Forcing a friendship will never turn out well for you or the other person. If your sole purpose is to befriend someone, sure, this is one way to do it. However, there are correct and wrong ways to go about befriending someone. This is one of the wrong ways to do it.
If you truly want to be friends with someone, with anyone for that matter, forcing it should never be the approach. Nourishing a friendship is a wonderful process that takes time and effort. Of course, the length of this process will depend on natural chemistry and understanding, but I digress.
Whatever the case, forcing a friendship should never be the approach to take. In this article, we’ll discuss the signs of a forced friendship, its inevitable results, and 8 ways you should take in mind to stop forcing a friendship.
Signs of a Forced Friendship
Forced friendships tend to have a lot of discerning characteristics that point to a lack of chemistry, connection, and mutual understanding. Most of these friendships don’t last very long. These are some of the most common signs of a forced friendship that can be observed clearly throughout the course of its supposed connection.
They’re very awkward
Most forced friendships tend to have an air of awkwardness between them. This is because this partnership has very little to no genuine connection. The two people have nothing in common, or they just can’t seem to reach an understanding of anything.
Unmotivated to hang out with one another
Forced friends have very little reason to hang out with each other. In most cases, these friends only get together when there are other people involved and both of them happen to be invited. Otherwise, it’s only the one who actually forced the friendship who’s motivated and willing to hang out with the other, while the other friend finds it hard to actually reciprocate.
They work best when surrounded by other friends
Forced friendships tend to only really do well when surrounded by other friends. This is because there are others who are able to fill in the gaps that would have been left empty in their absence. When two forced friends hang out together, as mentioned earlier, things tend to be awkward and silent.
Hanging out almost feels like an obligation
When two forced friends do hang out, it almost feels like an obligation. Either one is obligated to hang out with the other or both of them feel the same way. There’s no real, genuine reason for the two of them to be together. Things are sort of just… happen. There’s no rhyme or reason for any of it.
What Happens to Forced Friendships
Most forced friendships are ones that have no real connection, and one or both of them just feel an obligation to see each other every once in a while. This could be a former friend you fell out with for whatever reason and you recently came across one another, a high school classmate, a former workmate, or anything of the like. The connection isn’t natural and there is no chemistry, yet one or both just can’t seem to cut the other out of their lives.
That said, unless a real connection is found along the way, most forced friendships just fade into oblivion. They stop connecting with one another. This also isn’t really initiated, it just sort of happens.
In some cases, however, some forced friendships do actually grow to become real and genuine. This happens when you stop forcing it and allow things to grow naturally. A forced friendship can become real if you respect the process it takes for two people to become real friends. There are things you can do personally to guide the friendship along the way, but the first thing you need to keep in mind is forcing it to become what you want it to become will just not work.
How to Stop Forcing a Friendship
Here are 8 things you’ll want to keep in mind if you want to stop forcing a friendship and allow it to flourish and become a genuine friendship.
Stop feeling obligated to hang out with them
First things first, that feeling of obligation and thinking you have to hang out with the other person? Stop that. You are not obligated to hang out with one another. Do not think of it as a chore. Instead, treat it as something you can look forward to.
The best way to do this is to think of a genuine reason for the two of you to hang out instead of feeling obliged to see them just for the sake of it. Know the things you two should talk about, things you both share and have in common. If you’re childhood friends, think about the things you used to do as children. If you were high school classmates, talk about your fondest memories in high school.
Hangouts should be treated as cherished moments. As soon as you treat them like a chore, you will doom that friendship right then and there, unless you actually do something to make the friendship genuine.
Take it slow
Genuine friendships take time to flourish, as I’ve stated in this article already. If you have a couple of friends you consider real and genuine, then you know this to be a fact. With that in mind, make sure that you don’t speed up this process artificially. Understand that this can take time, and that’s perfectly okay.
When hanging out with the other person, don’t force that friendship immediately. Instead, talk about the things that you can talk about in that moment. Don’t attempt to learn everything you can about them during that interaction. Even if the other person is a childhood friend or a previous acquaintance, if you want this to flourish into a genuine friendship, don’t force everything in one sitting.
Getting to know someone slowly but surely through consecutive hangouts is also one way of making each hangout something you can look forward to instead of seeing them as a chore. Think of them as steps where you learn something new and more about each other each time you see one another.
