How to Become Friends With Someone (Fast)

Scientifically reviewed by Viktor Sander B.Sc., B.A.

Scientists at Stony Brook University in New York have designed a method where 2 strangers were able to become close friends in less than 60 minutes.

What researchers call the Fast Friends procedure(1) will not only help you build deep relationships quickly, it also helps you know what to say next in a conversation. Professionals such as police, interrogators, and psychologists have learned how to build trust and befriend a stranger rapidly based on these findings.

The Fast Friends procedure works best when you’re talking to someone one on one and face to face. This means the procedure is perfect to use when meeting someone over a cup of coffee, while traveling, or at a party. You could even use this method on people that you have known for a long time already to strengthen your existing friendship. The best part is that you can use it with anyone, including business colleagues, an old friend, or even a relative you’d like to get closer to.

Here’s how the Fast Friends procedure works:

The Fast Friends Experiments

At Stony Brook, researchers have tested the Fast Friends procedure again and again and have found that it’s an efficient way to feel comfortable with someone. It’s been shown repeatedly that this procedure of how to become friends with someone works and that it has long-lasting effects. Different variations of the original experiment have shown that the Fast Friends questions are even successful in creating cross-cultural friendships(2) and increasing intimacy within a couple.(3)

The original Fast Friends experiment was completed in 3 parts:

Part 1: Establishing the relationship

Two people that don’t know each other have been randomly assigned to each other and they know nothing about the other. 3 sets of 12 questions are handed to the participants and they’re told to alternate asking the questions to each other and to listen to the other’s responses. They’re asked to be as honest as they’re comfortable being.

The questions are in increasing intimacy, with more “shallow” questions toward the front of the deck and more “intimate” questions at the end.

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This process should take about an hour, depending on how in-depth the participants’ responses are. Once they’re done with the 36 questions, they’re sent their separate ways and are asked not to contact each other while the experiment is still going on.

Part 2: Creating intimacy

During this next meeting, the couple is asked to do the same thing they did last time, but with a different set of 36 questions. Like last time, the questions increase in intimacy as you go through the deck. It should take about an hour to answer all of the questions.

They’re again asked to not contact each other until the experiment is completed.

Part 3: Friends or just friendly?

The interactions between the two when they see each other again are examined, and participants can now ask for contact information from their partner. More often than not, participants wanted to keep in touch with their partner and see them again after the experiment was over.

If you came into this experiment to make a friend, you were almost guaranteed to leave with one. The participants weren’t just cordial or friendly to each other, they wanted to keep in touch and continue their friendship because what they experienced simulates the same experience that otherwise takes months or years for friends to go through. Efficient, right?

Some of the questions that the researchers used:

The first set of 12 questions the researchers used were shallow and basically scratched the surface to get the participants to warm up to each other:

  • Would you like to be famous? In what way?
  • What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
  • When did you last sing to yourself or to someone else?

The second set of 12 questions used were to let the participants become close friends in a less superficial way:

  • What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
  • What is your most terrible memory?
  • If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

The last set of 12 is where the real friendship building happens. These are questions that many best friends don’t even ask each other, which let the participants get to know each other fast:

  • What things are too personal to discuss with others?
  • If you were guaranteed honest responses to any three questions, who would you question and what would you ask?
  • Do you believe in any sort of God? If not, do you think you might still pray if you were in a life-threatening situation?

Of course, the researchers didn’t start the questioning with philosophical questions about their beliefs because that would scare participants off. The key to using the Fast Friends procedure is to ask intentional questions from the start, disclose information about yourself to the other to establish trust, and then dig deeper to get to the good stuff.

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Taking the Fast Friends procedure to real life

When psychologists design and carry out experiments, they’re done so under heavily controlled conditions that are usually not applicable to real-life scenarios. Sitting down with a new person and a deck full of flashcards might not be everyone’s idea of a good first meetup.

Here’s how to apply the principles from the Fast Friends procedure to your real life:

During a period that can be as brief as 45 minutes (yes, really), you’ll go through a series of questions that gradually become more and more personal. In the lab, participants read questions from a set of cards. In the real world, you have to come up with relevant questions on the fly throughout your ongoing conversation.

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Remember that the Fast Friends procedure works because of its progressive nature. It’s important that you start off easy and progress over time. After about 10-25 minutes of small talk, you can start asking about deeper matters if the person you’re talking to seems receptive.

First, ask something that is slightly personal. Make sure that you relate the question to what you are currently talking about so the question won’t feel forced.

For example, say that your friend is talking about an unpleasant phone call he or she recently had to make. You can ask, “When you make a telephone call, do you ever rehearse it beforehand?” After your friend has answered, remember to reciprocate and disclose something personal as well. You could say something along the lines of, “I actually rehearse several times when I’m about to call someone I don’t know that well, too.”

If your questions become too personal too quickly they might be perceived as unpleasant, probing and scary, so take your time and trust the process. You’ll get closer and start bonding as time goes on.

