirable as that is, you’ll never be as good of friends with an untested ally than say war veterans are with the people they fought alongside. When you build a history of shared sacrifice with another person you build a history of proven character.


6: Best Friend

Every alliance and friendship is different, and while there’s no need to stress over which friendship is “better” than the others, one will inevitably rise to the top. You win that prize by getting the highest score on the Best Friend Test, which is one question long and looks something like this:

Best Friend = (how well you know a person + how many experiences you’ve had with them + how much you care about them + how well you treat them) – (how many conditions you place on each other’s trust)*(mutual sacrifice).

Put your allies to the test and figure out who your true friends are. And put yourself to the test as well. Consider how high your friends would score you. If hardly anybody would give you a good score you’d be wise to consider the hard possibility that you’re an asshole and need to seriously rethink your life. If your friends score horribly low you may consider the hard possibility that they’re not really friends and it might be better for both of you to step out of each other’s lives.

When you do find a best friend, cherish them. When your life flashes before your eyes you’re going to see all the best friends you’ve made through the years. They were your life. As important as that is, it’s also a simple fact of life that you can’t spend your entire life with just one best friend. Things change. People change. You can’t write a song by only playing one note. As beautiful as that note may be, you have to let go when the time is right and move onto the next note, and the next one, and the next one, celebrating all of them for their uniqueness. (That last bit about music notes was paraphrased from “The Lazy Man’s Guide to Enlightenment”).


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Should You Let Friends Borrow Money?

If your friend comes up to you and tells you they’re in a time of need and they ask for your help and you look them in the eye and tell them, “Sure, I’ll help you, but you have to pay me back every penny and maybe even interest.” …that means you weren’t really friends to begin with. When real friends hear that a friend is in need, they go out of their way for them, because that’s what friends do. That’s the point of being friends. You’re more than just allies in the game of life.

When a friend asks to borrow money from you, you just give them the money and never expect to see it again. You don’t have to be a drama queen martyr about it. Your friend could ask to borrow money and you could give it to them, and they can pay you back just like normal, but when you hand over your money you know in your mind that you never expect to see that money again, and you’re going to forget about that non-debt as quickly as possible. Then, if your friend ever does pay you back it will be a pleasant surprise, and it will make you feel closer to your friend since they gave you more than you expected from them. And your friendship won’t go through any rocky times because you weren’t  permanently stressing about holding debts over each other’s heads.

It’s fine to lend people money and expect to get paid back; just understand that expecting to get paid back is a clear sign that you’re not friends, you’re allies at best. So if you lend someone money and expect to get paid back, don’t hug that guy a party the next weekend and tell him you’re buddies.

And if you ask one of your friends for money and they get domineering about the details of the loan and keep pestering you about it, then you know you’re not really friends. You’re only as valuable to them as long as it’s convenient for them, but they won’t go out of their way for you, because your friendship isn’t worth a piece of paper to them. They failed the friendship test and aren’t worth the time and effort to pursue a deeper relationship with.

And when you do hand cold hard cash to one of your friends that you never expect to see again, pause for a moment and smell the roses. A good friend is the rarest, most wonderful thing in life, and today you got to experience real friendship; apparently, there’s someone in your life who is worth more than a piece of paper. You’re lucky to have them. Cherish them.

That’s why you shouldn’t lend friends money… that you expect to get back.


"Don't let friends borrow money unless you don't mind never getting it back."


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10 Character Traits To Look For In A Long-Term Romantic Partner

1: They’re proactively engaged in a lifelong quest for knowledge and growth.

There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who actively, consciously and consistently learn new things, explore their interests and expand their horizons… and those who sit there and stagnate and become dull and flawed. If you spend your life with the first kind of person, they’ll lift you up as they lift themselves up. The latter type will drag you down like a boat anchor. Not only will they keep you from achieving your external goals, but after you spend enough years with another person you’ll adopt their personality. If that person is a dullard, you’ll become one too. Then that will be the reality you’ll experience for the rest of your life.

