Making new friends is extremely difficult when you don't know how. Who wants to start something only to struggle and fail?
That's why I've compiled a list of 11 reasons why you've been struggling in this area of your life and what you can do about it. When you recognize where you've been stuck in any of the common holding patterns listed below, you can more easily change your approach and begin building a fulfilling social life right away.
1. You believe that making friends should “just happen.”
There aren't many structures in place to help us make new friends after we graduate from high school. We must act like adults and create those opportunities and structures for ourselves.
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Sarah Jenks, a health and wellness coach, suggests devising a strategy for finding and making new friends that works for you, such as showing up at places where you believe people with your interests are already congregating. When you do this, you are not leaving things to chance, but rather taking steps to achieve your goals. Aside from making new friends, the practice of taking strategic action itself feels good.
2. You haven't realized that making friends is similar to dating
Last night, I attended a party hosted by my friend and charisma coach Fel Spar, and I ended up striking up a conversation with one of the women in attendance.
When I was about to leave for the night, Fel said to me, “Looks like you two had a lot of fun together.” You should plan a girls' night out!”
I texted my new friend as soon as I got home to set up a brunch date for next month. Making new friends is similar to dating in that you meet someone you like and set up a time to see them again. Fel is brilliant, and she has a lot more great information on making new friends quickly and easily on her website.
For whatever reason, scheduling new-friend dates is less common than it could be. It's natural to be hesitant about getting back together, but the important thing to remember is that when you feel a spark and genuinely enjoy each other, set a date!
3. You're afraid of coming across as creepy if you initiate conversations
Because of what I do for a living (teaching introverted men how to naturally attract women), this is a common fear I hear. The truth is that if there is genuine mutual interest and the invitation is gentle, it is not creepy! Indeed, my new friend and I were discussing this last night in the context of dating, and she said to men who have this fear, “If you think you're creepy, that means you're not!” Because the truly creepy ones are unaware that they are creepy.”
This is quite amusing, and there is definitely some truth in it. Rather than worrying about whether you're creeping out the other person, concentrate on whether there's a genuine mutual interest there and whether the other person is ENJOYING you. If she is, she would probably like to see you again, so it is not creepy to assist her in getting more of what she desires. This applies to both dating and friend situations.
4. You forget that your friends have other friends who are similar to them
Another nod to last night's fantastic gathering – My friend Fel gathered ten of the brightest women she knew because she believed that everyone should know each other. We had a lot in common because we were all her friends. It was a big hit, and we've already made plans to meet up for lunch or drinks and continue getting to know each other.
Start with the people you love and respect the most if you're looking for new friends. Organize a small get-together, or offer to co-host if your friend enjoys doing so. Then, even if you only invite a few more people, you're creating a fantastic opportunity for new friendships all around.
Bonus points for being a connector in your friends' eyes (and in reality), making you an even more appealing person to get to know. Everyone appreciates a connector, and it's not difficult to make one. It all starts with a small gathering or two to bring people together.
5. You haven't actually sat down and thought about what you want
Until my mid-twenties, I would make friends with anyone who happened to be nearby. It took a lot of effort to break this habit, and my first big push was at a business development weekend I attended.
I'd attended the same workshop the previous year and made only mediocre connections. Tossing business cards around like confetti doesn't usually get you very far.
So I said this time, “You know what? I'm going to look around this room and intentionally notice the people I like the most, who I'm drawn to.”
I had to think about what I wanted in a relationship first, and I settled on ambition, style, and grace. That weekend, I met three women, one of whom became a dear friend a few years later. Boom!
6. You put a lot of pressure on yourself to like everyone
You like everyone if you're a nice person, right? You certainly don't dislike people. At least, this is what I believed for the majority of my life.
I became much happier and more relaxed when I realized I could respect everyone and show kindness without flipping out over the opportunity to spend time with them. It is acceptable not to like everyone. You can't possibly do it, so don't try. If you like someone, take advantage of it by going on “dates” with them and getting to know them better. You'll soon develop a friendship.
Meanwhile, don't be concerned if you're not interested in someone. You should still be kind and respectful, but you are not required to spend time and energy getting to know them if you do not wish to. It would be unjust to them in any case. After all, do YOU want people to befriend you simply because they think they should? I didn't think so.
7. You aren't looking for the chaos and messiness that intimacy can bring
Don't expect anything dramatic just because you make friends with someone. It's only dramatic if one (or both) of the parties involved are also dramatic. You can ensure that your relationships are easy and collaborative by first being an awesome person yourself (this takes work, folks), and then carefully selecting your friends.
Be the type of friend who naturally attracts the type of friend you seek. By the way, the same is true for dating. Be the type of man or woman who naturally attracts the type of dates or partners you truly desire.
8. You are embarrassed by your lack of friends, which keeps you stuck
We don't feel (or look) so good when we see ourselves as “not social enough” or inherently undesirable. Just because you don't have as many close friends as you'd like right now doesn't mean you're a bad person. It simply means you haven't identified what you want in a friend and then gone about becoming a natural, intuitive match for that type of person, and second, you haven't sought out those people and invited them on friend-dates.
9. You didn't realize that making friends is 95% SKILL and 5% TALENT
Does a little talent come in handy? What about your looks? Sure. Do you require the 5%? You don't, you don't. Making yourself more appealing to potential friends is a skill. You can make yourself more appealing to the types of people you want to attract by paying close attention to your presentation, emotional health and happiness, ambition, and everything else.
Skills are learnable and buildable, and most aspects of life can be dramatically improved with just skills, regardless of talent, which may or may not be present to offer its minuscule 5%. We don't often consider talent to be so insignificant, but it is when compared to the massive force of skill-building. It's just that most of us don't know how to skill-build well, so we end up noticing and attributing far more to talent than is warranted.
10. You are a private person who does not need 55 best friends
Perfect! You don't have to go crazy and spend every waking moment with people just because you agreed to a friend-date. Remember that making friends is a process that takes time. You choose the type of social life you want. It's a completely self-directed creative process in which you can make as many or as few friends as you want.
11. You've forgotten what you're capable of
I'll bet you $100 that you're really good at something.
Perhaps it's something purely social, such as making people laugh. Maybe it's intellectual, or maybe it's more strategic, like your professional success. Perhaps it's a sense of warmth and coziness, such as baking or homemaking abilities.
- Whatever you're great at can be a GREAT quality to bring to a friendship.
- Laughter? That one is self-evident. You put people in a happy endorphin state.
- What about intelligence and achievement? You can offer logic and objectivity to problems that your friends are attempting to solve.
- Coziness and warmth? When your friends visit you, they feel happy, loved, and fed.
- Consider your skills and/or natural disposition and how you can begin to share them with new friends.
- Then, get to work on skill development to fill any gaps in your friendship-building process, and watch what happens.
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