When I first moved to New York, I realized the most important question I had to answer was, “How do I make friends in a new city?” After lots of trial and error, I was able to go from no friends to meeting lots of new, great people that I’m still close with today.
The advice in this guide is for readers in their 20’s and 30’s.
1. Join a Meetup.com, Eventbrite.com or Facebook meetup
The best way to meet new friends is to do something you enjoy, with a bunch of people who like the same things, regularly. Why regularly? You need time to get to know each other, and if you meet for several weeks in a row, your friendship will deepen and become more substantial.
So pick two interests, say food and hiking, and go to Meetup.com, Eventbright.com or Facebook Meetup and find a supper club to join or a weekend hiking group. I’m into philosophy and entrepreneurship and have met lots of interesting people through meetups on those topics.
People are super open and welcoming on these subreddits. On these sites, someone will post that they’re new in town, a few of their interests and that they want to meet people. Within a few days, four or five Redditors reach out to the Original Poster inviting them to do that hobby together – i.e. game night at a pub, ultimate frisbee, yoga, etc.
The key is to include three things in your post: where you live, what you like to do and your approximate age. Then watch the best in human nature take action.
3. Join a sports league (beer or competitive) or a billiards/bowling league
Check out a volleyball or basketball league in your town. Specify that it should be for adults and see what pops up. If your city is over 100,000 people, there are generally municipally funded programs that the city itself will run. Or try the bowling and billiards leagues around.
It will get you out of the house at least once a week, twice if you join more than one. And it’s fun!
4. Bring snacks to your office, class or recurring meetup group
Everyone agrees that food is a universal language. If you’re a baker, then this is your in. Bring cookies, brownies, cake, or whatever you love to make, to the office or class and share. Keep in mind allergies like peanuts and gluten so everyone can participate.
If you’re ambitious, suggest a Bake it or Fake It (store-bought goodies) every Friday and tada, you have a regular event with everyone.
5. Join a gym and do a class like Zumba or cycling
Talk to your neighbor when you’re there. In dance class, half the fun is trying to figure out the moves and failing horribly for the first week or so. Laugh it off. Your neighbor will also be feeling clumsy. There’s nothing like a dose of humility to bring people together.
If you want to get to know people, focus on classes rather than the weight room. People tend to be more open to socializing in classes.
6. Try Bumble BFF
Bumble BFF is not for dating but for finding friends with similar interests. It worked much better than I thought it would, and I’ve made two close friends from there. I’ve also connected to several new friends through those two friends.
I suspect the city needs to be quite large for this app to work well, but it takes almost nothing to try it out. Make sure to write a bio that lists what your interests are and add a friendly photo of yourself.
7. Join a co-living
The best decision I made when I moved to New York was to live in shared housing (co-living). Knowing no one in New York when I moved here, it gave me an instant social circle. The only downside was that I got a bit complacent with finding friends outside of our house.
I lived there for 1.5 years and then moved to a new place with two friends I knew from the house. I still keep in touch with several friends from the original house.
Google co-living and the name of your city, or use coliving.com
8. Start a meetup group
Before going to New York, I moved from a small town to a city of half a million people. I was looking to join a philosophy meetup to find people like me, but there wasn’t one, so I decided to start my own.
I invited a few people I knew from other events that I thought would like philosophy. The thing that made it a success was that I told them to bring their friends who might enjoy the night. We met every Thursday night for a year and had snacks and drinks. I still keep in touch with many of them today. (That’s where I met Viktor, the co-founder of this site!)
You can publish your event on Meetup.com and ask people you know if they’d like to join.
9. Ask someone if they want to do something together (grab a coffee, walk at lunch, take the subway home)
It’s easy for people to say yes to small, low time commitment trips. Everyone likes a break from what they’re doing after a couple of hours. Create a daily coffee run – to the same place or try a new one every week.
Grab lunch together and bring it back to the office or school. On your way home, ask the people you know who take transit, if they want to walk to the station together. Maybe not every day, but enough so they know you’re friendly, and you can build your relationship from there.
10. Put your hand up for that team assignment or after-class event
Say you’re at college or uni and it’s a new city, a new bunch of classes. Or you just started a job in a new town and know almost no one. Is there’s an opportunity to join a group project or event and pitch in your time, intellect and enthusiasm? Take it – right now. Put your hand up and jump in.
The organizer will be eternally grateful, and you will get to spend some quality time with new potential friends.
11. Volunteer for a cause you care about
It could be an “Out of the Cold” project for the homeless, a local park clean-up, a used clothing rally, a political group door-knocking campaign – the possibilities are endless.
Think about a group that you’d like to join and will introduce you to people who have the same values as you. Those are your people. Check them out online and sign up.
12. Start a book club
Similar to the philosophy club or a supper club, ask your office cube mates or classmates if they want to start a book club. If you take transit to school or work, you know a good book can create a virtual bubble around you as you ride the subway or bus.
If you don’t have an extensive network yet, go on Meetup or Facebook and see if there is a book club near you that you can join. Book stores are also an excellent place to find them. There’s usually a billboard that will advertise them locally.
13. Join or host a game night
Google “board game meetup” and “board games cafe” or “video game meetup” and the name of your city. Check out your local Meetup gaming group, the Game Shop in town or the local library. They all have game nights of some sort going on, often even in smaller cities.
Alternatively, you can host one at your place.
There are lots of different ways set this night up, try:
Do you need a few more courses for your degree? Or is there something you always wanted to learn, like Creative Writing, and it’s offered at your local college? Sign up and spend time with your classmates once a week. Then you can chat about the assignments, the Prof, your work if it relates to the course. What’s the best part? You’ll have time to get to know each other over a few months of constant contact.
15. Join a church and connect with their life groups, the music program or study groups.
Faith groups are about building community. If you worship at one place weekly, why not find out if there are any groups that you can join. There’s bible (or equivalent) study groups, life groups (teens, young adults, families with kids, etc.), volunteer positions as ushers/worship teams/children’s programs. If you put your hand up, faith groups will know how to connect you internally and include you in their groups.
16. Got a dog? Check out dog walking & playgroups
Look up dog-walking groups on Meetup, or go to the same dog park at the same time every day. There are many pet meetups on meetup.com. Check them out here.
17. If you have family or one or two friends nearby – ask them to connect you to their friends
One cousin can connect you to their friends, and they’ll connect you to their friends. And so on, and so on. Give them a call, tell them you’re up for anything. You may not click with everybody, but nobody does. You just need one or two to start a group.
18. Do a cooking class or join a food tasting group in your city
Plugin anything to do with food tasting or cooking classes in your search bar. As usual, with meetups, recurring events are better than one-offs.
Then there’s Facebook and their 2.45 Billion users. I put in “Food Groups ‘My City'” and got eight events happening in the next week.
19. Go on a craft beer tasting or a wine tour
Alcohol tours and tastings are fun, easy-going events that are built around socializing.
Find your local pub or wine tasting destination and make a day or a night of it. Just book an Uber and a room, if you are going to a few different wineries.
20. Take an improv class
I went to improve-classes for a year, and it was more fun than I expected. Plugin “improv theatre” and see what comes up. This is a fabulous idea if it terrifies you. And it should scare you; it does that to most people. Don’t worry, though; it will give you way more than it requires of you.
What happens is this: it will bring down all your self-protective walls, and that makes it easier for you to be your true self. The other good part, everyone else is just as vulnerable as you.
More than just an effective friend-finder, improv teaches excellent life skills.
21. Join a craft or art class
Look up your local craft store (you know the big box one in all North American major cities) or the local pottery place. Also, check online to see what your community center offers or Facebook or Meetup.com.
If you want to build longer-lasting friendships, sign up for something that will take a few weeks.
Here’s a set of questions you can ask to get to know someone.
The guide starts with casual questions that are fitting for an acquaintance or someone you just met. Then we go deeper with personal questions to get to know someone like a friend or a family member, a girl/guy, or even your best friend.
Click below on the part you’re interested in to jump there:
These questions are great when you want to start a fun conversation or just have a quick laugh together. They work great both 1-on-1 and in casual (not formal) group situations like at a party or when you’re hanging out with friends.
Do you ever brew a coffee with no intention of drinking it and just let it sit there, being hot and smelling good?
Do you have a favorite movie franchise?
Did you ever feel like you’d be best buddies with someone famous that you never even met?
Big mugs or small cups?
What’s your craziest party story?
What’s the worst pizza topping?
What kind of stage name would you use?
If you lived in a film universe, which one would you choose?
Scratching pimples – yes or no?
What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?
If you had to be eaten by an animal, which one would it be?
Did you have a crush on any of your school teachers?
What would you call your own restaurant and what would be on the menu?
Bacon: soft or crispy?
What’s your favorite youtube channel?
If out of nowhere a good looking stranger suddenly attempted to kiss you somewhere out on the streets, what would you do?
Do you wash dishes right after you eat, or do you pile them up?
Do fish have dreams?
What if all humans lived underwater?
Do you know anyone who still uses an old brick phone?
What’s the biggest meal you ever had?
Do you know that feeling when one of your favorite products at the supermarket changes flavor, ingredients, packaging, and it’s just never the same?
What’s the worst joke you know?
What’s one thing you know that I definitely don’t?
What’s the most ridiculous thing you secretly believed at some point?
Do you know any movie sequels that are better than the original one?
Did you ever have a recurring dream?
If you ever wrote a book, what genre would it be?
Which one of the popular conspiracy theories do you think makes the most sense?
Philosophical questions to ask to get to know someone
If our world was a simulation, would you prefer to know?
What do you think of a policeman doing something illegal for the sake of arresting a known criminal?
What do you think pushes people towards extreme body modification?
Does censorship solve the problem it’s trying to solve?
What do you think about the world’s cultures homogenizing?
Is there anything that’s legal today that should be criminalized?
What do you think about giving money to panhandlers?
If humans ever reached immortality, how do you think they would view us, their mortal predecessors?
Do you think the older generation has missed out on not having social media?
What would the world be like without alcohol?
Is there good and evil?
Why do people binge on stuff?
Would you like to experience something that no one else ever has, no matter how dangerous?
What’s the difference between a religion and a cult?
Are some people inherently bad?
Is the convenience and safety of civilization worth the pollution that it causes?
Do the ends always justify the means?
Would you like to be absolutely perfect in every way possible?
Beyond the body and the mind, do you think that the soul can be damaged?
Do you think that judging people based on their looks makes sense?
How do you draw a line between discussing and gossiping?
Can a person truly appreciate a good life without going through something horrific first?
What is true patriotism?
First and foremost, is a dog a friend or a possession?
If many of our momentary impulses lead us to bad places, why do they even exist?
If everything would be predestined, is there any point in trying?
How do you think life would be right now if the WW2 was won by the other side?
Best questions to get to know a friend
What’s your dream job?
Do you often get deja vu?
What was the most intense physical pain you’ve ever experienced?
What’s more important than work?
What was your biggest addiction in life?
Paper, e-books, or audio?
Do you plan far ahead?
Do you ever think about retirement and getting older?
Were you afraid of going to the dentist as a kid?
Which song would be like a window into your soul?
How’s your health?
Is there any religion that appeals to you which you’re not a part of?
What’s your focus in life right now?
When was the last time you created something just for the fun of it?
Do you have any memories from kindergarten?
Have you ever wanted to hop on a random train and see where it gets you?
As a kid, were you ever punished for doing exactly as you were told to?
If someone you knew had a hygiene problem, how would you tell them?
Do you mind moving between apartments often?
Is there anything besides your phone that you always carry with you?
Do you think the music you listen to affects you on a subconscious level?
What’s the longest book you ever read?
Do you like carrying cash?
Do you think that inspiration plays an important role in your line of work?
What’s the most useful thing you learned at school?
Best questions to get to know your best friend
These questions are for someone you can ask almost anything, whether it’s weird, deep, or personal. This will help you to get to know your best friend better.
Which traditions of other cultures would you like to be more prominent in your own country?
Why are we friends?
Do you know of any schoolmates that went to prison?
Is there anything wrong with our relationship?
How was your relationship with your siblings when you were young?
How did you come to love this genre of music so much, what’s your story?
Do you like using public transport?
How do you see me?
Do you often call your parents?
Did you ever bully anyone in school?
If you had kids, what would you do differently from what your parents did?
Who do you think was the true villain in Breaking Bad (or some other tv-series/movie)?
Were you ever betrayed by a friend?
Is there anything in my behavior that annoys you regularly?
What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned from your parents?
What was your first love like?
Did you ever suspect you were adopted?
How do you go about making friends with someone?
Do you ever think in abstractions?
Could you share a room with me for a year?
Do you ever feel like you’re playing a character because of the clothes you’re wearing?
Do you like your mom’s cooking?
When it came to choosing a career path, did you consider the jobs you dreamt of as a kid?
What disappoints you?
Do you need personal advice?
Describe your situation in the comments below and I’ll give you my best advice. The more detailed you are, the better answer I can give you.
Here’s how to meet new people and make new friends in college. These strategies helped me when I had to make new friends in my sophomore year. We’ve made sure that this guide works even if you’re an introvert, shy, have social anxiety, or just don’t like to socialize, and no matter if you live on campus or off-campus.
1. Get out of your room, house, comfort zone
It can be tempting to hibernate in your dorm room or in your off-campus apartment. BUT you need people, and the only way to forge friendships is to find them. This means taking trips to the cafeterias (often), library, lounge areas, campus pub, join a club or get a job there.
If you don’t want to go to these places alone, invite your roommate, a classmate or be brave and say hi to someone in line at the cafe and say, “Do you want to grab a seat together?” Then sit down and find out more about each other.
2. Talk to people
Talking to new people can be hard. Sometimes you need to push yourself to interact. I didn’t see the purpose of small talk before I realized that it’s the start of all friendships: It’s a warm-up to an interesting conversation and a signal that you’re open for interaction. If you don’t talk, people will assume that you don’t like them.
If you’re in class, chat about the course, the assignments or the Prof. If you live off-campus, talk to your classmates but also join clubs or get a job on campus. You want to make sure that you spend lots of time interacting with people you want to become friends with. That allows close friendships to form.
3. Take the initiative – invite people to lunch, study, play a sport
Once you’ve said hi to someone a couple of times or you’ve sat beside them in class, the next time you see them, take the opportunity and suggest you do something together. Things like, “I’m going to grab some lunch. Wanna come?” or “Are you going to the pub tonight? (Insert band name) is playing.” or “I was thinking of going to the football game this weekend. Are you going?”
Simple inquiries that say you’d like to get together if they’re interested. Most people don’t do this because they’re afraid of rejection. If you can overcome this fear, you’ll have a huge advantage when making friends.
4. Say “Yes” to every invitation
Great job, all the work you’ve put in is paying off! They’re asking if you want to come out now. I know you’re near exhausted from the effort, but for your future – say “Yes.”
You don’t have to commit to the whole night if it’s an evening out. Or more than an hour or two for an event. The bottom line is: say “yes,” and more invitations will come your way. Say “no,” and you likely won’t get a second invite.
5. Get an on-campus job
This is the holy grail of easy-ways-to-make-friends-at-school. You will have tonnes in common with your workmates: young, in post-secondary, school stress, lack of disposable income, first time away from home, missing home, eating way too much fast food, not eating enough food, figuring out how to cook, setting things on fire….
Then there are all the job things you share: the boss, customers, shift work, low wages, funny stories that happen there.
6. Talk in class and make plans to do stuff afterward
Talk to your neighbor in class. The person who made a comment that you agree with (or don’t). The person who asks if you have a pen. Any small interaction is an ice-breaker, and the more you reach out, the better you’ll get at it. Eventually, the conversations will keep going as you see each other more often.
Keep it easy-going and positive. Try making observations about what’s going on around you, the workload or a question you have about the subject. Then when you get a few responses, suggest a course WhatsApp chat, a study session for midterms, or lunch or dinner if it’s close to either.
7. Join an on-campus club
Pick a club you know you’ll enjoy. Something that aligns with your interests and that you can stick with, given your school workload. You’re looking for people like you. So if you like to geek out to Dungeons & Dragons, do it, and find your people. Same with sports, art, business, whatever moves you.
When you’re not studying or sleeping, keep your door open. It’s an invitation for others to pop their head in and say Hi. You’ll also hear what’s going on outside, which is usually some kind of stupid or fun. Be part of the crowd. Enjoy the insanity.
Campus life is really just big people camp with slightly higher stakes. Focus on your studies, but make sure you soak in all that social life. It only comes around once, for those of us lucky enough to go.
9. Look approachable
If social situations make you tense, it probably shows in your body language. Try smiling so your eyes crinkle at the sides. Or if you tend to frown when you’re anxious, breath out and relax your forehead. By the way, it’s impossible to frown if you are smiling. Lastly, keep your arms by your side and avoid looking at your phone.
So many of the things we do when we’re tense are unconscious. If you’d like more advice on how to be more approachable, check out this article.
10. Take time to recharge
It can be hard and draining to make new friends. It sucks sometimes. You CAN go home on weekends and recoup with your families and fill your emotional tank up. Allow yourself to just be by yourself, and play video games some nights. In fact, you definitely should. You’ll feel better.
Then come back and keep trying. Your hard work will be rewarded. And most of all, know that there are people out there for you. Just keep looking and enjoy your own company.
11. Don’t give up – it takes time, and that’s normal
Making brand new friends takes longer than most people think. It’s normal to just have superficial acquaintances in the 6 first months of college. You can speed up this process by daring to be personal with people you know.
12. Connect with outgoing people
Go in search of outgoing people even if they intimidate you. Dare to be friendly toward them, and they will very likely be friendly back. Outgoing people are “in the know.” They’ll be able to connect you with lots of new people and events. Follow them and see who you meet.
13. Be interested in everyone as a potential friend – you’re not desperate, you’re open
Get your antennae out and look for someone who seems to need a friend. Be friendly, talk about your classes, frosh week, where you’re from, where they’re from…keep going until you say goodbye, or you head out to lunch/dinner together. Shift your perspective from “Trying to make friends” to “Being nice to others who might need a friend.” Rinse, Lather, Repeat with everyone you meet until you click with the people who are your best fit.
