Wish You Had a Best Friend? Here’s How to Get One

“I have a lot of acquaintances who I get along well with but no one I feel really close to. I wish I had at least one person I could call my best friend.”

If you feel like you have no close friends, you aren’t alone. In fact, 61% of adults reported feeling lonely and wanting more meaningful relationships, according to research from 2019.[1] Clearly, it isn’t easy to make friends as adults.

The good news is that there are millions of other people searching for the same thing you are: someone they can call a best friend. In this article, you will learn how to make someone your best friend using 10 simple steps.

While you can use these strategies to create the possibility of a deeper friendship, you can’t be the one doing all of the work. Friendships require mutual effort, so it’s important to look for signs that they are a true friend and are willing to invest their time and energy into the friendship. If not, it may be better to invest in someone who shows more interest in getting closer.

1. Decide what you want in a best friend

If you want to know how to get a BFF, you need to figure out what you’re looking for in a friend. You might have someone really specific in mind, like a guy best friend, someone close to your age, or someone who is the opposite gender. Typically, it will be easier to relate and connect to people you have a lot in common with.

When thinking about your potential friends, remember to focus on people you can relate to on a deeper, more emotional level, instead of just people who like the same things you do. After all, a mutual love of sushi or reality TV can only take a friendship so far. Your best friend should have a worldview that is similar to yours and shares some of the same beliefs and values.

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Because friendships require a lot of time and effort to build, you want to make sure you are investing in the right person. The right person is someone who is deserving of your love, respect, and trust and doesn’t take your friendship for granted. There are certain qualities that you should look for in a best friend, including: [2, 3, 4]

  • Loyalty: someone who you know you can trust and depend on, even during hard times
  • Honesty: someone you know is authentic, honest, and tells you the truth
  • Thoughtfulness: someone who is caring, thoughtful, and attentive to your feelings and needs
  • Accessibility: someone who is approachable and makes themselves available to you
  • Generosity: someone who is giving, generous, and makes an effort to reciprocate
  • Supportiveness: someone who listens, is empathetic, and kind to you

2. Put in the time

If you want to make friends, you have to be willing to put in the time. In fact, research shows that it takes approximately 50 hours of socializing to turn an acquaintance into a friend and another 150 hours to make them a “close” friend.[5]

You don’t have 200 hours to invest in every relationship, so choose one or two people you really click with who also seem eager to get to know you. If you have a busy schedule, finding ways to include them in your existing schedule and routine can be easier than trying to find pockets of free time.

For example, if you go walking in the evenings or to yoga every Saturday, invite them to join you. You could also try to fit yourself into their routine by offering to join them on their lunch break or go to carpool to work. Spending time together is one of the best ways to become better friends with people, especially if the activity allows you to talk and get to know each other at the same time.

3. Make them feel important

A best friend is someone who is a priority in your life, so a good way to get closer to someone is to make them feel important. Use words and actions to show them you care about them and value their friendship by saying you appreciate them, calling them just to catch up, and answering their texts and calls.

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If you make plans or agree to help them with something, don’t cancel unless it’s an emergency. By treating someone like a priority, you build trust and closeness at the same time.[2, 3] They begin to see you as someone they can count on and become more likely to turn to you when they need something.

By showing someone you value their friendship, it motivates them to put more effort into the relationship. They can see how much you appreciate them and want to prove they are worthy of this priority status in your life. When you are both working equally hard to build a friendship, you can make a lot of progress in a short amount of time.

4. Hang out and keep in touch regularly

According to research, people develop friendships when they interact and see people on a regular basis.[2, 4] This is good news if the person you want to befriend is a coworker or a neighbor because you are bound to bump into them a lot. If not, you will have to be more intentional about talking to them and seeing them more often.

A study in 2008 found that people who stayed in contact with friends at least once every two weeks were able to maintain strong friendships.[6] If you have trouble remembering to call or text people, you can set an alarm or reminder on your phone, or you could schedule a standing lunch or Zoom call online with them.

When you are working to build a friendship, it’s important to have quality interactions with them. Seeing them in person is most likely to lead to more meaningful conversations, but talking on the phone or using Facetime or Zoom is also a good option. Texting, emailing, and messaging on social media tends to keep interactions close to the surface, so make sure to take your friendships offline.

5. Share something personal

A best friend is someone you can open up to about almost anything. In order to get to that level, both people need to be willing to risk being vulnerable, even if they aren’t 100% sure they can trust the other person. By being the first to take this risk, you can test the waters of your friendship and figure out if the person is best friend material.

