Today we’re going to look at the basic principle of making new friends and meeting new people.
I didn’t realize how much of a problem this was for people until I first went to university. I’d had the same friends ever since I was a young child; we went to primary and high school together.
And then I went to university, where I literally knew no one there and all of a sudden I was faced with this bizarre dilemma: I don’t know how to make friends as an adult!
This caused me so much anxiety that any chance I had in the early stages of university to actually make new friends was ruined by my constant worry about how to do it. I spent the entire three years of university quite lonely because of this inexplicable lack of ability to make friends.
I want to start by saying how normal this is. We’re not taught how to do it; it’s assumed that you’ll just magically know somehow. Your parents don’t teach you; your friends are usually just people you sat next to in school, or people that you work with, and everybody’s not talking about this big secret that nobody really knows how it’s done.
OK, obviously there are some people who do know how to create new friendships, but many of us don’t and we struggle, especially if we have to move to a new city, or we move to a new job, or we just don’t like the people that we’re associating with and we want a higher quality social circle.
Today I’m just going to give you a broad approach to help you go out there and make new friends almost effortlessly.
Step 1 – Mindset: Let Go of Neediness
The biggest problem I see with the social confidence coaching I do is that most people are either trying too hard or they’re not trying at all.
Many fluctuate between these two extremes. People either go out desperately hoping to make a friend or find a partner, or they give up completely and stay at home playing video games. Neither of these approaches works very well.
You might think that you’ve put a lot of effort into trying to make friends but there’s a good chance you have missed a key element that would have ruined that attempt for you. And that key element is neediness: your biggest enemy to social connections.
When it comes to making friends, ironically it’s trying hard – desperately trying to fill a space in your life with people – that ruins everything, and you won’t even be able to see this effect.
When you have this mindset, people can feel it and it’s off-putting for them. It also puts you under a lot of pressure. It overwhelms you with stress and makes socializing unpleasant for you. It makes finding friends a chore, which of course is going to demotivate you until eventually you give up.
You might think that people just don’t like you, but in my experience I’ve had clients who are strongly autistic and clients with social anxiety, Personality Disorders, and other states of mind that make socializing very difficult, yet under my guidance all of them have been totally capable of making friends.
It’s not really about you personally – humans really can connect quite easily – it’s all just about the repulsive reaction people have to neediness (especially confident healthy people).
The solution to neediness is to change your focus.
Instead of trying to make friends and focus on bringing people into your life, you can shift your intentions towards trying to create a fun and enjoyable lifestyle for yourself.
Your primary intention should be to enjoy what you’re doing, while the secondary intention is to make friends. For most people who are trying too hard, their primary intention is to make friends and that creates so much neediness (which they can’t see), and it’s just repulsive to people. People can sense that you’re trying to get something from them. They can feel it and they run away from it.
But if your primary intention is to have a good time – if you learn how to have a good time by yourself just doing an activity, no matter how people feel about you – all that repulsion they were feeling goes away. Now it’s easy to be your friend, it’s easy to meet you and talk to you without feeling pressure or feeling like they have to take care of you.
Let’s look at how to apply this practically, in real life situations.
Step 2 – Lifestyle: Create a Social Version of Your Passion
The practical application of this is simply to do what you love while making it as social as possible. You want to give yourself the opportunity to meet people but still primarily be doing it because it’s something you love.
Hobbies, classes, trips, events, visiting venues – do fun things with a primary intention to enjoy the thing you’re doing (i.e. nobody else has to like you it’s not dependent on approval from anybody else). You must be able to go home afterwards without any new friends and still feel it was worthwhile to do.
Of course, if you do these things alone there’s no opportunity to make new friends. Sure, you can read books, you can play video games, you can workout at home, you can go hiking by yourself etc., but if you also want to make friends and you don’t want to sabotage your social life, all you have to do is combine what you love with socializing.
Make sure that you’re doing the most social version of what you love. Instead of working out at home, join a fitness bootcamp. Instead of reading a book by yourself, join a book club. Instead of cooking alone, go to a cooking class.
Now you’ll be surrounded by people who could be a great fit for you, because they’re also into the same passions as you – the likelihood that you could be a good match is way higher than some stranger at a random meetup or a friend of a friend. These are people who are into your stuff, they’re doing the same thing you do love to do, so it’s an easy conversation to start.
Which brings us to the final point..
Step 3 – Leadership: Initiate Conversations
While you’re there you need to start learning how to initiate a conversation.
The great thing about doing activities you love is that starting conversations is easy. You’ve both got a topic readily available that’s familiar and easy to comment on.
If this is not something you’re comfortable or familiar with, check out my BROJO Course on Initiating Conversations with Strangers.
I’ve got a whole practical step-by-step process where you can build up courage through experience meeting new people. You can apply this while doing what you love to do. I’ll show you how to start a conversation at that cooking class or hiking meetup, without being fake or using lines and scripts.
Once you’ve got that down, you can start just being yourself and building connections in a natural way. Of course, if you also find this part difficult (which is more common than you might think), I can help, just email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Putting It All Together
So those are the three main ingredients to creating new friends.
First is the mindset of you doing it for yourself, just having fun with a secondary intention to meet friends. Second is doing what you love as socially as possible. Third is initiating interactions when you’re there, as an additional extra thing to do (but making sure you do it at least once).
I learned this little process actually by mistake: I set up this lifestyle because I’d basically given up on meeting people and I just wanted to focus on me. Ironically that led me into dancing salsa and zouk (i.e. doing what I love for fun while also being social). This brought me into a whole new community of people, many of whom are now my friends.
So just get out there, fill your calendar doing what you love, and then start conversations casually when you’re there.
That’s the simple formula nobody taught you at school.