In a recent poll1 only 13% said they had 10 or more close friends compared to 33% in 1990 poll2. And this year only 59% of people said they had a best friend compared to 75% of people in 1990. So friendships are in decline. Or put another way, loneliness is on the increase. Many studies have shown that people live longer and happier lives if they have close connections with other people. So it’s well worth the effort to make friends.
So how can we reverse this trend? How can we make new close friends?
Here are some tips:
Interact with others whenever you get the chance. If you are invited to a party, go. Make a point of meeting at least three new people. If there is a new person at work, talk to them in the break room.
Join a group or start one (if you can’t find you want to join). For example, a bookclub or a group where you watch a movie and discuss it afterwards (and also read the book it is based on beforehand if you want).
Truly listen to people and compliment them. People will think you really like them and are interested in them if you listen intently to what they are saying. Ask them questions about themselves. Don’t interrupt when they answer. Give them plenty of time to speak fully. You can also prove that you have been listening by asking them about something they have mentioned. Or make a note after you meet them about something that they have said and then later when you meet them again, mention it. For example, ask them how their trip to Mexico went. And it also helps to compliment them whenever appropriate.
Smile more when you are around people. Nobody wants to have a sad sack around. Make a point of smiling when you are mixing with people you want to become friends with.
Consider community gardens, intentional communities and co-housing. Sharing a meal and/or gardening tasks with other people on a regular basis is a good way to get to know them and to become friends.
Too many of us have let our friendships slip during Covid. It’s time to renew old friendships and to make new ones. Make that phone call. Set up a time and place to meet face to face even if it’s just for a walk if you don’t feel comfortable yet meeting indoors.