Making new friends is something I have struggled with before and something I believe many other teens struggle with as well. Going through the steps of making new friends can be intimidating and scary to some, which is understandable because you want new people to like you and befriend you as you would them. The first step is always the hardest, but as time goes on, you can turn a couple of strangers into loyal and loving friends.
We all need a healthy circle of supportive people. As humans, we are designed for social interaction. It is the love and connection we have with others that makes us feel the most alive. Friendships are important so that we can feel loved, safe, and seen. It is truly a magical feeling to be with the right people, so here are some strategies to help you befriend those people.
The First Step
The first step is finding people you are interested in pursuing. Who catches your eye? Do you know anyone that is kind? If you know a few people that you want to grow closer with, you've got a head start. If you don't know anyone, it's good to observe the people around you first. There are truly no rules when making friends, so if you feel inclined to, walk up to someone you don't know at school and strike up a conversation with them.
Some good conversation starters include talking about sports, TV shows, nature, hobbies, fashion, art, travel, and other relatable topics. Whoever you hope to be friends with, think of a topic and go talk to them. It can even be as simple as asking them how their day was.
Over text, this will look a little different. Perhaps if you follow them on social media, you can comment on a post or swipe up on their snapchat story if you already vaguely know them. Maybe they're an acquaintance you'd like to get to know more.
What are you supposed to do now that you've talked to that person? I know it can be a little confusing and scary. You might have to go up and talk to them again, and it can be vulnerable having them know you enjoy their company. If you really want a great friend, you'll have to risk being open to befriending them.
It might not be as intimidating if you know someone a little. So go up and talk to them or text them again! Let them know you care by doing so. It will make their day! Or if you felt good about your first interaction, wait for them to talk to you. Maybe they are really social and will do that sort of thing. Some people don't reciprocate right away though, so keep up the consistency.
Consistency is a huge part of friendship. I think it's one of the most important building blocks to creating a stable friendship because it keeps you up to date with that person and shows a mutual care for each other. If you show consistency with them, it will automatically make them a friend to you.
So You Say You're Friends?
Now that you've gained consistency, what other traits make up this friendship? As you've hung out with this person more and gotten to know them, you can now consider them a friend. Still, remember the two other factors that help build a stable friendship: positive impact and trust. Having a positive impact on someone will likely make them continue to want to be friends with you.
This will keep you two close, but something that may be stronger than this is finding similarities. Do both of you love playing basketball? Playing video games? Going on road trips? The same music? There are endless things where you can find common ground. This will enable the two of you to bond by doing things together which is a good basis for a new friendship.
Trust is another important element to a healthy friendship. It is a gateway to connecting with this person at the core and allows other sub-elements like feeling safe, heard, and wanted. It makes you and the other person feel important to each other when you can trust that they will not only keep your secrets safe, but will listen to you and stay loyal to your connection.
Beginning a friendship starts small, so you may not have all of these components right away and that's okay! Starting with consistency is enough to keep the ball rolling into something deeper or, if you want to keep it shallow, it can thrive off of surface-level conversations. These friends are what I like to call work or school friends. They're most likely people who do care about you and can make you laugh for hours on end.
What Kind of Friendship Do You Desire?
Now here's the catch: there are many different kinds of friendships you can make here. There are ones you will make that have a foundation based around quality time, while others will be more conversational. Some may be both. Some friendships might be based around doing one thing, while others will be a whole book load of things you guys do together.
It depends on what the other person wants too, which means making a compromise. I know I've had to do this before. I love doing things with my friends, but I am definitely the more conversational type, so we spend part of our time talking together, then we'll spend the other part of our time hanging out doing something we both enjoy.
Another thing to look out for is affection. Do you want an affectionate friend, or a playful friend? Maybe both! Some friends will say kind and loving words to others. Give each other things. Some will give lots of hugs and cuddles. Or are you looking for more of a playful friend who will tease you and give you something to laugh about? A mix of both can be great too.
It's tough to think about this while on the look out for a new friend. As the two of you get to know each other, you'll slowly find out what kind of people you are towards each other. You'll figure out what kind of friendship both of you want. This is part of creating the friendship. You may never know what you'll get until you try someone out.
So, have you made a friend yet with these tips? If not, you've spent enough time reading this, we're friends now! Making new friends can be scary and we can all relate to that, but I bet the people you desire to befriend would also love to be friends with someone like you. You'll never know unless you try!
Friendships aren't as simple as we stereotypically think and they take effort, but once you have found a good person to coincide with, life lifts a little. Having reliable friends is so important in life. As people, we want to connect with others who make us feel safe, heard, and loved. If you show that you are genuinely interested in befriending someone, they will likely pursue you too.
Trust yourself, and go make some awesome connections. I hope you have learned something from this and end up making new friends!