Do they see you as a friend, or just a fan?

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get to know a person better, especially if you see qualities in them you admire. You may appreciate someone’s talents, sense of humor, or interest in a topic you’re passionate about. And while these things can be great reasons to strike up a conversation, they don’t necessarily ensure that that person will make a good friend for you.

A good friend is just as interested in your life as you are in theirs. They’re willing to invest time and effort into letting you know that they care about you, and that they like hanging out with you. If you find that the people you’re going out of your way to spend time with are treating you more like a fan than a friend, you might need to re-examine your relationship with him/her.

So how do you know if you are a friend or just a fan?

  1. Are you always the one starting the conversations and suggesting you spend time together? If so, then may be a fan and not a friend.
  2. Does she share information about her life without you asking, and introduce you to her other friends? If not, she may see you are her fan, not her friend.
  3. Do you feel like she’s trying to include you in her life? If not, then you are probably a fan but not her friend.

It’s important that you answer these questions honestly, because the more time you spend trying to be friends with someone who doesn’t think of you as a friend, the more you’re missing out on the potential for good friendships.

So how do you find real friends that you can rely on? Here are three tips from our team:

  • Be open-minded: The friends who are best suited to you don’t have to be the most popular, or the most outgoing students at your school. They might not even be the people that you’ve known the longest. Let go of the image you’re holding of your ideal group of friends, and be open to the possibility that the best friends for you might be people you didn’t expect. Don’t pay attention to social labels. Instead, pay attention to how your friends treat you, and how much you enjoy your time together. It’s much less important to have friends that belong to a specific social group, than it is to have friends you can trust and rely on.
  • Get involved in activities you’re interested in: Don’t participate in activities you don’t like in order to attract a certain group of friends. That’s lame. You’ll grow tired of faking an interest in the activity, and other people will be able to tell that your heart isn’t really in it. To get some good friends you should join clubs or activities that you’re actually interested in. You’ll have a much easier time connecting with the people you meet there because they have similar interests and attitudes.
  • Let them earn your friendship: Relationships require give and take. However, you shouldn’t be the only one giving. If you find that you are the only one doing nice things, then the other person may be taking advantage of you. That does not mean you should always expect something in return for doing something nice. Friends do nice things for each other. Be wary of a person who is always asking for favors, but is nowhere to be found when you’re the one asking. Be careful about trusting your secrets with someone who has proven themselves to not be a good friend. Don’t stress over making time in your schedule for someone who is always backing out of plans or turning down your invitations. The people who deserve your time and effort are the ones who have shown that they genuinely care about you and want to have a place in your life.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell who is really your friend, and who isn’t. That’s why it’s so important to remember that a good friend is a person who makes you feel appreciated and cared about. Look for the people who make time in their schedule for you and want to include you in their lives. These are the people who consider you to be their friend, and these are people that deserve your friendship in return.

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Isa Marrs is the Founder and Executive Director of the Where I Can Be Me® social skills program. She is a board-certified speech-language pathologist who specializes in pragmatic language (social skills) disorders in children. Read More