Sunday, April 28, 2013

How to Be a Better Friend

How to Be a Better Friend:
I've had the same best friend since the first grade, although we haven't lived in the same state since the Clinton administration, and we almost never call when we say we will. Without the obvious trappings of a good friendship, such as face time and basic thoughtfulness, how can we possibly feel so close? As I learned from talking to experts, those conventional friendly actions have much less to do with how satisfying a friendship is than with what you give each other on a more nuanced, psychological level. Here are some ways to strengthen your bonds--no sentimental cards required.
#1 Share a secret. It's no surprise that telling a friend something sensitive would make her feel like you trust and value her. But that's not the only reason it brings you closer. It also makes your friend feel as if you value her more than someone else, says Peter DeScioli, a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at Harvard University, who has done extensive research on the “alliance” theory of friendship. He has found that even if you don't score someone very highly on likable traits such as intelligence or kindness, you are more likely to rank her high up in your friend group if you know she counts you among her closest friends. This ranking idea sounds petty, but DeScioli explains that “we want our friends to take our side, even if it's a minor disagreement about where we all want to go out to dinner tonight.” So dish out that gossip--and your friend will know you've got her back.
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