Find common interests
One of the best things that can drive a friendship forward is to have common interests you can do together. This can be anything, whether it’s TV shows, movies, books, any kind of sports activity, video games, yoga, or working out. So long as it’s an activity you both can share and do together, it should be viable.
Once you find that common interest, then plan a schedule where you two can do it together. All it takes is one time for you to do this and the next events should come to you both naturally. If you’ll have fun after doing it once, you’ll do it time and time again after that.
Apply the taking-it-slow rule here as well. Just because it’s something you two can do together, that doesn’t mean you should do it with them as much and as often as you can. Adhere to their schedule and comfortability. If their schedule permits it and they’re comfortable with doing it at least once a week, then do it once a week.
Go to a place you both are comfortable with
Whenever you’re planning to go out with them, make sure you meet in a place where you both are comfortable with. If going out for dinner is something too intimate for the both of you, then go somewhere more casual like a coffee shop or a bar. If they prefer the intimate, more personal setting, then go for the dinner plan.
Regardless of what it is, the interaction will flow more easily if the location you’re in is a comfortable one. Find a place you both can really open up without being too tense. The location can have a major influence on that.
A decent general rule of thumb to follow is to never invite a person to your place if it’s your first time seeing each other, or if you’ve known one another in the past, if it’s the first time you’ve seen each other in a long time. Although you may feel comfortable, they can feel intimidated and awkward if the first meeting is set in your home.
Be comfortable with the company of other friends
As mentioned in the signs of forced friendships, forced friends tend to do well when they’re surrounded by other friends too. Well, take advantage of this. Be comfortable hanging out with them in the context of a group of friends. However, instead of treating the other friends as space fillers, think of them as platforms that allow you both to act comfortably as you get to know one another.
Although the other friends are present, make sure you pay attention to the person you’re trying to befriend. Talk to them constantly while in that setting. Conversations should become more fluid and you both shouldn’t be as tense with one another considering there are others present.
Just make sure you also don’t disregard the other people during that interaction, otherwise, they’ll feel like you’re just using them to get to know another person. This generally shouldn’t be the case.
Since you’re attempting to get to know the other person, make sure you’re also making your presence known every once in a while even when you’re not physically hanging out with each other. Text or chat with them every once in a while. Ask how they’re doing, set up the next meeting, or just make conversation whenever you can.
Texting and chatting should be done in moderation, though. Don’t text them too constantly. Instead, text them when it’s been a while since you’ve spoken to one another, or if there’s a topic you’d like to discuss with them, or some tidbit you know they’ll be interested in talking about.
A lot of topics are easier to discuss when it’s done virtually, so take advantage of this. If there are things you think you can’t talk about in person, talk about them via text.
Urge them to make the first move
For this friendship to work, the interaction has to go both ways. Don’t always make the first move. Instead, wait for them to ask you out as well. In a lot of cases, forcing a friendship can lead to interactions that are very one-sided. Don’t fall under this trap by being the one who asks the other all the time.
When hanging out or texting them, mention things like, “I’d love to try that someday” when they’re talking about an activity they enjoy doing. You can also say things like, “Let me know when you’re free” when discussing when the next meeting will be. Give them the authority to plan the next interaction, while you just wait and agree when that time comes.
When they ask you out once, they’re bound to ask again in the future. This will then eventually lead to an exchange where you ask them out in one instance and they’ll ask you out in the next. This will begin slowly but it will eventually flourish into a real friendship.
Know what can and can’t be
Finally, it’s also important that you understand that some things are meant to be and some things just aren’t. That said, if this particular forced friendship just can’t seem to flourish into something more, then just stop. Otherwise, it will remain… forced.
Don’t feel bad if the friendship doesn’t rise to a level you’d have wanted it to be. Some things just don’t work out due to a lot of factors you may or may not have a hand in. Perhaps it’s just chemistry, a lack of common interest, or whatever. Just move on and focus on the friends you already have, or go ahead and socialize with other people. There are so many people out there deserving of your friendship.
Forcing a friendship can only lead in one of two ways, they either eventually become real or they just fade away. You can do your best to make sure it becomes the former, if you really want it to be. However, if it does end up fading, then that’s okay too. The world doesn’t stop there.
Just focus on constantly improving your social skills so that you can get the friends you want in the future. Socializing is a science, make sure you know as much as you can about it by reading the other articles on this site.