David Morin

How to make new friends: 7 deciding principles

In this guide you will learn how to make new friends easily:

  1. The psychology behind why we like some people more than others, and how you by knowing this can create deeper relations.
  2. How you go from meeting some people in the group only to create a closer relation where you can meet on your own.
  3. How you get closer to those you already consider to be your friends.
  4. How to get new friends by learning the things above.
  5. Ways to meet new people.
  6. Where to meet new friends.
  7. How to make new friends in and after college.

If you ever asked yourself “How can I make new friends?”, keep reading.

Here are my 7 best principles to make new friends.

1. Similarity

Research shows that we like people who are similar to us. Even friends who seem to be very different from each other have some strong similarity they build their friendship around. Finding similarities with another person is the foundation of friendship.

The similarity can be many different things and science has identified several areas where the similarity matters. See the list below and ask yourself in what areas you find similarities with your friends:

  • Attitudes; our opinions about the world around us.

  • Personality; two persons can like each other by for example being as thoughtful, extrovert, or energetic.

  • Social status; what position they have in the group. High and low-status people seldom attract each other.

  • Interests. It’s easier to like someone cheering on the same football team, someone who also likes to talk about historical events, the same political belonging, or the same hobby.

  • Experiences. Maybe both have had a similar childhood, went through the same education, lived abroad, or had similar challenges in life.

  • Behavior; voice pitch, conversation energy, walking style, breathing frequency and more.

  • Appearance, for example, style, posture, and age.

  • The same level of social competence. Two persons of different level of social competence often find it frustrating to communicate

Do walking style and breathing frequency really create friendship? Probably not, if they are the only similar factors. But experiments show that those who are similar in these areas will unconsciously feel they come along better.

People who express their opinions before they learn to know the person they talk to have a harder time creating a friendship if the other person is of another opinion than themselves. People who are great at influencing others express their opinions later in the friendship when they are already liked by the other person and have thereby a stronger chance of making their opinions heard.

2. How uniquely similar are you and your new friend?

The similarity needs to be unique enough. If two persons love cake, that similarity is probably too common to create the foundation of friendship. On the other hand, if they both have worked in a bakery, that similarity might feel unique enough to help them like each other more.

The similarities also need to be larger than the differences for friendship to emerge. The similarity our cake loving bakers experienced is being eaten up by a too big difference in attitude or appearance. Imagine for example if one is calm and thoughtful and the other is a high-speed talker with loads of excess energy.

3. Experienced similarity

When learning how to make new friends, it’s important to know that experienced similarity is what creates the friendship. That means we don’t base our friendship on how similar we actually are, but how similar we perceive us to be.

By focusing less on differences and more on similarities, the experienced similarity will be higher and the friendship will grow deeper. This is one of the fields we will cover in the program at the bottom of this page.

Read more: How to find friends that are similar to you.

4. The amount of time you spend together

Scientists further discovered the next ingredient for creating a deep friendship is a high level of exposure to each other. Even if you have many similarities with another person, you have to meet each other often and during an extended period for the friendship to deepen.

  • When you are in social situations, spend as much time as possible with the people you feel you like.

  • Find a way of social intercourse that naturally creates repeating meetings. This leads us to the next section:

5. Choosing the right activities to make new friends

Many wonders where to make friends. Here we are going through some places to meet new people. When we leave childhood, the way we meet friends changes. Instead of meeting impartially, we are now seeing our friends through activities. Activities can be working out, going to the game or taking a coffee. It can also be about making a project together, do work together, or do the same education. Activities are a great way to make friends easily.

A common reason for why people experience difficulties expanding their social circle is that they don’t participate in the right activities. To do recurring activities, you need an interest in something.

Ask yourself, what activities do you appreciate? If you can answer that question, you will be able to come in contact with people who appreciate the same things as you. Your common interest is at the same time a similarity, and therefore it’s easier to become close friends with people you meet through such an activity.

When you meet a person and discover similarities, think about if you can meet up through an activity that’s part of that interest. If you both like running, do that together. Like Zombie movies? Check out the new one on the movies. Like football? Go to the game together.

6. Preventing awkwardness

People always want to avoid the risk of awkwardness, and if a situation becomes awkward, it hurts the relation. Because of this, your should choose an activity you can fall back on if you want to get to know someone you don’t know that well already. We call this a dominant activity. This could be a party, a concert, or watching a sport.

As stated earlier, the activities should be part of your mutual interests. If no one comes up with something to say, it’s easy to just fall back on the activity; getting absorbed by the game or the concert instead.

When you already know someone, the activity can be subordinate. This could be taking a coffee or going for a walk. You probably won’t be absorbed by your coffee the same way as you can get absorbed by the concert, but as you and the person you talk to know each other there’s no risk of awkwardness. This is the reason you shouldn’t meet someone you don’t really know over a coffee for the sake of having a coffee. However, meeting up for, say, further discussing a project over a coffee is an activity you can fall back on and get absorbed by.

Read more: How to avoid awkward silence.

7. Do you REALLY know your friend?

This is one of the most powerful principles. It’s only to be used in situations with people you already see as good friends and whom which you like to deepen your relationship with. Overusing this principle or using it too early in the relationship can have a negative impact on your friendship.

Two persons who perceive themselves as similar and have regular contact with each other have good chances of becoming good friends. It’s time for your friend to get to know the real you. And in return, you are about to get to know your real friend. The main reason people feel distanced to each other is that they don’t know about the principle of knowing the real someone. “It feels like I still don’t know him”.

We need to specify the somewhat fuzzy concept of being “The real you”. If you wonder how to make new friends, ask yourself, what do you and your friend know about each other?

  • What do you dream about?

  • What’re the best and worst moments of your lives?

  • What are your feelings about your life?

  • Are you happy?

  • How’re your relationships with your parents and siblings?

  • How was your childhood?

  • What makes you happy?

If you don’t know what your friend think about several of the questions above, it’s obvious why you don’t feel you are as close as you would like to your friend. Your job is to learn these things about your friend. This is how:

Start to have conversations about your lives, no longer only the world around you. As these questions are intimate and sensitive, let your friend know about you first: Tell him or her something about yourself when the moment is right, and when it’s relevant. Ask your friend about his or her corresponding situation.

This is a process that takes time. And as stated before – it’s only to be done when it feels relevant, and not too early in your relationship.

Studies surprisingly show you like a person you opened up yourself for more; your friend will like you more and feel closer to you when he or she has told you something personal. To understand how a person thinks creates understanding and prevents conflicts. It’s easier to understand why someone behaves in a specific way.

Some see opening up as a weakness. However, it takes courage to let someone know the real you. This explains why, despite the advantages, it’s uncommon to talk about feelings in many relations. Now that you know this principle, you have the privilege of making closer friends than the majority could dream of.

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  1. Thaddeus

    When someone write an post he/she maintains the idea of a user in his/her brain that
    how a user can understand it. So that’s why this article is
    great. Thanks!