14. Gear yourself up for interaction – positive people attract others
Prep a few ‘good stories’ about your day or something interesting that happened to you when someone asks you how you are. If someone makes an effort to talk to you, reward them with your full attention and keep the conversation going equally back and forth.
Keep it positive. I know the first few semesters are stressful, but you’re doing it, and every day it gets easier. Save you’re “I’m dying” stories until you know each other better. Or until you find a great connection, then all the stories will come out, both yours and theirs.
15. Give people time before you decide if you like them
You know that old adage about dating: go out with someone 3 times before you decide if you want to see them more. It works for friends too. Getting to know people takes time, and we aren’t all good at first impressions. You’re not trying to replace your friends from high school, so stop looking for them at college. These are new people who will teach and give you new things. Be open to the experience.
16. Don’t cancel plans
You may not feel like it, or you’re not up for the initial awkwardness, but seriously, someone put their ego on the line to invite you somewhere. It’s only decent of you to show up. You don’t have to stay for the whole night. If you cancel, you might not get a second invite from them.
17. Be a good listener
Some people talk when they’re nervous. If you’re one of them, try to be a good listener. It’s the #1 quality of a true friend. That being said, you also want to contribute to the conversation, so it is appropriately balanced, and they are getting to know you at the same pace.
To do this, after you’ve shown genuine interest and asked about their story, add relevant comments indicating when you’ve had a similar experience or reacting to how they must have felt during their story.
18. Keep snacks in your room
Everyone loves the snack person. A well-stocked drawer of chips, chocolate, gummies, drinks, veggie snacks, gluten-free, it’s up to you. It’s a small price to pay to attract goodwill and pleasant conversation.
Make sure not to overdo it. You don’t want this to be your only benefit. Mooching is an Olympic sport in college. Keep enough on hand, so you always have something and rotate your stock. Kindness and generosity never get old.
19. Know that it only takes one friend to break the drought (more follow quickly)
It only takes one friend for you to emotionally and mentally relax and know you’re going to be OK. One friend takes the edge off the loneliness and keeps the twinge of desperation away. Oh, and remember, most people coming to college/uni are having the same struggle finding and forming their friend groups. It will happen.
20. Go to parties or other social events
This is the traditional approach. It tends to work best when you have a wing-man/woman with you. Not for romantic adventures per se (but that’s OK too), it’s so you have someone to talk to as you push through the crowd, hold up the bar or claim a few seats.
21. Go to an on-campus event – football, face-painting, the pub
If you’ve got one person you hang out with, grab them and go to an on-campus event. That’s an excellent place to meet their friends or other people you’ve met in class etc. It’s low stress, and there are activities you can do while you’re there (watch the game, pub trivia, billiards). As you’re having fun, people will be thinking of other ways to get together again.
22. Bring people together who might like each other
If you know two people who might like each other, invite both of them to hang out. You’ll position yourself as the one who knows people. More importantly, others might start asking you to join friends they think you might like, too.
23. Read up on people skills
Polish your social skills, and you’ll become more efficient at making new friends. College might be the best time in life to improving your social skills because you have so many opportunities to practice. Here’s how to improve your people skills.
Join groups that meet up regularly about things that interest you. Check out Meetup.com and Eventbrite.com and look for recurring events.
2. Make small talk even if you don’t feel like it
Small talk is an important warm-up when two people meet. Even if you don’t feel like it, know that every friendship starts with small talk. You’re testing the waters to see how receptive they are to chatting. Most importantly, when you make small talk, you signal that you’re friendly and open for interaction.
3. Always exchange contact details
Asking for their contact info tells them you liked talking with them. Sure, it’s not guaranteed to turn into a long-lasting relationship, but it MIGHT. Taking the chance by asking for their number/email will ensure that friendship can happen.
4. Invite acquaintances to events they might like
Send out a casual invite to anyone you know who would like to see a movie, check out a new restaurant or go for a hike. Group meetups take the pressure off a one-on-one situation, so mention that you are inviting a few friends, and they can join too.
5. Say yes to 2 out of 3 opportunities
We’ve all felt it – that initial panic when someone invites you to an event where you won’t know many people. Your first instinct is to say, ‘I’d love to, but I can’t’. Here’s why you shouldn’t say ‘no’ too often:
If you say no, you may not get a second invite from that person.
It’s a chance to practice your social skills.
These opportunities don’t come around every day. The more you say yes to, the more common they become.
If you’re still undecided, a good rule of thumb is to say yes to 2 out of 3 invitations. That way you are still making good use of your opportunities and have space to decline if you really can’t make it or don’t feel like it.
Try reading Shonda Rhimes’ book “Year of Yes”. It’s about how a titan of the entertainment world, and a proclaimed introvert, decided to say “yes” and the ways it changed her life.
6. Use open body language and smile
Relax your facial expression with a slight smile if you tend to frown. Move your chest slightly out and lift your torso as if a string is being pulled up through your head. Keep your arms at your side rather than crossed. Your open body language signals that you are friendly and would welcome conversation. When you look approachable, someone may even start a conversation with you on their own.
Note that while open body language should be your default, in some situations it’s not always the best. Mirroring another person’s body language has a stronger effect on likability. Even if the other person isn’t displaying an open body language themselves, you can mirror that to appear more likable to them.
7. Talk about F.O.R.D topics to get to know each other
Get to know someone by asking them questions about F.O.R.D. topics (Family, Occupation, Recreation & Dreams).
You can mine for more questions to keep the flow going as well as adding any relevant pieces of information about yourself.
8. Share things about yourself so that you don’t only ask questions
It’s a myth that people only want to talk about themselves. They also want to get to know the person they’re talking to. The secret is to balance the conversation. When someone’s talked about themselves for a while, share something related about yourself.
Sharing personal details about yourself is key to build close relationships.
9. Visualize how you want to act and what will happen
Visualization can sound kinda flaky but it’s actually a scientifically proven method for reducing anxiety. Imagine yourself being open and friendly to the people you meet. See yourself as calm and confident. You’re out there making good connections with a few nice people. Do this a couple of times before you go out – say 24 hours prior and see how your best case scenario can be made real when you’ve mentally practiced it.
10. Do research on the people you will be meeting (interviews, events, parties)
Everyone has at least one hit on Google these days and more if they’re active on social media. Learn a bit about who you will be meeting to prep conversation openers and give yourself some breathing room if you tend to blank out if you get nervous. See what they do or what their interests are per Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn or Instagram. Straight up bringing up what you found out online would be creepy. Instead, use it as an aid to know a few things about the people you’re going to meet.
11. Know that you have to meet lots of people, to make a close friend
You aren’t out there looking for just anyone. You want to be friends with someone you have things in common with and whose company you enjoy. It’s 50/50 effort and appreciation on both sides. So don’t worry if you don’t click with everyone you meet. You’re not meant to. Friendship is a choice, for both of you.
Part 2. Dealing with nervousness when meeting new people
It’s normal to get nervous around new people, especially if you aren’t used to socializing. Here’s what I learned that helped me get over that nervousness.
1. Know that you don’t look as nervous as you feel
What’s going on inside our bodies and our head is never as evident to the world, as it is to us. It might feel like people know just how nervous you are, but studies show that they don’t. This is called the illusion of transparency. Simply knowing about it can help us relax.
2. Focus back on the conversation if you get self-conscious
Focus on your partners’ conversation. Particularly the answers they give to your questions. Concentrating on the conversation and away from self-conscious thoughts like “I wonder what they think of me”, takes the focus away from your nerves.
3. Take deeper, slower breaths
If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, meditated or even run really fast and then stopped, you know that controlling your breathing is a great technique for calming your mind and your body. When we’re nervous we tend to breathe shallowly and hold most of our breath in. It feels great to stop everything for a second, and inhale and exhale slowly. It will help you relax.
4. Accept that you feel anxious, so you can move past it
Yup, you’re nervous. Don’t beat yourself up over it. In fact, accept it and say “I’m nervous but I’m going to go to that party or ask for that person’s contact info to keep in touch.” Remember that the definition of courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s doing the brave thing anyway. It’s not even the result that matters in the end, as much as the fact that you got past your fear and defeated it. You will not be that nervous a second time.
Part 3. Places to meet new people as an adult
1. Join a recreational sports team
Playing on a team together, no matter how good or in-development you may be (humor is vital), means that fun things can happen. Competing together with a group of people helps forge close friendships. Why? Because you are working towards the same goal, and your team’s success or failure is something you all share.
2. Go to the dog park on a regular schedule
Start a conversation with one of your neighbors. My standard line when I go is, “What kind of dog is that?” Or “Is that [insert breed guess here]? “What’s their name?” “How old are they?” Most of the time, the dogs themselves provide the punchlines.
3. Take a class at night school
Finish that diploma or feed your need to know more about photography or DIY furniture painting. You’re likely to find like-minded people, and you’ll see the same people every week, which gives you time to form connections. You’ll bond over the course expectations, assignments and Prof.
4. Join a Facebook group or forum
Meet like-minded people who get together IRL or online. There are all sorts of groups: techies, book lovers, animal lovers, business owners, Gamers, etc. It may start online, but when you meet a few cool people, you can take it offline and build a deeper friendship.
Join a cause you care about and meet others who feel the same. If you believe in something enough to give your time and energy to it, and others join you, that’s a great reason to start talking and get to know one another.
6. Take a craft course or an art class
Look this up online or at your local community center or art supply store. Meet others who appreciate this kind of relaxation and expression too.
7. Join Bumble BFF. It can actually work!
My friend recommended I try Bumble BFF, and I joined almost as a joke. To my surprise, I met several interesting people there, two of which I hang out with regularly. Write your bio, including your interests and what you like, add a friendly photo of yourself and see who swipes right. You get to swipe too. See who shares similar interests and maybe even your sense of humor.
8. Join CrossFit at a gym
Even if you aren’t super-sporty, you can do this. CrossFit’s tough, rewarding and fun. It’s become somewhat of a movement and has an active community, even outside of the gym. They’re known to be very welcoming and accept people at all stages of endurance and life.
9. Join a hiking or a rock climbing group
Hiking’s for the easy-going and rock climbing is for those who want more of a challenge. Both are social sports, ideal for getting to know people over the long term and with lots of natural (pun intended) conversation points.
10. Find a wine appreciation group
It’s not about the buzz really; it’s about the quality and variety of wines you experience. Wine lovers are passionate about wine (and everything it entails), and they like to socialize. Check online for groups (Meetup.com or Eventbrite.com) in your town or your liquor store for meetings or tasting courses.
11. Join a political party
You can get involved in your city’s politics by joining your local chapter. Politics is typically a passion project. You will get to meet people, who in a significant way, have the same outlook on life as you. Great for meaningful discussions about important issues.
12. Join a church if you are religious
Faith groups are all about the community and its members. They often have weekly faith meetings and life groups (Young Adults, Young Marrieds, New Parents, Retirees). If you like to volunteer, there are tens of programs that want your help.
Do you like music or singing? It’s not all organ music these days. Join the choir, the band or sing solos – they’ll love your talent and enthusiasm. If you share the same spiritual perspective, you’ll likely have other things in common too.
13. Start a game night
Invite a few friends to a Monopoly (or any other popular board game) throwdown. If you need 5-6 people, invite half the people needed and ask each of them to bring one friend/family member. You can make it bi-weekly at first, and switch locations to each guest’s place, so you don’t overstretch one person’s hospitality.
14. Join a Book Club
Book clubs are particularly useful for introverts. Why? Books speak to our interior life. Weekly conversations about our favorite characters help us get to know others in the group on a deeper level: life experiences, drama, humor, life lessons, quotes, and literary devices.
There are all sorts to choose from – online or in your neighborhood. Google “Book Club [your city]” and see what pops up, or start your own. Meet at a local book store or a coffee shop. You can move it to people’s homes when they’re up for it.
2. Learn how to deal with nervousness around new people
Meeting new people can set off a boat-load of physical responses that can make getting to know someone feel like you’re storming Normandy beach. Especially if you’re an introvert with social anxiety. To help deal with your nerves, here are a few tips.
Socially savvy people have one thing in common: they don’t worry about saying the wrong thing. They say what they think, and if it comes off as silly/dumb, they own it.
If you worry about saying the wrong thing, ask yourself, how would you react if someone else said it? Most likely, you would barely notice.
Rather than focusing on what others think of you, practice focusing your full attention on the conversation you’re having. Studies show that this shift of focus makes us less self-conscious.
3. Go to recurring events (and avoid one-off meetups)
The way to get to know someone better is to have ample opportunity to talk to them and exchange stories and ideas. Recurring events give you the chance to meet people often and form a bond.
A powerful way to make friends as an introvert in college is to seek out groups in your school that interest you. If you’re an adult, look for recurring events on sites like Meetup.com. One-off events are more about the experience than meeting people.
Volunteering is a chance to do something you care about that likely aligns with you personally – be it a value or belief. The people you meet where you volunteer also feel the same way about the cause as you do. That’s the basis for a great relationship!
Think about the organizations that need volunteers and see which one appeals to you. Is it helping kids? Try Big Brothers or Big Sisters in your city. Is it the environment? Try searching “Environmental Volunteer “Your city” and see what comes up. You’ll meet others who care about the same things as you, and that’s a great way to start a friendship.
5. Accept invitations even when you don’t feel like it
Sometimes you’ve got to psych yourself up for a social event even if you don’t feel like it. This is true for most people, even the super-outgoing. A good rule of thumb for invitation acceptance is to say yes to 2 out of 3 invites. Why 2 and not 3 or 1?
Well first, if someone invites you somewhere and you decline, you likely won’t get a second invite. People don’t like to be rejected, and it will feel personal to them, regardless of whether you meant it that way.
Secondly, the more social invitations you get, the better you will become at handling those situations. Also, you never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll learn. Take the opportunity and see what happens.
6. Take the initiative
Taking the initiative means you decided to go for it. You put yourself out there and took a chance. In practical terms, it’s when:
You choose to go somewhere you might not know many people.
You introduced yourself and learned something new about a stranger.
You had a great conversation with someone and asked for their number so you can keep in touch.
You joined a group you’re interested in and met people along the way.
You started a group, posted it on meetup.com and invited the people you know who would be interested in joining and told them to bring their friends too.
You said yes to an invitation that you weren’t sure you were up for, but you were willing to try.
7. Join events where you are likely to meet with other introverts
Here are a few recurring groups you might join and where to find them in your city:
On Meet-up.com, there are 360 chess groups worldwide and over 100,000 people who meet there. Here’s the chess link, drill down for your city.
Books explore so many things that bring people together – ideas, feelings, historical events, popular culture, storytelling, the list goes on. Book clubs are great places to meet other like-minded literary types. Simply type in “Book Club” in your search engine and a bunch of local clubs will pop up. There are also online clubs, which is a little less personal, but in our digital world, friendships don’t always have to be in person. Try Bustle’s recommended online book clubs here.
Pottery is one of those fantastic hobbies that is both personal, physical and artistic. When you create something, it puts you in a more open frame of mind, which is a great time to meet new people. There are tonnes of classes offered in communities everywhere. Do a little research online and see where you might want to grow this hobby.
Painting or drawing, in general, has lots of chances for socializing, and you don’t necessarily have to be an incredible artist to participate. Meetup.com has groups that specialize in life drawing, illustrators, nature drawings, etc., as well as Beer & Draw and Colouring (the de-stressing kind).
Then there’s Groupon, which has coupons for all sorts of group events. One I found was “Design a Sign and Socialize” or a “Social Painting Workshop.”
Eventbright.com has cool clubs like Films on Walls, Art House films, Star Wars anthologies. It also automatically sorts based on your location, so you get events in your neighborhood right away.
There’s a cool article from The Guardian that gives a how-to on starting your own mobile film club. If you have a few friends who love films, this is a great way to create a network of people who share the same passion.
Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts groups can be found online at Meetup.com or Eventbright.com, but some other places you might look at are at your local craft store. For example, in the U.S. and Canada, there’s Michael’s art supply store. They have different craft classes from painting to framing to knitting for both adults and kids.
Photography workshops are great for us introverts as you can focus on the task of taking photos and then occasionally engage in conversation with others about their images or gear. If you don’t own a camera, having your phone to take pictures with is enough for some meetups.
There are so many kinds of writing you can choose from poetry groups, short stories, mysteries, romance, journaling, film, theatre…if there is a medium for it, you can write it.
Meetup.com has lots of options, as do your local communities and cities.
I was part of a philosophy group for a year and still have close friends from that time. A common misconception is that you need to be well-read on philosophy to fit in when, in reality, you most often don’t, or you’ll be provided with a short text to read beforehand. Go to Meetup.com or search “Find a philosophy group,” and you’ll get your local philosophy chapters and their meeting times and places.
You’ll find loads of introvert-specific groups on Meetup.com. This is ideal if your not comfortable going out on your own to a new group. You’ll notice that people there are understanding and might be there for the same reason as you.
8. Know how to start a conversation with someone you’ve just met
Here’s where the choice to go to a recurring group meeting makes it easier to meet people. Say you’re at a photography club meeting. You can lean over and ask, “What kind of camera is that?” or engage in an interesting discussion about the kind of aperture that is best for live-action shots.
It can be when you’re at lunch with new people, or you’re waiting to go into class, start a conversation about what’s going on around you. Natural observations about your environment are perfect openers because they’re not too direct or personal. Things like, “Where did you get your lunch from?” or “Have you tried the new coffee maker? It’s pretty good.”
There’s a bunch of great ideas for starting conversations in this article.
9. Test Bumble BFF. (It worked surprisingly well for me)
If you are self-employed or live alone, try out Bumble BFF. I met two of my best friends there. If you fill out your profile with lots of details: your interests and goals, it will connect you with like-minded people. Also, include a photo that shows you as friendly and open. This is the opposite of a dating site: you’re not looking to be seductive, just natural and approachable.
10. See socializing as nothing more than practicing for the future and be OK with messing up
A few years ago, I moved from Sweden to the U.S. I started seeing my social interaction in Sweden as mere practice for meeting people in the U.S. Ironically, this made it easier for me to make friends in Sweden. Why? It took the pressure off, and I didn’t worry about messing up. I was more relaxed. That made me more likable.
See socializing as nothing more than practice and be OK with it going wrong. It takes the pressure off your interactions.
