You Don’t Have to Like Everyone, But You Should Probably Love Them

To close off this series of articles about making and maintaining friendships in college, I thought I’d talk about the elephant in the room: what to do when you see a friendship headed in the opposite direction of deepening a relationship. 

First off, I’d like to say that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that;there are 7 billion people on this planet, you’re most probably not going to click or get along great with everyone (in fact, it would be really weird if you did). That’s why I don’t think you need, nor are probably able, to like everyone you meet and become BFFs forever. What you should aim for, however, is loving them, and loving them well.

The way I like to think this (at times) conflicting diktat through is by following the traditional and well-known Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. I start by thinking about the way I must appear to others when I first get to know them (the very beginning of the friendship-making stage). Internally, I know that it’s at this point that I am my most people-pleasing self (who is far from being my true, authentic self). When I make a joke, I look anxiously around me to see who laughed. When I want to bring up a new topic of conversation, I awkwardly stumble my way through nonsensical sentences that take the long road to get to the point. Even in situations where I don’t expect a long-lasting friendship to form, I feel this intense need to “win over” the other person (or persons), almost to validate my socializing abilities. And even if outwardly I don’t appear as nervous as I think I am, the constant doubt and anxiety is keeping me from focusing on the true purpose of the interaction: forming a relationship with another individual. I mean, think about it—why do we want friends? What do we love most about our permanent friends (also known as family members)? It’s very likely that the qualities the people you’re closest to embody are something close to the following: loyalty, warmth, dependability, good-humor, and most importantly, unconditional love. 

“LOVE” by MoToMo is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

To end this little “visualizing” exercise, think about how you act around people whom you’re trying to impress, people whose love you feel you have to “earn,” versus how you act around those whose love you know you’ve secured no matter what, because they love you just for existing. Those are probably two radically different people who go about deepening relationships in two radically different ways. The former probably gets stuck or overwhelmed with the pressure which they place on themselves to constantly be at “peak performance,” setting roadblocks which they don’t even realize they’re creating by trying to hide, or change, some essential and lovely parts of themselves. The latter, on the other hand, is likely lifted up and comforted by the love they know they’re being granted, and thus allow all of their inner being to shine through in different points of the relationship. The difference, therefore, is how much of a person you get or give away—and it’s always going to be easier and more meaningful to deepen a relationship with someone when you’re both willing to give it all to each other. So love everyone and love them well, because sometimes the only thing a person needs is a little love to break open their shell.

Main Takeaways: 

  • Although you don’t have to like everyone, it’s important that you learn to love them, and do so well. Loving others is a way of selflessly allowing them to be open with you, and can often lead, if not to stronger friendships, then at least to better and more open interactions with others. 
  • You don’t really lose anything from loving others—in fact, the more you give, the more you get! Don’t be afraid to take a chance and give others a chance to show you who they really are when they’re not tied down by the pressure of constantly trying to impress or win you over. You’ll be surprised how much of a difference a little honesty and a whole lot of love can make.

Chiara Jurczak is a second-year student at Northeastern University where she is majoring in Political Science and Communication Studies. She is currently finding new ways to explore her passions for creative writing, publishing and political crises, and hoping to figure it all out sooner rather than later. In her free time, you can find her reading, baking, or trying to talk her friends into going on fun (and at times strange) adventures.

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