The Road to New Friendships
“If you have two friends in your lifetime, you’re lucky. If you have one good friend, you’re more than lucky.” Or so the saying goes. But friends drift apart, move away or tie the knot.
It happens to all of us.
Your go-to guy or girlfriend, the one who defends you when the whole world seems out to get you or runs an intervention by dragging you out each time you lock yourself into solitary confinement, is no longer your trusted confidant or partner in crime. And when it happens, the loss (or fade away) of a true friend can be one of the most difficult events in a single person’s social life.
Many singles are in the market to meet new friends but don’t know where to get started, don’t invest the time or feel too ashamed to admit how they are feeling. But finding new friends is a lot like dating. It only takes one, the right one, to change your life. In order to find the perfect match you have to keep “putting yourself out there.”
When life transitions such as a relocation, separation or shift in a relationship requires you to find your way back into the social scene, here are a few things you can do to grow your circle of friends.
1. Count Your Yeses: Many individuals condition themselves to say no to social invitations and other potentially exciting propositions. In order to get connected, it is helpful to become amenable to experiences beyond your routine. The lesson here? Practice using words like “sure,” “okay” and “why not,” instead of automatically reacting negatively.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Talk to Strangers: As children our parents taught us never to talk to strangers. This life lesson in safety does not translate well as we get older. Remember, some of the best and most interesting connections are made when happenstance conversations are initiated.
3. Don’t Discriminate: When it comes to the chemistry of friendship, there are no set rules of attraction. Don’t shy away from people who are older or judge them on outward appearances. Approaching each new person without pre-conceived opinions will open many doors.
4. Forgo the Happy Hermit: If take-out and HBO are a nightly activity, then it’s time to start using that Tivo. Don’t let venturing out solo give you angst – chances are you will not be alone for long. People are fascinated with others who have the courage, confidence and desire to be alone and will likely strike up a conversation. So find a local dining spot to call your own, sign up for that language course you’ve been meaning to take or simply head to the local bookstore for some literary browsing.
5. Crack the Habit: Does your life seem like the movie Ground Hog Day? One of the best ways to break the monotony of single living is by changing your routine. Instead of the isolating car ride, try commuting by bus, subway or train where each ride is a social adventure. Swap out the tiresome treadmill for a group spin class or surf the net at an Internet cafe rather than in the confines of your living room.
The most important thing to remember is that the road to new friendships is not a virtual one. If you step away from the Facebook page and take your search for new friends offline, you’ll be surprised how quickly your world will change.