How To Make A Group Of Friends
I've already written an article with a lot of more general advice about how to make friends. A more specific question I've gotten from a people is about how to make a group of friends. From what some people have told me, they don't have a lot of problems making individual friends, that they can do one-on-one things with, but they also want a group of buddies to hang out with. Here are my thoughts on how to do that:
In the short term at least, the kind of social circle you can form isn't totally under your control
When it comes to making friends, there's an element of randomness to it. You can put yourself out there with people, but you can't 100% control who those people are, or if they're going to be interested in being friends with you. If you do become friends with them, you can't really predict what other social opportunities are going to be unlocked by that. Even if things are totally going your way, friendship groups still take time to form and solidify. A bunch of people may need to hang out together over several months before they really start to think of themselves as a 'group'. But if you keep at it for long enough, you should be able to form a pretty decent social life for yourself.
Over the longer term things work out more in your favor. You've had enough time, and the chance to meet enough people, that you can try and mold the kind of friendship group you'd really like. In the short term though, you can't always create the perfect social circle 'to order'. Sometimes you'll try to form a group of buddies, and things just won't work out right away.
It can help to keep that in mind and not get discouraged prematurely. This point isn't really a practical piece of advice, but I think it can be useful to keep in mind if, say, you've been in college for three weeks and are already getting frustrated that you don't have an amazing gang of lifelong friends yet.
And now for some more actionable suggestions. There are three broad ways you can go about trying to get a group of friends together:
Make one friend, meet their buddies, and fall in with that group
For everyone who's made an individual friend or two already, one route you can try is to meet their friends and see if you can join that exciting social circle. If you hang out with someone enough these opportunities will probably come up naturally. Maybe you'll get invited to a big night out and meet everyone all at once. Or maybe a friend or two of theirs will come along when you do something like see a movie.
There are also ways you can take the initiative to meet your friend's friends. If you catch wind that they do any kind of group activity together regularly (poker, biking, going out, etc.), you can ask to come along. If you're really bursting with initiative you could even plan some sort of party or larger get together yourself.
Here it can be important to meet your friend's friends more than once, so they get used to the idea of having you around. You may not have a chance to get to know them all that well after meeting them just one time.
For some more detailed advice on what to do when meeting your friend's friends, you may want to check this article out:
Give meeting your friend's friends a couple of tries. Of course, even after that you may find you still don't really gel with them. We tend to hang out with a variety of people and sub-groups, who speak to different parts of our personality, and they're not all meant to click with each other. If you don't get along with some of your friend's friends, that doesn't necessarily mean they've run out of people to introduce you to. Maybe you're friends with someone because you like to watch movies and discuss intellectual topics together. When he introduced you to his crude drinking buddies it didn't pan out, but you may get get along with his colleagues from the non-profit he volunteers at.
Make a group of new friends all at once
A lot of situations are conducive to you meeting a whole bunch of new people at once, and a group forming out of that. This often happens when a situation forces a bunch of people to hang around together for an extended length of time and get to know each other. If you're around the same group of people week after week, and you all hit it off, then it's only natural that a group of friends may form from that.
What can also happen is that there's already an existing social circle based around that situation, and all you have to do is join in. Like on a sports team some teammates may already get together after every game, and you just need to start going along.Off the top of my head some of these situations are:
- A new job (e.g., Everyone hangs out together in the lunchroom, or gathers to chat during their shift when things are slow)
- A new class, or just starting school in general (e.g., getting to know the people on your floor in residence). Of course, the start of school is particularly conducive to forming a group, because most people won't have friends or a social circle going in, and so will tend to create one out of the first bunch of other students they get along with.
- A club (e.g., meeting with the same people every week to pursue a hobby)
- A sports team
- A regular gathering, such as a weekly Salsa night at a club
- Living with a bunch of people
This is general friends-making advice that also applies here: When you're in these situations, try to organize something that gets everyone outside of the context where you've all met. For example, if you have a job and have fun joking around with your co-workers, don't just keep things confined to when you see each other at work. Arrange to get drinks at the end of the day, or get together on the weekend. That gets everyone's mentality out of, "This is someone I get along with at work" and changes it to, "This is someone I could be friends with in my 'real' life".
If you want to make a group of friends at work or in your class or whatnot, it's also important to be friendly with lots of the people there. That means taking the time to individually get to know people, but also going to where a group gathers and joining in (e.g., sitting with everyone that eats together at lunch). If you're at some fun job with lots of people to meet, but you only regularly chat to one other person there, you're not going to form a larger social circle. Of course, when you're friendly with lots of people, not everyone will be receptive to you, but some will. I also realize this may require a level of outgoingness that not everyone will be up to. Another possibility is:
Merge your individual friends into a group
This is the last broad way to do it. Actually now that I think about it, I've gotten a fair number of questions about just this sub-topic; "How do I get my friends to hit it off and start hanging out with each other?" First, you'll need to arrange some way for them to meet. You could try introducing people to each other one or two at a time (like the seeing a movie example I mentioned earlier), or you could organize a bigger get together and do it all at once. Either way could work.
I don't know if there's some magic way to insure your friends all get along. Like I said earlier, everyone hangs out with a variety of people, and they're not always compatible with each other, even though they all share the commonality of getting along with you. One basic tip is to do little things to break the ice between your friends to get them talking ("Katherine, Ellen worked at the same non-profit you did"). If you're introducing one friend to a group, don't leave them to fend for themselves too much. Interact with them, and let the other friends see the fun dynamic you have, and what you see in them. This is a much more minor point, but when you're around your friends, it can also help to talk about your other ones. That way at least your friends have a vague idea of who your other buddies Dave or Amy or whoever are, and it's not a total surprise when they meet them.
I think what's more important is doing something with everyone on more than one occasion. For one, after one meeting two people often don't have enough time to really learn much about each other (though sometimes they'll hit it off or not jibe with each other pretty quickly). Another thing is that after spending time with each other over multiple outings, it gets everyone thinking along the lines of, "We're a group that often hangs out together."
So just keep arranging get togethers where your friends will meet. Things may not fall into place the first time, but it could work out eventually. On occasion two of your friends, who initially didn't get best impression of each other, will start to get along once they've had more time to talk and realize they have more in common than they originally thought.
As a rule I think people should make an effort to introduce their friends to each other, unless they're really sure they wouldn't get along. It may not work, but there's not a ton of harm in trying. Aside from the benefits you may get from it, your friends will likely appreciate the chance to meet new people and possibly expand their own social circles. Don't be someone who has all these separate clusters of friends, but who's scared to mix them together for fear that it will be awkward, or that they'll get along too well and cut you out of the equation.
Groups of friends often revolve around group activities
A final point is that if you have a group of friends it means you'll often be doing group activities; hanging out at someone's house in a group, going to a pub in a group, going on a road trip as a group, throwing a Frisbee around as a group, and so on. Sure, a lot of the time you'll have smaller get togethers with a few members, but at least some of the time you'll go to larger events.
I guess I'm saying this because sometimes I think people think they want a group of friends, but they're not really into group outings. Their idea of a fun Saturday night isn't hanging out at someone's apartment with eight other people. I think the people who are naturally into that kind of stuff will find each other and kind of automatically form a larger social circle. The people who have more low key tastes will often make two or three similar-minded friends and keep things at that. It all depends on your personality style.