“I Can’t Make Friends”: Tips To Overcome Common Social Issues
By: Dylan Buckley
Updated May 27, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Maria Abada, LPC
Making new friends is vital to maintaining your mental health, but connecting with others can be more difficult as you continue to get older. In fact, there are a number of reasons why people have trouble making new friends. For some, the main issue is finding people that they connect with. Many of us lead busy lives that make it harder to go out and meet new people. For others, the problem may lie in one's ability to understand and respond to social cues. If you have trouble with your self-image and confidence, this can be another major factor in your social woes.
No matter the reason for your struggle, the good news is that it is never too late to learn how to turn your social life around. Anyone can make friends! There are plenty of people out there who would be excited to be around you and to have your friendship in return. If you constantly think to yourself, "I can't make friends," here are some tips on overcoming common social issues and building a strong network of amazing friends!
Cultivating More Opportunities To Meet People
Our social skills can become rusty over time, especially when we are not interacting with as many people as we would like. This can happen for many reasons. Perhaps you are someone who works remotely and spends a lot of time at home. Maybe you are someone who has such a packed schedule that entertaining a social life is nearly impossible. Regardless of your circumstances, this can often be one of the biggest obstacles to making new friends as an adult. Fortunately, this is also one of the easiest issues to fix! Let's take a look at how you can make those friends that you want.
- Pull From The People That You To Know
The chances are that you do see some people regularly around your workplace or in the many places that you visit throughout the week, perhaps at your workplace, place of worship, gym, etc. While these individuals may only be acquaintances at the moment, this can quickly change if you are already comfortable with the other person and vice-versa. Please take the next greeting as an opportunity to open up the conversation and learn more about them. Build up your relationship until you think it is appropriate to ask them if they want to do something with you. Keep in mind that not everyone will be interested, but there are plenty of other people out there who are looking to expand their friend group as well.
- Find Local Activities That You Could Join
We all have hobbies or interests that we wish we could pursue more. The good news is that pursuing your interests could also be a great way to meet friends if you are doing it in a group setting. For example, taking group training classes at your local gym, joining a dance group at a studio, or even becoming part of a book club gives you the ability to connect with like-minded individuals who could easily become your friends. Getting out there is the best way to meet people. If you do not already pursue interests outside of work, take some time to consider what you would like to do and how you can do it with a group.
Volunteering in your community is yet another great way to meet people. No matter where you choose to volunteer, chances are that your organization's people have excellent people skills and are always open to forming new relationships with their fellow volunteers. This can also be an easier way to meet people as you are working in a tight-knit community regularly. If you do not volunteer your time but are interested in doing so, take a moment to look for opportunities near you that you could commit to.
- Join Organized Events And Groups
The internet is one of the most valuable tools in your friend's search. There is no shortage of organized groups and events that you can sign up for and attend in this day and age. For example, some websites allow you to look for groups in your area that share your same interests, reach out to their leader, and then join them at their desired meeting spot. If you are looking for business friends and relationships, there is also an abundance of business workshops and networking events that can help you meet people. Joining an organized event or group can lead to plenty of new friends in time.
- Start Your Group
If there isn't much going on in your area, the good news is that you can always be the first to take the initiative. Starting a group is as easy as finding an online platform to reach your audience and get people interested. If you are looking for a more traditional way to do it, you can print flyers and find spots in your area where you can get the word out. You can also reach out to the people you currently know to get the group started. Remember, when there is a lack of something, there is an opportunity to create it for others.
Improving Your Social Skills
People are everywhere, but not everyone is equipped with the right skills to approach people and form relationships. There are plenty of people who struggle with their social skills and need assistance in developing these interpersonal tactics. If you can relate to the above, here are some ways that you can build yourself up so that you are ready when you meet people you want to form friendships with them.