After about 30 minutes of talking, you can start asking about deeper matters. Again, make sure that the questions are relevant to what you’re discussing.

If you’re talking about family, an example of a deeper question could be, “How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?” Give your friend the time to answer if they feel comfortable doing so and answer the same question that you asked them. Give them the time to ask you follow up questions, too.

If the conversation is going well, you can ask even more personal questions. You could talk about a vulnerability if they’re previously mentioned their insecurities and ask something like, “When was the last time you cried in front of someone else?”

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If you have gradually gotten to know each other through the easier but still personal questions, then it’s fine to ask deep questions without them feeling unnatural. Your friend will let you know if at any point they don’t want to continue the conversation.

Remember to reveal as many personal things about yourself as your friend is disclosing. You can even switch the order of the questions (like in the original experiment) and start off by revealing something personal about you and then asking the person a related personal question. If you reveal personal things first, your friend should become more comfortable opening up to you.

The Fast Friends procedure works because it mimics the way that relationships actually develop. Though the description above is helpful, you don’t have to use the “full fast friends” method in every conversation you have with a new person to get to know them better.

As long as you apply the idea of asking gradually more personal questions to improve your relationships, you’re using the Fast Friends procedure (and your relationships will benefit from it).

Read more: How to make any conversation interesting.

A word from the scientist behind the experiment

To get a deeper understanding of how the method works, we asked one of the developers of this procedure, Dr. Elizabeth Page-Gould in the Psychology Department at the University of Toronto, two questions.


Dr. Elizabeth Gould

Dr. Elizabeth Page-Gould

Here’s what she had to say:

What is your advice or precaution to people who want to use the Fast Friend Procedure principles in their personal life to make friends?

When entering a new social group (i.e., meeting people for the first time), it’s always helpful to have some questions like the Fast Friends questions to get the conversation rolling.

Generally, people like to talk about themselves, and they will appreciate that you want to know more about them. The two things to remember, though, is that not everyone is the same, and there is a big difference between interacting with a stranger than interacting with a friend.

In my research, some people become stressed during the first Fast Friends session, although pretty much everyone becomes comfortable by the second time they do the Fast Friends with another person. So, you always have to feel out a new interaction partner: back off if they seem like they don’t want to share and be sure that you reciprocate in kind by sharing equivalent levels of information with them. For the most part, people like to be asked about themselves, especially with questions that are somewhat unique and quirky!

In short, what do you think it is in the procedure that makes it so effective?

The Fast Friends procedure is effective because it mimics the way friendships develop naturally. When you first meet someone, you move beyond mere strangers by getting to know one another. The other person may tell you a little bit more about themselves, then you respond in kind by telling them a little more about you, and the process continues back-and-forth like that. The Fast Friends procedure just formalizes and accelerates this process!

Related: My reviews of the 21 best books on how to make friends.

Your Next Steps

So, you want to use the fast friend procedure in real life? Here’s what you need to do to make it work for you:

  1. Comment below telling us your thoughts on the fast friend procedure and if you’ve used any similar technique before
  2. Find a person you’d like to become friends with or get to know better
  3. Start a conversation with the person and make small talk
  4. Begin to ask your friend questions related to the conversation
  5. Listen to what your partner says and disclose information about yourself
  6. Continue asking questions in increasing intimacy to get to know the deep stuff about each other.
  7. Celebrate because you’ve made a lasting friend!
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I'm a Phi Beta Kappa initiate graduated from Baylor University's honors college; while there, my concentrations were psychology and ASL interpreting. I hold a Master of Science degree in Environmental Design from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in University Scholars the Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

Go to Comments (27)


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  1. It all sounds great in print but off the cuff just leaves me a babbling mess. The slightest hint of disinterest and I’m too nervous to carry on. Plus, I just don’t ever have an opportunity to try it out-no friends.

  2. I love this! Over the past 2 months, met a friend through another and we clicked! Helps that we are the same age, actually grew up in the same neighborhood, though we didn’t know each other and had mutual childhood friends.
    Our friendship has grown very quickly in the past 2 months, and we would prob consider each other good friends. Looking back, this is exactly how it progressed. Obviously, it helped that we had way way too much in common (background, proximity, likes, interests, life, family) , so that helped with the superficial questions.
    I’d say to ppl that this helps, because at least you know what you have in common and don’t. If you don’t, you can move on to find someone that you do have something in common, which will make it easier to get to the deeper questions.
    If someone isn’t asking you questions about yourself, then they aren’t interested in being your friend. That’s ok, find someone worthy of your friendship.

  3. i am dying of loneliness at 45 in a snobby city and i don’t work or get out much anymore. i just got out of a 10 year relationship with a narcissist sociopath. I’ve tried to make friends for years now in my building and at events and even online-even though I’ve been used and hurts so many times i keep trying. I’m a good person with alot to offer loyal and honest and funny and intelligent and generous. i used tohave a good group of core friends but death and finding out they are using me took it all away. what’s going on?? I’m into psychology so i know the dos and don’ts- but no matter what i either end up with nothing past hello and goodbye or hostility. What is wrong with me? Everyone else seems content with social media or the occasional hello or dinner- i want a community where people drop by and call and talk and laugh without having to go to a structured social media event. Where us my tribe?

