This answer was originally posted on Quora. While my answer here may be a bit long winded and not straight to the point, I wanted to give the OP a broader idea why and how friendship is created. Mind you, this is advice given to someone who is seeking friendships and not for people who have a solid character.
This is half dependent on what your personality is like, how you communicate, what your expectations are, your environment and how far you are willing to go for those friendships. For some, communication, expectation, willingness are a natural part of their character and behaviour. The other half are the dynamics of two or more people involved in the fray.
Of course, this is really a ‘dance’ when it comes down to any sort of relationship. While it’s true that a person can dance with oneself, ultimately, dancing with oneself in my opinion, is the fulfillment of being a narcissist. While many people do go into all sorts of relationship dancing to their own beat, ultimately, those relationships suffer because the person is unable or unwilling to recognize that the world does not revolve solely around them. Not everyone is willing to dance to their beat solely.
Indeed, it’s possible to make friendships without ever changing or evolving yourself. Most people are like this. In fact, most people reinforce the idea that changing oneself to suit the desires of the collective is a bad thing. It is and it isn’t.
It is because you shouldn’t have to compromise yourself and your principles. However, it isn’t because you’re not changing yourself from an Apple Fruit to a Rubber Tire. You’re changing yourself from an Apple Fruit to an Apple Fruit Salad with an optional side of pineapples, coconut juice and cherries.
If you want friendships, you can’t just dance to the beat and sound in your head. If you want friendships, you need to know how to match your dance to that of the person or people you wish to have a relationship with.
In business, you want to choose the partners that you can easily get your thoughts across the easiest, have similar or the same goals, have similar or the same visions and processes. In romance, you want to choose the partner(s) that complement your life, share with you the process of growth, an intimacy that continue to evolve your partnership while refining over time to the needs and wants of each partner involved.
Friendships are no different. There is a set of loosely established idealistic policies when people want to make friendships. So many people go out of their way to act on trying to make them. Here’s the thing though, friendships shouldn’t have to be made per se. Friendships should happen mainly by accident. Mind you, I am not necessarily saying that any stranger you randomly bump into can be a friend. I am also not saying that any person you introduce yourself to will not be a friend. What I am instead saying is that people shouldn’t have to go into a locale of people expecting to make friends, unless they have an ulterior motive, eg: a business motive and/or a sexual motive, etc. In other words, people should go into any locale and be opened to anything, even if nothing happens.
To clarify my last paragraph, a lot of people seeking new pen pals make the mistake of trying to make a friendship between him/herself and the other person/people. They shouldn’t need to try anything. It should just happen by the sheer dynamics of their rendezvous. If you need to exert yourself, there’s a problem already.
Of course, I am not saying it’s impossible to make friendships like that. However, I find friendships through a natural flow of dynamics much more inspiring and connective, than trying to fit into every piece of the puzzle by sheer will.
With the same advice I give to those seeking romance, love, business ventures and other forms of partnerships, my greatest and best advice to you is to build on your core self first. In the process of that, be opened to different ideals, other cultures, other languages, other interests and with that, you may very well invite some like minded souls to your direction.
Short personal story: I never had to make friendships in the entirety of my life. I never had to present myself to be available and willing. I was just at the right places at the right times. No matter which age I was, no matter my environment, I was constantly working on myself whether I was consciously aware of that or not. So throughout different periods of my life, I was interested in slightly different things. Through common subjects, people were made aware of those interests and communication happen between us. Some people ultimately came and went. Others came, stayed a bit and ultimately left as well. A handful of them stayed and continued to grow up with me.
Three of my friendships have lasted 30 years in the summer of 2016 and I still keep in touch with them to this day. I saw one of them three months ago. I play Minecraft with the other two on a mutual friend’s server.
Some additional more functional advice: Be involved, be open minded and not judgmental is really a great way to accept new people and create new friendships.
As Franklin Veaux will probably say, “Saying ‘Hi’ is where it all starts.”