Make friends

people … Make …

Friends make life good.

They provide the scaffolding that makes it

Not just bearable but fun.

They give us a sense of meaning and purpose and are a source of security, self esteem and happiness. Almost nothing predicts how happy you will be as how connected you feel and a lack of social connection is associated with a number of diseases and a shorter life. But maybe you have scrolled through your phone, unsure who to call to go to a movie with, to celebrate with or ask for comfort. You may realize that you don’t have enough friends and feel lonely. And it is not just you. Disconnectedness and loneliness are widespread. Many people want more close friends but don’t know how to get them. Surprisingly nowadays loneliness is highest among young people – whose relationships were also hit especially hard by the global pandemic. Social distancing stopped teens and young adults from mingling in classrooms, clubs or dorms.

Millions of friendships, maybe lifelong friendships, that might have blossomed will never exist. With profound long term consequences for our collective happiness. The good news is that it is not too late and there are lots of friends to be found. We’ll mix scientific information with actionable advice, but we can’t address every individual situation. People, cultures and schedules are different. If you suffer from chronic loneliness we made about it. Ok. As with all important things in life, making friends is infuriatingly simple but not necessarily easy. But it works through a few pretty straight forward mechanisms. The Most Important Thing about Making Friends.

People make friends with other people when they spend casual time together. This is how our ancestors formed their relationships, because humans lived in small, close knit communities in which options for making friends were limited, so we just formed good relationships with the people who were around us. This is why it is so easy to form new friendships in school and university. Society locks you and your peers in a building for several years.

You share similar activities but more importantly: Similar schedules. Overlapping and fluctuating social circles form naturally giving you regular facetime and shared experiences with many different people. Time to find others with similar worldviews or senses of humor. Proximity can be more important than similar interests. One study found that in student dormitories, the distance between rooms was the strongest friendship predictor – living closer together meant a higher chance of becoming friends. Another study showed that being physically present in a class a lot, without saying a word, makes others more sympathetic to you.

So the most important principle of making friends is to regularly spend time with people in the real world. This alone can make it happen automatically and trumps all other advice. But don’t forget that making friends is not a numbers game or a competition, don’t compare yourself to others. Everyone has a social calibrator that can change as you go through life. Maybe you were more introverted as a teen but yearn for connection in your twenties.

Maybe you were part of sprawling social

Circles but prefer fewer friends in your thirties.

There is no right or wrong, only right for you. Why we don’t have enough friends. The main reason for a lack of friendships is the trite fact that most people do not prioritize friendships nearly enough. They don’t realize until it is too late, that retaining friendships demands regular energy and attention.

Although they are so important for happiness, friends often take a backseat to other life decisions. Work, commuting, romance or kids take up so much time and energy that it is so much easier to crash on your couch and lose yourself in mindless activities. Especially as an adult, going for a bike ride, getting dinner or visiting a hobby store takes much more mental effort and commitment than it did after school, when time ran slower and energy and curiosity were abundant. But it is not just adults who are too busy for friends. The average American teenager spends more time on social network every day, than socializing at parties, events or on the phone with friends combined. Established friendships don't require the same time investment as early friendships to keep up – but they do require some commitment. As life distracts you, it’s easy to skip out on checking in when a friend goes through exciting or depressing times. And so many friendships fade for lack of attention, often by accident. Which is extra tragic because there is never only one person losing a friend. It’s always at least two.

Another thing that makes many people vulnerable is the way friendship networks are structured. The friendship paradox is the phenomenon that on average, most people have fewer friends than their friends. Which makes sense, since you are more likely to be friends with someone who has many friends, than with someone who has few. Rather than being densely interconnected, friend networks are often built around central hubs. So if central people disappear from your life, this can deprive you of many connections at once. And it can lead to a distorted self perception: that you are less popular than others, although you are perfectly average. It can get worse quickly with big life events. Maybe you moved for school, work or love and are left without social networks. Or you had a break up that left you with the smaller part of the formerly shared social pie. The reasons why you find yourself with less connection than you want are as diverse as people, but the underlying cause is almost always: Time.

