I Can’t Make Friends: Tips To Overcome Common Social Issues

Updated April 5, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Making friends is important for maintaining mental health but connecting with others can be difficult, especially as we get older. In fact, there are a number of reasons why people have trouble making new online and real-life friendships. 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 their ability to understand and respond to social cues. No matter your situation, making new friends can sometimes be hard, but it is possible. Let’s look at some ways to help you overcome common social issues and connect with others. 

Making friends can be difficult

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, find time and ways to make connections can be a big obstacle to making new friends as an adult. Fortunately, this is also one of the easiest issues to fix. Let’s look at how you can make those friends that you want.

Pull from the people that you already know

Chances are that you do see some people regularly in the places that you visit throughout the week – perhaps through your workplace, place of worship, gym, etc. While these individuals may only be acquaintances at the moment, this can change if you are already comfortable with the other person and vice-versa. Make a strategic effort to make your next greeting as an opportunity to open 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

Think about hobbies or interests that you would like to pursue more. This 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 the church choir, 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 search for friends. There is no shortage of organized groups and events that you can sign up for and attend these days. 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 community 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 need assistance in developing stronger social skills and interpersonal tactics. If you can relate, 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.

Making friends can be difficult

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, standing 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, 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.

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, 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.

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.

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!

Getting help

Some people naturally have a harder time than others when it comes to making friends, and that’s ok. For example, some people have social anxiety disorder,  which is a common type of anxiety disorder that makes it difficult to interact with other people and can often negatively impact their work, school, and social life. 

If you have a hard time speaking with others, one of the most important steps that you can take is to reach out to a counselor.  Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a popular method of psychotherapy that has been found to help individuals with social anxiety. CBT helps you learn new ways of behaving, thinking, and responding to social situations, and also includes teaching new social skills. 

Internet-based CBT (iCBT) has been found to be just as effective as in-person therapy, which is particularly important for individuals with social anxiety. Online counseling with Regain gives you the ability to find a counselor who meets your needs without having to travel to an in-person therapist or shift your schedule to meet their availability. Online counseling can remotely help individuals experiencing social anxiety, and offers several communication modalities to make you more comfortable.


Making new friends is naturally more difficult for some people than others, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. No matter your circumstances, there are ways to connect with other individuals and build lasting friendships. Sometimes, though, you might need a little help.  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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