When I was in school, I was surrounded by people in the same stage of life, most with similar interests. It was almost hard not to make friends.
Now in my 30s, I’m a quiet person who doesn’t do many things outside of my home, my kid’s activities, and church. And trying to coordinate schedules with another busy mom to make a girls night happen? It requires synchronized schedules, cooperation from our families, and a fairy godmother.
And yet, I’ve managed to make lots of wonderful friends through the years, from best friends to more casual acquaintances. And I want to help you do the same! So here is exactly how I make friends, even when it doesn’t come naturally anymore.
1. Find People You Like
If you’re like most people, even if you work from home, you leave the house at least once every day or two. You go to work, church, your kids’ swim lessons, the gym, etc.
Have you noticed that you tend to see the same faces there every time you go? Do any of those people seem nice?
If you’re not leaving your home much, or not really digging the people you regularly run into, then you’ll need to do a little hunting. Check out your library, community center, or city website, to find hobby groups, like people that run, play basketball, crochet, or discuss books together. Hobby groups, or even one-time local activities, will ensure that you already have something in common with the people there!
If you’re a Christian, seek out “small groups” at your church. The entire premise of a small group is to build a sense of community between participants. So you’re already starting out surrounded by people that want to build relationships, just like you.
Another way to meet like-minded people is to volunteer for a cause dear to your heart. Spend a few hours bagging up groceries at a food bank, or washing dogs at your local animal shelter, and you’ll find yourself surrounded by others with the same values.
2. Strike Up a Conversation
Here’s where it gets scary for a lot of us. If you want to make friends, you have to open your mouth.
But don’t worry! I won’t leave you hanging. You have a lot of different options for striking up some small talk:
- Compliment them. Their hair, their coat, their shoes, just pick something that you genuinely like and give a compliment.
- Comment on your surroundings. “I’m so tired of this heat!” “These crickets have it out for me!” (Okay, so the crickets one might only work here in San Antonio, where crickets gather The Birds-style in parking lots each fall.)
- Ask for help. When I’m in a store and trying to decide between two different shirts, or wondering if a top matches my pants, I may enlist the help of a fellow customer. Most people are happy to give advice, since the fact you asked them shows that you believe they’re fashionable, smart, etc.
After they respond, try to follow up with a related question.
Where did you find your coat?
Are you originally from Hades, ahem, San Antonio?
Do you shop here often? I love their sales!
As your conversation comes to a close, be sure to introduce yourself. “I’m Deb, by the way! It’s nice to meet you!”
3. Take It to the Next Level
Whether you take it immediately or at a later date, the next step is crucial. You have to ask for their phone number or invite them to do something together, whichever seems more appropriate given your interaction. The most natural invitations will take cues from your conversation.
If someone at church mentions they’re watching football later that day, there’s your cue! You could tell them you love having friends over for games, then ask for their phone number to invite them to the next get-together.
Did your neighbor in yoga class mention she wanted to try a new coffee shop? There’s a cue! You’ve been eyeing that shop too! Want to check it out Saturday morning?
If you haven’t found common ground, extend an invitation to a meal. Because everyone needs to eat, right?
You can invite them to a one-on-one hangout, or a group event, whichever feels more comfortable. I personally prefer group events, even if it’s as simple as having a few people over to watch a game. It takes the pressure off of me and my new friend, and helps to create a more relaxed atmosphere.
And don’t forget texting as a relationship tool! Once you have their phone number, reach out occasionally to keep building your connection. You could start by sharing a funny meme, or something interesting you learned you thought they might like to know too (maybe a new local event?).
Finally, Not Everyone Will Be “Your People”, and That’s Okay
Your new friend might not return your texts, enjoy their time at your football party, or even have time for a new friendship. And that’s totally okay! You want to find “your people”, and not everyone is going to go together like peas and carrots, Forrest.
So don’t take it to heart, or believe for one second that it reflects on you as a person. You just weren’t a great fit for one another.
Wrap It Up
You can make friends, even if it doesn’t come naturally to you! You just have to find people you like, strike up a conversation, and then take it to the next level. And don’t take it personally if it doesn’t work out. On to the next friend!
Yes, it can feel scary and overwhelming when you set out to make friends. But once you make friends, you can stop moving through these steps and just enjoy your friendships. So come on, fellow introverts, let’s get this party started!
P.S. Want to make some positive lifestyle changes this year? Then download our handy dandy worksheet, How to Create a Habit, for free! Get it here!
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