Making friends is harder than dating. This is something I have come to believe as fact.
In the last 5 years I have lived in 4 different spots – as in different states and now a new country. Unlike high school and college where you can easily make friends based on your classes, sports, dorm area, etc., in “adult life” you have to work a lot harder to find those commonalities and make those connections. You’re still wondering how I could possibly think friends are harder than finding your “person” though, so I will explain.
In almost every way, making friends, courting a friendship if you will, requires the same level of attention and behavior as dating except often times in the beginning friendship is one way. YOU are the new person working to break your way into already built circles/cliques/friendships versus with dating, it is “new” to both of you and you are both trying to win the other person over.
When you are dating, if the other person cancels on you, you may feel some concern for them and easily give them another chance. If you are trying to become friends with someone and the first time they invite you out you say “no” or honestly can’t go — they may forget to invite you next time! Personally, even I have a (loose) “3 no” rule. If you cancel or say no to 3 different events without any real reason (i.e. out of town, in bed with the flu) I probably will stop inviting you to things until you invite me again first. People just aren’t as willing to “chase” a friendship as they are a relationship.
When I moved to Texas, I had no friends there – just acquaintances – people I knew from school but had never hung out with. I knew that since a lot of them knew each other already, it would be on ME to make all of the effort to be friends. There were 1 or 2 girls that I thought were nice and started inviting them over for dinner on a weekly basis. They would come over and I would cook dinner for them so they would get to know me (sounds kind of like a date, right?). I would ask what their weekend plans were and try and see if it would be cool for me to hang out too, which it always was.
There was one person in the group who didn’t seem to like me so I asked her to lunch too so we could work through anything so it would not be a barrier to me making friends and it ended up really working out. Any time I was doing anything I would always invite them too, and after a while I became as much a part of the group as anyone. If I was dating someone I certainly wouldn’t invite them along for everything, and I wouldn’t worry about always being available either!
When I moved to Vegas, I continued my dinner party trend and began hosting a monthly dinner party as a way to meet new people and make new friends. I always feel more comfortable making friends on “my own turf” and this has really proven a great way to make and maintain friends. I even made some girlfriends in the local area through Facebook and Instagram!
As a girl, making friends always feels like more work than dating – probably because when we are making friends with girls, they are used to dating being easy too so they put less effort into chasing friends and relationships! In the end it, it is up to you how much effort you are willing to put in. Here are a few of the steps I follow when working to make friendships.
How to make friends when you are new
Sometimes it is hard when you want to hide away in your house to agree to go out and do things and get outside of your comfort zone but nothing is more important than getting out of your head and making the effort. Remember the Medieval Festival I went to? I really didn’t want to get dressed and drive an hour to go to it but I had been invited by people at work (and I knew once I GOT there I would like it) so I told myself it was important to go – and it was.
If people aren’t inviting you, its because they aren’t remembering new people most likely, not because they dislike you. Make your own plans and invite people along! This also follows a theory of reciprocity where they will likely feel like they should invite you to something in exchange for your own invite — then it is on you to keep the cycle going!
Make recurring plans
Things like weekly dinners or monthly dinner parties give people something to look forward to, keep you fresh in their mind for invites to other things, and provide more opportunities to meet new friends. I have made several friends through people that I have invited to my parties! It also gives people the chance to say no one time and recover in the future.
Speaking of meeting new people at my parties (or other friends’ parties), it is important to invite them out again before they forget you. We have two really good sets of friends that we met at a friend’s halloween party and at another’s wedding – we immediately invited them to hang out with us that same week and we have maintained those friendships ever since — by the way, they also followed rule number 1 by always saying yes!
Be timely by also responding to people in a timely fashion — if someone invites you out, don’t wait until the last minute to decide or to let them know, it’s just rude. You probably know right then if you can make it, and if you are waiting on something to decide, let them know that also. ALWAYS RSVP yes or no to any invite!!!
Realize it can feel one-sided for a while
Even my oldest friends can suck at keeping in contact so it’s not always fair for me to expect new friends to be any better. It can be HARD to constantly put yourself out there but what I realized after college is that I would rather be uncomfortable (for a bit) and make new friends than be comfortable and more lonely. People are not always going to think to invite you out after you have invited them and sometimes that can feel harsh. I like to give these people and relationships plenty of time and space to really see if it truly IS one-sided or if they do want to be friends of their own accord too. If I invite you to all of my dinner parties and I see you start having some and never invite me, I am going to see that as you are not really a worthwhile friend, and drop you down to acquaintance status.
Do you think making friends can be work too? What are your tips?