[advice] How to make friends after years of solitude

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Post by Suika on Wed Dec 10, 2014 5:26 pm

As a person, I've never been apt at making friends. Back in primary and high school, things were quite simple in that regard, if you spend most of the day together with the same set of persons, things are bound to go somewhere, right? Sadly, I drifted apart from my former friends after that, as I felt that my other failures in life (mostly scholarly, and otherwise) made me an unsuitable person to hang out with, I mean, who'd want to be friends with a loser like myself? Despite that, I took part in various political, social and sports activities, in which I made a grand total of zero friends as well. I did have rather good time, but this was a time when I acted immature and was for the most part what you would say a "nice guy" and "neckbeard". Neither socially calibrated nor friends with soap and water, as to speak.

Efforts were made, but then I relapsed into a period of depression, and when I somehow snapped out of it, all my progression seemed to have melted away. I think this is what made me truly break down in the social regard. After that I moved to another city, started college, switched program, and is now 3 months in on the second one. Still, I have lived here for 1 year and 3 months now, and I have almost no motivation to go out and do things in a group anymore, or even go to a psychologist. It's easy to chalk this down to depression or whatnot, but it's still a bit frustrating that I used to be more social when I was clueless, and I'm a reclusive now that feel much wiser. I do have another problem which ties into my background as well, that despite being seemingly immune to words, I feel as if I have all my previous screw-ups defining me as a person, or maybe it's just that I don't like leaving my comfort zone, so that when I missed a meeting for voluntary work due to anxiety a year ago, I never mailed back or allowed myself to apply anywhere else and I have wussed out on a mail contact just because I forgot about him for a while. Even to this day I haven't logged into that mail account and confronted the fact that I have been ignoring a potential friend for 6 months.

These issues would on their own probably be more minor things, but when you haven't had a friend for 4+ years, is a virgin, have low self-esteem, confidence, possible trust issues and is also starting to get a bit pudgy, things have a tendency to pile up in your head. It doesn't help that I visit sites that are detrimental to my own well-being either. I'm also sorry, as this have been a rather long text just to get some advice, but I suppose that not even I am immune to the need of wanting to vent once in a while.
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Post by The Wisp on Wed Dec 10, 2014 6:01 pm

I can relate to most of this a lot, though my reasons for not being successful in making friends have to do with anxiety rather than depression. It's really hard, I don't have advice as I'm similarly stuck in a position where I haven't had friends in years. I would suggest therapy, though, if anything.
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Post by Suika on Wed Dec 10, 2014 6:17 pm

The Wisp wrote:I can relate to most of this a lot, though my reasons for not being successful in making friends have to do with anxiety rather than depression. It's really hard, I don't have advice as I'm similarly stuck in a position where I haven't had friends in years. I would suggest therapy, though, if anything.

Yeah, I'm quite fortunate that I actually don't get anxiety when talking to people, or even that I mind doing it at all. For me, it's more about learned helplessness and a lack of motivation at this point. Other than that eventual depression, of course.
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Post by Spiffo on Wed Dec 10, 2014 6:28 pm

1. Buckle down and eat better, and walk more. Exercise (even just going for walks) helps clear your head and makes you feel better.

2. I had some success reaching out to the Internet to make friends. Real-life friends! Maybe consider looking at personal ads for people in your area looking to meet new friends. In Canada we have craigslist (which is terrible for this) and kijiji (which is pretty good). There's also meetup. Check out some people's ads, and consider posting one of your own.

I live in a decently-sized city, if you live in like a small town this might be harder to do.

If you make your own ad, try to act like a normal person. Good pictures, quick summary of who you are and what you're looking for, kind of like a dating profile now that I think about it. It's a personal ad, so same principle I guess. Have a normal-sounding ad like "Hey cool people, I'm into <interest> and am looking to meet new people!" and not like like some bleak thing where you advertise how miserable you are.

