How to Tell if a Friendship is Real: Testing for Resonance (A True Story)

When it comes to creating strong connections: Resonance is everything.

While common values, similar interests, or a similar sense of humor is a good sign, it still doesn’t guarantee that you’ll feel the intuitive nudge to cultivate a friendship with a particular person. And sometimes, you may meet someone by chance who you would have never imagined would resonate with you, yet they do.

Having met thousands of people during my adventures and drawn many lessons from those interactions (97% of which were positive), I consider myself a pretty good judge of character. Yet this summer I realized that this may not be enough.

I’ll explain.

Act 1: A Delightful Host?

Once upon a couch, I was hosted by a smart, passionate woman who was relatively new to Couchsurfing. She shared my love of good, organic food; and, perhaps more importantly, she instinctively knew the importance of conscious growth. She knew she could make a measurable, positive difference in the world. Overall, she was a delightful young woman.

In between some plans that I’d made, we had the chance to hang out a bit. I met some of her friends; we all went out for a couple drinks — the usual Friday night thing, right? She was perhaps slightly naïve, but she had a kind of raw enthusiasm that I enjoyed. So early on, I suspected there was some good friend potential.

And then something refreshing happened: she began opening up to me. She also began asking some more personal questions, such as my relationship status, which I didn’t mind sharing with her. She also told me about how one of her friends was moving away, and how there weren’t a lot of other people in her life that she felt she could truly talk to about personal growth anymore.

I empathized. I was once in a similar situation, and I offered my support. If she wanted someone to talk to about such things, I’d be happy to stay in touch.

On the last day, we hugged goodbye; and I was happy to have made another growth-oriented friend… or had I?

Act 2: How to Blow Someone Off

On a subsequent visit to Madison, I sent her a text message telling her that I was in town for a few days and I’d like to stop by and say “Hi.”

Later that day, I received a disappointing reply. Apparently, she was spending time with her roommates that evening (before they all moved out), but she “hoped that I had a good visit to Madison.”

Now let me ask you, dear reader, does that sound like someone who has any desire to see me? She knew quite well that I would be in town for another 2 days; but as you and I know, if you don’t actually want to see someone, there won’t be time to see them. That’s all.

Clearly, I had misjudged the situation.

Later that day, I struck up a conversation with a local entrepreneur, selling his wares on the street. And I ended up venting to him and explaining what had happened. I was surprised that, after I had told him the story, he called her a “bitch”.

I thought that was pretty harsh. She wasn’t a bitch. She was just blowing me off. It happens. (It happens even more when travelling.) I had apparently been given a false impression. But hey, that’s life. So, I let it go.

I mean, I shouldn’t expect everyone to be able to handle my free-wheeling, internet-treehouse, California-bred, hippy lifestyle, right? 😉

Act 3: Discombobulated

And then, something oddly synchronistic happened.

While cycling around and deciding on where to eat, I turned around and saw her waiting by the curb, looking at me.

Seriously, what are the odds?

The conversation began with the obligatory “Hey! Whatcha up to? Good to see you!” type of sentences. She’d been under a bit more stress lately from her job, but otherwise well. And she was glad to hear the process of self-publishing my book was going well. We talked on the sidewalk for about 15 minutes, and then bid farewell.

As I locked up my bike a few minutes later, I realized something.

Her eyes.

There had been a kind of distant look within them. I didn’t want to pretend to know what was going on in her life. I didn’t. But after I reflected on how her presence made me feel, I realized that I felt a bit discombobulated after talking to her. It was as if her energy field was chaotic. And I had to ask myself: Did I really want to cultivate a friendship with such a person?


Just because this happened, doesn’t mean anyone is right or wrong in this case. You can’t predict resonance. You can only test for it. I thought that, based on a common interest in personal growth, I had made a new friend, but I’ve learned that there are no guarantees. Even if someone shares a value that I hold deeply, it doesn’t mean they will be a good match for me socially. And, to be completely frank, if their energy field is discombobulated, it makes my decision even easier.

Resonance is everything. And sometimes, you may be truly surprised at who you find yourself in resonance with.

For instance, I don’t usually initiate conversations with people in high school, mostly because people tend to be rather unstable during that time in their lives. But that didn’t stop me from listening to my intuition and striking up a conversation with a decidedly rad student as I waited outside the following day. We ended up talking for over an hour. And the remarkable thing? I actually felt energized after the conversation. Think of it: A high schooler actually cultivating a good attitude and having a bright, positive energy about them? Totally.


I’ve come back to it again and again on my adventures, and it remains the single most important factor in predicting where a connection will go. And when you have resonance with a person, the friendship takes on a life of its own. A kind of “third mind” results from the two of you spending time together. And then the strength of the friendship is obvious.

Resonance is everything.
Trust it, and it won’t let you down.

5 bits on How to Tell if a Friendship is Real: Testing for Resonance (A True Story)

  1. Awesome article! Knowing if friendship is real especially if you are looking forward establishing a long-lasting relationship is very important, and it should involve knowing the other person very well.

  2. Thank you for this, “Just because this happened, doesn’t mean anyone is right or wrong in this case.” For some reason, if I don’t connect with someone, I often come away feeling guilty that I could make something happen there…

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