Getting a social life isn’t all that hard. The problem is that most people make and keep friends without really thinking about how they do it.
This article kindly provided by Chris at www.succeedsocially.com
They just picked up the skills automatically as they grew up. If you’ve always been more of the shy, loner type than you’ll probably appreciate some pointers.
Pretty much anyone can have a group of friends if they want to. Here are some things you may want to get covered first though to make things easier:
- You’re fairly friendly and personable and aren’t completely annoying to be around.
- You have basic conversational skills (these are probably better than you think, especially if you’re comfortable with the other person or share a common interest).
- You can invite someone out to do something with you.
- You know some fun things you can do with other people.
Take the attitude that you’ve just moved into town and need to make a new circle of friends from scratch
There’s no point in having the image of yourself as being a desperate, lonely loser.
Get an outside life on your own
Go see some live music, go check out the local bars and have a drink or two by yourself, go see some stand-up comedy, go to a sports bar and watch the game, start going to a rock climbing gym, take some classes, if you’re in college then join some associations and clubs, walk around interesting neighborhoods, go to any interesting local events advertised in the paper, if you’re going to read or play on your laptop you might was well go to a coffee shop to do it, etc., etc., etc.,
Doing these things will take the edge of your loneliness. It will make you a more interesting person. It will also fill your head with knowledge of things to do and places to go when you are hanging around people.
Also just being in situations where there are people around, even if you’re not interacting with them all that much, gives you some of the feelings of having a social life. There are plenty of chances to meet people as well obviously.
Figure out what types of people you think you may want to hang around and be friends with
Once you know this you’ll have a better idea of where you need to be to meet them. Also, are there certain things these people are interested in or knowledgeable about you need to brush up on in order to be around them more easily?
It’s easier to hang around people similar to you. If you’re a RPG fan at heart, you’ll have a pretty simple time meeting and hanging out with other RPG fans.
That sounds obvious, but if you don’t like who you are, you may not want to hang around similar people because it acts as a mirror that reflects your short comings back at you. Even though you may want to improve yourself, you should be comfortable with who you are right now.
Know something about the nature of friendships
If you’re inexperienced with making friends, you may see the process as being more drawn-out and complex than it really is. Often all you have to do to make a friend is meet someone you naturally click with and hang around with them enough. Before long they’ll be your friend.
No friendship is perfect. Everyone has some mildly annoying traits that their friends will put up with and eventually adapt to.
Guy friendships are generally more shallow than women’s and are often based on common interests and doing things together. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just different. It also means it can be pretty simple to hang out with guys. Just be the buddy they drink with, or the guy they watch sports with, or the dude they go see bands with.
Meet some people
People are everywhere. All you have to do is meet them is be somewhere they are and talk to them. Here are some places where you can find them:
- Clubs and organizations
- Bars (chat to strangers or ask someone to play pool with you)
- Parties (be friendly and outgoing to everyone)
- People your friends and acquaintances know
- The gym (weight training, martial arts, etc.)
- Your roommate’s friends
- People in your building – take them up on that offer to drop by sometime
This sounds simplified, but that’s really all you have to do. Put yourself where people are and talk to them. If you’re an interesting, personable person you’ll do okay.
If you don’t want to meet entirely new people, get more out of your current contacts
There are probably a handful of people you already know who could end up becoming friends with. I’m talking about people like:
- Acquaintances you’re friendly with when you run into each other, but who you never see otherwise
- People at work or in your classes who you get along with
- Friends of people you know who you’ve gotten along with
- Someone who has shown an interest in being your friend but you never really took up the offer
- People you very occasionally hang out with, who you could see more
- Siblings and relatives close to your age
If you hit it off with someone get their contact information and ask them to hang out
If you meet someone cool don’t assume that you’ll run into them again. Get their phone number or maybe their email address. If you’re shy this may take a small amount of balls the first few times. It’s no big deal, you’ll get used to it before long. If someone does give you the brush-off it’s not the end of the world.
- If someone refuses your invitation because they’re busy or not sure if they can make it out then don’t give up. Try again another time.