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If you don’t know how to open up to people, start small by sharing something a little personal. For example, talk about something difficult you overcame in the past, something most people don’t know about you, or an insecurity you have. When you share things that are personal, sensitive, or emotional, you are giving them a chance to know you better while also creating an opportunity to deepen the relationship.[3, 4]

How someone responds to you in these moments can help you determine whether the friendship is worth pursuing. Keep in mind that not everyone knows exactly what to say in these moments, so try to judge their intentions instead of their actions. Look for signs that they care and are trying to be supportive, even if they didn’t say exactly what you wanted to hear. If they respond by sharing something personal with you, this is also a good sign.

6. Stick around during tough times

Often, the first true “test” of a friendship comes when there is hardship or conflict, which will send some people running for the hills. Those who stick around, even after things get messy, are usually the ones who pass the test. If your friend is going through a hard time, this is a good time to prove your loyalty to and show them you aren’t going anywhere.[2, 3, 4]

Sometimes, this test will come in the form of an argument or misunderstanding with your friend. Your first disagreement could be an important milestone in your friendship. If you can sit down, talk through things, and make them right, your friendship can become even stronger.[4]

All relationships require work, especially when you get closer to someone. Listening, being attentive to the feelings and needs of others, and resolving conflicts are all a part of this work. Sometimes, friendships will also require apologies, forgiveness, and compromises. It’s easy to be a fair-weather friend, but being a true friend means sticking by people through thick and thin.

7. Make their priorities your own

If you want to deepen your friendship with someone, you need to prioritize them and also the things they care about.[3] These include people they love, their pets, job, home, and even their strange collection of shoes, stamps, or rare coins.

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If it is something that matters to them, make a mental note to show interest, ask questions, and make it a frequent topic of discussion. People enjoy talking about the things they like and care about, so these topics make great conversation starters. Showing interest in things that matter to others is also another way to build a deeper bond with them.

Also, accept any invitations to be included in activities that are important to your friend. Don’t miss out on their kid’s 5th birthday party, their PTA bake sale, or the next Star Wars premiere. By accepting, you join the company of their favorite people and things, and you become a part of their inner circle.[2, 4]

8. Remember the small stuff

A best friend is someone who knows you well, maybe even better than you know yourself. If you want to get on this level, pay attention to details. Get to know their favorite shows, their regular order at Starbucks, and different parts of their routine. Remember their birthday, anniversary, the name of their boss. If they have a big presentation or job interview, call them after to see how it went.

Keeping track of these small details is a good way to show them you care about them. Also, the more you learn about them, the more you can be thoughtful and surprise them in ways they like. For example, you could show up to work with their signature latte, a gift card to their favorite store, or a card wishing them a happy anniversary. These kind gestures mean a lot to people and demonstrate that their friendship means a lot to you.[2, 3]

9. Share experiences

Best friends have a history together. Even if you didn’t grow up as neighbors or see each other every day in school, it’s not too late to build up a stash of fond memories with your friend. Start by spending more time together, and by inviting them to go on adventures.

See if they are interested in going to a concert, signing up for a class, or even going on a vacation together. As you broaden the context of your friendship to new settings, your friendship grows closer.[2, 3, 4] You are no longer confined to just being “work friends,” “church friends,” or “book club buddies.”

As you get closer, you will also be developing a history of funny stories, good memories, and fun times you had together. These become fond memories you can cherish and look back on forever. These form a timeline of your friendship and help to create a storybook of shared experiences.

10. Reconnect with a former best friend

If you had a falling out or lost touch with a best friend, it may be possible to get them back. If there are things you wish you had said or done differently, don’t assume it’s too late to try. You may be surprised to find that they are happy to hear from you and willing to apologize and forgive the past in order to work things out. Our article on how to keep in touch with friends has more tips on how to reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to for a long time.

Go into the conversation with the goal of communicating that you miss them and that you’re willing to put time and effort into making things right. This will help you avoid getting sidetracked with the details of what happened in the past or who was to blame, which can lead you back into conflict. Even if things don’t work out, you can feel good about making an effort to get your best friend back.

Final thoughts

Friendships take time to build, so be patient and continue to invest your time and effort in people who have proven themselves to be true, loyal friends.

Remember what you are looking for in a friend and use this as a template for how you treat them. Be kind, generous, and attentive, show up when they need you, and don’t bail when things get tough. Using these techniques, you can find someone who is willing to put in the work to become best friends with you.

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Hailey Shafir is a licensed mental health counselor, licensed addiction specialist, and clinical supervisor working out of Raleigh, NC. She has a Masters in Counseling from NC State University, and has extensive professional experience in counseling, program development, and clinical supervision. Read more.

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  1. Although I didn’t read everything, the deeper emotional connection, & sharing some world views & values portions of the article feels new to me : ) Thank you!

    Best,
    Andrea Roper : )

    Reply

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