How to Make Friends
If you are looking to make new friends, you have to get clear on what kind of friends you want to make. Generally speaking, there are 3 types of friends:
- “Hi-Bye” friends (or acquaintances). These are the ones you see at school/work because the context calls for it. You say hi when you see each other and you say bye at the end of the day, but that’s about it. The relationship never lasts when the context is removed, i.e. when you graduate from school or leave the workplace.
- Regular friends. Social, activity buddies you meet up every now and then to catch up or hang out with. You can generally talk about regular topics under the sun.
- True, soul friends (or best friends). People you can talk anything and everything with. You may or may not meet up every day, but it doesn’t matter as the strength of your friendship is not determined by how frequently you meet up — it’s more than that. These are the friends you can trust to be there for you whenever you need them, and they will go the extra mile for you.
Here are some top tips to make new friends:
1. Realise your fear is in your head
The first step is to develop a healthy mental image of meeting new people. Some of us see meeting new people as a scary event. We are concerned about making a good impression, whether the other person will like us, how to keep the conversation going, and so on. The more we think about it, the scarier it seems. This initial apprehension develops into a mental fear, which takes a life of its own and unknowingly blocks us from making new friends. Shyness toward others is actually a result of fear.
2. Start small with people you know
If you haven’t been socializing much, meeting a whole bunch of new people may seem intimidating. If so, start small first. Lower the difficulty of the task by starting with your circle of friends, i.e. people you are familiar with. Some ways to do that:
- Reach out to acquaintances. Have any hi-bye type friends from earlier years? Or friends you lost touch with over time? Drop a friendly SMS and say hi. Ask for a meet up when they are free. See if there are opportunities to reconnect.
- See if there are cliques you can join. Cliques are established groups of friends. The idea isn’t to break into the clique, but to practice being around new friends. With cliques, the existing members will probably take the lead in conversations, so you can just take the observatory role and watch the dynamics between other people.
- Get to know your friends’ friends. You can join them in their outings or just ask your friend to introduce you to them. If you are comfortable with your friends, there’s a good chance you will be comfortable with their friends too.
- Accept invitations to go out. I have friends who rarely go out. When asked out, they reject majority of the invites because they rather stay at home. As a result, their social circles are limited. If you want to have more friends, you have to step out of your comfort zone and go out more often. You can’t make more friends in real life if you stay at home!
3. Get yourself out there
Once you reconnect with your circle of friends, the next step is to meet people you don’t know.
- Join meetup groups. There are many interest groups, such as groups for entrepreneurs, aspiring authors, vegetarians, board-game lovers, cycling enthusiasts, etc. Pick out your interests and join those groups. Meet ups are usually monthly depending on the group itself. Great way to meet a lot of new people quickly.
- Attend workshops/courses. These serve as central avenues that gather like-minded people. I went to a personal development workshop last year and met many great individuals, some of whom I became good friends with.
- Volunteer. Great way to kill 2 birds with one stone — not only do you get to spread kindness and warmth, you meet compassionate people with a cause.
- Go to parties. Parties such as birthday parties, Christmas/new year/celebration parties, housewarmings, functions/events, etc. Probably a place where you’ll make a high quantity of new friends but not necessarily quality relationships. Good way to meet more people nonetheless.
- Visit bars and clubs. Many people visit them to meet more friends, but I don’t recommend them as the friends you make here are probably more hi-bye friends rather than type #2 or type #3 friends. It’s good to just visit a couple of times and see how they are for yourself before you make your judgment.
- Join a club
4. Be open
a) Be open-minded. Don’t judge.
b) Open your heart
Sometimes you may have a preset notion of the kind of friend you want. Maybe someone who is understanding, listens, has the same hobbies, watches the same movies, has similar educational background, etc. And then when you meet the person and realise that he/she differs from your expectations, you then close yourself off.
5. Be yourself
Don’t change yourself to make new friends. That’s the worst thing you can do. Why do I say that?
Say you make many new friends by being vocal and brassy. However, your normal self is quiet and introverted. What happens then? It may be great initially to get those new friends, but the friendship was established with you being an extrovert. That means either:
- You continue being the vocal, brassy person your new friends knew you as. However, it’ll just be a facade. In the long-run, it’ll be tiring to uphold this image. Not only that, the friendship will be built on a hollow front. Or
- You change back to the introverted you. However, your friends will feel cheated because this isn’t the person they befriended. They’ll also gradually shift away if your personalities don’t match.
By being you, you open yourself up to those that appreciate you for who you are, rather than the mask you wear. It’s ok if you feel like you haven’t got anyone right now, because there will be 1000s out there who would love to be friends with someone like you for who you are.