Have you ever wondered how that classmate, coworker, or gym member went from stranger to vina? Whether reflecting on an old friendship or trying to start a new one, self-disclosure is the key factor in developing friendships… But WTF is self-disclosure??
Self-disclosure is a social psychology term used to describe when a person intentionally reveals information about themselves to another person. AKA being vulnerable and truthful about themselves. It’s how our relationships shift from stranger, to acquaintance, to friend, to best friend.
Occasionally we meet someone that can go from stranger to best friend within an hour, but other than the occasional click, friendships take time and effort to develop. Here are some tips to navigate through the different phases of friendship:
STRANGER TO AQUAINTANCE
Whether it’s the gal on your morning commute who’s always rocking the dopest kicks, or that admirable yogi in your evening workout class, how do you spark up conversation with a stranger you see as a potential vina? Start with a genuine compliment or a question! Create opportunities to reveal things about yourself, and to hear things about someone else. Over time, your conversations will become a habit – a part of your routine that you both can look forward to.
ACQUAINTANCE TO FRIEND
After sharing some basic information with your almost-vina, make plans outside of your normal structure! Get coffee, drinks, or have lunch at the park. While expanding your environment, you’ll expand what you know about each other. You can’t really form a true friendship with the girl on your morning commute unless you take the chatter off the train.
This is a great time to share experiences, hopes, and minor pet peeves. When a friendship is still developing, it is important that both people are giving similar effort. If one person is constantly self-disclosing or getting too personal too soon, the friendship might not reach the next step. Try to always be aware of the other person to gauge what and how much you share. Most relationships stay in the acquaintance to friend range, and that’s ok! You can have a great, fulfilling friendship that never makes it into the “best friend” stage. Let’s be honest – not many people can handle the whole truth!
FRIEND TO BEST FRIEND
When the bond is real and your daily life not only feels better with someone, but also feels worse without her, you might be entering best friend territory. However, unlike the other phases, the title of best friend requires both people to be on the same page. While it is possible for one person to think of the other as an acquaintance while the other thinks they’re friends, the title of best friends requires a desire for closeness that is shared by both people. This doesn’t mean sitting down to a candle lit dinner to announce that you’ve made it to this step in your relationship. More often than not, this shift happens slowly and under the radar through self-disclosure. As you and your vina share more about yourselves, you become comfortable and create a bond that you can both depend on. When you have reached the best friend stage, you no longer worry if you will be accepted by your vina – you simply know you will.
It might seem scary AF to share information about ourselves and make ourselves vulnerable at first, but the only way to be accepted for who you are is to be known!! Let yourself be open to sharing and to hearing what others share with you and you will see your relationships become deeper. With the right amount of self-disclosure at the appropriate times, you can create closer bonds with all of the vinas in your life.
Even though this theory is based in social psychology, it’s demonstrated best in real life scenarios! Have you found that vulnerability is key to deepening friendships? Tell us your experience in the comments!