How to Make Friends without Expectations

How to Make Friends without Expectations January 12, 2022

Last week, while I was bartending at the local watering hole, a patron stopped me to ask if I would be his friend. He had written his number down on a beverage napkin. He assured me that his intention was purely authentic. He didn’t have a lot of friends in town, and he really enjoys talking to me. He reiterated over and over that he understands that I am married, and he only wants friendship.

We then discussed how unfortunate it is that we live in a society that assumes men and women cannot be friends without any sexual or physical attraction. The assumption goes that if a woman befriends a man, or a man befriends a woman, there must be something going on between them.

Well, of course, there is! There’s a connection happening. There is a beautiful flow of energy that vibrates on the same frequency and individuals like to share that with one another. What has happened to us as humans that we only allow connections to occur if it can lead to something sexual?

Commercialization of every connection has mounted quite a battle against the platonic relationship structure. Marketing strategies assume the male-female dynamic will always produce romance and sex. If he buys you flowers, that’s a symbol of romantic love. If she buys you a jersey of your favorite sports team, that’s a symbol of romantic love. We’ve essentially aligned relationships with purchases and given every material item an attachment to the modern romantic relationship.

There’s also the Mike Pence rule, formerly known as the Billy Graham rule. It says that men and women who are not already in a romantic relationship together should not be alone in the same room as one another. Considering the “me too” movement, it’s understandable why men seek to avoid spaces in which they can be accused of foul play. My husband spent 14 years in the military, and he experienced similar avoidances that were prescribed within his unit for safety purposes. The goal was to ensure a woman would never feel threatened about being alone with a man. And as you may know, sexual assault plagued the US military for some time- and to a degree, still does. There are many reasons why we generalize and make assumptions about the interactions of men and women, alone.

There are also many people who have experienced infidelity within their relationships, and it comes as a result of putting too much faith and trust in another and in their relationship. Betrayal does occur. And many couples would rather institute regulations to prevent that from happening. Boundaries can certainly help prevent betrayal but too stringent of boundaries can also lead to betrayal.

With more and more individuals stepping into their true authentic natures, and with more and more individuals reflecting on their sexual identity and orientation, I think it’s time that we reconsider the weird and reckless rules we have cloaked relationships with. We must stop assuming sexual attraction and focus more on the possibility that humans are naturally attracted to other humans simply because we want someone to connect to.

Does that mean that sexual attraction between two grown adults doesn’t occur? Absolutely not. It does happen. Two people who are not married to one another, but are in fact married to someone else, could find themselves swept up in an attraction that surmounts what they expected. But perhaps we have placed too much emphasis on “attraction” and have merged the definition to fit snuggly within “sexual attraction” to simplify what is taking place.

Just as we adults have unfortunately equated anything pleasurable to the realm of sex; we also use “attraction” synonymously with “sexual attraction.” And the reason behind it is for the sake of simplification. And in a world dependent on capitalistic and monogamous endeavors, this makes sense for the material individual. Simple categories are set up by simple people who want simplistic and comfortable engagements so that they can continue being productive robots for their economy and the American dream. Connections are no longer the purpose of life but are a byproduct of our prestigious productivity.

Social bonds have been distorted and disconnected thanks to this viral epidemic. What’s more, is that now that some of us are refusing to conform to these narratives of social distancing and fear of the infectious, we are dipping our toes back into the proverbial waters of possibility. In doing so, many are laying down their lists of requirements for relationships. Just like the traditional Tinder requirements, we are adjusting our boundaries to conform to the policies of the government. What this means is that more individuals are seeking out connections with contingencies.

I have written in the past about the problematic prerequisites of Tinder. They are atrocious and superficial. But the search for friendships amidst a post-pandemic populous requires more stringent restrictions, caveats, and requirements that may make most of us shun the idea of connection ever again.

Individuals are facing difficulty in making friends but are the individual expectations of engagement too much for most?

In one advertisement for friendship, I came across this tweet. The prerequisites for connection include label affiliation of social status. The gist is that you must be like me in order to be my friend. You must ascribe to my belief system, be a part of my group-think narratives, and oppose what I oppose. You must also support what I support. And in the Twitter-sphere, your bio must contain these labels and affiliations in order for me to verify your like-minded status.

Look, I understand a desire to want to find someone who is just like me. But then I think about who I am and how I act, and I recognize that I need something more beyond me. I may think this way and I may believe that way, but if I am to grow and challenge myself, I must also surround myself with people who do not think like me, who do not behave like me, and who don’t look like me. Otherwise, I am just asking for the comfort of homogeneity.

Let’s take this back to Jesus for a minute. He went around seeking out disciples. He propositioned many individuals and asked them to hang out with him, be his friend; not because they were just like him, but because they were different from him. He chose an eclectic and diverse group of people to surround himself with. He spoke to all sorts of people, made friends with Pharisees, Gentiles, Jews, Samaritans, even criminals, and prostitutes. He didn’t walk around with a clipboard asking people if they could check this box or that box.

Some may say, “The disciples all shared the same vision as Jesus, except Judas. They were all like-minded.” But I would ask, were they like-minded or did they have the mind of Christ? Not the mind of Jesus, but the mind of the eternal? This is the distinction that separates the utility of prerequisites from the possibility of change through connection.

Jesus didn’t ask others to denounce their religion or follow a new religion. Jesus didn’t ask those he healed to protest or insult others. Jesus didn’t ask others to wear a mask or get a vaccine to be his friend. For crying out loud, Jesus hung out with the most infectious of all people- Lepers!

As within romantic relationships, when we give a list of expectations to an individual that we may find a genuine connection with, we insert ego-centric mindsets within the bond rather than waiting to see which boundaries and balances are already established. Expectation is of the ego, always.

The same can be said for creating connections with the opposite sex. This idea is really antiquated in the first place. Jesus befriended many women in his time, and despite rumors, as far as what was written, he never got down and did the deed with any women. (Albeit I would be inclined to suggest there was a possible hook up with Mary Magdalene, but I digress.)

It seems we are always looking for ways to dissuade ourselves from connection even while we are claiming that we want connection. I want connection, but only insofar as it fulfills the contract of connection I have presented before you. Isn’t it possible that this idea that people must be like-minded, that another must think like me, believe like me, and act like me really an avenue for perpetual loneliness and disconnection?

If you want to be friends with someone you may think voted for Trump and you are using that as an excuse to pursue the relationship, what does that say about you? It says that you are seeking out ways to NOT make friends. And that seems opposed to the idea that you want friends, doesn’t it?

If you are feeling lonely and desire a connection, let go of expectations. Let go of the idea that you can control how another thinks or feels about any particular topic. If you want to ensure you are finding a fulfilling friendship, stop looking for a way to put another in a box. Is there someone you want to connect with who doesn’t wear a mask out in public? Instead of judging their motives, why not strike up a conversation and ask that person why they choose the way they do. And be open to the possibility of a liberating response. Be open to the possibility that a conversation can change your mind. Be open to the possibility that a true connection can occur even in the face of opposite beliefs and ideals.


About Danielle M Kingstrom
Danielle Kingstrom is the creator and host of the Recorded Conversations podcast. A podcast dedicated to compassionately considering all perspectives while engaging in authentic, connected dialogue. Her writing and work are dedicated to integrating the erotic into our everyday lives by looking through a theological lens of eroticism. Danielle is an erotic embodiment advisor, in that she assists other with understanding, embracing, and fully integrating their sexual identity into every layer of life. She helps couples and individuals develop the confidence of living into the erotic self. You can read more about the author here.

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