Let’s be friends!

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Have you ever noticed that some people seem to have 100 amazing and loyal friends and others seem to venture through life more or less alone?

Throughout my life, I’ve gone back and forth between having a big group of amazing friends, to feeling all alone and a bit lonely, and then back to having a solid group of friends again. Life and friendships are never one straight line and we all experience the loss and gain of a friend now and again. It’s a natural part of life! While being able to be alone and have time for yourself is still a very important skill, we humans need company, or at least some of the time.

One thing is to experience small bursts of loneliness another is to go through life lonely. A study by Independent Age shows that 1 in 5 or 700,000 men and 1.1m women over 50, live with severe loneliness (study from England) and the numbers keep rising at an alarming rate.

’Ebola is unlikely ever to kill as many people as this disease strikes down. Social isolation is as potent a cause of early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day; loneliness, research suggests, is twice as deadly as obesity. Dementia, high blood pressure, alcoholism and accidents – all these, like depression, paranoia, anxiety and suicide, become more prevalent when connections are cut. We cannot cope alone.’ – George Monbiot, Author at The Guardian (to read the full article follow this link)

Even though these facts are very disturbing to see, this choking degree of loneliness (epidemic) is most unlikely to be a risk for the majority of us. But considering this dramatic development, maybe now is the time to hone your friendship-making skills and make a few more friends?

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Romantic Expectations

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Books, movies and PR-companies show us a romantic and sometimes naïve picture of what our life and relationships should look like: Nothing short of a dream marriage with your flawless soulmate, Beautiful, intelligent, talented children who love us unconditionally and never misbehave, a united family that sits together around the dinner table every day and of cause beautiful and attractive friends with whom we discus poetry, visit arts exhibitions and have umbrella adorned drinks.

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Some may have a reality that looks somewhat like the situation mentioned above, but for some of us reality looks quite different.

Maybe you got a divorce or two, not only losing a spouse, but also some friendships because of it?

Maybe you found that one special person to share your life with, and you thought that this was all you wanted/needed and forgot to nurture your relationships with your friends and family as the romance blossomed? (Research shows that on average you lose 2 out of your 5 closest friends when you start a new relationship)

Maybe you moved a lot and now your friends are spread all over the place?

Maybe you don’t feel like you have the time to make new friends or nurture the new friendships you create over time?

Maybe you never got children, or maybe you did, but now they live far away, or they found their soulmate and you feel that there’s no more room for you in their lives!?

Maybe you’ve never understood how to find lasting friendships, or maybe you did, but most of them died?

Whatever your story is, meeting new people/friends can feel challenging and sometimes terrifying and for others exhilarating and life-confirming. Which one is true for you? Do you love jumping in the deep end and meeting new interesting people or are you terrified by the thought of introducing yourself to people you don’t know? Whatever the case is for you, getting a new friend starts with hello!

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[bctt tweet=”You never know what a simple hello can lead to!” username=”smplhappiness”]

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Below are a few ideas and tricks on how to approach getting new friends and becoming more social. Hope you enjoy!

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  1. Begin with small steps

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The good thing is that you can do it in small steps – ask for help in the supermarket; look at and talk to the cashier; talk to people in front and behind you while you wait in line; give someone (you know or a stranger) a compliment for something – their shoes, work, hair, smile, whatever -; comment on something – the blue sky, how hot (cold, rainy, foggy) it is, the sparrows in the street, the flowers, whatever. Some people will only give you a short answer, others will take you up on it and you get a conversation. I do this all the time, and I don’t remember a single case where people just ignored me.

Most likely you just get this one conversation out of that initial contact, but that’s not the important part. The important part is, that you initiated something. You’re laying the groundwork for bigger things to come.

Wouldn’t it be nice if people in your neighborhood knew who you are, and smiled and said hello when you meet them on the street? That’s what you are working on. Remember to focus on the small steps you can take!

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  1. Find likeminded people

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The next step is to start doing things that interest you. Find out if people with the same interests as you, are meeting somewhere near you.

Find people in your local community center – or, like in our town, the main library. If you find nothing there, maybe you can find likeminded people online. Or you can sign up for a course and see if there is someone you get along with. If you don’t find somebody on the first try attempt, maybe you do on the second or the third or the twenty-seventh. Never give up! Just keep pursuing something you like to do, like one of your hobbies. The chance of meeting someone, you actually get along with, is much higher if you meet someone with similar interests as yours.

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  1. Donate your time

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Another way of creating relationships is to volunteer. There are many places where people would be happy for an extra set of helping hands. Maybe you can spend a few hours every week in a kindergarten or school, hospital, homeless shelter, library or religious institution of your choice?

Or maybe you’re good at something others would love to learn, like reading and writing, math, geometry, chemistry or crochet. Find a place, where you can teach what you know to others.

You could probably also find a place like a nursing home or retirement home near you, where you could visit one or several of the residents on a weekly basis.

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  1. Become friends with your friends’ friends!

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One of the best ways to quickly make new friends, is to connect with your friends’ friends. When you meet someone through one of your existing friends, you cut through a lot of the steps it normally takes to become friends. There is already an approval for both of you, because of the connection you share with your mutual friend.

You can ask your existing friends to introduce you to a few friends you haven’t met and even offer the same gesture the other way around.

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We all need friends

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It’s just so much easier to laugh and be happy if we have friends around us, whom we can count on and call, when life gets super exiting and worth sharing, but who’re also there when life nocks us down and we just need a listening ear.

What is your secret to making new friends?

Have you ever experienced feeling alone or lonely? Or do you pride yourself of having many amazing friends around you?

I would love to hear about your experience and thoughts. Please leave a comment below.

Let’s go out and make some friends today.

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