Thoughts on How to Develop and Grow New Friendships

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A few good friends can make life a lot more fun and meaningful.

Friendship is a wonderful thing. It’s also nice to have the support that strong friendships provide. Many struggle to develop new friendships. Even when you’re willing to do the work to find new friends, it’s not easy to know where to start.

The other day I was in a bad place and I got to thinking… “hmmm… what areas do I seem to be lacking in life?”. What I came up with was that I could really do better if I had a hobby I could do and some friends to do them with. Then I watched a video talking about what it really takes to be happy, successful and have purpose in life. It spoke about 4 main things needed – Faith, Family, Friends, and Work.

Some may disagree about these 4 areas, but this video got me thinking – how could I step up my friends game? As a self-employed business owner for the last 23+ years I kind of created an island on to myself and doing it for pretty much my whole adult life, it’s hindered my connections to people. I also moved across country 20 years ago, which was another hinderance to having a stable group of friends.

So what does one do? Well, noticing that Saturday July 30th is International Day of Friendship I thought it might be a good time to cover this topic. This day is celebrated across the world. This holiday promotes peace through friendships. Who doesn’t want more of that? What a great day to spend some time with your best friend or try some of these ideas to making a new best friend.

Here are some thoughts on how to bring new friends into your life:

1. Be bold

Most of the people you see would love to have additional friends. There’s no reason to fear rejection while attempting to make friends. You’re not asking for a loan or a date. People can appear disinterested for a variety of reasons. They might be busy, having a personal challenge, or just having a bad day. If you get rejected, don’t take it personally and ask again or ask another person. No matter what happens, you will survive! Keep trying.

2. Start with the people you see each day

Business and career goals

Chatting with a stranger is more anxiety-provoking than talking to the person in the next cubicle. Try to make your casual friendships more meaningful. You might already have all the people you need to create a strong social circle.

Get to know the friends of your friends. You could quickly have more friendships than you know what to do with.

In my situation, I am challenged in that I raise my son during the day between doing a little bit of work and being self employed, I really only see my son daily and then my older son and wife in the evenings. I will say that 20 years ago when I moved to Texas to grow my business and to build a relationship with my girlfriend (now wife), I didn’t know a soul here so I made friends with her friends.

Those friends were close, but not close enough that we would do things or hang out too often. Today, my connections are mostly online (Facebook connections) so I’m trying to figure out how to move from virtual friendships to in person friendships. It’s challenging, but if this is all you have, it’s all ya got. So work with what you have.

3. Stay in touch with all of your friends

two girls hanging out with a smartphone

You’ve probably made plenty of friends over the years. You just haven’t maintained the friendships. A good friend is a rare commodity. Stay in touch and keep up with each other. You’ll always have enough friends if you take the time to keep your friends close.

I’m guilty of screwing this one up. A lot of my friends were around music and partying and some around sports (hiking, mountain biking, boating, skiing, etc).

As I got older I left my party friends by the wayside. I think the same happened to my music and sports friends as I got consumed with my business, my relationship, or was having a tough time financially keeping me from doing events together. It seems the days of just hanging out together have gone by the wayside to for some reason. So I guess the key is… put in the effort and know it takes work. I’m trying to do better in this area.

4. Take advantage of opportunities to get out more

Is meditating in a group an important part of building a solid meditation practice?
If you keep declining offers to go out, people will eventually stop asking. When you prefer to stay home, your social circle shrinks. Make a habit of saying yes.

5. Use the internet to your advantage

Make to make some new friends? Leverage the internet to connect, find meetup, and build local (or non-local) friendships

Even if you have zero friends now, work alone at home like me, and live in a rural area where you don’t have neighbors close, you can still find people for socializing. There are several meet-up groups onlineVolunteerTake a class. Plenty of other people are in the same boat as you and seeking friends. Try one of these to make some new connections. I am a member of multiple Facebook groups where I build online connections and friends. I do have many friends that I do not do any in-person things with but do plenty of online events with. I do a virtual book club via the Hope & Inspiration Book Club that meets weekly. This is not quite the same as close in person friends, but I will say I have friends from around the world who I truly and blessed to know and that I am thankful for being connected to.

6. Be open to new people and ideas

People may show back up in your life. Be a decent person.

The people with the most friends also tend to be the most accepting. The more judgmental you are, the fewer people you’ll find that meet your strict criteria. Drop your preconceived notions of what a friend should be. It’s possible that the best friend you could ever have will be nothing like you.

7. Be supportive

What can you do if someone you know has depression? Just be a friend, try to support them, don't judge them, and help them seek help.
The best friends are available 24/7. Be generous with your time, attention, and help. Helping others is satisfying and builds strong friendships. You can expect the same in return when you need help.

8. Be genuine in your interest of others

Many ways to love your life

The most important part of connecting with others is demonstrating true interest in them. Avoid the mistake of trying to make others interested in you. Focus on them, instead. Be curious. Ask about their lives, hobbies, hopes, and dreams. Focus on the good to be found in others. You’ll find more people you like and admire if look for the positive.

You can add to your social life at any age. Remember that adding new friends to your social circle is an active process. It’s necessary to put in the time and work to make it happen. Life is too short to wait for others to come to you. Go out today and make a new friend!

Also know that having friends is an important piece of your life’s success. If you view the chart below, notice how Love and Belonging are the 3rd step in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This is a need and this stuff is important to thrive in life. I wrote an article on BELONGING about 16 months ago titled THE IMPORTANCE OF BELONGING AND COMMUNITY FOR OUR WELLBEING. This article touches on some related ideas. About a year ago I also wrote an article titled WHAT THE HELL IS A HEALLAGOOD LIFE to explore thought on living one’s best life and my journey thinking about this process.

How are you dealing with insecurities caused by the pandemic? How are your Safety needs being met? Let's review maslow's hierarchy of needs again.

Like to read and discuss books?

I mentioned above I’m a member of the HOPE & INSPIRATION BOOK CLUB which is a virtual book club. If you like reading books and want some book-loving friends feel free to join us. We are currently reading How The South Won The Civil War (so this is heavy on American history and politics).

The Hope & Inspiration Book Club
Click Image to Go To The Facebook Group

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