How can I be more open to friendships?
August 17, 2017 9:08 AM   Subscribe

I've found that as I've gotten "older" (I'm only 29) my friendship-making skills have diminished! Through work and the grad school program I'll be entering this fall I'll have the opportunity to meet tons of new people (classmates, other people in the field, etc.). I really want to try to make an effort at making new friends, but... I'm not sure how to sharpen my friendship skills! Any advice?

As I've gotten older, I think that I've just become more picky about making "friends," which has pretty much prevented me from making any new friends since finishing my first round of university. I find myself meeting new people who I think would be nice to be friends with, but never actually truly trying to become their friend. The only place I've made real friends has been through work. I think that's aided by seeing my coworkers every day. It was harder for me to be arbitrarily "picky" about certain qualities, when I go to know them more deeply.

I actually really like making small-talk and I think I'm pretty friendly to most people on a superficial level, but most of the time I have trouble going beyond that surface-level relationship. It's hard for me to describe the ways I'm picky, but for example, I've always preferred to have friends that are in the same age group as I am. However, my friends through work have shown me how silly that is! One of my best work friends is 56 years old! I think I might be stuck with an undergrad mentality for making friends and I really want to be more open and open myself up to new experiences and people. I think that I've forgotten how to really make friends! Any advice for sharpening and dusting off my friendship making skills? How do I make sure I give people an honest chance?
posted by modesty.blaise to Human Relations (4 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Here are some of the things that have worked for me:

- Working on being more accepting/open to people beyond my first impressions of them.

- Being open to chance meetings and conversations with strangers in places that I feel comfortable in, like my favorite coffee shop.

- Reserving my judgement of a person until after I've hung out with them a few times, the thought being that if I'm a bit anxious and not acting myself, perhaps they are as well.

- Meeting people through other friends. If one of my lovely friends has signed off on another human, they're good people.

- This is maybe just for me, but I am by nature an oversharer. I tend to just be honest/authentic and sometimes not in quite the right place/way. So for me I have to tell myself that deep sharing right off the bat doesn't necessarily mean that an interaction will turn into a friendship, and that it's okay to pace myself and allow for things to take shape organically. I find that the more I allow for interactions to just happen, the better they are and the closer friends I end up making.

Also, I will add that many of my closest friends are folks that I've met through work, and for me, I really like this as it ensures we have some interests in common, and it brings me joy in my day to get to wave or smile at a friend in the hallway.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 9:28 AM on August 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Do you have an extroverted friend or loved one?

Sometimes it helps to slightly pretend to be them, at least until you get over the initial stuff.
posted by poe at 10:23 AM on August 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Something that helped me with this when I moved to a new city was just making a decision rule for myself to NEVER say no to an invitation/socializing opportunity unless it was literally impossible scheduling-wise, for the first few months. Now, you don't want to do this forever because it will be overwhelming, and also actually you won't necessarily end up liking and wanting to be friends with every person you meet. :) But, for a limited period of time I found it was the perfect thing for getting over my mild social anxiety and opening myself up to new people/experiences.
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:13 PM on August 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

I think for me it helped to recognize that this was something I was doing. Then to realize that if I took this approach to it to its logical extreme, I would end up with no friends except myself.

By realizing it and deciding to work this, I have set myself up to notice all the little ways I can be more open to friendships.
posted by aniola at 1:07 PM on August 17, 2017

« Older Is my dog depressed?   |   Help stop my keys from jingling Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.