I’ve also tried to stay open to meeting new people outside my immediate social circle. Conveniently, one of the easiest ways to make new friends is through existing ones. Think about it. If I’ve already decided that my current friend is really cool, don’t you trust their taste in other people as well?
How do you go from meeting someone at a mutual friend’s party or in a rock climbing class or something to actually becoming friends with them?
Making new friends is so difficult because it takes one of the two people in the relationship to make “the first move.” In school, it can be easy to avoid this because you are regularly seeing other people in a setting that promotes interaction and communication. But, as an adult, not only is your social life irregular, but people also have friends from the past 20+ years of their life! For most people, there is no immediate need to befriend an acquaintance. Still, I’ve found myself self-conscious about rejection to send that first “hey, let’s hang out” message. This can spiral into an internal debate about whether this new person likes you. What I’ve realized, however, is (1) almost no one will say no to a new friend and fun activity, and (2) most likely, they don’t know you well enough to like or dislike you anyways. So, when I meet someone who I want to get to know better, instead of waiting for them to approach, it’s so much easier for me to make that move.
When I do initiate that first invitation, I like to engage with the friend in a 1-on-1 setting. I’ve found them to be a lot more meaningful than groups because you are can be focused on having those more personal conversations. As a student, the easiest is planning a “study date” – you both have to get work done anyways, so why not be in good company? I also tend to do a lot of cooking with friends – it is busy enough to avoid initial awkward silences but also offers a lot of time for natural conversation, while cooking or eating.
How do you find events to do with your different friends?
It’s so much easier for me to spend time with my friends than for my working friends. Since most of my friends are also medical students, it is as easy as a “study date,” with intermittent YouTube and meal breaks.
However, I definitely have different groups of friends for a variety of activities. For example, I have a group of friends that do weekly potlucks, a group that rock climbs, and a group that watches the Bachelor! At first, conversations might be limited to the activity at hand, but I’ve found that after a few times hanging out, friendships begin to develop beyond that single shared interest. These regular/weekly activities gave me a way to connect over a shared interest as well as a consistency in my social activities.
How do you know when a fledgling friendship isn’t working?
Maybe this is a given, but the most important part of a friendship is that there is effort on both sides. I’ve been talking a lot about the effort that I try to put forth in a relationship, and although it initially can feel one-sided, I ultimately expect the same effort and respect from the other person in the friendship. If a friend flakes a few times, I may be more hesitant to continue pursuing the relationship because I don’t feel the same dedication from the other person. In the same way, if the other person never offers their own ideas or events, I may question their investment in the friendship.
What’s the best way you’ve made a friend?
Someone once told me that the key to making friends (as an adult) is to engage in a weekly activity – maybe a book club, board game night, or workout sessions. At first, conversations might be limited to the activity at hand, but I’ve found that after a few times hanging out, friendships begin to develop beyond that single shared interest.