Nothing kills your social life like a two-year global pandemic. Not only was it virtually impossible to meet new people, but keeping up with existing friends could at times be an emotionally exhausting task. Can anyone else relate? The good news is, things continue to become progressively safer (knock on wood) and we as a society can go back to facing the greatest challenge of adult life – making new friends.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting someone new through a mutual friend. All we did was get lunch and chat a bit, but it was such a wonderful feeling to make a connection with someone I had never known before. We were lucky – by sheer coincidence we agreed on many things and shared similar interests and passions, so getting to know this person was a breeze. By the end of the interaction we had shared phone numbers and were already calling each other friends – even though we had only met about two hours ago! In reality, it was a very mundane event, but I left with such a pleasant spark in my chest that I knew something very meaningful had just occurred. I made a new friend.
Coincidentally, I work at a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to create relationships across lines of difference in order to strengthen communities, so I quite literally help people become friends for a living. But my organization works with the knowledge that relationships like friendships aren’t just pleasant – they can make real impacts in people’s lives, as well as larger communities. In my work, I’ve identified some key tools for making and maintaining authentic relationships:
- Find common interests – even if that’s just a TV show or sport that you both like, it can lay the groundwork for finding a deeper connection
- Be physically and authentically present – when you meet someone new, try to be your truest self, and give them your full attention. That’s the quickest way to find out if you are actually compatible.
- Find the humor – most people say that a shared sense of humor is the most important thing they value in a friendship, so try to laugh as much as possible! Even if you’re just laughing at how awkward things are.
- Be patient, and be resilient – most meaningful connections don’t happen overnight. If a prospective friend isn’t being super responsive, just give it time. And don’t give up!
There! Now you’re fully set up to go forth and make some friends. Good luck!