In a recent study about social connections, most people reported having only two or three people in which they felt close enough to share personal details about their life. That number dropped from decades ago, where the average was closer to four or five, and experts see that number dropping even more in the future.
It’s no wonder 3.5 MILLION people are searching online for “how to make new friends.” If you are one of them, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Social connectedness is instrumental to our overall health and well-being, and as you know I fully believe LONELINESS is an EPIDEMIC. Millions and millions of people literally feel alone every single day.
But how can 3.5 million people feel alone every month to seek new ways to meet new friends? Well, because seemingly making friends gets harder as we age. We are less social in general, are limited in the number of people we connect with on a day-to-day basis, and often get stuck in our ruts and routines that don’t put us in situations to make new friends.
However, I FULLY believe YOU can make new friends anywhere you go, you just have to get outside of your comfort zone and make the effort.
It’s hard to make new friends if you aren’t curious. What I mean is to be interested in people. Notice people around you.
Just like romantic relationships, we have “friend connections.” These are people you meet who you are instantly attracted to in a platonic way.
I remember my very good friend Izzy came up to me at an event and said, “I came here to meet you!” I was totally taken back, but she’d seen some work I was doing and she felt something from her side. That was almost six years ago and we’ve been close ever since. Whenever you get a “hit” like this, that someone has something special about them, or they’ve caught your eye in some way, tell them, approach them, talk to them.
Here’s how to identify these feelings, it could look/feel like:
- Have we met before? You look familiar.
- You are at a social gathering and you’ve spent the majority of the time in conversation with one person.
- You notice an energy about a person that seems light or good.
It could also feel VERY different for you. This is how it’s almost always worked for me. There’s an instant connection. But, you have to put yourself out there a little for this to happen. That means join groups, attend a meetup, be more active on Facebook (yes, I’ve made friends from Facebook!), go to church, or do anything that aligns with your personality. When you are there, keep your mind and your heart open.
Here are some of the places I’ve met friends over the years since moving to Denver. In a parking lot, at networking events, through other friends (birthday gatherings, social events), work and business partnerships.
Once you’ve found a person who you had some connection with, even if only for a few seconds, you need, I mean you absolutely MUST take the initiative. You need to call them, email them, OR Facebook request them and THEN YOU MUST set up ANOTHER TIME to meet. It’s just like dating. If you don’t take the initiative, nothing will ever happen.
Do they want to…
- Grab a drink/coffee
- Go for a walk
- See a movie
- Attend a local event
- Get lunch
What do you like to do? Think about some fun things you could do to cultivate the friendship. You need to take another step in order to move forward the friendship forward.
When a good childhood friend of mine moved back to Colorado a few years ago from Florida, I told her my biggest piece of advice is if you meet someone you connect with—take the initiate to keep that relationship going. People are busy, they want more friends, but sometimes it’s hard to make time unless someone does the initiating. Be the person who does the asking…
There are people in this world that are connectors; these are the people who invite you to everything. (I tend to fall into that category with friends.) The more you ask people to get together—whether solo or to a group activity, the more friends you will make.
People LOVE to be invited and to feel included. It directly correlates with our need for social connectedness and belonging.
You want that. So do they. So ask them to get together again. Get the courage and do it.
Once you’ve decided to meet up again, it’s time to strengthen that relationship. The key to any deep, meaningful relationships is openness. In order to for someone to feel connected to you and for you to feel connected to them, you need to experience a sense of genuineness. You want to get past talking about the weather.
That does not mean you unload everything on them in a matter of minutes. They don’t need all the details of your life the first time you meet.
You must start slow. Allow the relationship to build and strengthen over time. Just because the first few times you meet, your conversation didn’t get personal, doesn’t mean it can’t. There are friends, however, that every time you see them, no matter how long it’s been, your relationship goes deep—real fast. Those are my favorite types of relationships, but they didn’t start that way.
You see, there’s a law of reciprocity. It states that people share at equal intervals. You share a little, they share a little. You share a little more, they share a little more. It keeps bouncing this way until you’ve established a sense of trust in one another.
The most important thing here is to remember that this takes time. There are and will be some people in your life that it happens instantly with, but that’s not everyone, and we shouldn’t expect that from people.
Here’s what you want to look for in a potential new friend:
- Are they positive? Do you feel better when you leave them than when you first got together?
- Can you trust them? Do you believe what they are saying and do you feel secure around them?
- Will this person make you a better person? Will this person be a good person to hang out with socially? Will this person be a good athletic partner? We have friends for different reasons, what type of friend could this be?
It’s scary to open up, that’s why most people go slow. Trust that your relationship will develop in the right time as long as you continue to take the initiative.
Be a Good Friend to Have a Good Friend.
I truly believe in this old saying that you must be a good friend to have a good friend. So what does being a good friend look like to you? Are you being that person to the people you meet?
To me a good friend is someone who:
- Is positive and I walk away feeling good after our time together.
- Someone who is trustworthy.
- Someone who is fun and lighthearted. (Their life isn’t always in turmoil and they don’t need to be rescued every time we are together.)
- Someone who is open-minded.
- Someone who is flexible and adaptable.
- Someone that I can pick up where we left off, no matter how long it’s been. (I’m not made to feel guilty because I haven’t seen them in so long.)
- Someone who can/is willing to get into a good, open, deep conversation about life.
That’s what my friends look like to me, and that’s what I try to be for others. Your idea of a friend could look COMPLETELY different.
Whatever it is, that’s okay. Just get out there and make an effort to meet new people. Loneliness is be a crime. This planet is filled with millions of people, like you, who want to make new friends.
Some friends you’ll win, some friends you’ll loose. Some will be in your life for a time, some will be there until the end.
However many friends you want to cultivate, whether two or twenty, they are out there waiting for you. What would it take for you to meet a new friend today?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on making friends. What other tips would you share with people?