11. Instead of trying hard to make friends, focus on enjoying your time at the event
Making friends is not an Olympic sport. In fact, the harder you work at it, the worse it turns out. Trying too hard translates to needy, and no one wants to feel high-pressure stakes when talking to someone they just met. Try to enjoy the moment of the event for what it is, a chance to meet a few cool people with whom you may or may not have much in common.
Friendships are born out of people having a good time together. So focus on what you’re doing together and let friendship be a byproduct of that experience.
12. Join internet forums and communities
Look at all these subreddits, for example, or these online communities. You can also search for local groups on Facebook related to your interests, like “Hiking Atlanta.” By looking for local groups, you’re more likely to meet up again one day.
It’s better to be part of a small, intimate community than a large one. In a small group, you will be a valuable part of the team and likely needed to keep the group going. You will get to know the other members pretty well, just based on the amount of interaction you have online. In a larger community, it will take longer to get to know people because you may not end up seeing them very often.
If you would like more detail on online friendship building, click here.
13. If you have a dog, go daily to the same dog park
Having a friend who’s a dog owner, I can tell you that dogs are an endless source of funny stories and conversations. Go to the dog park daily, around the same time, and you’ll meet other dog owners, a couple of times a week. And that means – you will generally like each other. That’s a big statement, but here’s why: dog owners understand loyalty, unconditional love, sh$t happens when you least expect it, and life is not always a cakewalk, but it is funny. You’re dog/pet is an extension of yourself. You may not have the same life view ultimately, but starting a conversation about your dog or your neighbor’s dog is pretty easy.
14. Take community college classes
Community college classes have lots of things going for them:
They are local.
They last a few months at least, long enough to get to know people.
You’re all in this together. You’ll have lots to talk about relative to the course – the workload, the assignments/tests, the professor.
You may be taking this course to complete a degree or learn more about a new hobby. Likely this is a similar reason to your course mates. A good reason to bond!
15. Join a co-living house
When I moved to New York, I didn’t know anyone and decided that as an introvert, an excellent way to meet people would be to join a co-living house. You can choose a shared room or a private room. Private is a bit more expensive but allows you alone time when you need it. Keeping in mind, this type of rental is already much cheaper than a roommate situation or a single apartment.
In a co-living arrangement, you will meet all sorts of people (artists, techies, students, etc..), and you’ll get to know one another because you can’t help but run into each other. My house had fifteen people in it, and after two years, I moved into a new apartment with two friends I met at the house.
16. Make sure to look approachable and when you go to events
There are a few things you can do when you are going to an event that will help you look more approachable:
If you tend to tense your face, make sure to relax your forehead and jaw. When tense, we scowl, and that creates a furrow in between our eyebrows, which makes us look angry. The same goes for your lips and teeth. Loosen your jaw, so it’s slightly open, and you will look more available for conversation.
Smile with your mouth and your eyes. When we have a genuine smile, the corners of our eyes crinkle, and it relaxes our face. Crow’s feet are a sign to others that you are enjoying what they are saying and being around them.
17. Ask something slightly personal to get past the small talk and bond.
Small talk is useful to signal that you’re friendly and open to interaction. But you don’t want to get stuck in it. Now’s the time to ask a few more personal questions about what they like about their job or the courses they are studying at university/college. You’re not looking for facts anymore. You want their thoughts and feelings.
Go where the conversation is flowing. The best thing to be here is curious. As your partner is sharing things about themselves, allow yourself to open up and reciprocate. Tell them a relevant story or piece about your life that is similar to what they shared. That way, the conversation feels balanced, and you are getting to know each other equally.[1,2]
18. Know that introversion is common and many feel just like you do
Statistics vary, but scientists estimate that 25%-40% of the population is introverted. That’s a lot of people who understand getting out there and making friends is not always easy. There are also some good forums for connecting with our introvert brethren. Reddit.com/r/introverts has over 10,000 members who talk about the benefits and challenges of introversion and give some great advice about things you may be dealing with now.
There are lots of cool things about introversion, not the least of which is we are very self-aware. The self-aware are often the best conversationalists as they definitely know their subject!
19. Strategies I don’t think are useful for making friends as an introvert
Drinking. It works great to be more social, but in the extreme, it can make you feel that you have to drink to be able to socialize, which can be destructive in the long-term. It’s best to keep in mind that alcohol acts as a depressant. It may start out releasing inhibitions, but the crash is not far off if you don’t give yourself a limit.
Becoming a regular at a bar. Even if you don’t go there to drink, the people you meet are there to drink, and you’ll likely be sucked into drinking to socialize with them.
Go to “make new friend” meetups. At general meetups, all sorts of people join, and you have to be lucky to meet like-minded people. Meetups about specific interests are better because you’re more likely to find people like you.
Going to one-time events. If you only go to a game once, you won’t have the time needed to form close connections with people.
When I left college it got harder to make friends. I wasn’t overly social or interested in going out partying every weekend, and my old friends either moved or got busy with work and family.
The secret to making friends after college is to go to places where you can find like-minded people and meet with them regularly. Here’s how to do it:
1. Know that you don’t have to go out partying to make friends
Parties are great for quick hello’s but it’s hard to have a more in-depth conversation when there’s loud music and drinks flowing. To make a connection with someone you need a chance to get to know each other.
It was frustrating trying to push myself to go out every weekend and still not make new friends. If you have social anxiety, it’s even more painful. I was relieved when I realized that parties aren’t even a place where people make new friends – it’s mainly a place where you go to have fun with your existing ones. Let’s look at better ways to make friends after college.
2. Join a group that interests you and meets up regularly
Do you have any interests or hobbies you’d like to pursue? They don’t need to be life passions, just something you enjoy doing.
Here’s some inspiration to find like-minded friends after college, or if you, for example, move to a new city:
A great way to meet like-minded people is to look up the groups or events that meet regularly in your city. Why should they meet regularly? Well, to establish a real connection with someone you need to regularly spend time with them.
Meetup.com and Eventbright.com are good sites to visit to see if there are groups that get together weekly. Weekly is ideal because then you have a chance to develop a real friendship over several meetings and a reason to see them often.
Click here for the filters I use to make sure the meet-up is regular.
3. Avoid meetups that aren’t related to a specific interest
You have a higher chance of finding like-minded people at events focused on your specific interests. When there is a common interest at a meeting, there’s also a natural opening for chatting with your neighbor and trading ideas. Like “Did you try that recipe last week? “Did you book your hiking trip yet?”
4. Look for community college classes
Courses are great places to find like-minded people. You are guaranteed to see them over a longer period of time, usually 3-4 months, so you’ll have time to make connections. You’ll also likely have similar reasons for taking it based on the subject. And you are sharing an experience together that you can talk about (tests, assignments, thoughts about the professor/college). It’s usually not too expensive and it could even be free – particularly Community Centre courses.
To get some ideas, try Googling: courses [your city] or: classes [your city]
Volunteering can connect you with people who share the same values and outlook as you. You can join Big Brothers or Big Sisters and befriend a disadvantaged child, work in a homeless shelter or a retirement home. There are lots of non-profit groups out there and they always need people to make the load easier. It’s also good for the soul.
To find these opportunities, it works the same way as finding interest groups or courses in your city.
Google these 2 phrases: [your city] community service or: [your city] volunteer.
6. Join a recreational sports team
Sports, if you are into them, are great for making close friends. Joining a team, particularly a recreational team doesn’t mean that you have to be great at it. You just want to do your best and get out there. Could it be potentially embarrassing? Maybe, but nothing bonds people like talking about their best/worst plays after the game with a beer.
A woman I know joined her office hockey team having never really played before. She explained to me that people loved the fact that she did it even though she had almost zero skill. She got to know a bunch of new friends at work.
7. Make it a habit to say yes, even when you don’t feel like it
So, you’ve talked to that girl or guy in your hiking group a few times and they invited you to come to a get-together this weekend. You want to go but know it will be a bit stressful as you don’t really know anyone else. Let’s face it – it’s easier to say no.
Try this: Say yes to at least 2 out of 3 invitations. You can still reserve a ‘no’ if you really don’t feel comfortable. Here’s the rub: Every time you say no, you probably won’t get a second invite from that person. No one likes to be turned down. By saying yes you’ll meet a bunch of new people which may turn into invitations to do more things later.
8. Take the initiative
I felt uncomfortable taking the initiative around new people. To me, it came down to fear of rejection. That’s a normal thing to worry about, as no one likes rejection. Because rejection is so uncomfortable, few people dare to take the initiative and countless opportunities to make friends are lost. If you take initiatives, you’ll be able to make new friends much more easily.
Here are some examples of taking initiative:
At social events, walk up and say “Hi, how are you?”
Ask people for their number so that you can keep in touch.
If you are going to an event, invite people who might be interested to join you.
Ask acquaintances if they want to meet up.
9. When you come across someone you click with, dare to ask for their number
It’s cool to have a conversation with someone and think “we really clicked”. However, you just met them and it’s a one-off kind of event. Now’s your chance to take the initiative and say “That was really fun to talk about, let’s exchange phone numbers so we can keep in touch.”
We’re not in college anymore where we see the same people every day. Therefore, we have to make an active decision to keep in touch with people we like.
10. Have a reason for keeping in touch
When you get someone’s number, make sure that you do keep in touch with them. As long as you have a reason, it won’t feel forced. Use whatever you bonded over when you met as the reason to call/text. When you come across something related, like an article or a Youtube clip, text them and say, “Hey, saw this and thought about our conversation..”
The next time you’re doing something related, text them and ask. “I’m going to a philosophy group on Thursday, do you want to join?”
11. Start your own meet-up
I started a group on Meetup.com last week and I can recommend you to try it out. It costs 24 dollars a month to be an Arranger, and in return, they promote your group in their newsletter to everyone who’s in related groups. 6 people joined my group on the first day they sent out the promotion.
Ask people you know to join and ask new Attendants to bring others they think might be interested. Write every attendant personally and they’ll be more likely to show up.
12. Know that you need to meet lots of people to make just a few real friends
Sometimes it takes a while to meet someone you really click with. It’s a numbers game of sorts. The more people you meet, the more likely you are to find someone who shares the same interests and values as you do. Not everyone is going to turn into a good friend. Even if you’ve come across lots of people that you don’t click with, it doesn’t mean that “your kind” aren’t out there. You may need to meet dozens of people before you make a close friend…
13. Start or join a book club
Book clubs combine people’s passion for story-telling, ideas, human experience, words, culture, drama, and conflict. In many ways, you are talking about your values and who you are when you discuss the merits of a book. You also learn about your book club member’s thoughts, ideas, and values. This is a good basis for a friendship.
14. Move to a larger city
This is a more radical option to consider, but perhaps your town is just too small and you’ve met everyone in your age group. Big cities have more people and more things to do which can better your chances to meet new friends. Before you take this step though, consider that you may just need to widen your net at home with a few of the strategies discussed above.
16. Know that there are LOADS of people in your position
I get emails from people every week telling me how after college or uni all their friends suddenly got busy with work and family. In a way, that’s a good thing: There’s a huge number of people out there who are also looking for friends.
46% of Americans feel lonely. Only 53% say that they have meaningful in-person interactions every day. So when it feels like everyone else is busy, it’s not true. 1 in 2 people are looking to have a good conversation every day and will probably go out of their way to make new friends, just like you.
But while small talk does have a purpose, we don’t want to get stuck in it. Most people get bored after a few minutes of small talk. Here’s how to transition to interesting conversation:
2. To get to know someone beyond small talk, figure out what you might have in common
When you talk to someone new and realize that you have things in common, the conversation usually goes from stiff to fun and interesting.
Therefore, make it a habit to find out if you have any mutual interests or something in common.
Take chances to mention things that interest you and see how they react.
I’m, for example, interested in psychology, growing plants, and talking about the future, (like self-driving cars and those sorts of things). I also follow a bunch of TV-shows.
So if a chance comes up to mention something about that, I take it!
If someone mentions driving to work, I take the chance and ask, “When do you think self-driving cars will take off?”.
If someone has a plant on their work desk, I ask “Are you into plants?”.
If someone talks about TV-shows, I ask if they watch Handmaid’s Tale which I love.
If someone mentions a book they read or something they read about anything I’m interested in, I ask more about that.
If someone turns out to be from the same place I’m from, or has worked in a similar field, or been on vacation in a similar place, or any other commonality, I ask about that.
Use opportunities to mention things that interest you and see how they react.
If they don’t have any particular reaction, you continue making small talk as usual. If they DO light up (Looking engaged, smiling, start talking about it) – great!
You’ve found something in common. Maybe it’s even something you can use a reason for keeping in touch.
But what I don’t have any particular interests or things I love talking about?
Interests don’t have to be strong passions: It’s just about finding something you enjoy talking about. What do you talk about with close friends? Those are the things you want to talk about with new friends, too.
Or, you can find other points of commonality to talk about: What it was like studying at the same school, growing up in the same place, being from the same country, listening to the same music, having been to the same festival, reading the same books.
3. Make sure that you don’t write people off before you’ve figured out if you have something in common
I used to judge people way too fast and assume that they were shallow, boring, or that we had nothing to talk about.
In reality, it was because I got stuck in small talk. (If you only make small talk, everyone sounds shallow.)
In the previous step, I talked about how to get past small talk and find things you have in common. Because I know how easy it is to write someone off, I want to say that it’s really important to give everyone a sincere chance.
I know that I missed out on many friendships because I lacked in conversation skills.
I wish that I’d been better at that earlier in life.
Whenever you meet someone new, make it a little mission to see if you can find some kind of mutual interest.
How? By cultivating an interest in people.
As I started asking sincere questions to get to know others, I became more and more aware that a lot of people I had first written off turned out to be really interesting.
That, in turn, made me interested in getting to know new people. I had cultivated an interest.
4. You need to be friendly to make friends
Many try to be cool and stand-offish when they meet new people (I did, especially in my high school years). Others get timid because they are nervous.
But the problem is that people will take it personally. If you are aloof, people will think that you don’t like them.
It sounds obvious, but you need to show that you are friendly in order to turn people into friends.
I know why I tried to be cool when I was in high school: I didn’t want to risk being rejected or make a fool out of myself, so I played it cool.
When I studied psychology, it became clear why it’s so important to SHOW that you’re friendly.
In behavioral science, there’s a concept called “Reciprocity of Liking”2 – If we think that someone likes us, we tend to like them more. If we think that someone dislikes us, we tend to like them less.
So how do you show that you like people without looking needy or being someone you’re not?
You can still be cool if you want to and you don’t have to talk all the time. But you DO want to signal in some way that you like or approve of those you meet.
Below is some practical advice on how to find these places.
10. Look for clubs and groups at your college/university or workplace
This is the easiest way to find like-minded:
Join groups and clubs where you work or study.
Even if these clubs just seem remotely related to your interests, that’s OK. They don’t need to capture your life’s passion. The important thing is if you think there might be interesting people there.
Specifically, look for groups that meet up on a weekly basis. That way, you’ll have enough time to develop friendships with people there.
You can ask a colleague or classmate if they want to join. That makes it less scary to go there by yourself.
11. Look for classes or courses
Classes and courses are great because 1) you meet like-minded and 2) they take place over several weeks so you have the time to get to know people.
Some cities offer free classes or courses. I joined a free improv-theater group where I met lots of interesting people.
Google “[Your City] classes” or “[Your City] courses”.
12. Most Meetup events aren’t that good for making friends
I always hear the advice to go to Meetup.com or Eventbrite.com to find events there and make friends.
The problem is that you go there, mingle for 15 minutes with strangers (and fight agonizing social anxiety in the process), and then walk home to never meet those people again.
If you do check out those sites, ONLY look for the recurring events! At least on a weekly basis.
These kinds of events are great. Maximum 20 participants, recurring, and a specific interest.
13. How to filter out events on Meetup.com that are good for making friends.
Do NOT enter a search term. Then you’ll probably miss out on things you might be interested in. Instead, click on Calendar view (Otherwise you just see groups that might not meet up for a long time)
Leave the search bar empty, and choose calendar view rather than group view.
Click on All Upcoming Events.
Select all upcoming events, so you get more ideas.
Open up all the events that interest you.
Check if they are recurring. (You can check the history of the group arranging the meetup and see if they have had the same meetup on a regular basis.)
14. Be active in Facebook groups and forums to find communities of like-minded
I’m a member of “The Orchid Growers community of Gothenburg” (Where I live. Orchids is one of my biggest interests.)
Through that group, I learned that there’s a weekly Orchid meetup group in Gothenburg (Which is a city of only 500 000 people, which shows that you can find niche groups not only in huge cities.)
Go to Facebook and search for different groups. Join groups that interest you (and that seem to be active).
I, for example, would search for things like gardening, plants, board games, psychology, or philosophy.
In my experience, you seldom find events on Facebook for these interests. However, you find several groups. Join those groups so you get their updates, and be active in them or at least read them.
Through there, it’s likely that you sooner or later find opportunities to find out people.
You can also be proactive and ask in those groups if there will be any meetups.
15. Volunteering and community services
Google “[Your city] community service” or “[Your city] volunteer”. As always, look for places where you meet people on a regular basis.
16. Sports teams
Personally, I’m not a sports person (although I competed in gripper strength a few years ago, which isn’t really a team sport.)
However, I do know that a lot of people have made their best friends through sports teams.
It can feel uncomfortable to join a team if you’ve just getting started. Search for “[your city] [sport] beginners”.
17. Avoid social media as that can give you a false sense of satisfaction
Avoid social media like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook (Unless you use them to find real-life groups).
Usually, social media is a bit like eating candy instead of food: You get temporary satisfaction that lowers your motivation to seek out real long-term satisfaction (that real-life socializing gives).
Studies also show that social media lowers our self-esteem9 (Because we see everyone’s “perfect” lives.) Comparing ourselves to others, in turn, makes us more uncomfortable for real-life socializing10.
You can uninstall social media apps from your phones and block those pages, then replace them with chat-only apps like WhatsApp and let your friends know that they’ll find you there instead.
Chapter 3: How to keep in touch with new friends and turn them into close friends
18. Follow up with people even if it feels uncomfortable
I know that it’s scary to tell someone that you want to keep in touch or text someone. What if they don’t text back and you feel like a loser?
