A wise Patrick Lindsay wrote that “Every new friend is a new adventure… The start of more memories”. New friends truly do bring a whole array of colour and interest to your life, if you are brave enough to let it. Sometimes making new friends can be hard. Sometimes you might think that braving the unknown, a person who you know nothing about and may want nothing to do with you, might be too terrifying to face. Sometimes you might want to jump in because you think that making friends is like breathing – natural and almost automatic. I fall into the former category and have always found it somewhat challenging to make new friends. Yes, I happen to be an amicable person (always smiling and giggling – not the evil, terrify children with one look type) but I am also a creature of habit, and I often find it quite hard to open up and develop new friendships. Now, however, I have gotten a lot better at it. My nerves didn’t suddenly disappear when I first met these people, but I have learnt a few things this last year that has allowed me to control those nerves. Here are those tips (whether you are a social butterfly or a lonely bookworm) for making new friends …
It’s okay to be scared
This is the first and most important tip that I learnt. With anything in life, it is okay for you to be scared. Nerves don’t mean that you aren’t brave enough to face something – they show that you care about the outcome of the upcoming situation. So yes, it is crucial that you don’t let your nerves overpower you because that is not going to help you move forward, but accepting the fact that you are scared will actually make the moving forward process easier. Try figure out why you might be afraid, and if you receive it rather than suppress it, you may find that you aren’t even that scared anymore.
Honesty is the best policy. Always. No good relationship is built around lies and deceit so why start your friendship in this way? Lies are also challenging to maintain – soon you might slip up, and then your entire story is falling apart, and you are tangled in a web of lies with no one to help you out. The trick is just to be honest from the very beginning. If you don’t like the same thing as your new friend, be open about it. This way, your friendship will form around real things, and it will last much longer than one that was built around lies.
Stay true to yourself
This can be quite a hard one, especially if we aren’t entirely sure who we are yet (we’ve all been there, and might still be there, so there is no shame in it at all!). The fact of the matter though is that if your friend doesn’t like you for you, no matter who that is and what it includes, then they honestly do not deserve you. Sometimes we are so desperate to be accepted by a group that we may change to be part of that group because all we want is to fit in. This is not a real friendship. If you are the kind of person who loves all things Disney, Marvel and Harry Potter (like myself), then stay true to that and you will find that the right friends will love and support you for that. With real friends, you will never need to sacrifice a part of yourself to be part of the group – remember that.
Share your interests
Most friendships are built around common interests so if you are trying to make new friends then ask them about what they like and see if you share the same interests. More often than not you will find that you have at least one commonality. Talk about music, or your favourite films, what pets you have or what books you read. The list goes on and on, but I can promise you that you will have at least one thing in common and there is a starting point for the next conversation. Before you know it, you will have a lifelong friend just because you realised that you like the same heavy metal band, and things just went from there.
Having expectations and being closed minded is like poison. It will never get you anywhere when it comes to making friends. Everyone is different, and you need to be open to where they are coming from and accept that. If you have expectations about how things should turn out, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment if that doesn’t happen. The best thing to do is be ready and open to anything – that way, you will be able to adapt to the people you meet, but they will also feel more invited to get to know you because you are being open and welcoming to who they are and what you have to offer.
Listen – don’t just talk
Like with anything else in life, you sometimes have to give as well as take. You can’t just talk the whole time and expect the other person to be okay with that. Listening is a crucial part of friendship and in making friends because it not only shows that you care about what the other person has to say, but it also allows you to digest what you are being told and see where you two might be similar and different. Next time you are talking to someone new, try taking a beat to listen to what they are telling you. You never know – they might be saying something exciting, they might be telling you that you have common interests, but it will also show them that you care about what they are telling you.
Here is a question for you – would you rather talk to someone who looks like a thundercloud or someone who is smiling and looking happy? I’ll bet that you went with the latter. This is because smiles not only make the wearer happier (smiles are scientifically proven to relax the body and lower blood pressure, heart rate and stress), but smiles are actually contagious. If you look at someone who is smiling, your brain will automatically mimic that expression, and you will find yourself smiling back, so the simple act of smiling at someone will allow you both to feel good. It is also a lot easier to make friends when you feel good so smile at people – it’s worth the effort.
This is another crucial one that I have learnt from watching others, and while it is often overlooked, this can sometimes make or break a new friendship. Everyone is different. Even if we grow up in the same city, we can still have different upbringings, different beliefs and different ideas. It is vital that we always respect these differences because it can sometimes be very easy to be rude or disrespectful unintentionally. The easy way to get around this is to ask – usually people are not against answering your questions and won’t be offended by something you say or ask if they know that you are doing it with good intentions. The trick is just to be open about the fact that you are not trying to be rude, and you just want to learn.
This is a big one! How often have you been so keen to meet up with someone, only to find that you never do because they don’t ever message? Don’t be that guy. If you are genuinely interested in being friends with this person, then show them that you are willing to put in the time and effort to make the friendship work. Ask them out for lunch, see a movie or go and get a coffee together. Whatever it is, make an effort to spend time with each other, as that is how friendships grow and stay strong. This is, however, a two-way street. This person should be doing the same thing, as it is not fair for you to be putting in all the time when all they do is show up for a free beverage. Trust yourself and what your gut is telling you – and have that coffee.
Again, this is one that I repeat quite a bit, and I know that it may seem a bit hypocritical (since I am quite a big stress bunny and find it hard to relax even when I know that I should), but it is true. Making new friends may be challenging, but it is definitely a lot easier than writing exams or going to the moon, so just relax. Take a deep breath and remember that you are fantastic just the way you are. The right friends will accept you with open arms.
On the whole, there are many ways to make new friends. There are also many different kinds of friends to make. There are friends to laugh with, friends who love the same things as us, friends who we can work with and friends who just get us. No matter what, there are so many ways to make these different kinds of friends, all you need to do is take the plunge. Hopefully, these tips make it easier for those of you, like myself, who find it hard to meet new people, but as always, you can take the advice or leave it. It is all about what suits you. I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please remember to follow the blog if you haven’t already, like this post and share with your friends (the old ones and the new ones you are about to make). P.S. A huge thanks to my new friends who helped with the content for this blog – I love you guys. Happy friend-making
Lots of Love
Blondey on a Mission xxx