Written by: Jenny Smith
In a busy world it can be easy to feel isolated and alone. Good friendships are what help a lot of people go through life a little more easily. However there are various stages of life where you can find yourself in a position of needing to make new connections which can feel a bit daunting when making new friends.
Life can take different turns. Changes in friendships come about for all sorts of reasons including moving to a new area,the lifestyle of existing friends going through a big change, a mass shift happening like everyone going to university, interests and outlook changing so that what bonded friends previously no longer applies or a big lifestyle change like children leaving home, relationship breakup or stopping drinking means that social times are now very different or more available.
Making new friends
On the practical side there are a number of things that you can do. If you are still in the same geographical area you can use the current friendships that you have as a way of being introduced to other possibilities. You will have met some of your friends friends in social situations like gatherings, be brave and ask for a contact number of the person who you had a stimulating conversation with at a party but who you have not seen since. Similarly think about who you know from work and which of those relationships you would like to develop into stronger friendships.
Consider whether anyone that you run into whilst dog walking or going to your art class is the potential for a deeper connection. As an adult this process can feel awkward and clicky because generally all through childhood you were surrounded by people of a similar age who were all also looking for mates, whereas as a grown up lots of people have established their circles and it can feel a lot harder to create new friendships during these stages of life.
Trying new activities
Once you have considered what your existing contacts can lead you too you can also think about whether there are other activities that you can become involved in that may lead to friendships. Trying an evening class or going to an event can be a straightforward way to meet others that have at least one thing in common with you. Chatting with different people that you meet will show you quite quickly those that you have more of a natural connection with and could turn strangers into aquaintances quite quickly. Some people thrive on making conversation whereas others find it very hard.
Always make an effort
When you get a sense that you are clicking with someone the next natural thing to do is to invite them to do something with you. Some people say this is the most important step in the friend making process and it can be the one that feels the hardest to do because of course it risks rejection. Practice making it a habit to accept invitations that come your way and see how good you can get at making plans and become adept at balancing doing what you want to do with the needs of what others want to do so that there is more chance of regular meet ups. Overtime you will notice that relationships are starting to bud, in this situation commit to keeping in touch and hang out with each other and let the relationship grow naturally.
Don’t rush things
So as well as all the practical steps mentioned above it is also really important that you support yourself emotionally through the process. Recognising that it is a big deal to put yourself out there and do things that feel exposing, risk rejection and make you feel vulnerable is a really important aspect of this process. It is imperative that you are kind to yourself especially in moments where you feel awkward and want to run away! Normalise what you are doing by reminding yourself that most people on the planet would be experiencing some degree of self-consciousness in your situation and reassure yourself by telling yourself that strong friendship takes time to build and as well as putting energy into it there is also an element of trust that is necessary. Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t want to hang out with you and avoid telling yourself that making friends is really hard! Finally find an enjoyable way of rewarding yourself each time you take a step in the process!