How to Make Friends
This post is a more focused and updated version of a reader response I posted here. The advice is in response to a question I got in my inbox about socializing. The more I consider this question and my response, the more I see the value in what I wrote. Most people are clueless on how to form new platonic relationships as adults. I had to learn these things the hard way when I suddenly moved to LA when I was 26.
When it comes to socializing, you can go about it one of two ways:
1) Join a community that revolves around things you are naturally passionate about.
2) Join a community and develop passion for their mission.
In other words, either seek out groups of people that have interests like yours or develop the interests of another group. I recommended the first route since it’s a more natural path to enjoyment. However, the second path has its merits. If you do it right, you’ll end up with a new set of interests, hobbies, abilities and contacts.
I’m not talking about meeting a bunch of a dudes at the local bar every Sunday to drink booze and watch football. This also isn’t about finding a group of guys to hit the club and practice game. Fuck that noise.
I was about that life at one point but I’ve seen the light. Unless you’re doing that with your childhood buddies as part of bonding and relationship upkeep, you’ll end up lame. You don’t want to be lame because no one likes with lame people.
These are the basics that so many people miss as they focus their socializing around drinking and going to frat parties in college. Making friends starts way before you meet a person that will make a good candidate for friendship. Socialization starts with a desire to connect to people of a like mind. This is why you need something in your life that you are passionate about. Your skills and hobbies are the common ground that you build new friendships on.
If you only binge on Netflix, booze and watch sports, then you have to at least be interested in developing a new hobby. Either that or head to your local dive bar for whatever sports special they have in between season finales of your favorite series.
Fortunately, we live in the internet age. There are groups and activities for everything. Your goal is not to find people, but to find communities. Communities and groups are more welcoming to strangers.
There is also the mathematical consideration. Your shared interests function as an initial entry point into a new group of potential friends. There is no guarantee that you’ll get along with or share common values with everyone on everything. Therefore, it is to your advantage to involve yourself with groups that have a reasonable number of people.
Once you are part of a group, getting people to like you is pretty simple and also presents a binary set of options. You can either
1) Present yourself as the unselfish expert
2) Present yourself as the eager, but under informed newbie
The unselfish expert works if you find a group of people doing things you are already doing. You’ll enter the community with a base of knowledge that others in the group will find useful. And since you’ll be unselfish (but dedicated), a lot of people will be interested in you. You will leverage this into contacts and friendly connections.
If you go the other way, it will still require dedication to your new group but now you are asking questions. You are the new guy. People like the new guy. The trick is to use what you learn and show that you taking the advice of your new group. People love when a person takes their advice. It’s a way to bond with people because it demonstrates trust and respect.
Whatever you do, don’t be the guy that never listens and only complains. People really hate that guy. You want to be liked because being likable is never a bad thing when it comes to making friends.
No matter how you go about finding a community, you must make an effort to talk to people beyond the subject matter of the group. There are natural ways to transition to different topics and show genuine concern for a person you want to get to know. Methods for making people like you is another post entirely.
Here I have laid down the basics that many people are clueless about in this era of social media and collegiate binge drinking. Now you are armed with the tools to meet potential friends wherever you are.