How to become friends with someone

I want to let you know about a different side of David today. I want to tell you about how he and I became friends about 7 years ago and what I learned from him because of it.

He did 3 things I think most people neglect when they want to make new friends.

1: Take initiative (repeatedly) to become friends quickly

When David and I first met, I wasn’t really that interested in making new friends for many reasons.

The first time we met, we talked a little bit. We seemed to have a few things in common. Later on we exchanged numbers to keep in touch, but I didn’t think much of it. But David saw an opportunity for friendship and he took it. He invited me to a philosophy evening, where some mutual friends of ours met up and discussed philosophy.

From there on, I think he texted me a couple of days later asking if I wanted to take a walk and continue one of our conversations we’ve had at the philosophy evening. This is where we got to know each other more and more. And from then on, those walks became a regular thing and our friendship grew from there.

This is number 1 for a reason, because if he never asked me to hang out the maybe first 10 times, we never would have become more than acquaintances. That’s why taking initiative (over and over again) is so important.

It may seem obvious, but most people won’t make the effort to ask people to hang out, either because they fear rejection or because they’re busy with other stuff. And just meeting someone once won’t change much, you need to hang out a lot to really make yourself a part of each other’s life. At least if you want to become close friends.

That’s why I stress how important it is to take initiative repeatedly. Once just isn’t enough.

A common mistake

There is one thing you need to keep in mind when repeatedly taking initiative. How does the other person respond? If they just answer “Sorry I can’t because of…” without proposing another time or activity, they’re probably not that interested in meeting you.

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A lot of people just keep on trying with the “wrong” people, and eventually, they stop trying to meet anyone because “nobody ever follows up”. But in reality, they probably wasted too much energy on a few persons that they didn’t have that much in common with. You need to first find someone who’s interested in meeting you.

So how do you know?

It’s pretty simple. If they sound eager to meet up or propose another activity/time if they can’t the time you proposed, you know that they’re interested in meeting you. That’s your indication to keep on developing your friendship and taking initiative.

Back to the story. I had lots of other friends whom I also hung out with, but, I was never as eager to meet them as I was with David. Let me tell you what made David stand out for me.

2: Make your friend feel like number one

I still remember how happy David seemed each time we met, he gave me the biggest smile and a super warm hug every time. That instantly made me feel appreciated and welcome. When he met me, he made me feel like number one in his life at that moment. Even if he had lots of other friends, when we met, I felt like he truly appreciated my company.

Just because of something so small as a big smile!

I think a lot of people are afraid to show how happy they are to meet their friends. They’re afraid it would be weird or awkward, but in reality, it makes a world of difference. Some people also take their friends for granted – as if they’ll always be there. But if you never give any appreciation to your friends, it’s as if your friendship fades away over the years.

3: Let the other person talk

One thing that has always impressed me about David is his ability to focus on the other person. He encourages me to talk by asking genuine questions and then asking follow-up questions.

He SHOWS that he values my input and what I have to say.

I tend to listen more than I talk, and most people will just keep talking and I’ll let them. But David breaks this pattern and actively lets me say what I’m thinking about. This again makes David stand out to me, I think it ties in nicely with making your friend feel like number one.

One of our deepest needs is to feel seen and acknowledged. Be the one giving that to others and people will be drawn towards you.

4. Next time you meet a friend, show them how happy you are to see them

It could be a (big) smile, a hug or just saying “It’s so good to see you!” Whatever you are comfortable with.

5. Give someone your FULL attention

Next time you are talking with someone and you notice they have something to say, just let go of what you want to say for a bit. Listen in on what that person is REALLY saying. Let them talk. Encourage them to talk with follow-up questions. Take note of how that changes the dynamic in the conversation.

Click here to read about the 21 best books on how to make friends.

Let me know about your problems in the comments. I’d love to help you out! 

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Viktor is a Counselor specialized in interpersonal communication and relationships. He manages Socialpro’s scientific review board. Follow on Twitter or read more.

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4 thoughts on “How to become friends with someone”

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  1. I couldn’t agree more with you Victor!
    The best friendship i have is the one where i keep on taking initiative and make plans to meet up regularly and show interest. And on the other hand the ones that have failed have been where the other person didn’t show up after multiple attempts and did’t have any interest in the conversation at all when they did!

  2. Thanks for the story viktor! Was very interesting to learn more about you and to get some good tips along the way.

    Now I’ll try to contatc a friend I haven’t heard from in a long while. Wish me luck 😀


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