- Next give them a call and ask them to do something with you. Invite them to go out clubbing, or see a movie, or see a band, watch the game, whatever. If you know a group of people are going to do something, you can also ask if you can come along.
- These are more points that sound pretty basic but lonely people don’t do these things. There may be someone they joke around with at work or chat to in one of their classes but they won’t take the step of inviting them out and taking the relationship to the next level.
- Assume you’ll have to do all the work. Don’t just wait around hoping someone will invite you out on the weekend. If you want to go out then get on the phone and organize something.
- Other people are often harmlessly thoughtless and preoccupied in the sense that they’d be happy if they hung out with you, but they wouldn’t think to ask you themselves.
- Make sure people have your contact info in case they ever feel the need to invite you out.
- People often have busy lives so don’t make it unnecessarily hard for them to hang out with you. For example it’s easier to invite them out for a drink right after work than to ask them to travel an hour out of their way to meet you at some obscure, far-flung place.
- Sometimes you do have to be persuasive to get people to go out with you. Someone might not feel like going out that night, or you may have to convince someone why it would be better to go to one place instead of the other.
- Making plans can be tedious and unpredictable at times. You should try to get used to this.
Don’t be picky about who you hang out with at first
Your initial goal is to just get some sort of social life going. So hang out with whoever you get along with and who seems interested in doing things with you. The first people you meet may not be your 100% ideal friends. The benefits of just being out there as opposed to brooding at home outweigh this.
I also give this advice because lonely people tend to be more negative about people in general. Introverted types can also be more picky about who they choose to spend their time with. If you naturally tend to be down on everyone you meet you need to make an effort to consciously override these feelings.
Don’t have an unrealistic self-image that demands you can only hang out with a certain caliber of people. Be realistic about yourself and your circumstances.
Never turn down an invitation
If someone invites you to do something, then you should go. Why turn down a free chance to get out there with people?
If you’re more of an shy, introverted person it’s easy to mull over the invitation and rationalize that it won’t be that fun and that you don’t want to go. Ignore those thoughts and go anyways. You never can be sure how fun something will be until you show up and see how it is for yourself.
Sometimes you’ll have to inconvenience yourself for the sake of your social life. You may get invited to a movie you don’t particularly want to see, or someone might call you up on Friday evening as you’re about to go to bed asking if you want to go out. Whenever you have two or more people in the equation, you’re going to have to compromise sometimes. Again, just being out there outweighs these minor annoyances.
Once you know some people, build on this foundation
Once you’ve made a regular friend or two you’ve got a good base to work from. If you’re more introverted in nature, one or two good buddies may be all you need to be happy. At the very least, it should be enough to get rid of that desperate lonely feeling.
Sooner or later you’ll end up meeting your friend’s friends. If you hit it off with them then you can start hanging out with them as well. You can also become a member of the whole group with time.
You can continue to meet entirely new people. Having friends will make this easier as they’ll do things like invite you to parties or keep you company in places where there are new people to potentially meet.
Maintain your friendships
Keep in regular touch with friends through the phone, email, MSN, etc. Hang out with them on a regular basis. Every friend and acquaintance has a right amount of time you need to spend with them. Some relationships are more casual and you only hang out every month or less, other people will wonder if you’ve died if you they don’t see you every week. Common sense will tell you what these amounts are.
Don’t be needy and pester one friend too much and rely on them to meet all your social and entertainment needs.
You may not have a problem with meeting people and hanging around them once or twice, but you may run into trouble in the long run. Don’t fall out of touch with your new friends and acquaintances. Various introverted and insecure traits can get you at this stage:
- You can feel insecure. You’ll convince yourself your new friends don’t really like you and drop contact with them in response to this imagined slight.
- Your lower need to be social may cause you to not want to hang around with them as often as you need to keep the friendship going.
- Shyness may make you too wimpy to call them up and make plans.
If you haven’t talked to someone in a while it’s not really a big deal. You can still get back in touch and catch up. It’s not even that awkward. Don’t think you automatically have to throw the friendship away.
Building up a good social life takes time so stick with it. A solid group of great friends often takes several years to develop.