The Excuse Maker’s Guide: How to Make Friends
Friends are your hand-selected family. They make life exciting, fun, and worth living. If you don’t have any, you need to figure out why, what you want, and then use these tips to find pools of potential candidates.
How to Make Friends in the 21st Century
This hub is written for the people who know they need to have more people in their life, but who just can’t seem to stop making excuse after excuse. If you’re honest with yourself, you know how much it would mean to increase the population of friendly people in your life. You know you’re the one stopping this from happening, but you’re also not really sure how to make the transition from couch to outside world.
You know who you are. I do the same. I Google how to lose weight, make friends, and be happy. I’m not doing it so that I can get up and go and put the tips into use, but instead to see how much work there is so I can make more excuses about why I shouldn't bother.
We’re lazy and we’re frustrated. We’re probably a little sad and hurt about it all too. It’s easier to not act. You must remember that you, just like everyone else, need and deserve friends. Life is best with other people and that comes from someone with clinical depression and anxiety. I’m also a military brat, so I’ve got a lot of practice putting these tips to use. I know they work and I’ve acquired some amazing, lasting friends of my own using them.
Side Note: Don’t be too pushy or creepy about it. Be natural. Make yourself available to friendship and work to develop connections. Most importantly: be yourself. If you lie, any subsequent friendships will be built on lies and not a sincere, open connection.
People will accept you as you are if you give them the chance. Start out slow and think about it scientifically. If one approach doesn't work, make adjustments and try again elsewhere. The more times you try out your skills, the better they will be. You learn more from rejection than acceptance.
Wait! Before you contine:
How many close friends do you have?
Your excuses keep you from meeting new people.
These are harsh words, I know. I am a victim of apathy. I look for excuses and easy ways out. I weasel out of situations even when I don’t want to. I’m evasive and wishy washy and I like ending sentences with prepositions.
That’s also why I am extremely tough with myself. I’ve got to be the splash of freezing water, slap in the face, eye-opening motivator for my own existence. You are the only one who can create positive, meaningful experiences in your life.
If you really want to have friends, you have to get dressed, leave the house, and start trying.
Beginners: Start here.
Now, if you’re just starting, you don’t have to put your pants on right now. It takes time to work yourself up to go outside and say actual words to actual strangers. Start off easy. You’re already halfway there!
Pro Tip: Join Meetup.com
One great way to meet new people is meetup.com. They operate online interfaces for in-person groups in your local area. There are groups for absolutely everything, from pug lovers to Harley riders (and probably even pug-loving Harley riders).
You can start your friendships online and then move to in-person experiences. Many groups are so large that you can blend in quickly. If there are hundreds of people in a new-to-the-city group, you can usually attend their activities for free and meet lots of people all at once.
Personally, I prefer very small groups or large ones because I have a higher likelihood to find similar-minded people. The small groups that form within larger groups are a goldmine, too. Plus, then you have social buffers! No solo lunches at an empty table!
Google yourself silly.
Beginners should start online. Research is the first step. Next, you need to join Reddit, follow people on Twitter, Like fan pages on Facebook and start conversations. Find forums, subreddits, or pages on things you like and start chatting. Just don’t become a troll or we’ll shut you down.
If you’re looking to date, pay for a membership to a dating site or take advantage of the free ones. In the past, I balked at the idea of using a free site, but OKCupid in particular has become quite an awesome place! For more information on how to use OKCupid to your advantage, I highly recommend hanging out with my friend Simone Smith.
For me, I needed that initial spark to generate a deeper connection and I was sick of being disappointed. You’d talk to someone online, have deep conversations, and then the person wouldn’t look anything like their pictures. Things that seemed to be cute quirks soon became pet peeves and I’d head running for the hills. Be very discriminating.
One note: If you seem to have real issues with dating and relationships, you might want to consider going to therapy. There’s nothing to be ashamed about. Did anyone ever teach you how to process or react to things? Did anyone ever show you healthy ways to feel? Take the matters into your own hands and find out how to express yourself healthily. I've heard that can teach you how to love, so that's an option too. Joni Mitchell's album Blue
Let's just weep awhile.