You want to follow up with people you like DESPITE that fear. Sometimes, people don’t text you back, and that’s OK.
But what’s worse, someone not texting back, or you never taking the chance to make a good friend?
I encourage you to push yourself. When you’re in doubt if you should keep in touch with someone and that doubt stems from your insecurity, try to take action even if it’s scary.
19. If you have an interesting conversation with someone, always ask for their phone number.
If you’ve had an interesting conversation about a mutual interest, always take that person’s number.
It might feel awkward the first few times. After a while, it just feels like a natural way to end interesting conversations.
“This was really fun to talk about. Let’s exchange numbers so we can keep in touch”.
When you ask a person this after an interesting conversation where both have been eager to talk, they will most likely be happy that you want to keep in touch with them.
20. Use mutual interests to keep in touch
After you get someone’s number, it’s on you to follow through and keep in touch.
Do actually text them. Don’t wait for them to text you.
Text them right after you’ve split up. “Hi, Viktor here. Was nice meeting you. Here’s my number :)”.
Then, use your mutual interests as a “reason” for meeting up.
As an example, I recently met someone who’s as much of an Orchid nerd as I am. A few days later, I found an interesting article about a new Orchid species, and I texted it to him.
I wrote: “Hi, interesting about Orchids (link)”
Do you see how the mutual interest works as a “reason” for keeping in touch without it feeling awkward?
21. Meet up with people you don’t know well yet for group activities first
If you’re about to do something social related to your mutual interest, text your new friend and ask if they want to join.
For example, if I’m going to an Orchid-meetup, I can text my new orchid friend and ask if he wants to join.
Or, just bring together some others with that same interest, “I’m meeting up with two other friends who are also into Orchids, do you want to join?”
If you meet up at a group activity first like that, it takes the pressure off to have a non-awkward conversation.
However, if you’ve made a GREAT connection and you don’t have a group event coming up, you can meet one on one at once. That’s especially true if you’ve met your new friend several times.
22. Activities can be more casual the better you know each other
The more comfortable you are with each other, the more casual the activity can be.
Activity with someone you’ve only met once or twice before: Going to a meetup together or meeting up with several friends specifically regarding a mutual interest.
Activity with someone you’ve met a few times before one on one: Grabbing a coffee together.
Activity with someone you’ve met several times before one on one: Just asking “want to meet up?” is enough.
23. How to use self-disclosure to make friends
According to University of Winnipeg sociologist Beverley Fehr, “the transition from acquaintanceship to friendship is typically characterized by an increase in both the breadth and depth of self-disclosure.”
In her landmark study and book Friendship Processes, Fehr found that friendships were formed when individuals revealed deep and meaningful aspects of themselves to each other.(16)
The message from her work is plain and simple: if you’re finding it difficult to form solid relationships with the people you meet, then think about how much you’re actually revealing about yourself.
Do you find yourself putting up a “wall” when meeting new people, constantly deflecting personal questions or answering them with simple, superficial answers?
Or do you hold back on telling people about your own experiences when the topic moves to an area that you know only too well?
You may think that revealing potentially embarrassing aspects of your life and history may actually hurt your chances of making friends. But according to Fehr the truth is actually the opposite.
Self-disclose and you’re actually much more likely to make new friends.
But how does self-disclosure help form new friendships?
According to a study by Collins and Miller, the answer is quite simple, and it has to do with your likability.(17)
Collins and Miller found that people who self-disclose are liked more by others. They also found that other people tend to self-disclose to people that they like and that people prefer those to whom they have made personal disclosures.
In sum: friendships are based on likability, and it just so happens that revealing aspects of yourself make people like you more. When people like you, they are more likely to self-disclose to you (which in turn will make you like them more). And finally, people tend to want to spend time with people they have made personal disclosures to.
Makes sense, huh?
It is only when we put ourselves out there and tell people about ourselves that we can actually connect with people.
Of course, in order for a friendship to form, both you and the other person need to self-disclose.
It doesn’t work if only one person is revealing aspects of themselves.
But as the research suggests, you are much more likely to encourage the other person to share their personal history with you once you do so first.
However, be careful: too much self-disclosure can actually be off-putting and drive people away. You need to find the right balance between revealing too much and revealing too little.
So what kind of things can we reveal of ourselves in order to make stronger connections with other people?
Let’s look at another important scientific finding to help us make friends faster.
24. 36 questions to form stronger bonds with others
In April 1997, a study was published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin by Arthur Aron and his team.(18)
The researchers found that it was possible to increase the intimacy between two complete strangers by asking 36 specific questions.
The questions were all geared toward soliciting revealing aspects about the participants in the study.
And as we have already seen above, self-disclosing is a vital part of forming new friendships.
Here are 6 of the questions from the experiment to give you the gist of it:
What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Would you like to be famous? In what way?
Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
Ask your partner to tell you what they like about you; ask them to be very honest, saying things they might not say to someone they’ve only just met.
Ask your partner to share with you an embarrassing moment in their life.
All these questions will go a long way towards forming strong relationships with others.
25. How music can quickly help you bond with others
From what we’ve discussed so far, you may be thinking that you need to go deep with the people you meet in order to start new friendships with them.
Well, you will need to reveal personal and meaningful things about yourself at some stage if you want to make a new friend.
But you can also talk about more trivial things at the beginning of a friendship in order to get it moving along in the right direction.
In fact, a recent study found that talking about music was one of the most popular topics of conversation when same-sex and opposite-sex pairings were told to get to know each other over the course of 6 weeks.(19)
In the study, 58 percent of the pairs talked about music in the first week. Less popular topics of conversation – such as favorite books, movies, TV, football, and clothes – were only discussed by about 37 percent of the pairs.
But why is it that music is such a popular topic of conversation for newly introduced pairings?
The authors of the study said that the kind of music someone likes says a lot about their personality. And that people talk about music in order to tell whether they are similar or different from each other.
According to the research, an individual’s musical preferences were an accurate indication of their personality.
Specifically, the study found that those that liked vocally dominant music were generally extroverted in nature, that those who liked country were, for the most part, emotionally stable, and that those that listened to jazz were quite intellectual.
The key takeaway from this study is that we can know more about a person by finding out what kind of music they like.
So the next time you meet someone new, don’t be afraid to pull out the “what’s your favorite type of music?” card.
26. How to use social identity to make friends faster
Another interesting finding that can help you make friends faster comes from social researchers Carolyn Weisz and Lisa F. Wood and their study on the effects of social identity support between individuals.(20)
A social identity can be many things, such as being a member of a particular religion, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, nationality, socio-economic class, etc.
According to the results of the study, when you support someone’s sense of self or identity, the intimacy between you grows.
In simple terms, the results of the findings suggest that being able to relate to an individual’s position in society can help them feel understood. This can, in turn, increase feelings of intimacy between you and them.
They also found that social identity support between individuals often led to them remaining friends over the long term.
So how can this finding help us make new friends faster?
Whenever you meet someone new, try and put yourself in their shoes, and try to feel and understand what it must be like to move through their world with their social identity.
Or in other words: in order to strengthen the bond between you and the people you meet, you need to empathize with them and where they are coming from.
This means understanding their particular social position, and how they relate to the world.
Of course, this is easier said than done.
It’s hard to relate to someone’s particular social identity when we have no experience or knowledge of it.
But remember that earlier study by Aron and his colleagues and his list of 36 questions to help increase the intimacy between two complete strangers? You can use questions like that to better understand people you meet and help you connect.
Chapter 4: Challenges when making friends: What to do if…
A few years ago, my confidence in my abilities to make friends were really low and I had lots of doubts if I would even be good at making new friends. Because I was rusty, I also got nervous when I was supposed to socialize.
So I know that there are many challenges to overcome. Here’s my recommendation on some of the most common challenges.
What to do if…
27. I’m not in the mood to socialize
Someone once said that “canceling plans last minute is like heroin” and I can agree. But in the long term, it’s probably not the kind of life you want to live.
Here’s my advice for when you don’t feel like socializing:
If you start being a little social, it’s much easier to be more social. Use any little opportunity you get to socialize to keep the wheels running.
“It’s hard to work up the motivation to socialize when you don’t really like people anyway.”
This is a recurring theme among my clients. This is often before they’ve mastered getting to know people past small talk. When they learn to find mutual interests, they often find socializing much more fun.
(This is when you’re done with the pleasantries and actually get to know someone)
I’m not a big drinker, so I usually only have one beer when I meet people – after that I just have water. No one has ever thought that was weird. If I don’t feel like drinking at all, I just order a coke.
Small costs like gas or cost for commutes is a question of priorities. If you want to make friends, it’s well invested to at least have a small budget for social interaction.
If you can allow for 50 dollars a month, you can have a great social life.
31. I live in a small town
“It’s easier to make friends in New York City than in my city of 20 000”.
Usually, even small cities have classes and courses you can attend. Look into that first. Make it a habit to look at message boards and see what shows up.
The smaller the city, the less specific you can be. If you can go to an event in New York specifically for post-modern art from Belarus, in a small city, you might instead be able to find a “Culture Club”.
My colleague David grew up in a town of only 10 000 people. However, he was still able to find Facebook groups with several things he was really interested in it. Look into that.
32. I am bad socially
This is exactly how I felt. Socializing is never fun when you don’t feel good at it.
Luckily, it’s a skill you can practice. I recommend you to read a book on social skills. Then, use all social interaction you have throughout the day as your practice-ground.
If you feel bad socially, that’s a sign that you want to expose yourself to MORE socializing rather than less.
33. I have social anxiety
Social Anxiety can be like a barrier between you and everything you want in life. I suggest that you work with it on two fronts:
Do what you can to make socializing less scary. For example, if you’re going to a meetup, see if you can make a friend come with you.
36. I’m afraid following a guide like this will make it feel forced
See social events as a place you go because you’re interested in the topic, like I talk about here.
Second, you want to talk to people. And third, more like a bonus, you might connect with someone.
Remember: Making friends is a side effect of having a good time together with people.
If you see it that way – the interaction feels less forced.
37. I don’t want to feel like I have to change my personality to make friends
Perhaps you see this overly social person in front of you when you think about making friends – someone who talks to everyone, always smiles, and LOVES making meaningless small talk.
That’s not someone I ever wanted to be. While I can understand that it can feel like you have to be that person, you definitely don’t.
Here are some examples:
You go to an event of something you’re interested in. There, you can talk to others who are interested in the same thing.
If you hit it off, you can meet up again and build your friendship around that interest. You don’t need to be overly nice or positive. You just need to be authentic.
Here are some things that can feel outside of your current behavior, but I encourage you to still practice:
Small talk. Most of my clients appreciate this once they are able to use it as a bridge to finding mutual interests.
Opening up. Sharing a thing or two about you every once in a while, so that people can get to know you as you get to know them.
Meeting more new people. This can be exhausting, but something that’s necessary to make new friends. Rather than seeing it as having to meet new people, see it as following your interests and meeting people in the process.
Valtorta, N. K., Kanaan, M., Gilbody, S., Ronzi, S., & Hanratty, B. (2016, July 01). Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for coronary heart disease and stroke: Systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal observational studies. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27091846
Weisz, C., & Wood, L. F. (2005). Social identity support and friendship outcomes: A longitudinal study predicting who will be friends and best friends 4 years later. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,22(3), 416-432. doi:10.1177/0265407505052444 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0265407505052444
Here’s how to find friends who are more like you – people with similar interests and mindsets that you can connect with.
I grew up in a small town, as an introvert, which made it hard for me to find like-minded.
In this guide, I show what methods actually work to find people like you and turn them into friends. (I’ve tried all these methods myself.)
This guide works no matter your current social situation or the size of the city you live in.
1. Use these methods to figure out if someone’s like-minded
I’ve learned that you can meet like-minded friends in the most unexpected places. But I missed out on many chances because I didn’t make an effort to get to know people.
My problem was that I wrote them off too quickly.
For example, there was one guy in my high-school that I never talked to.
We saw each other every day for 3 years. When we finally started talking and figured out that we liked each other, we became best friends.
My problem was that I, first of all, didn’t like small talk, and if I tried making it, I wasn’t able to transition into more interesting conversation. (And when you only make small talk, everyone sounds shallow).
I made it a habit to talk to people. I then learned to transition from making small talk to finding out if we had mutual interests or commonalities.
Going to meetups is a tip that I hear over and over, but it’s not as easy as people say.
The problem is that you if you go to a Meetup event, (Meetup.com or Eventbrite.com, for example) you’re most likely to meet a bunch of people one time. Plus, you have to mingle witch is usually super stiff.
It’s awkward to start keeping in touch after one interaction unless you REALLY hit it off.
To have the chance to get to know people, you want to meet them on a regular basis (at least weekly, in my experience).
There are recurring events on Meetup. Focus on those. There, you have the chance to meet people again and again, and you have a good shot at getting to know them.
3. Bars, big parties and clubs aren’t good places to make friends
To get to know someone, you need to meet up several times and have many in-depth conversations, as I talked about in the previous step.
At bars, big parties, and clubs, most people aren’t in tune for in-depth conversations. It doesn’t mean that they are shallow. Just that they’re not in that mood at that point.
The exception is smaller house-parties. They are usually not as loud, and it’s easier to get to know someone over a beer on the couch. If you get invited to a small party by a friend you have things in common with, it’s likely that you’ll meet other like-minded people there.
4. People who share your interests are more likely to be like you in other ways, too
Going to general places, like “new in town-groups” you’ll probably have a lower success rate than specific interest-groups. You might still find like-minded people there, but you’re MORE likely to find like-minded people in groups for specific interests.
Look for people who are interested in the same things you are. These people are also more likely to be like you personality-wise.
5. Find social events and communities
When I was younger, I went to a large week-long computer festival every year. There were many other like-minded there.
I know today that I could have made lots of friends there if I’d had the social skills needed back then.
This ties back to the point I made by the start of this guide:
To find like-minded, the key is to learn how to make small talk and then transition to personal conversation. I linked to two guides about that in step 1 of this guide.
My friend, on the other hand, was more socially skilled at that time. He met many new friends at that computer festival and whenever he went. Why? Because he knew how to small talk and transition that into personal conversation.
Find social events and communities (related to your interests) where people do things together.
Here’s a list for your inspiration:
Model aircraft/railroads etc
6. Seek out people at work or school who you think you might have things in common with.
If you already meet people regularly, like at work or school, the easiest path is to get to know them better. It might turn out you have things in common with them.
Earlier, I told you about the guy at my high-school that I’d seen every day for 3 years before we actually started talking and turned into best friends.
Make a conscious effort to talk more to people you meet on a regular basis, and figure out if you have things in common using the methods in step 1.
Here are some thoughts on small talk that I wished I’d learned earlier in life:
7. Small talk does have a purpose and is the key to making friends with like-minded
I mentioned this shortly in step 1 but decided to make this into a step of its own, too, as it’s so important.
I always disliked small talk because it seemed to have no purpose. Only shallow people seemed to make small talk.
In reality, we need to make small talk to “warm up” before we can start making interesting conversation.
It’s not really about the words we use or what we talk about. It’s about signaling that we’re friendly and open for interaction. When you say “How was your weekend?”, what you’re really saying is “I’m friendly and up for talking with you”.
On the other hand, if you make it a habit to talk to new people only when you have to (as I did, the first half of my life) you make people think “This person doesn’t seem to like me because they never talk to me”.
Now that I understood that small talk is the bridge to getting to know people and figure out of they’re like-minded, I enjoy small talk so much more.
Here’s my guide on how to make small talk to start a conversation.
8. Join an online community related to your interest
When I was younger, I was interested in exercise and weight lifting so I spent a lot of time on a weight training forum. I made several online friends there, and some, I met in real life. That was 15 years ago, and today, online forums are several times more powerful with larger, more nieche communities and more opportunities.
Reddit is powerful as it has uncountable sub-reddits for very specific interests. Then there are countless forums. On top of that, you have all the Facebook communities. Search for anything related to your interests, and be active in that community by posting and commenting.
After a few weeks, people start recognizing your name. Just like seeing someone’s face again and again in real life, they feel like they know you when they see your nickname over and over.
That’s how you become part of the community, and you don’t need awkward IRL-small talks.
The upside to this method is that you can make friends even if you feel uncomfortable meeting strangers at live meetups.
The downside is that most of these friendships will stay online. (Sometimes, there are opportunities to meet up live, too, like I did with that training forum.)
9. Use an app like Bumble BFF (This works better than I thought it would)
I got recommended to try Bumble BFF by a friend who said she’d met super interesting people there. I had a hard time taking the app seriously at first, mainly because the name is so silly.
I was surprised by how interesting people you can find on there! Today, I have two good friends from that app that I hang out with on a regular basis.
A heads up is that I live in NYC. This app might be less effective in smaller cities. (In the next step, I talk about how to make friends in smaller cities)
Here are my tips for being successful on Bumble BFF:
On your profile, write down what your interests are. That way, others can know if you’re compatible.
It’s not a dating app! Skip the photos where you try to look attractive or cool. Pick a photo where you look friendly. Also, sassy short texts on your profile that works on Tinder doesn’t work here.
Be picky. I ONLY like profiles where people write about themselves and I can see that we have things in common.
10. Start a group related to your interest
When I lived in a small city, it was harder to find like-minded than here in NYC.
As an example, I love to have deep conversations and when I had just moved to that smaller city, I was starved on deep conversations.
I looked for philosophy groups but couldn’t find any. I decided to start my own group.
I told people I thought might be interested even if I’d just met them once, and invited them to meet up every Wednesday at 7 PM.
I asked them to invite their friends, and the group grew. We met for 6 months or something like that. It’s actually through that group that I met Viktor Sander, who turned into one of my best friends who now also works as SocialPro’s in-house behavioral scientist. Pretty cool!
I joined a friend to another meetup specifically for people with online businesses. That group was also weekly, and 3 of my best friends are from that group!
The founder of that group had a really clever way to find people:
He promoted his group on Facebook specifically for people who liked other online business pages in that city. (You can target crazy-specific stuff on Facebook, like only women aged 23-24 who live in the western parts of Kentucky who like Chihuahuas but not Bulldogs.)
