What Are the Steps to Making Friends?
If you are wondering how to make friends you might not be sure where to start. This can be especially true if you live with social anxiety.
Research shows that those who have close friends live longer and are healthier in general. They are also better able to cope in the face of major life changes or the death of a significant other.
Do you have a lot of acquaintances but aren’t sure how to make friends? Aren’t sure how to go from small talk to a more meaningful friendship?
This can be a struggle for many people who live with social anxiety. You can’t quite figure out how everyone around you is making deep connections while you’re still talking about the weather.
It’s not always just about feeling anxious or sending out the message “stay away” with your body language. A failure to make friendships could relate to two things.
Not sharing enough about yourself.
And, not letting the other person know you are interested in them.
How to Find Friends by Being Yourself
If you think about friendships, what is the secret as far as how to attract friends? If you want to attract the right people to you, the ones who will “get you,” the best thing you can do is to be yourself.
That means having opinions, having hobbies, having interests, etc. so that when people learn more about you, they can decide whether you might make good friends.
So, spend some time finding out exactly who you are! What hobbies do you enjoy? What issues are you passionate about? Figuring out exactly what you stand for and what you enjoy will make it easier to meet like-minded people.
Not everyone will like you if you are being yourself. But that’s good because it means that the friends you do make will be more likely to enjoy spending time with you. And vice versa.
And, if you how to attract friends that you click with and who are “your people,” you’ll probably find that you enjoy doing lots of different things together. The point is that if you’re good enough friends, what you do together doesn’t matter. You’ll probably enjoy doing a whole lot of different things.
How to Meet Friends by Doing Activities Together
Can you think of a time in your life when you became friends with people simply because you were doing the same thing?
These weren’t necessarily people you had anything in common with, other than that particular activity.
Examples might include belonging to a running group, friends you make at work, friends at school, online friends, etc.
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In this case, it’s less about finding a particular type of friend and more about the fact that you are doing something together.
We see this a lot in online communities. When people have some shared interests, they can be from all different walks of life but become fast friends.
What really fires you up? What would you love to do so much that you would do it alone? Guess what—you can do that with friends too. And those friends might be people who also get fired up about those things. You might even choose the activity first and meet friends later.
Sports are a good example of this in action. Even individual sports like running can become a group activity if you make them. Treat yourself to something fun that involves one or more other people who could be potential friends.
Places to Meet New Friends
When you are trying to make new friends, the easiest places to start looking are the circles you already belong to.
- Making friends with coworkers or classmates
- Meeting new friends through a mutual friend
- Finding friends by joining a club or group
Brainstorm the circles you belong to and people that you might like to get to know better.
If you know that you’d like to get to know someone better, ask them to do something simple together like get together for coffee. And be patient if it feels awkward at first! Studies show it can take 50 hours of time together for someone you know to feel like a friend.
How to Make Friends by Asking Questions
In a study published in 1999, researchers looked into how relationships form with something called the “Relationship Closeness Induction Task.”
They had pairs of students practice “structured self-disclosure.” This involved students asking and answering questions of each other from a list of questions that grew increasingly more personal.
What they found was that by the end of the session, students expressed a feeling of closeness to the partner with whom they had asked and answered questions. One of the pairs even ended up dating!
Are you curious? Below is a list of the questions from that study. Try to find ways to weave these questions, or your own answers to the questions, into conversation with people you meet.
You might be surprised at what you learn and how interesting the conversation becomes.
1. What is your first name?
2. How old are you?
3. Where are you from?
4. What year are you at the University of X?
5. What do you think you might major in? Why?
6. What made you come to the University of X?
7. What is your favorite class at the University of X? Why?
8. What are your hobbies?
9. What would you like to do after graduating from the University of X?
10. What would be the perfect lifestyle for you?
11. What is something you have always wanted to do but probably never will be able to do?
12. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
13. What is one strange thing that has happened to you since you’ve been at the University of X?
14. What is one embarrassing thing that has happened to you since arriving at the University of X?
15. What is one thing happening in your life that makes you stressed out?
16. If you could change anything that happened to you in high school, what would that be?
17. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would that be?
18. Do you miss your family?
19. What is one habit you’d like to break?
20. If you could have one wish granted, what would that be?
21. Is it difficult or easy for you to meet people? Why?
22. Describe the last time you felt lonely.
23. What is one emotional experience you’ve had with a good friend?
24. What is one of your biggest fears?
25. What is your most frightening childhood memory?
26. What is your happiest early childhood memory?
27. What is one thing about yourself that most people would consider surprising?
28. What is one recent accomplishment that you are proud of?
29. Tell me one thing about yourself that most people who already know you don’t know.
Remember to show a genuine interest in what is being said and be interested in learning more.
You can keep things flowing by asking follow-up questions. This will get easier over time!
If you’d like to dive deeper into this topic, it’s covered in my Social Skills Workbook. You can also grab the free printable in this post about how to start a conversation!
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