I have always been nervous around the deep end of a swimming pool. Probably because I watched Jaws at way too young of an age and also because I was never aquatically-inclined. My friends, on the other hand, were typically braver in the pool. They never hesitated to leap off the diving board and challenged one another to see who could tread water for the longest amount of time (did these girls not know that treading water for long periods of time is exactly what the sharks are looking for?!). I remember wondering, "Why can’t I dive like that? Why don’t I have more courage? And why do they look better in a bathing suit than I do?"
But, the truth was they weren’t 'better' than me, they had just spent more time in the deep end of the pool.
The lie that there must be something wrong with me because I’m afraid of the deep end of the pool is the same kind of lie that surfaces when it comes to finding our way to the deep end of our friendships. We see others wading into the deep waters of friendship and wonder why we have been left in the shallow end with our floaties still on. We assume that they must have some special extrovert gene that enables them to be more conversational, outgoing and comfortable making new friends. And not just making new friends, but turning those acquaintances into best friends five minutes after they met them.
I am writing to tell you, that just isn’t true. No one makes an instant best friend because true friendship takes time.
In March 2018, the University of Kansas did a study on how many hours it takes for someone to make a friend. They found that it takes around 50 hours of socializing to go from acquaintance to friend, an additional 40 hours to become a quality friend and a total of 200 hours to become a best friend.1
The consensus? Lasting friendships don’t happen overnight. Like most worthwhile things, they take time to cultivate.
So, what does this mean for us? We need to stop worrying about how that woman over there seems to charm everyone she meets and understand that it will take her just as much time to make a new friend as it will for you. There’s no secret, aside from time spent investing in friendships. Now the question becomes less about what's wrong with me and more about how am I spending my time?
I still don’t care much for swimming. I will never feel confident on the diving board because I don’t spend time getting comfortable with the water. In the same way, if we don’t make time to pursue friendships, then we will never go deep. We will never get comfortable with having real conversations that take a friendship from acquaintance to quality friend. We will never learn how to prioritize our time to see a friend on a regular basis. We will never sacrifice what’s easiest for us to serve a friend’s need.
You see, friendship needs cultivating. If we really want close friendships in our lives, then we need to change our habits to make time for our friends.
A friend of mine always says, “Friend time is the best time,” and even though I know it’s true, it always makes me want to roll my eyes at how corny and trite it is. But now I think friend time may be the best time because it allows meaningful communities and real connections to flourish.
Bailey T. Hurley is a community-builder, who encourages women to root themselves in their faith so they can grow fruitful fellowship. Learn more about Bailey at baileythurley.com.
1 Hall, “How Many Hours Does It Take to Make a Friend?” (Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, March 2018)