Because it was so targeted, he only spent 20-30 dollars, and several people showed up.
Here’s a detailed guide on how to create a group and market on Facebook.
11. Be involved in a project
When I was younger, one of my interests was making movies. I and some friends from school used to meet up and work on different film projects. My friends, in turn, involved other friends, and I got to know a lot of people through these projects.
What’s a project you can be involved in?
You don’t necessarily have to start the project. You can join something ongoing related to what your interests are. Here are some thoughts on how to find those projects:
Facebook groups that cover your interests (Search for things like “Photography”, “DIY Makers”, “Cooking”)
Extracurricular activities at school
Interest groups at work
Regularly check physical bulletin boards and Facebook groups you’re already in, like those for your work or class or neighborhood.
12. Meet a lot of people to not miss out on finding like-minded
The truth is that you can find like-minded literally everywhere as long as you make it a habit to get to know people on a more personal level, using the methods in step 1.
For example (this is a crazy story) I made small talk with a cashier at Trader Joes last week (a grocery store) and it turns out we have loads of things in common. We’re both interested in technology, futurology, biohacking, and AI. This weekend, we’re going to meet up with some of my friends who are also interested in those things.
The point is that every person you come across is an opportunity to make friends with. Even if you’re more likely to find like-minded at events related to specific interests, you might still meet a soul-sister or soul-brother anywhere.
Therefore, make sure to meet a lot of people. I’ve made a guide here about how to socialize at an event even if you find it boring.
13. Say yes 2 out of 3 times
In the previous step, I talked about how it’s important to meet a lot of people. Personally, my knee-jerk reaction was to say no to invites, because I like to spend lots of time by myself. To overcome that, I tried saying yes to all invites, but that was impractical.
A good rule that a friend taught me is to say yes to 2 out of 3 invites. That means that you can say no to when it really doesn’t work for you, but you still say yes to the majority of invites.
The risk with saying no to too many invites is that people soon stop inviting you. Not because they don’t like you, but because it doesn’t feel good to be turned down.
14. When you find someone you like, dare to follow-up with that person
I used to be really bad at keeping in touch with friends, because a) I didn’t know what to keep in touch about and b) I was afraid that they wouldn’t respond (Fear of rejection).
If you feel like you had a good connection with someone, make sure to take their number.
What I mean by good connection:
The conversation flows effortlessly
Both laugh sincerely
You don’t just make small talk but talk about something both are passionate about.
If you don’t feel this connection, that’s no big issue. I didn’t do that very often before I consciously started practicing conversation skills. Again, I have some links in step 1 of this guide for that.
Whenever you meet someone you connect with and have something in common with, use that commonality as an “excuse” to keep in touch with them.
“Really fun to talk to someone who’s also read Foucault. Let’s keep in touch and maybe meet up and talk philosophy some day! Do you have a number?”
And then, you can text a few days later. “Hi, David here. Was nice talking with you. Want to meet up this weekend and talk more philosophy?”
I took a big step in my personal development when I overcame the fear of rejection. Yes, sure, there’s always a risk someone might not respond. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t at least try (If you don’t you might miss out on making a new friend.)
15. How to find like-minded people, in summary
Finding like-minded friends has 6 parts to it:
Attitude: Make a sincere effort to get to know people before you assume you don’t have anything in common.
Skill: Practice your conversation skills so you get to know people on a deeper level and can create chemistry.
Exposure: You need to meet lots of people to find people you click with.
Recurrence: You want to meet people at least every week so you can develop a friendship with them.
Mutual interests: You can improve your chances by going to places where people share your interests.
Follow-up: Dare to keep in touch with people you’ve met. Use your mutual interest as the “reason” for meeting up.
I know that this sounds like a lot, but you only need to take the first step to get going and then you can learn along the way.
What’s a first step you can take right now to start finding people like you? Let me know in the comments below!
4.6 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link. I recommend this book only because I think it’s good).
Top pick most comprehensive
2. The Social Skills Guidebook: Manage Shyness, Improve Your Conversations, and Make Friends, Without Giving Up Who You Are
Author: Chris MacLeod
Compared to How to Win Friends, this one isn’t directed to a mainstream audience. This book targets people who feel like their social life is on hold because they either are too shy or don’t really connect.
So, the first part of the book focuses on shyness, social anxiety, and low self-confidence. Then, it goes through how to improve your conversation skills. And third, how to be better at making friends and lead a social life.
I read this book 2-3 years ago and since then it’s my top recommendation for anyone who wants a comprehensive book on social skills together with Win Friends.
Do get this book if…
Socializing makes you uncomfortable and you want a book that covers all aspects of social life.
4.5 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link. I recommend this book only because I think it’s good).
Top pick for people with Aspergers
3. Improve your Social Skills
Author: Dan Wendler
Improve your Social Skills has many similarities to The Social Skills Guidebook and it covers similar topics. However, this author has Aspergers and the book has become somewhat of a cult classic on the topic.
It feels unfair to say that it’s only relevant for people with Aspergers. It’s relevant for anyone who wants to learn social skills from the ground up.
Do get this book if…
You want to learn social skills from the ground up or have Aspergers.
6. Belong: Find Your People, Create Community, and Live a More Connected Life
Author: Radha Agrawal
The premise of this book is that we feel less and less connected despite all the technology for connecting. It focuses on how to feel connected again by knowing how to find people like you or create a community of like-minded.
I have a feeling that it’ll work best for you if you’re in your 20s or 30s. If you’re older than that, check out The Relationship Cure. Except for that, GREAT book! Well researched and well written. A lot of good advice that is applicable.
4.6 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link. I recommend this book only because I think it’s good).
Books specifically for adults
The following books suit someone who’s working and is having a family life (as opposed to being in school or single).
Friendship while being married and having kids
8. Friendshifts: The Power of Friendship and How It Shapes Our Lives
Author: Jan Yager
The book is focused on friendships in the mid-state of life: Having friends while having children, having friends while married. That’s why it’s called Friendshift: It’s about how friendships change as our lives change.
There’s a lot of obvious stuff in this book. But since it’s the only book I’ve found for middle-aged and it has some great insights, I’d recommend it for someone who wants to make friends learn and how to relate to your friends.
3.6 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link. I recommend this book only because I think it’s good).
Top pick on betrayal by friends
9. When Friendship Hurts: How to Deal with Friends Who Betray, Abandon, or Wound You
Author: Jan Yager
This book is about both toxic relationships and failed ones. It’s a solid book, written by the same author who wrote Friendshift. She’s improved a lot since the Friendshift book and this book is better overall. However, while Friendshift was about friendship in general in adulthood, this one is focused on broken friendships in adulthood.
4.2 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link. I recommend this book only because I think it’s good).
Books for women on how to make friends
Top pick closer relationships for women
10. Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness
Author: Shasta Nelson
A book on how to develop closer friendships, specifically for women. Very well-researched and well-written. Goes through how to connect and get closer, toxicity, self-doubt, jealousy and envy, and fear of rejection.
Stellar reviews. I couldn’t find anything bad about this book.
Do get this book if…
You’re an adult woman who wants to have closer friends.
Do NOT get this book if…
If you’re an adult woman who wants to have closer friends I think there’s no reason to not get this book. However, also check out The Relationship Cure.
4.7 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link. I recommend this book only because I think it’s good).
11. Stop Being Lonely: Three Simple Steps to Developing Close Friendships and Deep Relationships
Author: Kira Asatryan
The focus of this book is to develop closeness. In other words, how to be able to develop close relationships rather than superficial. It covers closeness with family and partners, but primarily when it comes to friends.
To appreciate this book, you have to be open-minded. A lot of the stuff seems common sense, but even if it is, bringing it up again and reminding us to apply it can help.
The author is not a psychiatrist like in many of the other books. But to have wisdom on the topic of friendship, I don’t think you have to be a psychiatrist.
4.2 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link. I recommend this book only because I think it’s good).
12. Messy Beautiful Friendship: Finding and Nurturing Deep and Lasting Relationships
Very liked book. I can’t relatable to it as it’s written by a pastor’s wife and from her perspective. If you’re a married Christian woman, this would be the perfect book for you. If you want a broader book on mid-life friendships, I’d warmly recommend The Relationship Cure.
4.7 stars on Amazon
For men on how to improve relationships
13. Relationships Are Everything: How to Not Suck at Relationships & Make a Dent in this World
This book is also focused on how to improve your relationships. In other words, it’s not about how to seek out new friends, like for example in the Social Skills Guidebook.
It’s written by a youth pastor. (I’m confused, can someone explain to me why so many books on friendships are written by pastors?)
4.9 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link. I recommend this book only because I think it’s good).
Books for parents to help their children make friends
For parents to help their young children
14. The Unwritten Rules of Friendship: Simple Strategies to Help Your Child Make Friends
This has become “the book” for parents who want to help their children with social skills. It goes through several archetypes like “The vulnerable child”, “The different drummer” etc and gives specific advice for how to help each of these.
The book is more of a toolbox than a cover to cover read.
The book is very well-reviewed (the best-ranked book of the ones I’ve researched for this guide)
Do get this book if…
You have a young child who’s falling behind socially
Do NOT get this book if…
Your child is starting to reach their teens. Instead, read The Science of Making Friends below.
4.7 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link. I recommend this book only because I think it’s good).
For parents to help their teens and young adults
15. The Science of Making Friends: Helping Socially Challenged Teens and Young Adults
If The Unwritten Rules of Friendship is my top pick for parents who want to help their young children, this book is the top pick for parents who want to help their teens and young adults.
This book focuses specifically on Aspergers and ADHD.
Do get this book if…
Your teen or young adult has Aspergers, ADHD, etc.
3.9 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link. I recommend this book only because I think it’s good).
20. How To Connect With The People In Your Life: A guide for overcoming personal barriers, breaking misconceptions, and establishing better relationships
Author: Caleb J Kruse
This book covers the entire process from breaking the ice, making small talk, connecting with people, dealing with rejection, etc.
The book is OK but I’d recommend the books by the beginning of this guide over it as they are more comprehensive, more actionable, and better researched.
4.5 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link. I recommend this book only because I think it’s good).
21. How to Make Friends as an Introvert: Discover Introvert-Friendly Ways to Meet New People, Improve Your Social Skills, and Make New Friends
The book focuses on how to make friends as an introvert. It’s very basic and not in-depth enough. There are better books for introverts, like for example The Social Skills Guidebook.
3.8 stars on Amazon. (This is NOT an affiliate link. I recommend this book only because I think it’s good).
Warning: Books that are likely to have fake reviews
Researching these books, I’ve come across reviews that seem automatically generated, do not match the quality of the book, and do not match the ratings of other sites, like Goodreads.
These are books that I’m fairly certain to have fake reviews.
Social Intelligence Guide: Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to learn the Simple and Effective Methods of Social Intelligence
Improve Your Social Skills: How To Increase and Positively Influence Your Conversation Skills in 30 Days With Parents & Friends To Win Fear and Dominate People (NOT to be confused with Improve your social skills by Dan Wendler, a great book.)
Did I miss any book? Let me know in the comments below!
2. Know that every friendship starts with some small talk
I used to think that small talk didn’t have a purpose and that it was something shallow people liked. In fact, small talk DOES have a purpose. When two humans meet, they need some time to feel comfortable around each other. During this time, they pick up on subconscious stuff, like…
Is the person friendly or hostile?
Could this be a friend, a partner, an ally, or someone to avoid?
While we figure this out, we need to make some noise with our mouths.
Here’s the good news: Done right, small talk works as the warm up to interesting conversation about stuff you do like.
So how do you transfer from small talk to interesting conversation?
3. Look for mutual interests to move from small talk to more interesting conversation
You often get the feel for what type people are after you’ve made some small talk – are they nerds, arty, intellectual, jocks, et cetera. Where might you have things in common?
I, for example, love philosophy. If I get the feeling that someone’s into that, and we talk about, say, books, I could ask:
“I just started reading Thus Spake Zarathustra by Nietzsche, heard about it?” The other day someone asked “How was your weekend?” and I said, “Good, I watched an interesting documentary about the Vietnam war”. Turns out we were both interested in history!
4. Take small steps outside of your normal behavior to be more social over time
Make it a habit to do something slightly outside of your comfort zone. Not something scary! Just something you don’t usually do.
If you usually ignore the cashier, give her a nod.
If you usually give the cashier a nod, give her a smile.
If you usually give her a smile, ask how she’s doing.
And so on…
See what’s happening here? You’re not doing something super-scary, just something a bit outside of your normal behavior. This is how to be social over time!
Making this a habit is the most painless way to improve socially. Small changes like that amount to a massive difference after some time.
5. Use the ⅔ rule: Say yes 2 out of 3 times you get asked to hang out
To be more social, I first tried using the “yes man” method and say yes to every event I was invited to. But that was difficult to sustain. I eventually learned the ⅔ method from a friend:
Say yes to at least two-thirds of the events you get invited to.
I can’t understate the importance of pushing yourself a little bit and go out there.
I used to remind myself of this: It’s not about the event in itself. It’s about if I want to live life more and more alone or master a social life with people around me.
Below are two tips to make social events less intimidating…
6. Know that no one expects you to perform except you
The reason I disliked events so much was that I felt like I had to go “up on stage” – like I had to perform and that everyone would look at me and judge me.
But you don’t need to perform. You don’t need to be over the top. You can just be casually friendly and people will like you more than if you’re “trying”. Allow yourself to be boring. Still, be friendly, and take initiatives to talk to people. But you don’t have to force being energetic, witty or impressive. Not trying to perform will make you come off as less needy and more attractive.
7. Allow yourself to leave after 20 minutes
The important part is breaking the pattern of being by yourself. And you’ve already accomplished that by showing up. Feel free to leave after 20 minutes, if you don’t like it.
When I realized that I could go to parties for 20 minutes, being a hay sack 10 minutes of the time, saying yes to invitations got much easier.
And most important of all, I still got my social training!
However, if you mainly want to make new friends, parties aren’t your best choice…
8. Join clubs close to your interest if you want to make friends
I’ve realized that I know somewhere around half of my friends because of the different groups and clubs I’ve joined.
If you want to make friends, groups and clubs are so much better than parties. Why? Parties are often loud and terrible for making conversation. Here, people often just want to have fun, not form close bonds.
Go to groups that are closely related to what you are interested in. I, for example, was a member of one philosophy group and one for online entrepreneurs. When a group is similar to your interests, you’re more likely to find like-minded people.
It’s also easier to start a conversation with someone who’s into the same stuff you are.
9. Go to places where you can meet the same people recurringly
If you want to get to know people, try to meet them at least once per week. That way, you’ll have time enough to bond and get to know people there. This means that classes and recurring events are to prefer over one-off meetups. Here’s more on how to find and make friends with like-minded.
10. Drink coffee and take breaks if socializing drains you of energy
I usually avoided social events because they were tiring, and talking to new people consumed a massive amount of energy for me.
That’s not the case anymore, and socializing can even energize me. I think that’s because I enjoy it now and that I dreaded it back then.
Anyway, I recommend you to have a coffee at social events. That makes me (and, according to studies, 70-80% of the population) more talkative. My second piece of advice is to allow yourself to take breaks. Go to the bathroom and breathe for five minutes, take a pause on the balcony.
11. Know that it’s better to say some stupid things than saying nothing at all
If you’re an over-thinker like me, you might worry that you’ll say stupid stuff that you’ll regret later.
Perhaps, that fear of saying something stupid can even turn you into a quiet person. It’s more damaging to not say anything at all than talking and saying something stupid every once in a while.
Why? Because it’s human to say stupid stuff.
When did you last judge someone for saying something stupid? I can’t remember ever caring about that. But I can remember when people didn’t say anything because I thought that they maybe didn’t like me.
So rather than saying nothing at all, say something, every once in a while. It signals that you are friendly.
12. Show interest in people and they will find it more interesting talking to you
This is another one that took a lot of pressure off me:
Socializing isn’t about being an interesting person. People who try to be interesting by talking about themselves and their adventures tend to become boring or annoying after a time.
Instead, there’s a much better way to be seen as interesting:
People will think that you’re interesting if you’re interested in them. Ask sincere questions with the intent to actually get to know the person.
As I talked about earlier in the guide, you want to balance up the questions by also sharing bits and pieces about what you think about the topic and about your life.
13. Remind yourself that there are many people like you out there if you don’t like socializing
At times, I’ve felt like I didn’t WANT to be social because, you know, people were stupid and I hated them anyway. 🙂
But whenever I thought about it, that was often my excuse to avoid the discomfort of having to meet people.
Sure, some people are stupid. But that doesn’t mean that everyone is.
Remind yourself that there are LOADS and LOADS of amazing people out there that you can meet. But you need to take the initiative to go out there.
That guide helps even if speaking up makes you uncomfortable or you don’t have the voice resources.
17. Visualize yourself as a social person
Whenever you’re on your way to meet people, try visualizing yourself as a socially competent person.
We humans tend to complicate things (like how to act around others). But if you think about it, you already know pretty well how a socially skilled person acts, right?
We’ve subconsciously already formed a picture from movies and from observing others.
They are calm, positive, keep eye contact, smile, build rapport, and so on.
If you KNOW what a social person is like, you’re closer to being able to ACT like a social person, too.
You can experiment with going into the role of “social you” every once in a while. But to not put too much pressure on yourself, remember that you at any time can take the role of the hay sack instead as I talked about before.
18. Focus on others to feel less self-conscious
So, when we get self-conscious, we start worrying about what others think of us, the adrenaline starts pumping, it gets hard to think, etc etc.
In one study, they asked people with pretty severe social anxiety to either focus on themselves or on the conversation at hand. As it turned out, those who were instructed to focus on the conversation felt less nervous.
In other words, focus on the conversation when you’re talking to someone. Or, if you’re entering a room, focus on people in the room.
“I wonder what she works with?”
“I wonder where he’s from?”
“That’s a nice shirt”
And so on.
Your thoughts are constantly going to try to creep back into your head:
“What are they thinking of me?”
“Am I walking in a weird way?”
“Where do I put my hands?”
Therefore, whenever you realize that you’re in your own head again, push your thoughts out again to focus either on the conversation or your surroundings.
To me, this has done wonders to be less self-conscious and more social.