I've posted an ad every once in a while and have met some cool and interesting people, some of whom I've become good friends with.
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Post by Suika on Wed Dec 10, 2014 6:42 pm

Spiffo wrote:1. Buckle down and eat better, and walk more. Exercise (even just going for walks) helps clear your head and makes you feel better.

2. I had some success reaching out to the Internet to make friends. Real-life friends! Maybe consider looking at personal ads for people in your area looking to meet new friends. In Canada we have craigslist (which is terrible for this) and kijiji (which is pretty good). There's also meetup. Check out some people's ads, and consider posting one of your own.

I live in a decently-sized city, if you live in like a small town this might be harder to do.

If you make your own ad, try to act like a normal person. Good pictures, quick summary of who you are and what you're looking for, kind of like a dating profile now that I think about it. It's a personal ad, so same principle I guess. Have a normal-sounding ad like "Hey cool people, I'm into <interest> and am looking to meet new people!" and not like like some bleak thing where you advertise how miserable you are.

I've posted an ad every once in a while and have met some cool and interesting people, some of whom I've become good friends with.

I do work out, but my diet could definitely be improved upon, as I either eat much too little, or way too much. I'm also quite certain that it was a very poor diet combined with too much energy drinks that escalated into the only "real" bout of depression that I've ever had. I live in a student/worker city though, which makes it so that people often prefer to go out and party or grab a beer, which I really got a distaste for after an unfortunate incident with alcohol. I should however look for some sites like that, but I do live in Sweden, so I fear for the worst.
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Post by helbling on Wed Dec 10, 2014 9:08 pm

Hi Suika!

I will be watching this thread with interest, as I'm in the same boat as you, just one port up?

I've had a very stable social circle for many years, but logistics and drama meant about a year ago I needed to make new friends, and I realised at the time I honestly didn't know how. I never had friends as a kid, and the old social circle was one I made at uni where EVERYONE was on a mission to make friends, and that makes it so much easier, and out of those environments, I have no idea how to do it.

I've had some luck figuring out some of the steps that are useful to me with making friends, so I will share these. Please take with a pinch of salt as these won't be everyone's thing, so if these don't sound like things you're up for, don't despair, it just means we're wired a little differently.
Step 1) Locate potential new-friends in larger groups. These should ideally be people who are also looking to socialise and who share at least one interest with you; I picked up several hobby clubs and gaming groups and started attending. If you can find somewhere that's doing a recruitment drive, so much the better, as that means more people around you will be in the 'I'm here to socialise and make friends!' mindset, and your job is half done.
Step 2) Talk to potential new-friends. You are looking to establish common ground, get names, and make a joke or two that makes them laugh, or at least, that's my baseline. I try not to aim for anything else first off, because too much pressure makes me freeze up. Once you have talked to them and know who they are, look for ways to be able to contact them in a casual manner. If you're a big phone person, get a number. If you're more at ease with online communication and social networking, friend them on Facebook. Get someway you can casually keep in touch. This second part might take more than one meet up - for the majority of mine, it took 2-3 months.
Step 3) Hang out with a smaller number of potential-friends outside of the club or group environment so you get to know them better. Invite them for coffee, or for a dinner party, or to come over for pizza and video games, or you want to see [X] movie, do they want to come with you then go for drinks to discuss it afterwards, go see the Christmas lights, etc. Think of it like a friend date, because the protocol is nearly the same as dating. Your first should be light, short and have an easy exit in case you don't mesh. Your second and third should be more in depth and allow for more talking and getting to know each other. See if you can springboard a semi-regular meet up from that point onwards, and try not to focus on just one person, in case you don't get along well - try for 3 or 4 people you set up 'dates' with, slowly, over time. The whole process is quite daunting and can be exhausting, but it is possible.

Then it's the whole exchanging of emotional tokens, and gradually getting to know each other better. Which is where I'm having the problem; what I've run into is I've spent so long being emotional support for my old social group is I have seem to have developed a level of shyness when it comes to sharing my opinions or experiences. I'm so used to putting myself on the backburner that now when I'm making new friends and really need to be putting parts of myself out there, I...have a little voice that speaks up inside my head that says no one is really interested in what I have to say, I should just shut up and get them to talk more.