  4. I would like to try this method, but I have real problems with knowing the limits of what may be considered too personal and am constantly afraid of making situations worse, that I would be too reluctant to proceed.
    Instead I stay quiet, closed or reserved, leading to people seeing me as aloof or stand-ofish and then avoiding the awkwardness of trying to communicate with me.

    • I have the exact same problem as you. I had no idea whether the words that I’d say are too personal or too daring to be said when I just know them. I constantly feel like an outsider and don’t deserve to speak my opinion out loud. As the time goes by, they just think that I’m an introvert, when in fact I’m the total opposite when I’m with my other friends. They don’t even care when I tried to initiate a conversation anymore because it would just end up with me bringing up a topic they’d like to avoid or me being lame. Many times, I tried staying longer in uncomfortable situations with them, even when my thoughts were screaming the words “I wanna go home!”, but it would only leave me more hurt than ever. Now that I live with them, there’s no escape. I can’t sleep at night, I no longer know whether the smile I put on my face is the real sign of my happiness or not. I feel like I’m fighting this war alone. Every single day, they seem to live better without me. It seems too late to start now. Oh well, I hope you won’t get the same outcome as me. Above all, I hope you’re doing fine now.

  5. Great article!

    In recent years, I have learned to ask questions of people from watching others (I’m an introvert and shy, so this was work), and it works really well! Plus it feels natural to me… I *am* curious about people and enjoy asking questions.

    However, even after many months of doing this with a friend, I’ve noticed that most people don’t reciprocate. I end up feeling like I know them really well, but they don’t know me very well. I know their history, what’s going on with them currently, participate in their hobbies where we overlap, etc., but if they know any of that about me it’s because I’ve volunteered some information, yet no followup questions were asked. I think I’m an interesting person and have a lot going on in my life to ask about (kids, interests, community involvement, travel), but most people don’t ask. It’s not universal… I do have a one or two friends who will ask, but these other folks make really good friends in other ways and I wish they were more curious.

    Any suggestions about how to deal with this? I’ve thought about letting them know that I like questions, but this is too hard for me to do.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi George,
      Exactly! I am ALWAYS that person that shows interest…enjoys getting to know others….asks questions and wants to learn about people. The article stated…and I paraphrase…”people like to talk about themselves” YES THEY DO! It is rare to find another individual that reciprocates with questions….and is interested in learning about me! I guess we just keep trying and hope that we meet up with that one person that is actually interested in what we have to say as well. It’s a pretty selfish world out there for sure!!!
      All knowledge is great…some in theory only…but will keep trying!

  6. This sounds great and I can see how it would work, but short of someone giving me an exact list of questions to ask, I don’t know what kind of questions to ask people. I already know that that’s why I’m not good at talking to people. How do you develop that sense? Is it some “natural” curiosity I just don’t have?

    • You will develop that sense with more experience in conversations, especially once your stress levels in social interactions start lowering. When you’re relaxed, your natural curiosity will start showing more and more. But it’s also something you can practice by asking yourself questions (in your head) about other people you see. This exercise might help you out on developing your curiosity:

  7. I haven’t tried the method yet but can I still try this when it seems late? Personally I have trouble understanding if am really making friends. Because right now was the first month in my new entered school and I feel anxious because am still not close or even more like friends with my classmates except seven of my like close friends I guess. HA I am terribly sorry I know this question isnt paid or anything. And not sure if anyone will answer this but thanks anyways. Sorry but tbh I can make friends but just my own group and I can’t understand a room with classmates. to like interract idk how and explain.

    • Try applying the general principle, of asking gradually more personal questions and sharing equally. If they reciprocate you can get more personal. You can also let this process happen over a longer time depending on the situation.

  8. Would you text this questions to someone or in person? In person is best but sometimes you do not get that chance in person. Some suggestions please.

    • Hmmm….if I were you, then I would try to do this in person. Even though it may seem more confrontational, it is actually more comfortable and is perceived as less psychopath-y when the person you are speaking to can hear your voice.

      Hope I helped!!

  9. I think this is a great way for people that would be rather shy, like my younger self, or isolated from social experience to get to know other people. it’s a nice tactic to learn and experiment on new people or friends that you know already. 🙂 Friendship is the most important thing in the world.

  10. would u say this work even on someone you once were good friends with but lost contact? becuz i would very much like to become good friends again with some of my old friends. thnaks!

  11. Wow! I love this method, I think I’ve been using it unconsciously for the last couple of years actually. When I was younger I only had one friend, but nowadays I don’t really have any big problems with meeting friends. I think that’s because I’ve just started listening to people more, not only to their words. I also listen to the feelings and that’s what’s made the difference to me 🙂 Keep spreading the love!


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