Ways To Feel More Connected To So-So Friends And Acquaintances

It's really tough when you feel lonely in the sense that you have some friends or acquaintances you mostly get along with, but you don't know anyone you feel more deeply connected to and compatible with. You do have a social life, but it leaves you wanting more.

Hopefully soon you'll make some new friends who are a better fit for you. In the meantime, there are some ways you may be able to feel more connected to your partially matched friends. Sometimes we initially don't think someone has that much in common with us, even if we can enjoy their company on a surface level, but once we get to know them we realize there's more compatibility than we assumed.

The idea here isn't to lie to yourself and start believing your so-so friends are better than they are, or all you need, but to make the most of those relationships. Of course, it will still be better if you can meet some new people who are truly on your wavelength, where the rapport flows effortlessly.

Be aware of how your cravings for deeper connection can skew your thinking about your less-matched friends

When you're really lonely for some deeper connections you can unintentionally think in an All or Nothing way. It can feel like only the most perfectly compatible, understanding, supportive friends could ever fulfill you and relieve that inner pain. Anything less feels frustrating and unsatisfying. It seems like the world is painfully reminding you of what you're missing. When we don't have those raw internal wounds we're better at enjoying the company of people we only share some things in common with. We don't need them to be everything to us.

The loneliness you feel is totally legitimate, but also try to keep in mind that it can color how you see the world. Just knowing it can make you think in a Black or White way may help you catch it when you slip into that mindset. Again, this is not about convincing yourself to mindlessly love everyone, but to see people in a more balanced way. That leads into the first suggestion:

Try to appreciate what your so-so friends do bring to the table

No, they're not your perfect made-to-order companions, but you hang out with them, so they do have some things to offer. As I said, when we're feeling really lonely and starved for deep connection, we can focus on all the ways someone doesn't measure up as an ideal friend. We can overlook the ways we could connect.

Maybe you have an acquaintance, and your personalities and interests don't line up in some key ways, but they can be funny and kind, and there are a few topics where you can reliably have an interesting discussion. If you focus more on that you may find you're more able to appreciate them for what they do bring to your life, even if they don't check every box, and won't ever be your best buddy.

Try to find deeper, less-obvious commonalities

A casual friend may not share many of your main interests, values, or background. However, if you get to know them better you may find you click on some more obscure or abstract traits. For example, you have totally different hobbies, but both approach them with the same mentality of wanting to collect everything you can from it, or you both lost a parent early in life and it's shaped your worldviews in similar ways, or you're both really ambitious at work.

Try to steer your conversations to the areas you find most fulfilling

Your acquaintances and less-close friends may be able to discuss a topic you find interesting, and which leads to a sense of connection, but they wouldn't naturally bring it up. If you let them take the lead, they'll tend to chat about things you don't care about as much. For example, they'll share more vulnerable or emotional things about themselves, but only if someone else starts things off in that direction.

Don't completely hijack the conversation and make it only about your preferred subjects or vibes. Let there be a balance of everyone suggesting things to talk about. But when it's your turn to influence the topic, be benignly selfish and choose something that fosters that sense of connection. Your friends may not always bite, but at least you tried.

Allow time for some deeper connections to naturally develop

Sometimes closer bonds form between people just because they're in the same setting or life circumstances, like a job or academic program. At first they don't seem to have much in common, aside from being in the same field, but over time a sense of camaraderie and shared history can develop, e.g., you all had to take that unfairly hard class in second year and survived it together. Of course, no one automatically gels with all their classmates or co-workers, but it's definitely true that sometimes two of them don't think much of each other at first, but start to click as they go through the same ups and downs together.