Growing up, I was told the key to making new friends is to be nice to everyone. Don’t be fooled. People who are nice to everyone do not make friends, only acquaintances. For example, there’s a girl in my grade who is nice to everyone. She was nominated Homecoming princess 3 years in a row and is involved with best buddies. I always see her surrounded by people, but never the same people. Nevertheless, she is liked by everyone. And I admire her ability to be kind to everyone. It’s a trait I lack, but I’d personally rather be disliked by many and have a few close friends than be liked by everyone and have multiple acquaintances. She is an example of a person who is nice to everyone and struggles to still have a close knit group of friends.
Before going any further, I should probably define what I believe qualifies a friend as a “friend”. A friend, to me, is someone who knows your wi-fi password, someone who’s slept over at your house, someone you can be comfortable with in silence. I hold a high standard for who I title as a friend because I treat them to a higher standard. In contrast, people who are nice to everyone have trouble juggling such closeness with a multitude of people who hold varying degrees of affection towards them, making it difficult to sustain a true friendship.
As humans, we are naturally competitive creatures. It’s illustrated in academics, sports, and beauty pageants. We desire to feel special. It’s the same with friendships. If a person I consider as a friend is nice to everyone, how am I supposed to know where I stand with him/her? I’d feel replaceable. In my mind I think, “Well, she already has so many friends. I’m sure I won’t be missed. I’d also rather not be someone’s second choice.” That’s the problem with being nice to everyone. Therefore, I believe the key to making long sustainable friendships is to be moderately cold towards people who you are not interested in and being significantly nicer to those you are.
I’m not saying people should be jerks to other people, but rather it’s ok to “play favorites”. It reassures friends that they are more important than other people in your life, which is true. My friends are more important to me than anyone else, besides family. That’s why I find it logical to only treat them as such.
Do you think it’s possible to be nice to everyone and still maintain a small, close knit group of friends? If yes, how do you prevent anyone from feeling left out?