What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to being social? Let me know in the comments below!
I had a friend I used to hang out with almost every day. I didn’t mind it at first, but after a while, I started to get more and more annoyed by small things he did.
Eventually, we grew apart.
Today, I’ll share all my experience when it comes to spending too much time with a friend.
In step 1, I talk about what’s a reasonable time to spend with a friend.
In step 2, I talk about how to be LESS dependent on a friend.
In step 3-7, I talk about what to do if YOUR FRIEND is annoying you.
In step 8, I talk about what to do if you feel that YOU might be the one who annoys your friend.
In step 9, I share how I bring up with a friend that something is bothering me. (It’s hard, but it can be worth it.)
1. Learn how much time is normal to spend with a friend
It’s not bad to spend time together in itself. It’s just that it increases the risk to get annoyed with someone. The more time you spend together, the more will small annoyances grow.
Here’s my guideline for what’s a healthy upper level of time to spend with a good friend.
What’s normal in childhood/teens
Say that you see each other 6 hours per day in school (If you’re in school for 8 hours, you might be together for 6 of those) Together with that, you see each other 1 hour after school and 2-3 hours on the weekends.
That’s what I would call the upper limit, at least for me. If I spent more than that time with a friend, I knew that we soon started to be fed up with each other.
What’s normal in adulthood
Say that you see each other 4 hours per day at work. On top of that, you see each other half an hour after work or on weekends (Taking a coffee, etc).
Or, you don’t meet the person at work. Instead, you meet up once or twice during weeks for a coffee and a chat and then maybe do an activity for 1-2 hours on the weekend.
To me, this is a healthy upper bound for hanging out with a friend as an adult.
(As we grow older, we usually spend less time with friends and get pickier with who we spend our time with. This is normal.)
“I’m spending far less than this amount of time together but it still feels like too much!”
Then you might be an imbalance in your friendship:
Someone is taking up more space than the other, someone’s more high energy, someone’s more negative than the other, someone speaks more about themselves or have an annoying habit, etc. More on this in step 4.
“What if I spend more time together than this?”
I have friends who I click so well with that we can spend hours together at the end. These are friends where I have almost no “friction”: There’s nothing in particular that annoys me about them.
If you do start getting annoyed about small things with someone, that’s a good sign you want to limit your time together. (I write about HOW to bring up with someone that you want to limit your time in step 10)
2. Find new friends if you only have a few to be with
When I was younger and only had 1 or 2 good friends, I often found that I way spend too much time with them. (Simply because I didn’t have many other options).
This was bad because it strained the few friendships I did have.
What I did was making it my top priority to make more friends. If you have more friends, you don’t need to spend as much time with each one of them.
Actively trying to improve my social skills and build a social circle has been the best choice of my life:
When you have many friends to choose from, you never have to hang out with someone just because it’s the only option.
Expanding your social circle comes down to two things:
Improving your social skills. Social skills help you make close friends out of the people you meet. Here’s my social skills training.
EVERYONE can learn to be really good at making friends.
Even though I thought that I was born socially inept, it’s something I eventually became really good at.
Types of friends you don’t want to spend too much time with
3. Spend only quality time and cut down on other interaction
If you work, go to school, or live with your friend, it’s hard to avoid spending a large amount of time with them.
If you work together or live together, or both, you need to set up boundaries for a healthy relationship. Especially if you find yourself becoming more and more annoyed with this person as time goes on.
In this case, you might be a great fit personality-wise, but you are spending way too much time together.
(Personally, I AVOID sharing apartments with my best friends because I don’t want to strain those friendships)
Here’s what I’d recommend:
Ask yourself when you DO enjoy spending time with this friend.
Perhaps when you’re around others, or when you do a certain activity. Make sure to spend time during that time, and cut down on interaction during other times whenever possible.
If this doesn’t apply to your situation or doesn’t work, I talk about how to bring up with your friend that you spend too much time together in step 10.
4. Limit all time with friends who annoy you
Do you appreciate your friend, but have small annoyances with their personality or manners?
Perhaps they’re being…
Too different from you in their energy level
Too different in interests, beliefs or world view
Expecting more from you than they give
(Or something else)
We can call all this friction. Differences aren’t necessarily bad – they are what makes it fascinating to meet people. But it can be bad to spend too much time with a friend you don’t really sync with.
If this is the case, you can try limiting time with this friend to just once a month.
That’s usually enough time for me to forget about annoyances with someone so I can meet them on a fresh page.
Another strategy is to only spend time with this person when others are around.
This solution is helpful because you don’t have to give up the friendship, and you will still be “protected” by the shelter of others, and not spending much time together.
The third alternative is to bring up with your friend what annoys you.
This is difficult, and personally, I’ve had both good and bad outcome. I have one friend who’s very attentive. I told him in a sincere, non-confrontational way that I thought his jokes were too vulgar. He picked up on that and stopped immediately.
Another friend talked way too much about herself and wasn’t very interested in others. She wasn’t self-aware enough to see the problem. As a result, I started seeing her less and less and our friendship dissolved.
In step 10 I share how to bring up with your friend what annoys you.
5. Have a talk with a friend who picks on you or is toxic
What if your friend is toxic – that is, making you feel bad about yourself by picking on you or making you feel less valuable?
Toxic people can still be charismatic and fun to hang out with, but you want to avoid contact with someone who’s making you feel bad about yourself.
I had a friend like this when I was younger. He wasn’t always nice to me, but I was afraid to lose him because I didn’t have many others to hang out with.
I have 3 recommendations:
Try talking with your friend (Works if your friend is attentive and emotionally mature) I cover how in step 10.
Try to build new friendships, so that you’re less dependent on that friend. (This did WONDERS for my social life). I talk about this in step 2.
6. Think about if the friendship is mostly good or bad for you
Take a moment and recollect the last time you and your friend hung out. What did you do? In this exercise, it’s important to focus on your feelings, rather than the details. So it’s okay if you can’t remember everything as it happened.
Try and remember how you FELT while you and your friend hung out. Was the feeling positive or negative? Did you spend most of your time together arguing over small things, or did you laugh and feel supported by one another?
If your feelings were overall negative, that’s a sign you spend too much time together, or that you need to end the friendship with that person and find other friends.
7. Put up boundaries if your friend has a big personality
I have some friends who I can only spend a small amount of time with. These friends are wonderful people, but their personalities are so big it’s hard to be around them constantly. This doesn’t mean they are bad people, or our friendship is a failure.
This just means I respect my happiness enough to limit time with this person.
Just because your friend has a big personality doesn’t mean you need to stop hanging out with this person entirely. Make the decision to see this friend in small doses.
First, decide what small doses mean to you. What does that look like? Does this mean you see them once a week, or once a month? Only you can answer this question for yourself.
Once you have decided what a small dose means for you and your friend, start putting up healthy boundaries and limit the time you spend with your small dose friend. Here’s how to talk to your friend about it.
8. Bring up your worries if you think you annoy your friend
If you think your friend is annoyed about spending too much time with you, talk to them about it.
If this is a good friendship, you should be able to talk openly about this without getting into a fight. Suggest grabbing a coffee and ask this person what’s been on their mind.
I’d also recommend you to ask yourself if you do something that might put your friend off?
Here’s the list from earlier in this guide. Are there any times you can recall…
Talking way too much compared with your friend
Having a habit of being negative or cynical
Way too low or high energy compared to your friend
Unreasonable in your world view
Expecting more from your friend than you give back?
If you have a feeling that you do something that annoys you, ask your friend!
Over the years I’ve asked my friends the following question. It’s so powerful because it “forces“ them to tell you the truth.
“If you had to say SOMETHING that I do that can be annoying, what would that be?”
“If you had to say SOMETHING that I could improve socially, what would that be?”
These questions are natural if you talk about social interaction or someone else who annoys you, or you can just bring it up from the blue if you don’t get any other option. A few minutes of awkwardness is OK to save a friendship.
Before you ask it, be prepared to accept the answer. Don’t argue with it, don’t make explanations. Your friend has just given you what they see as the truth, even if it’s super tough to hear at times.
I’ve usually felt low a few days after hearing the “truth” like this from friends, and then I’ve been able to work on it and improve and come out better than ever before. (And save the friendship.)
9. Give your friend practical examples to share how you feel
Talking with a friend can be so hard!
As I’m in my 30s I’m old enough to have had a fair share of tough conversations with friends.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
It doesn’t always work to talk. It comes down to how emotionally mature they are. If your friend is rational and emotionally available it’s likely to work. If they’re not, I would still try talking with them but build my social circle so I’m less dependent on them.
Never be confrontational. That just makes them defensive and before you know it you’re the bad person.
Give practical examples and be precise. Don’t say “can you stop being annoying” – how are they supposed to improve from that?
Here’s how I told a friend that I didn’t like the way he joked:
“This is a detail but it’s still something I’ve been thinking about. Last time when you joked, you said [giving exampe] and I think it was a bit over the top. You probably didn’t even think about it, but it made me feel a bit uncomfortable. I know that your humor is like that and often it’s hilarious, but sometimes it’s too much.”
Here’s how I would tell a friend that we spend too much time:
“I think I need to just chill out by myself next week because I’m overstimulated and been way too social lately, maybe we can meet up the week after instead?”
By proposing a time in the future, you show that you DO want to meet up, just not as often.
Here’s how I told another friend that he talked too much about himself.
“I know that you go through a super tough time right now and I really feel for you. But at times it gets too much for me and it feels like we talk about you often but that you aren’t as interested in me or my world.”
You should use your own words so it feels like it comes from YOUR heart.
But the key is to be assertive but still UNDERSTANDING. When you show that you’re understanding, you have a fair chance of helping someone improve.
At this point, you’ve made them aware of the problem. You can give them examples and help them as well as you can to change, but the WILL to change has to come from them.
1. Instead of thinking “I’m so lonely”, use loneliness to your advantage
Re-frame loneliness. If you’re lonely, that means you can do whatever you want whenever you want to!
Pick something that interests you and dive into it. I read books that I thought were interesting. But the opportunities are endless. You can learn to code, travel, learn a language, become really good at growing plants, or start painting or writing.
2. Knowing that it’s passing makes it easier to deal with loneliness
Whenever I felt “I’m so lonely”, I learned to remind myself of this:
Loneliness is something we all humans experience during periods of our lives. It doesn’t mean that it will always be that way.
When people are asked on a rainy day if they are happy in their lives, they rate their lives lower than if they are asked on a sunny day. This means that we tend to see our entire lives from the perspective of the moment we’re in.
Know that loneliness is something that passes.
3. If you have old friends far away, take up contact with them
When I moved to a new town, I took up contact with some friends I didn’t talk with much when I lived in my old town.
Send them a text and ask how they are doing. If they seem happy to hear from you, call them on Skype or the phone a few days later. Or make plans to meet up.
After I’ve moved to NYC 2 years ago I still have regular contact with many of my Swedish friends. After skyping with someone for 20 minutes it felt like you just came back from meeting them physically, which I think is really nice.
4. Make your environment enjoyable
Make your home look nice and enjoyable to be around. Social life is just one part of life and just because it might be on hold, for now, doesn’t mean that the rest of your life has to be. Another benefit is that it’s easier to spontaneously invite someone home when your home is looking at its best.
What are some ways you could make your apartment nicer or cozier to come home to? Maybe something on the walls, some plants or some new color? What makes you HAPPY? Make sure to have that around.
5. Learn to master something
If there’s one drawback to having friends, it’s that it takes time. You can use this period of your life to become really good at something. I like the feeling of improving, no matter if it’s to be a good writer or to be good at a language or just really good at a game.
Another benefit of mastering something is that it has been seen to increase motivation to invest in new relationships.
6. Treat yourself
What’s something you can treat yourself to make you feel better?
Perhaps going out and eating somewhere nice, buying something nice, or just going to the park and enjoy nature for a while. Lonely people deserve nice things and experiences, too. This is also part of being more self-compassionate. Self-compassion helps you feel better, and it’s also associated with lower feelings of loneliness (while self-judgment seems to be associated with increased feelings of loneliness).
7. Start a project
All my life I’ve had big projects I work on. I built pinball machines, I wrote books, I even started my own companies. It’s hard to describe the level of fulfillment of having a big project to fall back on. Big projects are what’s always given my life meaning.
Many of the people in the world who’ve produced amazing arts, music or writing or made discoveries or philosophical journeys the rest of the world benefit from often didn’t have loads of friends. They used their time and solitude to create something that was bigger than them.
8. Be your own friend
If you’re like me, you can laugh at your own jokes and be amused by your own ability to fantasize or come up with thoughts and ideas.
Part of maturing as a human is to get to know ourselves. People who have friends around themselves all the time often never have the time to get to know themselves. We can use this advantage and developing parts of our personality other’s don’t even know exists.
Here’s what I mean: You don’t need to have a friend to go to the movies, or enjoy a walk in the park, or travel somewhere. Why would that experience be worth less only because you don’t have it with someone else?
Things you could do with a friend are also things you can do by yourself.
9. Remember that you’re not defined by how many friends you have, but who you are as a person.
It’s important to remember that loneliness isn’t something weird or rare. In fact, a big chunk of the population feels lonely, and virtually EVERYONE in the world has felt lonely at some point in their lives. This doesn’t make them less of a person. We’re not defined by how many friends we have, but our personality, our unique quirks, and unique take on life.
Even if you’re lonely you can still love yourself.
10. Help others
This is a powerful one: Volunteer. Check out this site for example that helps people find volunteering opportunities.
There’s something about helping others that I just think is amazing (Like, the satisfaction I get out of helping others by writing this article, for example). But in addition to that, you have people around you when you volunteer and that can help deal with loneliness. Volunteering puts you in a meaningful social setting.
11. Make friends online
Research shows that online friendships can be just as meaningful as real-life ones.
When I was younger I was an active part of several forums. It was fascinating because I developed friendships there that felt just as strong as many real-life ones.
What are some communities you could join? Reddit is full of subreddits that cater to different interests. Or, you can hang out in the off-topic areas of general forums just like I did. Another huge opportunity is online gaming. A friend of mine has made several real-world friends with people he met through gaming.
I was often discouraged when people did invite me to do things because I either thought it was a pity-invite or I managed to convince myself that I didn’t want to join them for whatever reason because I didn’t like parties, didn’t like people and so on.
The end result being that I missed out on an opportunity to meet people, and had to feel lonely at home instead. Another problem is that if you decline invites a few times in a row, you’ll stop getting them because people don’t want to feel let down by you.
I like the rule of ⅔: You don’t have to say yes to EVERY opportunity to socialize, but say yes to 2 out of 3 opportunities.
Also, overcome the fear that “maybe they just invited me to be nice”. It’s likely to just be in your head. But OK, let’s say they did out of pity, so what? They can’t blame you for taking them up on an offer they made you. Go there, be your best you, and they’ll notice that you’re a great person that they’ll want to invite the next time.
13. What to do when trying to make friends takes too long
Perhaps you feel that trying to socialize and make friends doesn’t work for you: Maybe it takes forever to bond or people stop keeping in touch after a while. Luckily, social skills is – yes – a skill. I can attest to that. I was socially clueless when I was younger. Now, I have an amazing family of friends and make new friends without having to put effort into it.
What changed for me? I became better at social interaction. It’s not rocket science, and all you need is will and time to practice.
14. When we feel lonely, we feel sad, and then we want to be alone. Break that cycle
Ever been in a situation where you’ve said no to friends because you didn’t feel good? I have.
Here’s what I did to break the cycle. Make a conscious effort to socialize even if you don’t feel like it. That’s the only way to break the cycle of lonely -> sad -> alone -> lonely.
So say that you get invited somewhere or have the opportunity to socialize. That opportunity reminds you of your loneliness, and that makes you sad. As a result, you want to just skip the invite. Here’s where you want to consciously step in and say “Wait a minute” Let’s break this cycle.
Being sad is not a reason to avoid socializing!
15. Go to RECURRING meetups
The biggest mistake I see people do is that they try to make friends at venues where people only go once. To make friends, we need to meet people recurringly. That’s the reason most people make their friends at work or in school: Those are the places where we meet people recurringly.
I’ve met most of my friends through two meetups, both where we met every week. One was a philosophy meetup, one was a business group meetup where we also met every week. This is what they had in common: Both meetups were around a specific interest, and both were recurring.
Go to Meetup.com and look for recurring meetups related to your interests. Now, this doesn’t have to be your life passion. Just ANYTHING you find somewhat interesting, be it photography, coding, writing or cooking.
16. Don’t hunt for friends
Here’s another counter-intuitive one. Don’t see meetups and socializing as a place where you should hunt for friends. DO see it as a playground for trying out new social skills.
I’ve always loved that approach because it took the pressure off. I also came off as way less needy. If I was able to try some new social skills, that night was a success.
Friends come when you stop actively trying to make friends. When we’re starved on friendship, it’s easy to come off as a bit desperate or like you’re looking for approval. (That’s also why people who seem to not care often are more socially successful) If we instead help people like being around is (By being a good listener, show positivity, build rapport) – everything falls into place by itself.
To find friends online who are more like you, the first step is to find the right network for you. By choosing a network with like-minded people, you will find more people who interest you, and others will also be more interested in you.
Here are my best tips on where to find like-minded friends online:
A. Smaller communities are almost always better than larger ones
The reason I recommend joining a small community is that it’s a lot easier to make a connection there. In a small community, each member is important to keep the community alive and people will want to include you as much as possible. In a large community, you blend in with the crowd and people might not even recognize you unless you’re a long-time member.
B. Are you interested in gaming with other people online?
Gaming with others online is one of the easiest ways to make friends online. The reason I say it’s easy is because you always have something to talk about – the game you both like. And you can even play it together if it’s an online game!
And if there’s ever a lull in your gaming conversations, you can turn it more personal and get to know your gaming friends.
In almost every game there’s a community you can join. Smaller communities are usually better. Look up if they have a Discord server you can join, or even better, join a clan if it’s a multiplayer game. There are usually groups both for casual and hardcore gamers.
C. Niche interest groups on social media
Personally, I’m really into edible plants and orchids. So, I joined a few local groups about those subjects on Facebook. And I’ve found many friends through these groups that I know would be happy to have me visit them. We could talk about plants all day together.
