How to Pick Your Friends

Three Parts:Meeting PeopleChoosing FriendsBuilding Friendships

Sometimes you need to make new friends. Perhaps old friendships have faded away, or perhaps you are in a new environment where you don’t know a lot of people yet. Friendships are crucial to health and well-being. Building new friendships will take time, but you will soon find friends who will be there for you in good times as well as bad.

Part 1
Meeting People

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    Find people like yourself. Look for clubs or events targeted toward people your age or in your situation.
    • For example, a local café might be the meeting place for a new mom’s club. Or, you might find a group especially for teenagers sponsored by a science museum or church.
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    Pursue a hobby. A group or club organized around a hobby allows you to meet people interested in similar things. Don’t feel that you have to be an expert already: people love teaching new folks about their favorite hobbies! In fact, taking up a new, interesting hobby might be the best way to expand your circle of possible friends. Visit local stores that cater to your hobby. Talk to the people there and ask them questions.
    • Sing! Choirs and choruses foster friendships more quickly than other social activities.[1]
    • Sign up for a cooking class. Preparing and eating food together helps to build social connection.
    • Join a hiking club or rock-climbing group. The combination of being outside and moving around will allow you to talk to many new people, as well as improving your physical fitness.
    • Take part in a book club. Most large libraries host book clubs, and many bookstores also advertise them. Some book clubs focus on a special interest or theme.
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    Volunteer. Working together in a common cause will help you to develop closer connections with new people.
    • A regular volunteer commitment allows you to get to know people over time. Take on a shift at an animal shelter, or sign up to tutor with your local school system or church.
    • Other volunteer commitments might be briefer but more intense. Working together on a political campaign can forge significant bonds, especially in the weeks leading up to a major election or vote.
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    Keep showing up. Once you’ve had several interactions with someone, it’s much easier to become friends. [2] You won’t be make instant friends at the end of your first volunteer shift or club meeting. But after a several months of doing something side-by-side, friendships are likely to develop.
    • For example, if you sign up to work on the school newspaper, try to join the department that seems the most interesting and friendly. Then, pitch in and stay late.
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    Be positive and accepting. You will attract people to you by accepting yourself and by accepting who they are.[3] Don’t start off by complaining about the faults of past friends or the difficulty of meeting new people. Instead, emphasize the positive. Express interest in the people you meet. Present yourself in an up-beat, friendly way.
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    Suggest social activities. Once you’ve met some people, the next step is to socialize with them.
    • Invite members of your new club to get ice cream after the next meeting.
    • Offer to host the next session of your book club at your house – and maybe make cookies for everyone!
    • If you find a shared interest with someone, propose a relevant activity. For instance, if you and a fellow volunteer both love art, you could suggest checking out a new exhibit together. Invite more than one person to be clear that you’re looking for friends, not a romantic interest.

Part 2
Choosing Friends

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    Trust in chemistry. Just as in romantic relationships, friendships are based on mutual attraction. If you find yourself looking forward to seeing someone again, chances are that you’ve found a potential new friend.
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    Find common ground. Choose friends who can understand or share important aspects of your life. People are often friends with people similar to them, and there’s nothing wrong with that.[4] You might bond over similar past experiences or shared challenges.
    • Establish connections by talking about what you have in common. If you hear someone quote your favorite movie, tell them that you love it, too. Ask questions and offer examples from your own life.
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    Seek diversity. Make sure that you are open to friends who might challenge some of your assumptions. The best friends help to broaden our horizons.
    • Look for clubs and organizations that have a range of different people in them.
    • Remember that everyone has many different aspects. Someone might come from a very different sort of family, but have precisely the same kind of enthusiasm for chess as you do!
    • Having a diverse set of friends helps you to relate to a wider range of people. You learn more about the world, with positive results not only for your social life, but your professional life as well.[5]
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    Choose friends who support you. A good friend doesn’t have to agree with everything you say. But they must care about your life and listen to you. You need friends who will respond to you and support you on your own path.[6] If someone never laughs at your jokes or gets outraged on your behalf, they’re not going to be a real friend.
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    Notice how people treat their other friends. If someone is friendly to you, but mean to other people, or if they spend a lot of time gossiping about their other friends’ shortcomings, they are unlikely to become a really good friend. In the end, they will treat you the way they treat their other friends.
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    Enjoy spending time with your friends. This might sound obvious, but when you’re lonely, it can be tempting to grab on to anything that seems like friendship. Real friends, though, make you feel genuinely happy. You should laugh together and look forward to hanging out. If something feels off, it probably is. Let that person go and keep meeting new people.
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    Don’t burn bridges. Even if a new friendship doesn’t take off, treat that person politely and respectfully. People change over time, and you might find yourself growing closer to them later on.

Part 3
Building Friendships

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    Deepen your conversations. As friends get to know one another, they move on from safe topics, such as the weather or sports teams, to more personal matters.[7] Ask your new friends about themselves, and share your own experiences and feelings.
    • For example, if a new friend mentions a difficult experience, invite them to say more about it. Don’t pressure them, but let them know that you are interested and that you care.
    • Talk about your hopes and fears. It’s ok to be a bit vulnerable with a friend.
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    Develop friendship rituals. Close friends often share regular meeting times or activities.[8] These rituals provide the framework for deepening your friendship. You shouldn’t force them, but when it feels natural, look for ways to develop these sorts of rituals.
    • Suggest a weekly meeting time. Perhaps you can have lunch on a certain day, or watch the same TV show together.
    • If you’re both big fans of the actor or movie franchise, make plans to go together when the next installment comes out.
    • Meet up before going to a larger party or club meeting. It’s always nice to walk in with friends!
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    Make time for your friends. Don’t let the demands of family or work mean that you go for weeks or months without seeing them. [9]
    • Recognize that friendships will wax and wane. Sometimes, for example, a friend might need a lot of support – after the death of a loved one, for example. Other times, you might just catch up once or twice a month.
    • Send a message to tell your friend you’re thinking of them, even if you’re both too busy to plan a get-together right away.
    • Stay in touch with your friends, even if you live far apart.
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    Be a good ally. Friendships offer a network of support and protection.[10] You don’t need to fight your friend’s battles, but don’t indulge in gossip or talk about your friend behind their back.
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    Be a good listener. If your friend is having a hard time, be sympathetic and try to understand their perspective. Your most important role is to listen, not to offer advice or try to “fix” your friend’s problems.


  • Meet lots of new people – they’re all potential new friends!
  • Stay positive and confident.
  • Be the kind of friend you’d want to have.

Article Info

Categories: Forming Friendships