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How to make life long friends in university

Gone are the days of easy friendship with whoever was in the park with you. Replaced instead with the slow realization that sometimes – being an adult sucks.  

The trade off from fast friends is the comfortable silence on long car rides with long-time friends.  

Older people often lament the difficulty of making new friends, or the lack of familiarity new friends have when compared with lifelong friends. As life continues moves forward, maintaining friendships is hard work. There’s a reason why not many high school friend groups survive into people’s forties. There’s a reason not many people carry over their work friendships from job to job.  

So how does making a long-term friendship work?  

Unfortunately, like most things in life, there are no hard and fast rules. Be wary of anyone who claims they have the golden rule for life-long friends. It will often sound something like “be careful who you choose to live with second year/sit beside/lab with, they’ll be you’re friend for life!” 

That’s simply not true, or rather, not explicitly true.  

For example, it’s possible that long term university roommates end up in a polygamist cult in B.C.  

It’s possible that people just chose to lab with people who will get them better grades.  

It’s possible that no one actually talks to strangers in class anymore.  

The good news is there are some similarities in the stories of people who have maintained friendships well into adulthood.  

The common ground is shared interest. The people who have lifelong friends tend to have figured out what they enjoy doing when they are not studying or swiping for a sex opponent.  

University is fertile ground for meeting people with shared interests. There are over 300 clubs and societies on campus. Do you like arguing with people? There’s a club for that. Board games? Club for that. Any sport? Team for that. Drinking tea? There’s a club for that. Stabbing people wearing white with a fancy sword? There’s a team for that too. Can’t find your interest? Make a club for that. 

These types of clubs do two things generally: provides a group of people with a known shared interest to talk about when conversation falters. And it makes people more likely to want to hang out after the activity is done. Also, people tend to have a good time when doing something they enjoy.  

Now here’s the super straight forward advice that sounds kind of dumb: Date the people you want to be friends with. After all what’s dating for? (If your answer involves genitalia you will probably have a hard time both making friends and in relationships.)  

Dating is just a fancy word for forming a tight bond with someone in which intimacy is not scary. That’s what friendships are. That’s what relationships are. That is what human interaction is all about.  

But if two people are dating without the intention of being romantic, what are they supposed to do? Remember that club with the shared interest? Start with that. As conversation happens more avenues will open up. 

And hey, sometimes they won’t all work out, either way – university is still happening. But that’s fine, most people don’t have room for more than a handful of truly close friends.


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