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Both work and school are environments where people with relatively similar interests (often more so in school) operate together in relatively close proximity.
At work, open up. Share appropriate stories about your life and if you aren’t too creepy about it, people will usually invite you to lunch, dinner, or a mutally-interesting event. After you’ve set up the groundwork and have started to feel comfortable with a few individuals, you too can invite them along.
Tip: There are usually more low-pressure, outdoor events during the warmer months. Festivals and outdoor markets are great places to schedule initial outings for potential friend units.
Just like work friends, you have a higher in with these people than total strangers. You’ve at least been screened by an admissions advisor and if you’re in a higher level program together, you probably have overlapping interests.
For college freshmen and sophomores, it may be harder to make friends with the same interests because the classes are so broad. If you moved to a new city to go to school, I highly recommend living in the dorms. Even if the dorms are gross, dirty, and loud, you will usually be accepted immediately and invited along. They’ll give you a chance! It’s up to you to keep it going. Even I was invited along with all of the other girls on my very first day of dorm life. I said yes and made friends quickly. These friends can help you find other friends. Just meet people!
For juniors and seniors: Speak more in class. If you are in a higher division course in your field of interest, you are with your scholastic cohorts. You should be able to find people to talk to, even if you’re stodgy and moody around others (like I am). Somehow, people find that stuff funny.
Study partners can be an asset to your college experience, especially if you struggle.
Sometimes, I made fewer friends in field-related classes simply because the divisions were more political. In the classes for my degree in English, the people with different academic interests were worlds away from my own. I liked modern and postmodern literature with an emphasis on magical realism, Cold War ideologies, and literary theory. When I met students of Victorian literature or Medieval studies, our glaring differences often got in the way. The people who think like you would be perfect friends, though. Keep an eye for similarities. People like to do things together, even schoolwork.
Leave your house, even by yourself.
This is the next step including or beyond Meetup.com. Eventually, you might find groups or events you enjoyed more than others.
If you’re religious, try church. If you’re not religious, try the Unitarian Universalists. They are openly accepting of atheists, agnostics, and everyone else. You might even get some free food. They are very accepting and peaceful. They’ve given me an outlet for my own spiritual quandaries and have many opportunities for you to make like-minded friends.
Join a club. Go to festivals. Do whatever it is you like to do and embrace the quirkier sides of yourself. If you’re trying to fit into some model of normalcy, people will notice the falseness. Figure out who you really are through introspection and reflection. Accept the embarrassing things and lower your boundaries when you find trustable, understanding people. The world is much more accepting and tolerant than you think it is. There are good people everywhere.
People are drawn to authentic, honest, and driven people. Share your passions and don't be ashamed of them. I've known furries, cosplayers, RPG fans, stormtroopers, My Little Bronies, and more. They have friends and often, even devoted significant others.
Beyond the potential social aspects of gym classes and running partners, exercise releases the same chemicals as heavy narcotics. Exercise will make you feel good, real good. People will notice how healthy and happy you feel, which will draw them in like flies to honey.
Do something good for someone else.
Volunteering is something everyone should do anyway. Friends will be incidental. For one, you get to add it to your resume. You gain valuable work experience, social connections, and a sense of purpose in the world. You get out of the house, practice your social skills, and try out new ways of being. I always meet amazing people when I volunteer and I see how much good each of us can do. We need to strive for a better world and offering your services for free is the first step to give back.
Look for love in all the right places.
The best friends I’ve met have occurred naturally. My roommates were coworkers first. My most recent significant other was the friend of a (work) friend. Find someone with your interests with whom you feel safe. Online dating isn’t for everyone and quit trying to be someone you’re not. The sooner you embrace your own identity, the sooner someone will come into your life. Waiting isn't living.
Final Note: Haters gonna hate
Don’t let judgy people stop you from finding your own happiness. Why let one person’s words and personal insecurities keep you from having a good day? You get one life; make it worth it.