So you want to make new friends and you don’t know how. I’ll break it down into it’s individual aspects and then I’ll tell you how to approach each aspect individually. It comes down to:
Why, Who, When, How and Where
Why – Let’s make sure you know why you want friends. Sure, it’s for the social contact, but it doesn’t stop there. You will want friends that are there for you when you are in a time of need, not friends that will drop you at the first sign of trouble.
Who – The first thing to understand is that most people like like-minded people. If you’re a single male, you are more likely to like and become friends with other single males, etc. There’s generally no such thing as opposites attract when it comes to new friendships (it is possible, it just becomes a lot more complicated and you have to worry about motives). So to keep things simple and maximize your odds of success, if you’re a single female, you look for single females and if you’re a couple, you look for other couples, etc. You are most likely to become friends with people that more or less share your socioeconomic background. You will want friends that don’t drag you down, that are emotionally reasonably stable and are empathic.
When – If you understand the like-mindedness aspect of friendship, then you probably also understand that if you’re mentally damaged or an addict, that you’re more likely to become friends with like-minded people and if you’re mentally in a good state, you’re more likely to get friends that are equally in healthy state.
So first you have to make sure you are reasonably mentally stable. If you are dealing with depression, anxiety or self esteem issues, let me know, and I’ll give you advice on how to deal with that. If you’re currently addicted, it would be better to fix that now and then look for friends, that way you can avoid a negative reinforcement cycle later. This goes for any serious character flaws. In order to make and keep friends, these need to be addressed first. If you don’t do that first, you’ll only make friends that will drag you down or that you won’t be able to keep for very long. In order to have good friends, you need to be a good friend.
If you are not sure you have a problem (but you might), here are a few tests you can take:
- Depression . Answer how you’ve felt in the last week.
- Low Self Esteem
- General Anxiety . you should fill out how you’ve felt in the last month.
- Social Anxiety .
Each test takes about 2 to 3 minutes to complete, let me know if you scored high (or low in the case of the self esteem test) on any of these and I’ll give you specific advice on how to address that first, before you work on making new friends.
How – If you were good at making friends, well then you would have them. But you are asking for them, so you probably don’t know how to make them. A good book on this topic was written about 100 years ago and it’s called “How to win Friends & Influence People” (Audiobook on Youtube
). Then it would be helpful if you could practice walking up to strangers and talking to them, so you can see what approach works for you and what doesn’t work. Obviously such a thing doesn’t exist. However, there is something that’s very close to it (and it’s also a great source to find good friends) and that’s Toastmasters . You might think, “what does public speaking have to do with friendships?” Well, they’ll train you into talking to people you don’t know, they’ll teach you ad hoc speaking and they’ll give you feedback if you have body posture, eye contact or other non-verbal communication issues. On top of that there are clubs pretty much very where , it’s cheap and free to visit the first few times.
Make sure both you and your clothes are clean, that you don’t have ongoing dental issues and cut your hair at least once every 8 weeks.
In addition to that, reddit has several safe spaces, where you can practice friendly chitchat and maybe even make friends:
- /r/socialskills (read the sidebar, it has a lot of good advice)
Where – This will depend on who you are. Since you want like-minded friends (because those are more likely to like you as well as more likely to be long time friends), you will need to find people that are similar to you. So I’ll give you three methods:
- Join a hobby club
- Take a community college class in a topic you like
- Social Media
I understand that most of these cost some money. And you might not have that, but I’ll explain to you why that’s required. It’s not going to be in your interest to have friends that are broke. They’ll just pull you down or ask you for money. By finding friends at an activity that has a financial barrier to entry, you will make it much less likely that you’ll end up with the wrong kind of friend.
If you are currently enrolled in a college or university, you have access to an additional source. You could go to your school’s website and search for “Student Clubs”. Review the available clubs to see if there are any that have your interest. Here is a guide on student clubs . I’m a little hesitant to recommend this, because this solution does not work for everyone. Because anyone can join, there is a low bar of entry and the clubs often are not professionally managed, which will lower the quality of participants. That said, if you are in school, financially and transportationally restricted, it could be your only viable option. It’s better than nothing.
Join a hobby club
If you are a couple and like dancing, then join a local dance club. If you’re into remote controlled cars, join an RC club. If you like horses, go horse riding. If you’re into martial arts, join a fight club.
Most community colleges have evening classes (without credits) on a wide range of topics. There will be classes in for example Photography, Painting and Music. Finding these can be tricky. Search for “Name of College Community Education” and you can often find a catalog online. This is where you’ll be able to find like-minded people that will enjoy doing what you like to do.
You’ll have plenty of time to get to know the people you meet in college, so there’s no rush to initiate a friendship, just enjoy the class and by the time you get to the end of the class you can always give your contact information to someone you like. Additionally you’ll automatically have things you can do together that you know both of you will enjoy.
This one’s fairly obvious. If you happen to like some kind of sport (or want to learn how to defend yourself), there’s most likely a dojo or training field nearby that will teach you how to do it. This is a good place to find like minded people. Just go to Google Maps and type the name of the sport, to find nearby facilities.
Now that you’ve found some people through Toastmasters, clubs or community college, you can leverage them to find more people like them. Make sure you have a clean social media profile (Facebook, pretty much), remove anything that’s debatable. We’re not trying to document your life in all its gory details, we’re trying to get you friends. Then start reading through what their friends post and see if there are other local people that have similar interests. Just start commenting on their posts, when it’s appropriate (so if it’s regarding a shared hobby and such, not about their family pictures). You can then add them to your own network and/or can invite them all at once to a small party once you have found a few similar people (and here you will again be able to leverage your toastmasters skills).
If the things you like to do can be done without the need of special equipment, you have another option. You can sign up for free to meetup.com . Meetup is a globally used website, where people that gather together for walks, bike rides or types of social events. Just sign up and browse your local events and see if there’s something there that you like. Even now there are plenty of activities that use proper social distancing. One final website you could give a try is Nextdoor . It’s going to be hit and miss in this case, but some areas will have active groups and group activities you can take part in. Just check it out a couple of times. If it’s not for you, you can always close your account again. An almost identical alternative (that I’m personally not familiar with) are local facebook groups. So if meetup doesn’t work in your area, that’s something you could look for instead.
has many health benefits and it will bring you in contact with other good selfless people, while working towards a common cause. The most popular website is VolunteerMatch .