Earlier this year, World of Psychology contributor Therese Borchard wrote a popular entry entitled, “10 Ways to Make Friends.” Inspired by her advice and based upon my own experiences throughout life, I present to you another 10 ways to make friends in your life.
No matter what method you try, making new friends requires something I can’t give you in this article — courage. It takes courage to go out and actually take a leap of faith by introducing yourself to someone new and taking a chance you may be rejected. That’s why smaller groups are almost always easier — you can figure out who might make a good friend in such group situations.
1. Join a local Meetup (or start your own).
Meetup is a website that seems like it’s been around forever (but has really only been around since 2001). It allows you to join local groups meeting in your community on hundreds of different topics of interest — from hobbies, to careers or vocational, to entertainment or just shared interests. In another time, these may have been referred to simply as hobbyist groups, but the site allows people to meet for virtually any reason. There were 1,441 groups in the greater Boston area, on topics ranging from hiking, night life, poker, entrepreneurs, and movies, among many, many others.
2. Join a bowling league.
Bowling not your thing? Any team sport will do, whether it be your company’s softball league, fantasy football league, or yeah, even a bowling league. Sound corny? Maybe it is, but it’s a tried and true method that millions have used for decades.
3. Take Facebook to the next level.
Sure, we all have lots of friends on Facebook or another social networking site. But maybe your virtual friends lack giving you that something extra or special thing that meets your needs. That’s understandable, because while online friendships can be just as rewarding and intimate as face-to-face friends, they don’t satisfy all of our face-to-face needs always (and not everyone finds online friendships as satisfying). But you can build upon your online friendships with the ones who are geographically close by suggesting shared activities you can do together locally. It could be as simple as getting a cup of coffee together or seeing a movie together. Even if you’re not close by, some people find talking to another person on the phone is also more rewarding, and a simple way to bump up your Facebook friends to the next level.
4. Consider your favorite religion.
Whether you’re a member of a church, temple, parish or some other religious group, most religions share one thing in common — a sense of building their own community and strengthening internal ties to one another. Some churches seem to operate more as one large extended family than anything, while in other churches you may feel like nobody seems to even socialize with one another outside of service. But they all likely have social groups or other kinds of volunteer groups that you can join, meet other like-minded individuals, and maybe make a new friend or two.
5. Learn something new.
There’s no quicker way to meet new people than to show up in a group of people who are all new to the same thing! For instance, learning any new skill (even if it means take a short class on it at the local community college) usually means you’ll be hooked up with others who are also learning it at the same time. Can it be scary or intimidating? Sure, you bet. But you’re sharing the experience with other strangers, and that’s a sure recipe for bringing people closer together.
6. Enjoy something you already do.
If you already rock in rock climbing or can knit yourself an entire winter wardrobe, maybe you’re just doing it wrong — alone. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your favorite hobby in solitude. But if you want to meet new people and perhaps make a new friend, you can also use your expertise in that hobby as a stepping stone toward your friendship goal. Go on a rock climbing adventure with others, or join a knitting club and add socializing to your hobby repertoire.
7. Volunteer some more.
Yes, I know Therese covered this one, but I’m going to say it again because I can’t emphasize it enough. People who volunteer their time already share something in common with other volunteers — they’re giving people who want to help others in some small way. There are so many organizations to volunteer with — from your local historical society to a nearby town’s food bank — you really have your pick of choices. Even if you do it just once a month, you’re likely to meet a wealth of new people, and a possible friend who shares your enjoyment of giving back to others.
8. Make someplace local your favorite place to hang out.
Whether it be a coffeehouse, a bar, or a bookstore, sometimes familiarity has a way of rewarding us with new friends. While I don’t recommend spending hours at a time just doing nothing, you may be surprised that people will start to recognize you after just hanging out at the same place for a few days or weeks in a row. And if others aren’t reaching out? Start to reach out to them, getting to know the people who work there first, and then extending that out to other people you recognize week after week. Sure, you may never become “Norm!” from Cheers (which is probably a good thing), but you can have the modern equivalent of it.
9. Grow your own food or share your gourmet talents with others.
You’d be amazed at how quickly you can make new friends through food. Whether it’s through growing your own vegetable garden (with plenty to spare to share), or just enjoying cooking something delicious, sharing that food with others (co-workers, neighbors, etc.) may lead to surprising offers of socialization and meeting new people. It seems that everyone can appreciate someone who knows how to cook!
10. Use your kids.
Virtually every single parent knows this trick — use your kids to help perk up your own social life. Whether it be through your local parent-teacher association, or just hanging out at the local playground, your children can easily open the door to meeting other parents and adults whom you know you have at least one thing in common (kids!). This is one of the reasons a lot of childless couples feel left out in a neighborhood — everyone else’s social life revolves around their children. So use that knowledge to your advantage.
Once we get out of school, what seems to come second-nature for some of us — making friends — becomes a lot more difficult. While most of us can make friends at work, we’re often left feeling like a lot of those friendships aren’t as strong or as close as ones we made earlier in our lives. Perhaps that’s a problem with perception, more than anything else. I hope these additional tips might give you some more ideas about making new friends in your life.