Simple Tips to Make New Friends

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More and more people are reporting smaller social networks, isolation is on the rise, and ongoing research demonstrates the many health risks of loneliness. Strong social connections are crucial, and if you find yourself without enough friends to count on, it is time to make new ones. Anna Miller, in an article on loneliness, offers five practical ways to make more friends. 

1. Make yourself familiar

Any introduction to psychology textbook will speak to the phenomenon that people like what they find familiar. If you feel shy about meeting new people, it will become easier when they are not so new anymore. By sticking to a routine in your life when it comes to social surroundings, for example, going to the same class at your gym every week, "strangers" will no longer seem strange to you, and you will become more familiar to them. It then will not be so hard to meet new people, because they will be old and familiar.

2. Open up

Vulnerability breeds closeness. When you have deeper and more intimate conversations with people, you will form stronger ties. Of course, it does not make sense to share your deepest secret with the stranger in line with you at the post office, but once you start to trust someone and get to know them, take a risk and share a secret. You will likely begin to enjoy a budding friendship.

3. Mind your thoughts

Loneliness registers as a threat to one's well-being and safety. If you feel lonely, you may be likely to see every social interaction as a confirmation of your isolation. As a result, you may seem anxious, negative and unfriendly, and this perceived loneliness may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The message here is to be wary of your negative thoughts and your negative interpretation of social situations. Leading researcher Dr. John Cacioppo found that people challenging their own negative thoughts were more effective in reducing loneliness than social skills training or other interventions. 

4. Be careful of the internet

If you are someone who already has a strong social network, the internet, and social media may actually support the health of your relationships. If, however, you are struggling with loneliness, social media sites like Facebook can make your loneliness worse. While supplementing your friendships outside the internet with technology may be good for them, if your only friendships are virtual, you may want to spend some time meeting people in person.

5. Do what feels right

Cacioppo has found that loneliness is most damaging when people really feel the effects of it. If you find yourself with limited friendships but are not starving for more, there is no need to push the issue.

Do what makes you happy. Even though we are a social species, everyone has different needs for social connection.


Miller, A. (2014). Friends wanted: New research by psychologists uncovers the health risks of loneliness and the benefits of strong connections. Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, 45(1), 54-58.

Winerman, L. (2013) What draws us to Facebook: Psychologists and communication researchers are studying how Facebook so successfully lures us in. Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, 44(3).

Wrzus, C; Hänel, M; Wagner, J; Neyer, F.Z. (2013) Social network changes and life events across the life span: A meta-analysis, Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 139(1), 53-80.  

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