- Practice Your Small Talk And Openings
In a way, making new friends is a lot like a double-dutch jump rope. When you can find the right time to jump into a conversation and can keep up your momentum, you won't trip up when you start speaking to someone. That said, it can be hard to figure out when it is appropriate to start a conversation with someone, and it can be harder to figure out what to say once you finally have their attention. If you see someone regularly, don't be afraid to greet them and ask them how their day was. Once you have them there, start asking them about something going on in their lives or something you know they can relate to. People generally like to talk about themselves and enjoy the attention they get. Being a good listener is also one of the more important social skills to develop over time. Make sure to practice some of these skills, and you are sure to get your foot in the door.
- Become More Approachable
Our body language says a lot about us. If you are someone who unintentionally has a sour face, slouches a lot, or shrinks up when they are in public, you may be unconsciously telling people that you are not looking to engage socially. If this is the case, the chances are that you have been preventing many potential friendships before they were allowed to begin. However, this can be changed. Take note of your current body language, replace these habits with smiling more, stand straighter, and have more of a presence wherever you are. When people see that you are friendly and easy to approach, they are more willing to take the chance.
- Be Helpful, Open, And Positive
People love positivity, and they notice those around them who are actively helping others (even in the smallest of ways) and encouraging them with positivity. Most importantly, as was stated above, being receptive to what they have to say and engaging with them will give you a major advantage in the social landscape. No matter where you are, try to be a helpful listener to the people around you. This will get their attention and make it easier to form friendships or make the first move.
- Become A Leader And Take Initiative
A lot of socially shy people may expect others to form friendships with them or for them to coordinate social gatherings. While you will find some people who do this, the chances are that you will need to become that person first. If you are looking for more friends, become the person who invites others to go places and start friendships. Be the leader to those around you. They will be more willing to interact with you regularly if they are not the only ones trying to maintain friendships.
- Always Be Yourself
One big problem that many of us may encounter when trying to make friends is that we may change ourselves to gain friendship. While this can be helpful at first, you can't hide who you are with your friends. Your true self will eventually be revealed, and this may cause damage to the relationship that you have built with another person. No matter who you have come across in your quest for new friends, you should never try to be someone you are not. Real friends will always accept you for who you are and support you all the way.
Why Make Friends?
Do you fall into any of the situations listed above? Have you gotten to a point in your life where you think, who needs friends? Many people have let socialization fall to the wayside as they develop other aspects of their lives. However, they are missing out on a key component of their mental and physical health.
Humans are naturally social creatures. From our family to our peers, we thrive when we connect with others, and it shows. Making new friends improves our physical health by boosting our immune system, extends our lifespan (compared to those who live their lives in isolation), and fights off symptoms of depression while simultaneously improving feelings of general well-being. Besides these many benefits, having a friend who can be there for you is simply a great feeling that is hard to replace with any other activity! If you are ever questioning the need to have people in your life, remember that friends can greatly improve your life experience!
Receiving Help For Your Self-Image Issues Or Social Disorders
Some people have a difficult time speaking with others. More often than not, these intense fears are associated with how we perceive ourselves and anticipate others perceiving us. Those who do not have these types of fears may be able to implement the above tips into their lives with ease, while those who can't seem to take the first step feel left behind. If you have issues with social anxiety or with any other mental health disorder that makes it extremely hard to speak with others, the most important step that you can take is to reach out for the help of a counselor who can help you treat the root of your current problem and cope with your disorder. With time and practice, you will feel more confident in who you are and will be able to deal with the symptoms as they come. Everyone in the world deserves friendship, and you are no exception!
Much like it is easy to find new friends online, we now have the convenient option of connecting with counselors through this resource, as well. Online counseling gives you the ability to find a counselor who works best for you without having to go through the process of traveling to every available therapist near you or trying to move around your schedule to make it possible to see them. Online counseling can help individuals struggling with social anxiety since it can be done remotely and can offer several communication modalities. ReGain is a relationship-based, online counseling resource that connects you with certified therapists who will provide you with the guidance and advice you need. Just click on the link above, answer a few questions, and begin your counseling journey today!
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