Facing life alone will make you a more vibrant person than living in cold comfort with a child stuck in an adult’s body. The more time you spend becoming a strong individual, the more you’ll attract similar mates. Once you find the right one, you can spend the rest of your lives moving forward together.



2: They’re not self-centered, demanding, or judgmental

When two people share their time, resources and energy equally, they can accomplish more together than they could have alone. That’s called a symbiotic relationship. When one person takes everything the other has and barely gives anything back, that’s called a parasitic relationship, and it’s not sustainable. When one person constantly empties their bucket and never gets it replenished, they eventually run dry. Then they start acting frustrated and resentful. When the spoiled, codependent parasite doesn’t get what they want, they start throwing tantrums. It’s a vicious cycle that inevitably ends in a dramatic breakup that leaves the host broke and depressed while the parasite just moves on to the next host without learning any life lessons.

Nobody is all-good or all-bad. There are millions of self-centered, demanding, judgmental parasites out there who are smart, interesting, funny, strong, successful, attractive and moderately generous. They have enough going for them to make you consider looking past their selfishness. Maybe they do deserve a chance, but if you give it to them, proceed with caution. Self-centered people can be generous and charming when they want something from you, but their prime prerogative is themselves. Sooner or later you’re going to take a back seat to their ego, and your needs will be treated as less important than their wants. Don’t be surprised when you wake up one day and realize that your life is just an accessory to theirs.


3: They’re able to take criticism and accept responsibility for their actions.

You can’t become a better person if you never change. Specifically, you need to figure out what your bad habits and character flaws are, and fix them. You shouldn’t even wait for someone else to point out your flaws. You should be proactively searching yourself for them and finding ways to fix them before they bother anyone else enough to call you out. If you do that, not only will you be happier and more successful in life, but you’ll be an ideal mate. Someone would be very lucky to spend the rest of their life with you.

You don’t need luck to find the right person to spend the rest of your life with. Pay attention to your dates. If they automatically get defensive and angry every time anyone points out their flaws, then be very cautious of that person. They’re probably never going to change. They’re going to build an impenetrable wall of circular, logic-proof, self-fulfilling excuses around their ego that will protect them from ever having to accept responsibility for their actions. They’ll never grow because they already believe they’re perfect. As they stagnate in their own ignorant arrogance, they’re going to get more toxic and more stuck in their ways.

If they’re unwilling to accept responsibility for the problems they create, they’re going to have to find someone else to blame, and it will inevitably be you. You have precious little time on this Earth to find yourself, identify your dreams and work towards achieving them. If you have to spend half your life defending yourself from irrational accusations and cleaning up someone else’s messes, you’re probably not going achieve your dreams. Even if you do make it, you’ll probably still be miserable. You’ll also find that as you grow and change while your partner stays the same, your goals will gradually become different. Eventually, you’ll probably find that you’re both moving in different directions. When that happens your toxic partner will probably harass you to give up your stupid dreams. They’ll continue to make you feel bad for being yourself and hold you back from fulfilling your potential.



4: They think rationally.

Sanity is defined: “having or showing reason, sound judgment, or good sense.”

mental illness exists when “ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.”

Unreasonable people with bad judgment and no common sense are always stressed out over nothing, and they turn simple tasks into major disasters. Irrational people are effectively insane. I’m not saying they’re bad people. None of us are perfect, and we all deserve to be loved. I’m just saying, spending the rest of your life with someone who has a condition that causes them to be a danger to themselves and others and needs to be managed constantly, is a huge and costly responsibility.

Hunky meat head studs and ditzy blonde bimbos make great one night stands (if you use a condom), but they make bad life-partners because they’re better at ignoring and creating problems than solving them. Improving your quality of life depends on solving the problems that make your life suck. So if you want to be happy and secure in your old age (when you and your partner’s looks have faded) then marry Sherlock Holmes.


5: They have the same or compatible domestic goals/standards.

