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How to make friends

Learn friendship making skills for adults

Perhaps you moved to a new city, took a job in an isolated location, sustained damage to your reputation, or just lack the social skills needed to build and sustain friendships as an adult. In today’s world, not everyone has a best friend for life. Even if they do, often times that best friend moves away, gets married, or otherwise becomes unavailable. 

Zero friends?

For adults with zero friends or not much of an existing social life, breaking into the social world and making real life friends may seem extremely difficult. 

A loner sees the social world as being already established without them. Constantly bombarded through Facebook with pictures of other people's friends, social circles, and party pictures, it seems that everyone else is already socially connected. This can be both depressing and discouraging for socially isolated adults looking to make new friends.

Loners are not necessarily all that "weird" 

Having taught adult social skills to thousands of men and women, one interesting observation about many of our users is that they don’t fit the stereotypical profile of “loners”. They don't break social norms or lack personal hygiene. They're regular, reasonably attractive employed adults or students who by most accounts seem normal. 

They aren't necessarily all that socially awkward either. Many are able to converse fairly well in one on one conversations with people. In some ways, their social skills appear to be within the realm of normal, but for one thing: they lack friends. 


nofriends
                    Loners aren't necessarily ugly, poor, or uneducated.

Many loners also have some people and acquaintances in their lives. The problem is that they are unable to turn these acquaintances into friends.

How do I make friends?

Making friends requires more than just “joining a club” 

The standard advice given to adults looking to make new friends is to simply “join a club”. This will get you around other people, but without giving off the correct impression, these individuals will remain mere acquaintances. It takes more than just appearing normal and being present for things to develop. You also must actively demonstrate through to comments, questions, and behavior that you are a social person who is available for friendship.

Unlike in childhood, friendships develop differently for adults. As a kid you may have formally asked someone “do you want to be my friend?”. For adults, this question more so resembles “what are you up to this weekend?” 


Building friendships requires you to reduce other people's fear of social rejection

It is normal for people to fear rejection. In fact, loners tend to fear rejection the most (though use dening that they care as a defence mechanism). If you want people to invite you places and hang around with you, it is imperative that you proactively signal to them that you will not reject them. 

Acquaintances want to invite people who they believe will accept their invitations and react positively to social invitations and interaction. If you show an interest in their social lives, it signals to them that you will not reject their invitations.

Specifically, you need to be consistently:
  1. Asking about what people's upcoming plans are on weekends, weeknights, etc.
  2. Inquiring about what other people did on past weekends (i.e. What were you up to Saturday?)
  3. Suggesting that you "get together sometime" with the person for a social engagement (no specific event or date is required - only mentioning it in a casual way.
Understand that the purpose of these comments and questions is not necessarily to secure a direct invitation. It is to indirectly signal that you are a social person who is interested and available for friendship. 

Note that #3 does not require you to actually invite someone to do anything specific. It is merely a tentative suggestion "get together sometime". By making these simple comments you are planting the seeds of a future relationship.

Friendship lacking adults tend to make the mistake of going about these things far too passively. You need to actively show a social interest so that other people feel comfortable inviting you places. When you do this, you reduce their fear or rejection and increase the chances of them seeing you as someone to befriend tremendously. 

Give off the impression that you already have a social life

If you're just starting out, you may not have much of a social life to begin with. This doesn't mean you should broadcast this information to the world. 

People like to be around other people they perceive to be social. It will thus work to your benefit to present yourself as someone who is not a complete loner. The best strategy is to proactively structure your comments in ways that give off the impression that you have people in your life (even if you don't at the moment).

When people inquire about your lifestyle and background, always answer in a way that shows you as socially connected. Instead of saying "I went to the mall", tell them say "we went to the mall". Don't volunteer that you did nothing on the weekend, say you "hung out with some friends" instead. These little lies go a long way in changing how people perceive you. 

You may be thinking "what if I get caught lying?". For the most part this will be a non-issue because you'll discover that it is extremely rare for people to question you specifically about exactly who your friends are or what you did. These types of "what were you up to" type conversations are mostly small talk, but they do leave an important impression as to whether you are a social person or not. 

Similar to demonstrating an interest in other people's social lives, here you are intentionally giving off an impression of being well liked and social. As a result, people are more apt to invite and form relationships with you because it they view you as being available and accepting of social interaction.

Show similar interests, values, and lifestyle

People feel most comfortable around those who they perceive to hold similar values, interests, and beliefs. They also tend to choose these individuals as their friends. If you want people to like and befriend you, it is to your benefit to listen very carefully to what people tell you about their interests, values, and lifestyles and then go out of your way to present yourself similarly. 

It is commonly suggested that you should avoid talking about religion or politics because people will form a dislike for you if you're values/views are inconsistent with theirs. This is absolutely true, but understand that it also applies to more trivial things as well (such as an interest in sports, arts, culture, food, etc.). With more trivial topics, it's not that other's will dislike you for having different interests, but the problem is they won't necessarily want to hang around with you either. 

Loners often make the mistake of presenting themselves too honestly in everyday social interactions. They needlessly point out differences of opinion and interests. Not only should you never point out or admit to differences, you should proactively promote yourself as being similar.


Example of how this all plays out in an actual conversation:

You're at work and someone tells you they went to a baseball game last weekend. While before you may have foolishly admitted that you never saw a game in your life, thinking proactively you reply with: 

"Right on. I wanted to go to that game but my buddy was having a   barbeque I had to go to instead". 

By responding this way, you are:
  1. Expressing a mutual interest in sports and baseball
  2. Signalling that you are a social person
  3. Indirectly indicating that you have friends and people in your life
Feeling a sense of camaraderie and similar interests, the other person replies jovially with: 

"you missed a good game man".

You've built some rapport now take the conversation further by suggesting you hang out with him sometime in a non-committal fashion: 

"we'll have to catch a game sometime". 

Now you've signalled to the individual that you're available for friendship and that you are unlikely to reject any future invitations.

Such non-committal/tentative plans are the seeds of adult friendships. Ideally, this is an individual you see on a somewhat regular basis (at work, school, events, etc.). You have completely the first step by successfully structuring his impression of the relationship as having the potential for friendship in the future.


When it comes to social interaction, little things such as this can make a huge difference. 

Social Skills Guide

   Adult Social Skills Training

Friendship Making

How to make friends
How to meet people
How to hang out with people

Loner Experiences

Facebook depressing
Everyone else is busy
Slow responses to texts
"I have no friends"
Indicators of social rejection
Depressed by old pictures
People don't initiate contact
Having no social circle
Fat people with no friends
Never invited places
Lonely people who stop trying
Dating: men vs. women

Identity and Backgrounds

Typical loner profiles
Hiding lack of a social life
How to spot a loner
Alcholism and isolation

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