I’ve done something similar on Instagram, where I have an account only dedicated to one of my interests (plants), and I mostly follow other plant-nerds.
After some time, maybe a few days or weeks, you start getting to know each other by asking questions and liking each other’s pictures.
Then, if you want to meet, it’s perfectly natural to send them a message and ask them if they would like to eat out together/have a beer and talk about your common interest. I’ll describe it in more detail further down.
D. Mobile apps or websites to find friends online
If you like online dating, this can be a great alternative. It’s fast and easy, but the downside is that it’s also “fast and easy” to just stop responding.
So, there’s an element of rejection here that can be tough to deal with for some. But if you know you can take a couple of “no’s” before you find a new friend, it’s worth a shot.
2. How to start a conversation online that leads to you meeting up
Here are examples of how you can start a conversation on different online platforms and also how to meet up IRL.
A. How to start a conversation in a Facebook niche interest groups
In a Facebook group, the main activity is usually to share pictures or content with the group. Make sure to engage regularly on those pieces of content, leave a like and a comment or question.
The comment can be short and positive, like: “Nice!” or “I love that!”. A question is even better if there’s something you are genuinely curious about in the shared content.
After a few days to a few weeks of being active in the group, you’ll start to recognize people (and they’ll recognize you). That means it’s a good time to take some more initiative.
Often there’s already some sort of regular meetup you can join, but if there aren’t, there are alternatives.
For example, you could arrange a local meeting at a café to discuss your mutual interest for anyone in your group who’s interested. Or you could write privately to someone and ask if they want to meet up and discuss your interest.
Instagram is quite similar to Facebook, but there’s no clear group to follow there. Instead, I recommend you follow people who share some sort of niche interest with you.
For example, I’m into growing my own food, so I follow some local enthusiasts in my city. I regularly like their posts, and leave a reflection or question about it if I come up with anything.
Now, we know each other a bit better, and it’s only natural to message them (if I want to meet them). So, for example, I could send a message like this:
“Hi, I love what you’ve done with your garden! I’m especially curious about your fig tree. I’d love to visit your garden sometime in the coming weeks if you’re open to it?”
“Hi, I’m so curious about your orchids. Can I buy you lunch this weekend? I’d love to learn more about your collection!”
It doesn’t need to be more complicated like that. Not everyone’s going to say yes, but from my experience, a surprising number of people would LOVE to meet up with someone like-minded.
C. How to start a conversation on Discord
On Discord, you’re usually part of a “chat group”. It could be a large group of several hundred people, or it could be a small group of friends who game together. (I recommend the latter, smaller groups are better to make friends, but large ones can work too.)
So when you’ve joined a group, it’s not so much about starting a conversation. It’s more about participating in the conversations that come up. At first, you can talk mostly about the game your playing and ask for advice on it. But after a while, once you’ve got to know your online gaming friends a bit better, you can start to ask more personal questions.
And from there, you can even invite just one person to play together. It’s a lot easier to get to know someone when it’s just you two. Then you also have lots to talk about the game you play, so the conversation never runs dry.
D. How to start a conversation on a “friend dating”-app or website
After that, you can start reading other people’s profiles to see if you seem to have a lot in common.
When you find someone you like, it’s time to message them. (P.S. Try to message at least 5-10 people to start off, not everyone will be a good match.)
Here are some examples of how you can start a conversation on a friend dating app or website:
“Hi, how are you? I see we have a lot in common. I would love to get to know you better! Check out my profile and see if we match :)”
“Hello, I see you also love Disney movies. It would be fun to go watch the upcoming new Disney movie together at the cinema. Check out my profile to see if we match 🙂 Have a great day!”
After your first message, they’ll respond if they think you match too and it should be relatively straightforward to set up a meeting after that. You don’t need to chat too much unless you want to because you are both there to meet new friends.
Top 8 mobile apps (or websites) to find and meet friends
3. 7 mistakes that make you seem needy or desperate in online communication
Many people are afraid of scaring people off because they seem too needy. Here are some of the biggest mistakes I often see.
A. Just throwing out one hook
What I mean by this is that you should try to keep in touch with several potential friends at the same time. That way you don’t get too attached to the outcome of any single one, because there’s always someone else you can meet up or chat with.
It also makes sure you don’t invest far more energy and feelings than the other person. This makes it so that you’re both on equal ground and neither of you feels pressured.
B. Investing more into the relationship than the other person
5 Signs that you’re investing more in the relationship than your online friend:
You’re the one who starts most conversations.
Your messages are almost always longer than your friend’s.
You are trying to meet up repeatedly, but your friends don’t make any efforts.
You’ve shared A LOT more about yourself than they have shared.
You always respond instantly while they often take some time to respond.
C. Expecting (or demanding) instant replies
Most people who work or study don’t have time (or energy) to answer their messages within hours of receiving them. Sometimes it can take a couple of days to get a reply, and in most cases, that’s perfectly normal and fine. Especially in new friendships.
The problems start if you get whiny or complain that they don’t reply quick enough. That signals to the other person that you’re needy or very demanding which is a big turn off. It shouldn’t feel like a chore to reply quickly just to avoid conflict.
If you feel anxious that someone isn’t replying, take a step back and focus on other people in your life.
D. Being too eager to meet up
When you’re trying to make friends online, it’s normal to ask if people want to meet up pretty quickly. So never be afraid to ask. But if you get a no or a maybe, take a step back and forget about meeting up for a while.
It can often be better to step back and not push the issue. Let your friend develop more of a desire to meet up with you first. Let them take some initiatives (even if it takes time).
If you get impatient, ask someone else instead. That way your potential friend who doesn’t want to meet up right now won’t feel pressured into meeting with you. You never want someone to feel pressured to be with you because then they’ll start associating you with that bad feeling of neediness and desperation.
E. Unloading your life story on the other person without any reciprocity
Opening up is good, it’s even essential to form a close connection. But opening up needs to be mutual. If you’re the only one sharing, you are going to feel a lot closer to your friend than they feel close to you.
Make sure you also focus on getting to know the other person and open up more about yourself at an equal pace as they are.
Two of the most important principles to become friends with someone is to make them feel heard and appreciated. If you talk too much about yourself, you deny both those principles.
An easy rule of thumb is the 50/50 rule:
Aim to talk about as much as you listen.
By following the 50/50-rule, you make sure your friend feels heard and appreciated around you.
G. Writing long novel-like answers to your friend
This mistake goes in line with the principle of investing equally much into your online friendship. It’s not wrong to write long answers, but make sure it’s mutual and that your friend is writing about as much.
For example, if your friend replies with a few sentences, and you reply with a small novel, your friend might feel overwhelmed. It demands a lot for them to reply thoughtfully, which they might not have the time or energy for, and then that makes them avoid you or try to cut the conversation short.
My rule of thumb early on in a new friendship is this:
Keep your messages about as long as the other person’s.
That way you build your friendship on an equal basis where you both feel like you’re on the same level. You won’t feel resentful because their replies are too short, and they won’t feel pressured into writing more than they have energy for.
Finally, it’s impossible to win them all. You will get rejected and some relationships will never amount to anything. But all it takes is a deep connection with one person and you got a friend for life.
4. How to make an online conversation more interesting
The secret to making a conversation interesting is to find commonalities. A commonality could be anything from growing up in the same city, to sharing the same passion for role-playing games.
The advantage online compared to real life is that you usually know a lot more about the other person from the start. You can often read their online profile to see what interests you have in common before you even start talking.
Use that information to make your conversations more interesting.
For example, if someone is interested in the same tv-show as you, you can ask:
Who’s your favorite character in the show?
What did you first feel about the show when you saw the first episode?
Here’s a quick trick to make deeper conversation that helps you bond faster.
Instead of asking about the subject, example: “Where do you live?”
Ask about their relationship to the subject, example: “What do you think about your place of living?”
By asking about someone’s relationship to the subject, you make a deeper and more meaningful conversation. This is what I call Personal mode. When you’ve switched to personal mode, it gets easier to ask more personal questions which helps you bond even faster.
Here are some examples of even more personal questions:
Where do you dream of living?
What’s holding you back from living there today?
Note that it’s also important to share equally much about yourself to bond.
6. Making an online profile that draws new friends to you
Once you have chosen the social media platform(s) that you will use to make friends online, it’s time to work on your profile. Your profile is an important part of the online friendship process because it is your virtual first impression– it is the first thing people will notice about you and can determine whether they have an interest in developing a friendship with you or not.
Your user name
The first step to creating an interesting profile is your username. Some social media networks require you to use your real name (like Facebook), in which case you have one less thing to worry about.
But on others, such as chat rooms and many apps, your username will be your primary identifier.
A good username is unique and tells other users something about yourself. “PizzaGirl85” is not a very original username because it tells other users nothing more than 1) you probably like pizza (but who doesn’t) and 2) 1985 was probably a significant year for you for some reason.
“SciFiAdam” is an example of a more unique and interesting username because 1) it tells other users you’re interested in science fiction, which will draw other science fiction fans to you, and 2) your name is Adam, which distinguishes you from other science fiction fans/users with “sci-fi” in their usernames.
Another tip on usernames is this: If you use or plan to use multiple sites or apps, it can be a good idea to keep the same username across the different networks. Since your username is your “Internet name,” consistency between platforms will make you recognizable and can help other users who may also use multiple sites identify you more easily (which will increase your chances of being befriended by them).
Once you have chosen a username, most sites and apps will give you the opportunity to write a bio or “About Me.” Always take advantage of the “About Me” feature. On the surface, the “About Me” section is simply a place to tell people about yourself, but in reality, this section is your “sales pitch” to potential friends.
If someone is drawn to your profile from your username or posts you’ve made in chat rooms/other online social spaces, your “About Me” will let them know if you have enough in common to make getting to know you worthwhile.
5 tips for how to write a good online profile to make friends online
Include your hobbies and interests.
Include any important personal information that will affect the type of friend you’d like to meet. For example, if you’re looking for friends with similar religious beliefs, share your religion in your “About Me” and state that it’s important to you. If you’d like friends the same gender, in a similar age group, or in the same geographical region, share these details about yourself.
If you’ve had any interesting experiences/successes related to the hobbies and passions you’re listing, name them. For example, if you’re a runner, name some of the races you’ve run. If you’re an avid video game-player, share the names of any games you’ve gotten to “test play” for the company who made them. These details will spark the interest of people who have things in common with you and can provide information for you to bond over.
Express an openness to making new friends. Ending your “About Me” with something along the lines of “I love meeting new people, so feel free to send me a message if you’d like to chat!” will make people more comfortable reaching out to you because you’ve already given them the go-ahead.
Be honest about who you are and what you enjoy. Just like with face-to-face friendships, pretending to like things that you really don’t for the sake of “fitting in” will not attract the type of people you can truly bond over mutual interests with. In addition, the untruths will come to light eventually, which is sure to cause problems in the friendship.
Click here to check out our guide on being yourself.
Here is an example of an “About Me” (from our co-author, Amanda):
“My name is Amanda Haworth, and I’m 24 and married with two dogs and a cat. I love anything to do with words, and my passion for reading and writing, as well as my fascination with human psychological development, is what led me to be a teacher specializing in the early childhood years.
In addition to expressing myself through writing, I also love to express myself through other forms of creativity such as painting, sewing, and crocheting. I’m interested in pretty much anything your grandma likes (call me an old soul)– woolen socks, a fresh pot of coffee, card games, movies taking place in the WWII era, and really thick books.
I’m an introvert, but I enjoy having in-depth conversations with new people and would love to meet some other women in my age group to share life with! Feel free to send me a message if you want to chat :).”
Some things to take note of from my example:
I provided my age because at the end I mentioned the desire for friendships in my own age group
I listed many of my different interests so that I can find friends who have things in common with me
I mentioned that I’m an introvert (so as not to attract friends who are interested in partying/other things I don’t enjoy)
I expressed my desire to make friends and gave people an invitation to contact me
Once you have your username and your “About Me,” the next step is to reach out and find your friends!
7. Choosing who to contact online
Having a great social media profile will definitely help attract new people, but when it comes to making friends, you can’t just sit back and wait for them to come to you. Now it’s time to learn how to reach out and initiate contact with people you’re interested in befriending.
Most social media networks will offer some sort of “people search” that includes filters to help you narrow down your results. These filters typically consist of the general location where users reside, their approximate distance from your location, and their gender, and some networks provide the option to also filter by marital status, age, and other factors. Using these search filters to narrow your results will help you save a lot of time when looking for friends online.
In addition to searching for people to befriend, you also need to have an active presence in the site/app you are using.
When you first join the group/chat room/etc., make a post introducing yourself to the others. You will likely get some welcoming comments, and this is an easy way to kickstart your search for friends.
Next, maintain your presence in the virtual social sphere. If it’s a chat room, get involved in the discussions! If you’re joining a Facebook group pertaining to one of your interests, post friendly and encouraging comments on people’s pictures and posts, and make posts of your own that share your own work related to the group’s topic.
For example, if you are a member of a Facebook group for musicians in your area, comment on a video of someone playing their guitar and say, “Great job! You’re really talented,” or “Wow! I really enjoyed that! Keep it up!”
If you strike up a good conversation with someone in the group/chat room/etc., send him or her a friend request (if the site/app you are using doesn’t offer friend requests, send a direct message to continue/expand your conversation outside of the public forum).
It’s a good idea to include a personal message when sending a friend request to someone you don’t know in real life. This will allow you to explain who you are and why you’re adding them as a friend. Your message can go something like this:
“Hey [name], I’m also a member of [name of Facebook group] and I’ve really enjoyed seeing your posts about [topic]. I also love [topic] and I’d love to chat with you some more about it!”
If it’s applicable, you could also include:
“I think I could really learn a lot from you about [topic].”
“I’d love for you to take a look at [my painting/my writing/this video of me playing an instrument] and give me some pointers!”
“I would love to meet up sometime and [skateboard/play the saxophone/cook Italian food] together.” (Caution: It’s best to say this only after having previous discussions with the person about your mutual interest so you don’t come on too strong and scare them off).
When you begin having conversations about a specific topic in this way, often you will find that you and that person have other things in common as well. Your conversation will naturally branch off into other areas, and pretty soon you will find that you have a great new friend.
Click here for more tips on making conversation.
By choosing the best social media network for your needs, developing an interesting profile, and initiating contact with other users, you can quickly and easily meet many new people–both near and far–who share similar interests, values, opinions, and more.
8. How to choose the right platform to make friends online
As the Internet has increased in popularity, the number of social media networks has increased as well. Many have been short-lived (think MySpace and Vine), while others seem to be here to stay (like Facebook and Twitter).
Believe it or not, some social media networks are more conducive to making friends online than others, and researchers have already done the work for us to determine what those networks are.
When choosing a social media platform for the purpose of making friends, you should make sure it is
A reciprocal social media network is one that promotes mutual friendship instead of allowing one person to have access to, or “follow”, the other person without requiring the other person to “follow” back.
Twitter and Instagram are two examples of non-reciprocal social media networks. Both platforms allow a user to follow a person, but the person being followed may not necessarily follow back. This is great for allowing people to keep up with celebrities and political figures, but not so great for someone who is looking to develop meaningful online friendships.
Facebook, on the other hand, is reciprocal because when someone accepts a friend request both parties instantly have access to one another’s profiles and information.
According to one study on close-knit friendships developed through social networking sites, the level of reciprocity (or the two-way, mutual friendship requirement) of the site will impact the success of the friendships formed through the site.5
The other thing to look for when choosing a social media platform for making friends online is the site’s interactivity.
According to Desjarlais and Joseph, “For socially interactive technologies, messages are directed to a specific person and conversing typically occurs in real time (e.g., text and instant messaging). Such online conversations resemble [face-to-face] interactions but in a text-based form.”3
In other words, the social networking sites that are most conducive to forming new friendships will allow you to communicate with people in a way that is as similar to “real life” communication as possible.
This is opposite of socially passive technologies, which promote much longer delays between responses (such as email and direct messaging) and do not mimic face-to-face interaction as closely. It was found that these types of social technologies are much less likely to be used in forming close online friendships– or, at the very least, will significantly slow down the development of the friendship.
With as many social networking sites as there are, it can be overwhelming to sort through them in order to choose the best one (or several) for your journey in making friends online. But don’t panic- we’ve compiled a list of the best social networking sites and mobile apps for making friends online:
Facebook.com: Use the “Groups” and “Events” features to find just that–groups and events– pertaining to your interests and hobbies. Get involved by attending events or messaging with another member of the group to discuss and bond over your mutual interests.
Meetup.com: Search for your interests or hobbies and find social events in your area created by other users. You can also create your own social events for other users to find and attend.
Rendezwho: This app uses questions about your personality and interests to match you with one other user (who can be anywhere in the world). You cannot directly share anything about yourself with the other user (and vice versa) but instead get to know each other by sending and receiving music playlists, memes, etc. Once you figure out where your friend is located, you can travel to meet your new friend for the first time.
Meet My Dog: According to the app, “Meet My Dog is a new location-based social app that helps you connect with other dog owners in your local area and many other locations.”
Monarq.co: This is a social networking site for women who run companies and startups.
Patook: “The strictly platonic friend-making app” as it calls itself, this app allows you to find people in your area who share your interests.
Nextdoor.com: This is a social networking site that allows people to connect with others in their neighborhoods.
Not4Dating.com: This site is very simple and shows you other people in your area who are also looking to make friends online. You can filter your search by different characteristics (age, gender, etc.) to find friends who will best meet your needs.
We3: This app is designed to help you make not just one friend, but two, by putting users in same-gender groups of 3 (hence the name). The app advertises “no awkward silences or unwanted advances” and uses an algorithm that “considers over 150 factors when deciding who to connect.”
Chat rooms: The Internet provides a variety of different chat rooms for you to explore, the sole purpose being (you guessed it) to chat with other users. Most chat rooms are divided into categories by interests, age, gender, and more, so you can narrow down your friend search however it best suits you. Check out this article by Rinkesh Kukreja for Stackroom to find a list of great chat rooms for making friends.
Online Games: If you enjoy playing video games, many games offer online/computerized versions that also offer social components. You can even participate in social aspects of games used on popular gaming consoles, such as Xbox and PlayStation.
