How to Make Friends When You Have Social Anxiety
If you suffer from social anxiety disorder (SAD) or are simply shy, it may seem easier to avoid making friends and spend time alone instead. However, research shows that people with close friends live longer and are generally healthier.1 In addition, those with close friends are better able to cope with the death of a spouse or other major life change.
For those with SAD, you may want to make friends but do not know how.2 Below are step-by-step instructions to help you increase your social circle and hopefully make a few good friends along the way.
How to Make New Friends
Below are suggestions on how to make and keep new friends.
Work on Yourself
Before you try to make new friends, it is important to spend some time working on yourself. The more well-rounded a person you are, the easier it will be to talk with others.
Brush up on current events, take up a new hobby; anything that you can do to become more comfortable with who you are will make it easier to make friends. Find out what you are passionate about in order to find like-minded people.
The second step in making friends is finding potential friends aka our Wildish Women Group for example! When looking for potential friends, the best places to start are also the easiest—your interests. Do you work with others? Do you know someone who has a large circle of friends? Could you join a group or organization to increase the number of people that you are in contact with?
It is important not to be too picky in the beginning. Anyone could be a potential friend; first impressions are not necessarily the best indicators of who could become a long-term friend. Consider asking a coworker to lunch, joining a book club at the library or volunteering at a local non-profit to meet new people and potential friends.
Stay in Touch
Make sure to get contact information for the people that you meet. Whether it’s their cell phone number or a link to their social media pages, find a way to reach out to them.
The most critical step in making friends is both accepting invitations and making plans with others. Do your best not to turn down any invitations. If you turn people down often enough they will stop asking you to do things.Be patient as your friendship grows. Research shows it can take 50 or more hours before an acquaintance becomes a true friend.
By the same token, you shouldn’t always expect the other person to make plans. Though making plans can be a challenging task for those with SAD, it is important to show others that you are interested in them and want to get together.
Once you have begun to form friendships, it is important to stay in touch. Over time you will come to learn how often certain people stay in touch. Be sure to do your part to contact your new friends and make plans. With the ease of online communication, it’s much more convenient to keep in touch with those that you meet.
- Don’t expect instant results. Building friendships takes time and mutual effort. Make creating new friendships a priority, but realize that the race to the finish line is a marathon, not a sprint.
- Once you have made new friends, be careful not to take them for granted. Always make your friendships a priority even when it may not be convenient for you.
- Good friends don’t criticize, gossip, or judge each other.
- Never compromise your beliefs, values, or morals because of a friendship.
Making friends takes time, but if you feel that you cannot meet new people or that idea of trying to meet new people is too frightening or overwhelming, it may be a good idea to consult a therapist.