Which works for a short period of time, but to build real friendship there needs to be honest back and forth, hence the problems I'm running into. So yes, I shall be watching this thread very carefully indeed, and I hope something in my waffling has helped!

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Post by Jayce on Thu Dec 11, 2014 4:18 am

Well I need more friends in my life and am currently trying to get somewhere with that goal.

Yesterday I went to my local card/board game shop where the weekly board game meetup as well as weekly D&D Encounters were held. So I checked out the board game meetup first, and I realised its not really my thing. Plus there were only four other people there, who are all in their middle ages. I generally would like to make more friends around my age. Unfortunately the D&D is not being held until they find someone to run it (be the dungeon master or something, I don't know, I don't even know how to play D&D but I checked out the rule book and it seems really cool and fun). Good thing though they told me their other card game shop in closer suburb has the event running. So I'll check it out next week.

So a good place to start is to ask yourself, what do I like?/what am I curious about? Then step 2: How can I make this social? Step 3: Take the risk, get out there and go for it.

Also just like my story of where an attempt to perhaps meet more friends didn't succeed. Keep looking.


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Post by Guest on Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:17 am

Hi Suika,

It's understandable to vent about the situation you're in. Scrounging up a social life from the ground up is a tough and daunting task for those of us who don't have much of an aptitude for socializing.

Unfortunately, I don't have much in the way of meaningful advice because I'm pretty socially isolated myself (and have been for close to a decade(?) or so). Some encouragement though: Your life circumstances right now don't have to be permanent.

It might also be worth checking out succeedsocially.com if you haven't already. The site's got many 101 articles on many aspects of socializing that may be of use for you.

Good luck.

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Post by Jayce on Fri Dec 12, 2014 12:16 am

Being social is also about taking opportunities. For example yesterday a girl that I asked out months ago, who rejected me cause she told me she was seeing somebody else, and we haven't see each other in like 3 months, cause I didn't want to pretend to be her friend while still liking her, just asked me that she wanted to go shopping for clothes with me on boxing day (its the day where everythig goes on sale and thousands of people gather in my city to go shopping). I thought about this back and forth with myself. Should I take this opportunity of friendship? Will this be healthy for me? Am I just going to keep liking her and hope things will happen?

At the end of the day I concluded that I might as well take this opportunity. I love shopping for clothes, and we both usually go shopping by ourselves anyway. It'll be nice to have someone around for a change. I'm not stupid. I'm not going to pretend to be her friend. It's time to geuninely be friends. And if it dosen't work for me, ah well. Much better to take an opportunity that might not work out instead of never taking it.

Lesson that I learnt: Need to be less like Hamlet. Instead of pondering to go or not to go, sometimes its better to just experiment and see how it goes.

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Post by Enail on Fri Dec 12, 2014 12:23 am

One thing you might want to keep in mind is to be patient. It can take a while, longer than you expect, to go from 'friendly people who spend time in the same space' to 'friends,' especially if you're not comfortable being very forward about it. So don't let your jerkbrain start telling you you're failing if you don't make insta-friends, or be too quick to decide that they're not your perfect image of a bff and it's not worth bothering trying to get to know them and see where it goes.
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Post by ColmilloBlanco on Fri Dec 12, 2014 8:02 am

I'm in a very similar situation, I have been trying to make friends for a year now.
I can't say I feel like a I have friends really, but I did meet people who I talk to every once in a while, the problem is that most of that communication is on the internet or on the cellphone. They don't seem to be interested in going out or meeting me in some place at all.

The only special case was a woman who I talked to almost everyday and we hang out occasionally for 4 months, but the friendship failed after some stuff; now she only talks to me if she need help with things.

