It is common for people to wonder: how long does it take to form a friendship? We want to understand the dynamics of friendships so we can build them successfully, enhance our social lives and know when to cut our losses.
The Ingredients of Friendship
In order to answer the question above, we first need to understand what makes a friendship. From a psychological perspective, a friendship is not defined by rules or norms, it is defined by emotions.
In other words, you can call a person friend when there are certain positive emotions between you. Among these emotions, some of the most important are comfort and trust. Let’s take a look at how these two emotions develop between two people.
Comfort is an emotion that results from the fact two people know each other and they discover commonalities. Generally, when we’ve just met a new person and they’re almost a stranger, we lack comfort and we feel somewhat apprehensive.
This is because we barely know anything about that person and they barely know anything about us. As we get to know each other, as we discover simple commonalities between us, we start to feel more at ease.
Trust is an element that emerges when we know we can count on a person to be authentic and to help us in need. Trust is formed when two people have integrity, meaning that they align their thoughts with their words and their words with their deeds.
It is also formed when two people show the willingness and ability to support each other. When one person has a problem and the other provides some thoughtful advice, when one person needs a helping hand and the other offers it, trust surfaces.
Back To the Question and the Answer
Now, with a good understanding of the emotional makeup of a friendship, it’s a lot easier to figure out how long it takes to form a friendship.
As a rule, we could say that it takes for a friendship to form the amount of time required for a decent amount of comfort and trust to develop between two people. This doesn’t say a lot, as there is plenty of variation from on case to another, but it does allow us to set some general guidelines.
In general, comfort can be built relatively easy. If two people are open and talkative, they can get to know each other in just a couple of hours of conversation and develop a sense of rapport. These hours of conversation typically happen in just a week or two.
Trust requires a bit more time to develop. The first level of trust appears when two individuals are willing to be authentic and put themselves out there as they are. Provided they’re relatively comfortable in their own skin, this can happen quite quickly.
The second level of trust requires more time, as the friendship needs to be tested. You often only discover that somebody is your true friend when you request of them something important a couple of times, and this can happen over a couple of months.
Overall, it takes a month or two for true trust to develop, and that’s the amount of time it also takes a friendship to form as well. So there you have it: most of the time, it takes one or two months to form a friendship.
Keep in mind though that this interval can vary quite a lot depending on the persons and the social dynamics. If two persons are really sociable, have good conversation skills, share meaningful commonalities and they interact often, a true friendship can emerge in just a couple of weeks.