9. The benefits of online friendships
We all know that friendships are good for our health. But according to a study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, friendships formed on social networking sites can have the same emotional and psychological benefits as face-to-face friendships.1
Online friendships have been found to be particularly beneficial for people who struggle with shyness, social anxiety, or a lack of confidence in their own social skills. While these people may avoid face-to-face social settings that would provide the opportunity to make friends, the Internet provides a “safer” social setting in which alternative friendships can be formed.
In this article by Arti Patel for Global News, therapist and friendship researcher Miriam Kirmayer supports the use of the Internet to develop lasting friendships. “It can be easier to reach out, introduce yourself, and get a friendship off the ground when you know that the other person is also looking to make new friends,” she says.
According to another study, “The high sense of control and reduced social threat during online interactions have been indicated as reasons why [people] may want to find online friends.”2
But you don’t have to be shy to look to the Internet for friendship. Many people have busy schedules that prevent them from getting as much face-to-face social interaction as they would like, and others live in small towns with few people to choose from as potential friends.
“It can become increasingly difficult to make friendships as we age,” says Kirmayer. “Often times, it is a practical issue. Our schedules are busy. We are short on time. As we try to balance the various relationships and responsibilities that we have, our friendships are often the first thing to go.”
Making friends online is one way to solve the issue of time that can prevent us from developing close social relationships.
Another benefit of online friendship is the ability to make friends from different parts of the world, whom you would likely never have the opportunity to meet were it not for the Internet.
Says Ellie Larson in this blog post for A Beautiful Mess, “I think the reason [online friendships] are often MORE successful is because what’s bringing you together are common interests and passions, not proximity.”
In addition, social skills that are developed and used in the formation of online friendships (such as rapport building, making conversation, and self-disclosure) are transferable to face-to-face social settings as well.
One study found that “When using [social networks], individuals may improve upon their self-disclosure skills, including what, how much, and when to disclose personal information, which then transfers to offline interactions with peers…[this] in turn enhances the quality of existing close friendships.” (3)
10. Are online friendships as real as face-to-face friendships?
For many people, the biggest concern when it comes to attempting online friendship is the issue of whether or not online friendships are as real as face-to-face friendships. A study done by ethnographer Denise M. Carter over the course of three years proves that they are.
According to sociologist Anthony Giddens, whom Carter references extensively, the three components of friendship are:
Freedom refers to the concept that friendships are chosen, unlike kinship ties which are determined by birth. Commitment is the idea that your mutual bond will withstand trials throughout time, and intimacy is the bond of trust that makes people comfortable sharing personal information (such as their secrets, struggles, and hopes for the future) with one another.
While many people question whether these three components – especially intimacy – can truly be developed online, Carter’s study shows that they can.
In fact, she says, the Internet makes it easier to develop intimate friendships because people are not bound by the social and cultural norms that may influence their face-to-face friendships, such as socioeconomic status and social hierarchy. In addition, it can be easier to open up to people online because of the security in knowing they are unable to break your confidence by sharing it with mutual acquaintances.(4)
Ask yourself these questions to find out if online friendship is for you:
Do you struggle to form face-to-face friendships as a result of shyness, social anxiety, or a perceived lack of social skills?
Do you live in an area where it is difficult to meet many new people?
Are you interested in making friends who live in different parts of the world?
Are you interested in finding people who share the same passions as you, regardless of where they may live?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then online friendship may greatly benefit your social life. Keep reading to find out exactly how to do it.
Also, check out these guides on how to make friends:
When I first arrived in New York City 2 years ago, I didn’t know ANYONE.
Boarding the plane to NYC with my one-way ticket from Sweden.
Today, I’m blessed with a family of friends that I can always do something fun with
Me with some of my friends in Central Park
Here’s how to make friends in NYC.
1. Choose a co-living rather than renting an apartment
When I moved to NYC I decided to try a co-living, meaning living together with a group of others. My first house here was a 3 story brownstone in Brooklyn. I shared the space with 15 other people. Artists, entrepreneurs, tech guys. There was a little bit of everything here.
You can choose to have your own room or share a bed. Shared rooms are around $800 and single rooms from $1 200 all the way up to $2 000.
This was a great way to meet a ton of people, and quickly. In fact, I’m now moving to a new apartment together with two guys I lived together within the co-living.
2. How to make friends in NYC by sticking to the “2 out of 3” rule.
In the city, two major groups to look to for connection are your roommates – who have lives and friends of their own – and your co-workers.
If you get invited to go out by roommates or co-workers, DO IT! Friendships are born when we share experiences with each other (as tiring as that is for introverts.)
Make a deal with yourself to accept 2 out of 3 social invitations. And don’t back out last minute:
As tempting as it is to stay home and watch The Office for the 700th time, canceling plans makes you seem flakey. Besides, you don’t have to stay out the entire time. Showing up is the most important part.
3. If you work by yourself, choose a co-working venue
New York City is full of people who work on their own. I’ve been to a few mingles at WeWork, but I don’t have a full-time pass there as we have a working floor in my co-living. WeWork is pricey, but there are many alternatives.
4. Create opportunities for connection by taking the initiative
So, your roommates or co-workers don’t go out together socially.
What if you made the first move? Most people are flattered when we invite them out, showing interest in connection is a social compliment.
Don’t be afraid to suggest stopping by the bar on Thursday after work, or checking out that new cafe down the block from your apartment.
You don’t have to be big or flashy with this either- by no means do you need to invite every co-worker at the office to karaoke night. Maybe there are 2 or 3 you feel you could connect comfortably with. Suggest grabbing lunch together, and go from there!
For your convenience, here are my favorite Cafes to meet with friends for every major neighborhood in NYC.
The secrets for how to make friends in NYC? Finding like-minded people!
Whatever you’re interested in, there’s a group for that. Even more likely, there are people on the internet for that!
My favorite online platform for connecting with groups in NYC is Eventbrite. You should also check out Meetup. Both these sites are great because you don’t have to make the plans, just join in. Many of the activities listed are free, and there are so many categories.
From book clubs to gardening groups, you can find a group of people who match your interests!
Also, search on Facebook for “[interest] NYC”. (Like, “photography NYC” or “philosophy NYC”). You’ll find a LOT of groups that you won’t find on Meetup or Eventbrite.
What I did was contacting several people in online business groups in NYC. I wrote something like:
“Hello, I run an online business and I’m new in town. (And then I shared a little bit about my background) I’d love to meet up with like-minded and talk business. What kind of business are you running?”
And if they replied, I wrote
“Would you want to meet up for a coffee at some point?”
I did this almost a year ago, and I still keep in touch with some people from this outreach. However, be prepared to send this message to at least 50 people to get 1-2 opportunities to meet up.
The WORST places to find friends are in “New in town” or “Make friends” groups – here’s where everyone goes and you have no idea of how to find common ground with these people.
6. Make it natural to meet up with people by keeping in touch around a mutual interest
Once you have initially hung out with co-workers, or roommates, think about who you had the most in common with. Did one of your roommate’s friends mention they like hiking? If that’s something you enjoy, suggest going together.
What are you interested in? It’s been said birds of a feather flock together, and cliche as it is, it’s true.
I connected with two friends because we all love to write. I see them every Wednesday now for our self-made writer’s group. It’s really just the 3 of us sipping and spilling tea in a cafe. But that originally shared interest brought us together.
Are you a movie buff? A museum junky? Brunch enthusiast? Wherever your interests lie, this city is so big and vast there are plenty of people for you to connect with.
Timeout also has a great list of things to do in New York-based on different interests.
7. Bond with acquaintances by suggesting going to any of the following activities together
When the weather is nice a great place to make acquaintances and new friends is Smorgasbord, in Williamsburg. It’s a food festival and happens right on the water. Check out details and location here
Another spot that’s always a fun time is Fat Cat. Located in the Village, it’s got a lot going on. Live Jazz music, pool, and cheap beer. Check out the details here.
My favorite place to see movies in the city is in Brooklyn at the Alamo Drafthouse. Enjoy a beer, or non-alcoholic milkshake while you watch the movie, but don’t eat at Alamo because the food is overpriced! Instead, head downstairs to Dekalb Market after the movie is done and grab some cheap eats with your friends. Discuss the movie, and let the conversation unfold from there.
8. Use apps for making friends (Yep, in New York this actually works)
Maybe you live alone, or you work for yourself. If that’s the case, socialization is even more important. Get out of your comfort zone and try something totally new!
One great way to make friends here is to turn to the internet. Steer clear of Craigslist, because you’ll find a lot of shady folks there. Instead, try Bumble BFF. It’s been above my expectations! Turns out there are a lot of great non-weird people there who want to make new connections just like you.
This is also a great platform for introverts to connect with someone without draining all of their energy.
Here are my recommendations:
This isn’t Tinder. Don’t try to look cool or seductive. Choose a photo where you look friendly and proper.
Write down in your profile what interests you. The profile is 100 times more important than on Tinder. That helps people know if you have things in common.
Two of my best friends today are from Bumble BFF, and we still meet up every week for dinner or coffee. Through them, I’ve also made several new friends.
9. Volunteer at The Bowery Mission
A great way to bond with your fellow New Yorkers is to find a common cause. The Bowery Mission has over 1,700 volunteers who donate their time to mentor youth, serve meals, teach new skills to the underemployed, or work at the Clothing Room at the Bowery Campus. Loads of young professionals in their 20’s and 30’s help out at this downtown Manhattan location.
10. Take a walking tour of Central Park
Central Park Walking Tours offers a 2-hour guided stroll through sweet gardens, bridges, and fountains. They also take you past iconic movie locations like Tavern on the Green (Wall Street & Ghostbusters), The Bandshell (Breakfast at Tiffany’s & Kramer Vs. Kramer) and Wollman Rink (Love Story & Serendipity). It will give you time to chat with the guides and your fellow Tourees as you take in the best of nature and the city for $24.
11. Sign up at the Brooklyn Brainery
The Brooklyn Brainery was founded to make learning anything accessible and affordable. There are two locations, one at 190 Underhill Avenue in Prospect Heights, the other at 1110 8th Ave, Park Slope in Brooklyn. Courses run the gamut from creating a terrarium, woodburning techniques, mindfulness training to making Kimchi. This is a world-class way to feed your inner mind and make friends in a cool, stimulating environment.
12. Take an improv class
Improv takes us out of our comfort zone (cue – terror). It puts EVERYONE in a brand new situation, over and over again. The key to improv is always responding to your improv partner with these two words, “Yes, and….”. No matter what they say to you in their improv speech, your job is to agree and take it from there.
At the Magnet Training Center in midtown Manhattan, there are drop-in Improv classes for $10 on Saturday afternoons. If you want to commit to more than one day, try improv classes around the city at these Timeout Courses.
13. Learn, play and compete at Chelsea Piers
Chelsea Piers is the place to meet other sports lovers who want to play over 25 different sports, join a league, or take advantage of the incredible fitness club. There are tonnes of classes to choose from or simply drop-in and rock-climb, do parkour or play hockey or basketball.
14. Indulge your inner-nerd at The Secret Science Club
Every city on the planet should have this club. It’s genius. The Secret Science Club is located at the Bell House in Brooklyn. It has a free monthly lecture series where you can learn about Black Holes and Neuroscience with 300 other self-proclaimed nerds who stick around to chat at the Q&As afterward. Great for finding other people with like-minded interests and talking about the ideas that keep us up at night.
15. Be better at bonding and making friends with any of these guides
Here are some of my most popular articles that are especially valuable for someone who’s new in town.
During my high school years, it was hard for me to connect with people.
I felt depressed when no one liked me, and I hated having to spend weekends and evening alone.
Say hi to old David
On top of that, I was an introvert who felt shy in large groups, so parties or mingles were not for me.
I was certain there was something wrong with me. I wondered “Why don’t I have any friends?”
I started reading about social skills and how to get a social life up and running. I went from “I have no friends” to “I have no time for all my friends”.
Let me tell you this: Making friends as an adult is harder than back in school where you naturally meet people all the time. So I’m very proud that I found a way that works for ANYONE, even if you’re an adult.
What I’m about to show you works both if you are a college student, in high school, working, or between jobs.
I post this picture here not to brag, but to show what my life looks like today (And maybe to brag a little bit, because I’m very proud of my transformation 😉 )
As it turns out, there was never something fundamentally wrong with me! It was just that I hadn’t learned the steps to turn strangers into acquaintances, and acquaintances into close friends.
These are the very steps that helped me go from lonely to a life full of friends.
Before we start – what if you feel low about yourself?
When I saw how everyone made friends but me my self-esteem tanked. It’s not fun to socialize when you feel bad at it.
That’s why advice like “Just go out there” or “Just be more social” SUCKS.
I’m living proof that even when you’re in this rut, it can change. It turns out that even I, a nerdy introvert, could transform my life from a loner to having a life full of wonderful close friends.
EVERYONE can be GREAT at making friends, even if they feel like they lack something fundamental!
These steps are made to work if you’re NOT naturally social or extroverted.
Here are some misconceptions about finding friends. Understanding what it’s really about makes it more fun!
FALSE: To make friends you need to be shallow, loud, and fake. TRUE: Making friends is about being warm and authentic. (More on what I mean by that later.)
FALSE: To make friends, you need to go to parties, bars, and mingles. TRUE: Those places suck to make friends! People mostly go there to have fun with their existing friends. (I’ll tell you where to make friends if you’re not the party type.)
Do they ask you a lot of questions about you? Do you get to talk about your problems and get support or help from them?
Real friends are interested in you and what’s going on in your life. Fake friends are not interested in getting to know you on a deeper level.
Some do care about you but just aren’t used to asking questions. But if you tell something important about you or your life – do they listen?
3. What type of people do they hang out with?
I remember when one of my friends started dating a new girl. He told me she was amazing, but she had some troubling behaviors he was worried about.
Then he told me how his girlfriend’s best friend was a super big douche bag. And she also regularly hang out with some sketchy people.
That got me thinking, why would a good person hang out with bad people like that? Sure, we all make bad choices and it’s often hard to know. But when someone’s best friend is a big douche bag and they even hang out with other bad people, that’s a BIG RED WARNING SIGN.
So, if you don’t like the friends of your friend, that’s a warning flag.
4. Do they apologize and owe their mistakes up to you?
My best friend once forgot about our date and I was left alone in the middle of town. I called him and he was extremely embarrassed and apologetic about it. He later made up for it by making a fantastic lunch for me.
A fake friend would probably not really care, maybe they would be a bit annoyed or irritated that you even mentioned it.
Real friends make mistakes, but they own up to them and apologize. Fake friends don’t.
5. Do they lie to you or others?
A white lie is one thing, but if someone regularly lies, that’s a good way to tell they don’t have a good character.
It’s not easy to know if they’re lying to you, but it’s usually easier to see if they’re lying to others or if they’re insincere.
6. How do they make you feel about yourself?
This is a tricky sign. But ask yourself how you feel when you are with your friends? And how do you feel afterward? Did they do or say anything that affected your mood negatively?
If your situation is hard to read, describe it in the comments below and I’ll help you out!
Here’s what bad friends can make you feel like:
You feel bad about yourself
You feel there’s something wrong with you
You feel you’re not good enough
You feel you need to change yourself to fit in
You feel ashamed about yourself
Real friends lift you up and make you feel good about yourself.
7. Are they critical of your achievements?
Fake friends criticize
Good friends can give constructive criticism when you need it, but mostly they just support you and make sure you know how awesome you are for your achievement.
8. Do they understand your limitations?
Real friends understand when you can’t or don’t want to do something.
Fake friends will expect a lot from you, and get angry or irritated when you disappoint them.
Real friends have reasonable expectations on you, and they are understanding of your mistakes and flaws.
9. Do they respect your boundaries?
Fake friends overstep your boundaries and make you do and accept things you don’t want.
Real friends respect you and your boundaries. And if they accidentally go too far, they apologize when you tell them.
10. How do they react when you tell them something you’re proud or happy about?
Fake friends get envious and jealous when you do good and they will probably try to put you down in those situations.
Good friends will be happy for you.
11. Do they stand up for you?
I remember when I was at this house party. Most of us knew each other, but the “leader” of our group never really seemed to like me.
He often gave me backhanded compliments and were always critical of me. And at this party he started making fun of me in front of some girls, it was all disguised as “a joke”.
I even tried to laugh together with them to play along.
I didn’t notice how mean he was until later on when one of my other friends told me how uncomfortable that situation was. He said he didn’t think it was ok to behave as our “leader” did. My friend actually talked to our leader about it after that.
Standing up for me like that really meant a lot for me, even if nobody dared to stand up for me immediately, I could tell by my friend’s reaction that he was a true friend. And that also made me see that our “leader” wasn’t a real friend.
Real friends mostly say good things about others and good things about you.
16. Do they seem happy to see you?
When I first got to know David (the founder of SocialPro), I remember how he always greeted me with a big smile and a hug. I instantly felt great around him and wanted to be with him more.
When someone makes you feel good around them, that’s a good sign they’re also a good person and a good friend.
Fake friends are often in a bad mood, they’re irritated on you or others and need to vent A LOT. Real friends need to vent too, but there should be a balance so you also get something positive out of the relationship.
Real friends allow you to be yourself because they accept you and like you for who you are. Fake friends don’t.
18. Can you trust them to keep a secret?
Fake friends will tell your secrets to others because they don’t really care about you.
Real friends can be trusted with your secrets. It’s not black and white, but if someone has betrayed your trust more than once (and not apologized!), it might be time to rethink your relationship.
19. Do they try to one-up you?
Fake friends will try to one-up you. For example, if you tell them you got a new phone, they will claim their phone is better, or they will criticize your phone.
The reason they act like this is often because they have an inferiority complex and need to prove they’re better than everyone else.
20. “It was just a joke”
Have you ever told someone you got offended/hurt, and they defended themselves with the classic “I was just joking”?
That means they’re not owning they’re bad behavior and they’re not apologizing, both signs of a bad friend. A good friend will not (regularly) brush your feeling off like that and they will try to make amends instead of excuses.
Have you ever had any fake or bad friends? How did you notice? Write it down in the comments below and help others in similar situations as you!