There is no shortcut. To make new friends and retain friendships you have to prioritize relationships, spend time with people in real life and make them feel that you care. So take a look at yourself and rebalance what you spend your life doing. How to make new Friends. Studies have shown that new friendships can develop quite quickly, weeks after you meet someone. But it takes a few months for a casual friendship to become a close relationship – with the biggest impediment being time invested and the quality of your interactions. To make friends it helps if you intentionally look for people you have things in common with and who are open to new relationships. You want to make it easy for yourself, so examine what kind of person you are. Generally speaking, extroverts tend to crave sensory stimulation, spicier foods, loud music, or the excitement of engaging a crowd.

Introverts, often confused with shy people, tend

To be more sensitive to sensory stimulants and prefer quieter surroundings, fewer people and even less spicy food.

Different places attract different people.

Not everybody can easily make friends at a bar or a football game, not everybody finds a stroll through a park or book store stimulating. Men especially form friendships around shared activities but in general it is a good idea to go to places that feel comfortable, where there are people you might like, who do things you find interesting. Look for local clubs or opportunities to volunteer. Check out what hobby stores are around and dust off your Space Marines, or see if there are new DnD groups in your city and ask if you could join one. Check meet up apps for gaming nights or wine tasting, join a sports club or look for people who go hiking or want to cook together. Another obvious avenue is your professional life. It helps if you work in a job that attracts people you like, so you might consider this when you choose a career. Deepening your relationship with colleagues can lead to great friendships, especially if you look for peers and there is no power imbalance. And of course there are friends you’ve lost touch with.

You may be able to revive some of these relationships. In some cases all it needs is a call or an invitation. Research shows that more often than not, the other person will appreciate that you’ve reached out! There are likely way more opportunities to spend time with others than you are aware of. And if there aren’t, you can take the initiative and create them. Invitations are signals to start friendships. So bring people together by having a dinner party, organizing a football game after work or starting a board game group. Everybody appreciates people who organize fun things and the simple act of reaching out can kickstart a self propelling upward spiral of well being, fun and connectedness that can seriously improve the life of everyone around you in meaningful ways. If you meet someone you vibe with it is pretty scary to make the first move but they may feel the same way. Equally interested in a friendship but also blocked by fear of rejection. So it is worth going for it.

Worst case, they are not interested which will sting for a few hours – but the best case could be a lifelong friendship. A risk well worth the reward. Once you have formed early connections check in when they have important things happening in their life. Of course it is important not to be overbearing but the more time you invest, the more opportunity you have to engage in meaningful banter or silly jokes. The fact that friendships take time also means that you need to be patient and kind with yourself, especially if you are out of practice. Things will not improve overnight but slowly, step by step, if you keep it up. Open Up: Care and Share. Many people don’t have an issue being around others but struggle to turn acquaintances into friends. So let us talk about two important principles that make it more likely that you’ll connect: Caring and sharing. In general, our favorite topic is ourselves and the things we care about, because we are literally at the center of our own universe.

So People tend to like people who are genuinely interested in them. So if you want to make friends, your goal should be trying to learn what makes them tick. Just as important as caring about others is reciprocity and openness. To connect you need to share the experiences that made you, you. Now you don’t want to overwhelm the other person and immediately spill out your deepest secrets.

But open up a little and reveal

Personal things – because this also signals to others that it is ok to do the same.

The best case is that you find shared experiences – maybe you both had a hard time in school, maybe you share a passion for weird movies. Learning about others and sharing personal stories in a balanced way and not overdoing it, is not an exact science. Noticing the line between opening up and oversharing requires practice and depends on the vibe of the conversation. One of the perplexities of life is that to get something, it can be helpful to convince yourself that you want it less than you do.

In general it is good to be laid back, have fun and enjoy yourself. Do things for yourself without expectations, but also be open to social opportunities and accept invitations if they show up. And that's basically it. Give friendships more priority in your life. Check in with friends and regularly go to things to have fun. Show genuine interest in others and give them the opportunity to know you without selling yourself too hard. If you do this you are on track. If this sounds a bit scary, the good news is that human brains are hardwired to seek connection. It is perfectly normal to seek out new friends and there are many people who would welcome more close relationships. There are friendships up for grabs everywhere and there are plenty of people who will be so happy to have YOU in their life.