You’re going to spend most of your life either at work or at home. When you look back at life on your deathbed, about half of what you see will be your house. It’s half of your reality. It’s half of your universe. Spending that much time in the same environment will shape who you are and how you feel. So it’s vitally important that your home fits you. The decorations, cost, noise-level, pace, cleaning schedule, etc. should fit your personality. If your environment fits you like a glove, you’re going to find it pretty easy to be happy. If your environment doesn’t fit you at all, you’re going to find it pretty hard to be happy.

When you move in with another person, you have to share your environment. So it’s equally important that both of you fit your environment. If your partner is stifled by your environment, then they’ll get frustrated and stressed. Then you’ll have to live with a frustrated, stressed person, and that will frustrate and stress you out. The cycle can escalate quickly and lead to new problems.

Obviously, people who share a house will have to make compromises, and couples who communicate rationally will be able to find common ground peacefully. But the more you have to compromise, the less often both people get what they want. If nobody ever really gets what they want, you have to wonder why you’re together when you could just as easily be with someone else who wants to live the same way you do.


6: They have the same or compatible interests and passions.

If you have no personality, interests, hobbies, ambition or style then you’ll be happiest living with another blank person. Ideally, you have found some topic or hobby that you’re so passionate about that you clear your schedule to make time for it. That will give your life meaning and direction, which will make you a healthy life-partner. If you’re going to share a house with another person for the rest of your life, you should pick someone else who has a passion of their own. It’ll keep them growing and glowing, which will make them a positive force in your life.

If your partner discourages you from doing the thing that defines you and gives you joy then they either don’t understand or care about you. You’re not going to be happy if you spend the rest of your life with someone who doesn’t understand and care about you. If your partner loved you, they would encourage your hobby. If your passion is bowling, then you should find someone who will buy you bowling-related gifts on your birthday and won’t mind coming to watch you bowl. You might also strongly consider finding someone who enjoys bowling as much as you do. Then neither of you will have to take time out of your schedule to support the other’s passion. Plus, sharing your passion is a profound connection for you to bond over.


7: They have the same or compatible philosophies on life.

No two people are going to see eye to eye on everything. So finding the perfect person for you isn’t a matter of finding someone who always agrees with you. You can be perfectly happy with someone who doesn’t even believe in the same religion as you. The thing about that is, your belief system guides your actions. People with the same belief system as you are likely to have compatible domestic and long-term goals as you. Plus, sharing similar beliefs is a huge bond you share. You don’t have to share that bond, but it’s nice if you can get it… and with over 7 billion people in the world, you can find it if you look hard enough.



8: They’re financially responsible.

When most people move in with a long-term partner, they do it for love, not because it’s a cold, calculated business decision. Little did you know, moving in with someone is the biggest financial decision you’ll ever make in your life. Live with someone long enough, and all of your finances will become tied together.

In a world that revolves around finance, you can’t live a decent quality of life without money. Housing, food, clothes, and free time all cost money. Nothing is more expensive than retirement, and that takes a lifetime of financial responsibility to save up for. You might find temporary happiness with a poor, charming, irresponsible job-hopper, but they’re not going to help you build a secure life for you and your children. They’re going to bleed you into perpetual poverty. Since one of the biggest causes of divorce is financial problems, your relationship probably isn’t going to last forever anyway. It’ll just hold you back for a while.


9: They treat you with kindness.

There’s no point being in a relationship with someone who doesn’t treat you with kindness. That’s half the point of being with someone: they treat you well, and your life is better with them than without them. Even if you’re patient enough to put up with an unkind lover (which is an oxymoron), they’re going to empty your bucket sooner rather than later, and the longer you stay with them, the more miserable you’re going to be. There’s no point being with someone who isn’t kind. Even if they’re a good provider, they’re just helping you survive to be miserable another day. You should spend the rest of your life with someone who regularly goes out of their way to say and do little things to make you smile and feel good about yourself. That’s a person worth waking up next to every day for the rest of your life.


10: They build you up.

When assessing potential long-term romantic partners, the question you have to ask yourself is, “Do they build me up, or tear me down?” The more they build you up, the more seriously you should consider spending more time with them. The more they tear you down, the quicker you should untether your life from theirs.



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