How To Make Friends When You Have No Friends
A group that feels like the process of building a social life is harder for them are people who don't have any friends at all. It can seem like a unique, extra-difficult set of circumstances, but it isn't as insurmountable as it may feel. I'll go into some things to consider when you're trying to form your social circle from scratch.
The practical process of making friends isn't that different when you don't already have some...
Farther down I'll get into a few ways you can tweak your approach in light of your situation. However, it's important to emphasize that if you don't have friends, there's not some totally different, special set of steps you need to follow to get a social life. As this article explains the basic, core steps that everyone can use to make friends are:
- Put yourself in places where you can meet potential friends.
- Strike up conversations. Some of these interactions won't go anywhere, but if you have enough of them you should hit it off with some of the people you chat to.
- If you're getting along with someone, invite them to hang out outside the context you met them in (e.g., if they're a co-worker, ask them to see a movie during the weekend). Again, not every prospect will make it to the next stage, but some will.
- If you start spending time with someone regularly, keep seeing them and try to deepen the relationship.
- Repeat the steps above until you've made enough friends to meet your social needs.
Your success at making friends will depend on how hard you work those steps, regardless of what your current circumstances are. If you go to a bunch of events full of people you have things in common with, start a lot of conversations, and make an effort to invite anyone you like to hang out, you'll have a group of buddies sooner or later. Sure, you may have to make some adjustments along the way, say by switching the spot where you try to meet people if your first choice isn't working, but the main steps are solid.
Also know you can actively try to make friends. That may seem too obvious to write, but some lonely people are where they are because they unintentionally have a passive attitude. They somehow missed learning that if they don't have any friends they can take things into their own hands and try to find some. Instead they unconsciously assume that if they're likable enough friendships will just uncontrollably "happen" to them. When they live their lives and don't fall into any relationships, they conclude there must be something wrong with them. They're not cursed or flawed. They just need to take more initiative.
...The main obstacles for most friendless people are mental ones
These mental barriers can keep them from putting themselves out there and applying the steps above. There's a lot to say about them, so I'll have to link to other articles that go into more depth. If you recognize any of what they describe in yourself, do what you can to stamp it out.
This piece outlines several thought and life patterns that can keep lonely people in a rut:Patterns That Can Keep People Stuck In Their Loneliness
This one goes over many of the worries people may have about generally making friends:Worries People Often Have About Making Friends And Plans
This one is specifically about the common fears people with no friends can hold:
This last article is about the especially self-sabotaging fear of people finding out you don't have any friends, and the practicalities of telling them yourself:
If other issues, like anxiety or underdeveloped conversations skills, are holding you back, work on those too
Many people who are lonely are okay when it comes to their confidence and conversation skills. They might not be the suavest characters you'll ever meet, but they get by. They don't have a social circle for other reasons, such as their challenging life circumstances or because they never learned how to make friends in a deliberate way. They may also be dealing with the mental barriers mentioned above.
A subset of people are socially isolated mainly because they're too nervous to talk to anyone, and wouldn't know how to keep the conversation going if they could. Two of the site's main sections cover how to deal with shyness and improve your conversation skills:
With those broader points addressed, here are some small ways you can adjust the way you go about making friends to account for the fact that you don't already have a social network:
Accept some ways of making friends are closed off to you for now
It is somewhat easier to make friends when you already a social circle, mainly because you can meet people through them. You don't have access to those friend-making options. You will as soon as you form that first friendship, but until then accept your situation and work with what you have.
Look for events that center around helping people meet new friends
If you don't have friends any way of meeting people could potentially pan out, such as getting to know your colleagues at your job. Like I said, you don't need to use a totally unique approach. However, one avenue that's particularly useful are get togethers that are specifically set up to help people make friends. Sites like Meetup.com have listings of local social groups. They have a mix of formats too, so if walking into a bar full of mingling strangers isn't your cup of tea, a low-key hike attended by six people may be a better fit.
One obvious benefit of these meetings is that most of the attendees are open to forming new friendships. Another upside is people with few or no friends are fairly common at these kinds of events, and no one is going to look at you funny if you're in the same boat. If you ask people why they came a lot of them will tell you that they're new in town, or that all their old friends had kids and disappeared, or how they've been working too much and need to get out more, and so on.
If you'd like to go to one of these events, but aren't how to handle it, this article goes into more detail:
It helps to know how to do things alone
If you don't have any friends right now, that means that if you go to an event or sign up for a class or team, you'll have to go alone. That's tougher than showing up with a buddy, but it's something you can get used to. With ongoing classes and teams you'll know some other people after the first few times and you'll no longer feel like you're arriving solo to a room full of strangers. You may want to check out this article:
That said, some ways of meeting people alone are easier than others. If one is currently outside of your comfort zone, then stick with what you can do for now. There's no law that says you have to be super-outgoing or be able to befriend people in every situation. For example, if you're not the type to stroll into a pub and start conversations with strangers, don't feel you should be able to do that. Maybe try joining a team or volunteering somewhere so you can get know everyone gradually. Or you could go to an event with built-in ways to talk to people, like a board game cafe's drop-in games night.
To tide yourself over, try to get involved with some sort of recurring event, to give yourself at least some feeling of a having a social life
Some example I just used are a sports team, a volunteer position, or a weekly drop-in games night. Even if you don't make any "real" friends from these places right away, knowing you can go to them every week and get some regular, reliable social interaction can give you some of the feeling of having a social life, and make you feel less unhappy about your state of affairs. You can tell yourself, "I don't have a group to go out with on Friday nights (yet), but at least every Tuesday I have salsa lessons, and every other Wednesday I've got the book club."
Realize you just need to make one friend, who see on a somewhat regular basis, to move beyond your No Friends status
That's a goal anyone can achieve. It may not be everything you want, but it's a good start, and will get rid of a lot of the baggage and low-confidence you feel around having not having any friends at all.