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Post by Suika on Fri Dec 12, 2014 11:53 am

Enail wrote:One thing you might want to keep in mind is to be patient. It can take a while, longer than you expect, to go from 'friendly people who spend time in the same space' to 'friends,' especially if you're not comfortable being very forward about it. So don't let your jerkbrain start telling you you're failing if you don't make insta-friends, or be too quick to decide that they're not your perfect image of a bff and it's not worth bothering trying to get to know them and see where it goes.

That is a valid point, as I sometimes also have wondered if people maybe see me as a friend, whilst I do not reciprocate those feelings or even assume that they don't like me.

Jayce wrote:Being social is also about taking opportunities. For example yesterday a girl that I asked out months ago, who rejected me cause she told me she was seeing somebody else, and we haven't see each other in like 3 months, cause I didn't want to pretend to be her friend while still liking her, just asked me that she wanted to go shopping for clothes with me on boxing day (its the day where everythig goes on sale and thousands of people gather in my city to go shopping). I thought about this back and forth with myself. Should I take this opportunity of friendship? Will this be healthy for me? Am I just going to keep liking her and hope things will happen?

At the end of the day I concluded that I might as well take this opportunity. I love shopping for clothes, and we both usually go shopping by ourselves anyway. It'll be nice to have someone around for a change. I'm not stupid. I'm not going to pretend to be her friend. It's time to geuninely be friends. And if it dosen't work for me, ah well. Much better to take an opportunity that might not work out instead of never taking it.

Lesson that I learnt: Need to be less like Hamlet. Instead of pondering to go or not to go, sometimes its better to just experiment and see how it goes.

Think I'll allow myself to be a bit bitter and say that opportunities like that only happen to people who have a circle of acquaintances. Last time that happened was when my roommate asked if I wanted to go to the bar with him and his friends, but they ended up ditching me before going there.

ColmilloBlanco wrote:
The only special case was a woman who I talked to almost everyday and we hang out occasionally for 4 months, but the friendship failed after some stuff; now she only talks to me if she need help with things.

So it's like the friendzone without the friend and only the negatives?

helbling wrote:Hi Suika!

I will be watching this thread with interest, as I'm in the same boat as you, just one port up?

I've had a very stable social circle for many years, but logistics and drama meant about a year ago I needed to make new friends, and I realised at the time I honestly didn't know how. I never had friends as a kid, and the old social circle was one I made at uni where EVERYONE was on a mission to make friends, and that makes it so much easier, and out of those environments, I have no idea how to do it.

I've had some luck figuring out some of the steps that are useful to me with making friends, so I will share these. Please take with a pinch of salt as these won't be everyone's thing, so if these don't sound like things you're up for, don't despair, it just means we're wired a little differently.
Step 1) Locate potential new-friends in larger groups. These should ideally be people who are also looking to socialise and who share at least one interest with you; I picked up several hobby clubs and gaming groups and started attending. If you can find somewhere that's doing a recruitment drive, so much the better, as that means more people around you will be in the 'I'm here to socialise and make friends!' mindset, and your job is half done.
Step 2) Talk to potential new-friends. You are looking to establish common ground, get names, and make a joke or two that makes them laugh, or at least, that's my baseline. I try not to aim for anything else first off, because too much pressure makes me freeze up. Once you have talked to them and know who they are, look for ways to be able to contact them in a casual manner. If you're a big phone person, get a number. If you're more at ease with online communication and social networking, friend them on Facebook. Get someway you can casually keep in touch. This second part might take more than one meet up - for the majority of mine, it took 2-3 months.
Step 3) Hang out with a smaller number of potential-friends outside of the club or group environment so you get to know them better. Invite them for coffee, or for a dinner party, or to come over for pizza and video games, or you want to see [X] movie, do they want to come with you then go for drinks to discuss it afterwards, go see the Christmas lights, etc. Think of it like a friend date, because the protocol is nearly the same as dating. Your first should be light, short and have an easy exit in case you don't mesh. Your second and third should be more in depth and allow for more talking and getting to know each other. See if you can springboard a semi-regular meet up from that point onwards, and try not to focus on just one person, in case you don't get along well - try for 3 or 4 people you set up 'dates' with, slowly, over time. The whole process is quite daunting and can be exhausting, but it is possible.

