Friendship is the gift that keeps on giving, which is why it can feel so utterly demoralizing when it is not forthcoming. If you have no one you can call a true friend, the loneliness can be hard to bear, but there are things you can do to remedy the situation.
Whether you feel like you have no friends at all, or just no friends at school, in college, or at work, you should not let yourself believe that you are unlikable. You just have to examine the possible reasons why you haven’t yet befriended anyone, and seek to address them.
The first step is to look inwards at your own life.
Are You Blocking New Friendships?
If you’re reading this article, chances are you quite often feel lonely. So it might seem strange to ask whether you are actually preventing new friendships from forming. You want more friends, so why the hell would you be getting in your own way?
Well, the answer is that you might not even realize that you are doing it.
The mind is a complex beast and many of the things we do come from a place far below that of consciousness. We do them automatically, without thinking, and without considering how they might be affecting our lives.
These behaviors, which are hidden from you, normally form because of some unresolved personal issues. You don’t need to have experienced major emotional or physical trauma or abuse to hold some deep hurt within your unconscious mind. Seemingly unimportant events from your past can affect your present mindset and cause you to put up barriers to friendship.
Perhaps you were raised in an environment that encouraged independence and self-preservation which now means you don’t feel able to rely on other people for anything – including friendship or fun.
Maybe you have been let down by people in the past and you are trying desperately to prevent that same feeling of hurt from happening again. You fear betrayal and disappointment, so you keep people at arm’s length in order to avoid such real risks.
Do you simply feel unworthy of the friendship of others because you suffered from bullying and harassment during your early years?
These are just three examples of how you might be putting up mental obstacles to forming meaningful friendships. The beliefs you hold and the thoughts they give rise to can make it difficult for other people to make friends with you. Ask yourself if this might be the case in your life.
Have You Been Giving People The Wrong Message?
People are usually quite open to making new friends, but they have to feel that the other person wants to be their friend too. They assess the situation by reading the signs before choosing whether or not to try and forge a connection with that person.
So, you need to be asking yourself whether you are giving off the wrong signals to those around you who might be potential friends.
Do you shun invitations to social events? Have you done so in the past? If so, you have to realize that people will soon stop asking if you keep rejecting them. They will just assume that you are either not interested or that you have better things to do.
Then there’s your body language and the influence it can have on other people. If you appear closed off with arms crossed and head down, it doesn’t fill people with confidence about coming and talking to you. If you look like you don’t want to engage, they will steer clear to avoid a socially awkward interaction or potential rejection; after all, they are human beings too.
When someone does speak to you, how do you respond? People like conversations that flow naturally and that don’t feel forced. If you give blunt replies and neglect to make any attempt at prolonging the discussion, the silences will soon have them saying their goodbyes.
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Social Skills Are Learned And Need To Be Practiced
Once you have figured out how you might be standing in the way of new friendships, you have to address the issues you have uncovered.
As with any skill, you have to take steps to learn the basics of socializing and then practice every day to become better at it. You can start as small as you like, even as little as saying hello to a familiar face once a day, but the more often you try, the faster you’ll see results.
You should choose activities that address the particular areas you highlighted in step one. So if your independence is getting in the way of potential friendships, you should try asking for help as often as possible; start off with tiny things and build up from there.
If you normally decline the offer of a quick after-work drink, why not ask if you can tag along next time your colleagues head off to the bar. You only have to stay for one drink before leaving, but you’ll get to know them so much better in a social situation that you ever will in the work environment.
If conversations don’t come easily to you, perhaps memorize a short list of cues that you can use if the dialogue dries up. Make them generic topics like what someone did at the weekend or what their plans are for the next holiday in the calendar. Simple things like this can prolong a chat and build the first threads of a bond between you and another.
Handy Hints To Help You Find New Friends
There are a number of things you ought to take into consideration when trying to make new friends.
Numbers don’t matter.
When you have zero friends, the number that you are able to make doesn’t really matter. A single friend is better than none. So don’t worry about trying to form a connection with lots of different people at once; focus your efforts on a small number – perhaps just one or two – and then slowly work your way up from there.
Look beyond the barriers of age, race, class, and gender.
It can be easy to think that you are most likely to make friends with those who are of a similar age, social background, or gender, but the truth is that these things matter less than you think. What matters is shared interests, shared values, and compatible personalities. So don’t limit yourself when seeking new friends; go beyond the barriers that keep people apart and discover a whole world of potential companions.
Make friends online, but don’t let them be your only friends.
With millions of varied forums, Facebook groups, chat rooms, websites, and other places for online engagement, it is often easier to find like-minded people through this digital medium. This is not a bad thing by any means, and it can help you to practice your social skills in a safe environment, but don’t rely too heavily on friendships of this type.
Turn your passions into sources of new friends.
Shared interests are often good building blocks for a budding companionship, so why not take the activities you enjoy doing and turn them into a way to make new friends? Use services like meetup.com to find like-minded people/groups in your area and then join them to indulge in the things you all find fun. This tip is so simple, you’ll have a social life in no time.
Build a social circle by cross-introducing friends.
Once you have made one or two friends, you could help strengthen the bonds you have with them by introducing them to each other. If they enjoy your company, there is a reasonable chance that they will enjoy each other’s too. This is especially true if you all share interests or have similar temperaments. Do this successfully and you will have created a circle of friends which is more resilient and likely to last.
Aim for friendships that have a deeper connection.
There are different types of friendship and one key way in which they vary is in the level of intimacy present. Superficial friends are far easier to come by than those where you feel comfortable opening up and sharing your darkest thoughts. When you seek to make new friends, it can be tempting to opt for a more surface-level connection, one which carries fewer risks and is easier/quicker to form. The friendships that matter most, however, are those handful that stand the test of time and enhance your life in a major way.
Right now, as you’re reading this, it may seem to you as though you have no friends and no one likes you. Just remember that it doesn’t have to be this way. You have the power within you to forge new friendships and create a social network of people you hold dear. It takes time and determination to build those bonds of companionship, but once you have, the rewards are great.