Top 5 Things to Look for in New Friends
You are looking to meet new people and really want a great group of friends. Or maybe just two or three close friends. It is tempting to get to know whoever seems most available, but is this person going to bring you down and cause drama in your life, or lift you up to personal heights you never imagined?
It is common for autistic people to struggle with meeting new people and developing new friendships. After you have joined a new group, it is important to know how to recognize potential friends. What are important characteristics to look for in new friends?
New Friends Should:
- Have habits that support their growth
- Do not participate in activities or conversations that are degrading to others
- Have a growth mindset
- Are enjoyable to be around
- Have similar interests to you
If you are embarking upon a journey to grow your circle of friends, discover how these factors influence the quality of friendship you may experience with people who share these traits.
Friends Should Have Habits that Support Their Growth
Who we spend time with has an enormous impact on our personal well-being, lifestyle, and choices we make. Have you ever heard the adage, ‘you are what you eat’? A similar rule holds true in your social life; you become who you hang out with. Look for friends who care about their health and have a generally positive outlook on life.
This doesn’t mean they can’t have any struggles in life. We all have challenges to overcome. But how we look at those challenges is important. Some people look for actions they can take to improve their situation, or else not perseverate on the problem if there is no action to take. They think of how they can look at situations in ways that help them grow instead of keeping themselves in misery.
Others are unwilling to take any action but constantly complain about the things that bother them without looking for or wanting a solution. Spending time with people who are dedicated to doing the things that support their mental, physical, and emotional well-being will give you the inspiration and motivation to do the same.
Good Friends Do Not Participate in Activities or Conversations that Degrade Others
Some people never transcend the high school mentality of constantly comparing themselves to others instead of living their best life. This often manifests in conversations centered around criticizing or finding faults in others, whether to their face or behind their backs.
This is not a healthy mentality to be stuck in or to be around. Consider it a friendship red flag if those you associate with pass time by putting other people down. Life is too big with too many possibilities for this behavior. Find friends who thrive from finding joy in life, not from fabricating or pointing out the negative in other people.
Another point to consider is that when you are not around, you may become the brunt of their talking points. If you find yourself in a group where the individuals seem to thrive on negativity, keep searching. There are other people who love to experience their own lives, rather than remain caught in the drama of someone else’s life.
Look for Friends who Share a Growth Mindset
There are two basic mindsets that pervade the human psyche when it comes to human potential. The first is the fixed mindset, and the second is the growth mindset. Chances are, you have met people in both categories.
Someone with a growth mindset knows that through their efforts, they can gain skills and overcome challenges. They understand that qualities such as intelligence and the ability to make friends are not fixed traits. With practice and focused attention, you can mold yourself into who you want to become.
A fixed mindset is the opposite. Someone who lives here may not try new things at the risk of not doing well enough to keep up with their own image. They see traits as fixed, so once they have their mind made up about where they are, they assume they cannot get any better and do not want to risk looking any worse than how people already perceive them.
If they see themselves as intelligent, they made not attempt any task they fear they may fail, as failure is viewed as proof of a fixed trait. A growth mindset person, on the other hand, sees failure as an opportunity for self-improvement and to learn something new. They know that failure is not a mark of their potential, only a measure of where they are now.
You may hear a person stuck in the fixed mindset say things like, “She’s not smart enough. She will never make that work,” or, “I tried that once and am just no good at it, so I’ll pass.”
In contrast, a growth mindset person may say things like, “Wow, I am so glad she is trying to make this work for herself. She has struggled in the past, so seeing her focus on getting past her challenges is inspiring!” or, “Last time I tried that I really struggled, but I am still interested in making it work. I am going to learn new strategies and try again.”
Spending time with people who predominately have a growth mindset will help you to see your potential and keep growing as well. For an in-depth understanding of these two mindsets, read or listen to Mindset by Carol S. Dweck Ph.D. (paid link).
Seek to Become Friends with Those You Enjoy Being Around
Now that you have an idea of what character traits may lead to a healthy friendship, we will dive into something a bit more obvious. You need to enjoy spending time with someone in order to pursue a friendship with that person.
A potential friend may check every box, so to speak, but if you do not enjoy their company, there is no ground to build a friendship on. Find people you “click” with. People with a similar sense of humor to you. You laugh, enjoy hanging out, and are sensitive and supportive of each other’s interests.
Look for Friends who Have Similar Interests to You
Friendships come easier when there is common ground. Finding people with similar interests is important so you will have activities you both enjoy doing together and more to talk about. It may at first seem challenging to find people with similar interests if you are beyond your school years.
One easy way to get around this is the website meetup.com. While some cities have more active meetup groups than others, it is still worth checking out! You can make an account for free and then search for groups according to your interests, whether that is bike riding, meditating, gaming, or anything else you enjoy.
If you do not find groups that meet your needs, you can create one of your own. Creating your own group may not be free, however. Keep safety in mind when meeting new people. The people on meetup.com are not background checked and anyone 18 and older can join.
Final Thoughts on What to Look for in a New Friend
It is tempting to seek out whoever seems most available to acquaint oneself and develop a friendship. It is important to keep in mind, however, that who we become is greatly influenced by the people with whom we spend our time. So do choose wisely when seeking out a new friend!
If you would like ideas on how to feel more comfortable in a group while getting to know new people, read How to Feel Comfortable in a Group.