This is part two of the article series on how to make friends. Part 1 is here: Friendship: How to Meet New People? This is the “meat and potatoes” of the series because many people really don’t know where to start when it comes to making new friends or meeting new people. Friendship seems unattainable to many although it is well within reach. This article will help you learn how to make friends.
How to Make Friends: Overcoming The Fear Factor
Making new friends can be intimidating or scary. You need to, as Susan Jeffers puts it in her classic, best-selling self-help book, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway. (By the way, she has since come out with a new and even more popular book called Feel the Fear…and Beyond: Mastering the Techniques for Doing It Anyway.) If you want to beat loneliness, you have to put yourself out there. You may have to face some rejection, but that, unfortunately, is part of life.
What you need to realize at the outset is that there are so many people in the world that some are going to like you and some are not going to like you and that is simply a statistical fact. You can’t please everyone. So it is important to try not to take any rejection personally and we will discuss that more later, but most of the time, if someone rejects you, it is not about you. And even when they reject you for a personal reason, it still usually says more about the other person than it does about you.
Methods of Meeting People
When you are searching for a new friendship, the key is to cast a wide net. By this, I mean that you can try many different strategies to meet people. Think of them as experiments. If something does not work, don’t sweat it, just try something else. The broader your efforts at meeting people, the more you are likely to succeed. That is how to make friends in a nutshell.
Before I list ways to meet people, if you like, I suggest you grab a pen and paper (or Word document) and take a few minutes to write out a list of places that you can think of where you could realistically meet new people. You probably can think of more than you realize! Just brainstorm. Don’t throw out any ideas until you have really thought about whether they are realistic options for you.
Places to meet new people:
- Attend a support group. Support groups are a great way to make new friends. It could be a group for people who have similar health issues or life challenges, or a group for people of the same age or sex. Maybe other people in the group also wonder how to make friends.
- Find community activities listed in your local entertainment weekly online. Activities could include sporting events, theatrical productions, concerts, art shows, poetry readings, book signings, civic groups, special interest groups, and political meetings.
- Take a course. It doesn’t have to be something very academic. It could be something fun like pottery or making glass beads or whatever you happen to be interested in. Depending on the size of the community you live in, there may be thousands of courses available.
- Join a choir.
- Join a church if the spirit moves you.
- If money is tight, consider going to your local library and looking in the newspaper for listings of free events. Spend time in places that are free, like a local bookstore with couches where you can sit and read for a while. You will have a feeling of connection even without any dialogue with others.
- Volunteer. Strong bonds often are formed when people work together on projects of mutual concern. When volunteering, you are already with a group of people with a common interest. Examples of volunteer activities: You could help out at a soup kitchen, read to children in day care, visit people in nursing homes, deliver ﬂowers in the hospital, or serve on a political or social action committee. You could bring snacks for the other volunteers and arrange a time to get together and eat with them for more social contact.
- Join a meetup group. Increasingly popular, http://www.meetup.com is a site that you can go to online to find local meetup groups. There are all sorts of different groups ranging from very specific special interest groups such as “pug dog lovers” to extremely general such as “friends”. See what’s available in your area or start your own meetup group. Most meetup groups are very welcoming. If you go to one that does not suit you, try another one. There are many and a lot of people are making new friends this way these days because many people wonder how to make friends once they are out of school and this is just a great way to do it!
How to Make Friends: Turning Acquaintances into Friends
The nice thing about the methods of meeting new friends that I listed above is that they involve getting out and getting social! Even if you don’t meet new bosom buddies right away, just being around people should help alleviate your sense of loneliness and isolation. But you probably still wonder, once you meet people, how to make friends with them, how to turn acquaintances into more meaningful friendships.
Sometimes, reaching out to establish a friendship can just happen simply and casually. However, often, you have to work to make it happen. The key is to be casual, to get to know someone slowly, and not to come on too strongly.
How to turn an Acquaintanceship into a Friendship
- Ask the person out to coffee or lunch.
- Invite the person for a walk or to some other activity with you.
- Call or text the person with some good news they might be interested in.
- Send a short, friendly email and see if they reply.
- Talk to them about something of mutual interest.
- Offer to help them with something if you think your help might be appreciated.
- Suggest going shopping or even just window-shopping.
Things to Remember: Proceed Slowly
When you’re feeling lonely, you might want to have a best friend overnight, but friendships just don’t work that way. Trust and true friendship take time to build. Test the waters and proceed slowly. That is the essence of how to make friends.
You may find that as you both enjoy each other more, the friendship gradually deepens. Be sure to take stock and be aware of how you feel when you are with the other person. If you feel good about yourself, this may be the beginning of a beautiful and fulfilling friendship.
Have you ever had a close friend before? If not, it may be difficult to know when and how to deepen the friendship. Even if you have had a close friendship before, it can be hard to know how to make friends because many of us formed our initial circle of friends in school.
Once you begin to feel more comfortable with a person, feel content and at ease when the two of you are together, you will know that your friendship is growing. Make sure you are paying attention to how the other person is feeling when they are with you. You can do this by listening closely to what they are saying, by noticing their body language and responses, and by asking them.
Don’t Rush Intimacy
When you are lonely, it may be tempting to over-share, to contact the other person too often. Also, you might try to do other things that rush the intimacy of your friendship. Pace yourself. It’s not a race.
Plant Good Seeds
Think of beginning friendships like planting seeds. You need to give them nourishment — water, air, sunshine — and also room to grow. It is important to be patient and allow the friendship to grow the way you would allow a plant to grow. It can’t happen overnight. Any relationship that seems to happen overnight is, unfortunately, probably not going to be a strong or long-lasting one (although there are always exceptions).
Don’t Overwhelm your New Friend
Therefore, don’t overwhelm the person with phone calls or other kinds of contact. Use your intuition and common sense to determine when to call and how often. Don’t ever call late at night or early in the morning until you both have agreed to be available to each other in emergencies (for example, one of you is sick or has gotten some very bad news).
Once you know how to make friends, it can become a lifelong habit that will serve you well. You will get used to nurturing the seedlings of friendships in your life. You may even find that it is hard to find time for all the friendships that have blossomed as a result of your efforts. And that’s how to make friends.
- The Secrets to Strengthening and Holding onto Friendships so that they Last.