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.
Beyond 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 him or her. While it may seem like a mystery how people do these things, I’m going to let you in on a few secrets in this article that should help you get better at getting to know people (and letting them get to know you).
Research on Making Friends
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 engage in “structured self-disclosure,” which 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!
How to Make Friends
How can you put this to work in your own life? Below is a list of those questions from that study. Modify them to suit your situation, and then keep them in the back of your mind when you meet someone knew. Try to find ways to weave the questions, or your own answers to the questions, into the conversation. You might be surprised at what you learn and how interesting the conversation becomes.
29 Questions to Make Friends
Make Friends: List 1
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?
Make Friends: List 2
1. What are your hobbies?
2. What would you like to do after graduating from the University of X?
3. What would be the perfect lifestyle for you?
4. What is something you have always wanted to do but probably never will be able to do?
5. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
6. What is one strange thing that has happened to you since you’ve been at the University of X?
7. What is one embarrassing thing that has happened to you since arriving at the University of X?
8. What is one thing happening in your life that makes you stressed out?
9. If you could change anything that happened to you in high school, what would that be?
10. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would that be?
11. Do you miss your family?
12. What is one habit you’d like to break?
Make Friends: List 3
1. If you could have one wish granted, what would that be?
2. Is it difficult or easy for you to meet people? Why?
3. Describe the last time you felt lonely.
4. What is one emotional experience you’ve had with a good friend?
5. What is one of your biggest fears?
6. What is your most frightening childhood memory?
7. What is your happiest early childhood memory?
8. What is one thing about yourself that most people would consider surprising?
9. What is one recent accomplishment that you are proud of?
10. Tell me one thing about yourself that most people who already know you don’t know.
Remember, it’s not about saying the right thing all the time, but showing a genuine interest in what is being said and wanting to know more. Try to keep things flowing by responding to what is said rather than letting the conversation drop. This will get easier over time, so start small and build up from there when trying to make friends.
How about you? Do you find that you have trouble making new friends or deepening friendships? Share your thoughts in the comments below.