Then it's the whole exchanging of emotional tokens, and gradually getting to know each other better. Which is where I'm having the problem; what I've run into is I've spent so long being emotional support for my old social group is I have seem to have developed a level of shyness when it comes to sharing my opinions or experiences. I'm so used to putting myself on the backburner that now when I'm making new friends and really need to be putting parts of myself out there, I...have a little voice that speaks up inside my head that says no one is really interested in what I have to say, I should just shut up and get them to talk more.

Which works for a short period of time, but to build real friendship there needs to be honest back and forth, hence the problems I'm running into. So yes, I shall be watching this thread very carefully indeed, and I hope something in my waffling has helped!

Thanks, that does seem like the proper way to make friends, and also what I've read on other sites. I do think that I have a problem with escalating things from step 2 to step 3, insofar that my perception of the social skills I have causes me to assume that I put people in a bad spot/barge right into their comfort zone when I ask them to hang out and do something.

Jayce wrote:Well I need more friends in my life and am currently trying to get somewhere with that goal.

Yesterday I went to my local card/board game shop where the weekly board game meetup as well as weekly D&D Encounters were held. So I checked out the board game meetup first, and I realised its not really my thing. Plus there were only four other people there, who are all in their middle ages. I generally would like to make more friends around my age. Unfortunately the D&D is not being held until they find someone to run it (be the dungeon master or something, I don't know, I don't even know how to play D&D but I checked out the rule book and it seems really cool and fun). Good thing though they told me their other card game shop in closer suburb has the event running. So I'll check it out next week.

So a good place to start is to ask yourself, what do I like?/what am I curious about? Then step 2: How can I make this social? Step 3: Take the risk, get out there and go for it.

Also just like my story of where an attempt to perhaps meet more friends didn't succeed. Keep looking.


I do know where to find friends, I just don't know how to make 'em when I'm actually there.

HermitTheToad wrote:Hi Suika,

It's understandable to vent about the situation you're in. Scrounging up a social life from the ground up is a tough and daunting task for those of us who don't have much of an aptitude for socializing.

Unfortunately, I don't have much in the way of meaningful advice because I'm pretty socially isolated myself (and have been for close to a decade(?) or so). Some encouragement though: Your life circumstances right now don't have to be permanent.

It might also be worth checking out succeedsocially.com if you haven't already. The site's got many 101 articles on many aspects of socializing that may be of use for you.

Good luck.

It's pretty hard to shake off your own "identity" as a reclusive person though. I might want to take a look on that site again, but more as a guide when I'm actually in the process of trying to make friends. Not something that I would do in order to pat myself on the back.
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Post by Caffeinated on Fri Dec 12, 2014 3:37 pm

For me as a rather shy person, I find it takes me a while to start feeling comfortable around new people, and also takes a while for me to know whether a new person is the sort of person I'd like to become friends with. When I was in a school or work situation where I saw potential friends every day, it usually wasn't too long until I started getting comfortable with someone and then ask them to have lunch or something. In my current more isolated life, I've had some success with a weekly meetup group that has a pretty steady group who come every time. After a few months of seeing the same people week in and week out it started feeling like a friend group too.
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Post by ColmilloBlanco on Fri Dec 12, 2014 9:08 pm

Suika wrote:So it's like the friendzone without the friend and only the negatives?  

Unfortunately it seems that way. For example she just called me telling me there is a PC that's now working properly in her workplace. She asked how much it would cost for me to fix it, we talked about what the problem is. She also made a comment that she thought about me to fix the problem so that I would go out and do something different, I didn't like that comment, because all I do is PC related so it's not different at all.

I would love to have friends that call me to do fun things, or at the very least talk, but I only get work related stuff Sad
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