How Do I Make Friends?

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NathanLyle

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I’ve been wanting to make this post since summer but I felt weird and embarrassed. By the time I worked up the courage to say it the site was down. By the time it came back I talked myself out of it again. Well, gonna try to say this in a way that doesn’t make me sound like an asshole but also doesn’t make me sound like I’m looking for pity. And before I say anything, yes, I acknowledge that y’all aren’t professional therapist and are not responsible for my mental and emotional well being.

I hate people. I grew up an abusive household and learned a strong mistrust of humanity. Beta up at home. Bet up at school. I’ve become a very closed off person. 98% of the time I just don’t wan to deal with people. And even when I am feeling lonely I feel like 98% of the people I meet just aren’t worth the effort. The older I get the more I realize how important it is to have people in your life so I’m making a concentrated effort to put myself out there more and be far less judgmental. So I guess this entire post is a long-winded way of saying: “Is there anyone out there who’s really good at making friends and loves talking to new people because I really suck at this…”
 

Shirokirie

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I've learned that people, like characters, change and get quirky much like the chars do. As a writer, I'm positive you'll comprehend some of what that means (that it's persevering through situations, the gaining of knowledge, and the nurturing of your personality and quirks that will result in development, for better and worse).

Aside from that, I'm of the opinion that you should join the "Gee, people sure suck!" club, and consider buying a magical rainbow llama.

Are you looking for someone to talk to? I'm always down for banter, however idle or involved. But, from your post, I'm not sure if you're looking for 'motivational peptalk nonsensical wisdom' or something. :D

I'd put in my one cent(s) with regard to that, but, eh. My primary statement to how you feel regarding your species is that yes, we're not 'all good'. Still, like you notice, it is important to have a handful of quality individuals to bounce your head on. Unfortunately, that does mean effort - sometimes great, concerted effort and heaps of time. But, it's commendable that you are making that effort.

You'll be fine. :)
 

The Second Moon

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When I first read the title of this thread, I thought I must have made this in my sleep somehow. You see I have no friends. Haven't had any since I can't remember when. I firmly believe this is because I have selective mutism. Selective mutism is when I can barely speak to people outside of my house. I just get so anxious.

I don't want to make this thread about me, but I just wanted you to know that you're not alone. I want to lurk here in this thread as it grows so I can pick up tips.

Sadly a little part of me says, "Friends are scary. You don't really want friends." I want to erase that little voice.

Thank you for making this thread.
 

Chris P

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I find it hard to make friends. I've never had a ton of them, and they tend to be very situational: a lot of work friends I see only at work, relatives ionly talk to when I'm in town and only when it's an event someone else organized, church friends I see only at church, etc. As soon as the situation changes and we're no longer in contact, off we go on our separate ways.

For me, the solution has been two-fold. First, accepting that this is how I am and that I will never be the type of friend I might see other people being or see in buddy films. I don't mean this in a defeated way but a liberating one. I don't have to be anyone I'm not, and most of the people in my life are fine with that and don't expect much else. There are no rules. My first goal is to be kind and contribute to whatever situation is at hand. Second, I get active in the things I like to do. That puts me in contact with others who like the same thing. I contribute in the fullest way I can, again being only who I am and not who I think I'm supposed to be. I don't have to be the president of every club, but I can still do stuff. The friendships, as situational as they might be, just kind of happen.

I know this sounds like a big thing to undertake, and it is. It's not easy and took many years of patient growth for me. It might for you too but growth will happen in your way.
 
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redpbass

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I, too, don't want to deal with people. My reasons seem a little different though... Mostly lack of shared interests. They tend to cling to annoying things or things like who got traded to what team, or who dissed who, or who got the rose and it was so romantic I can't believe it they're truly soul mates forever and ever and happily ever after squeal and they all insist on 'hanging out', which seems to involve sitting around for long periods of time doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Drives me up a wall. I need mental stimulation, and to get up and move around from time to time. I'm an outdoor cat, not a sit-for-six-hours-at-a-bar/mall/basement-waiting-for-someone-to-say-something-interesting-cat. I'm bored and annoyed, they can tell I'm bored and annoyed so they get annoyed, and...yeah. There are very few people I can connect to on a good friend level, and one of them is my girlfriend. Introvert, completely.

But in your case, well, one thing to keep in mind is that there are billions (yes, billions) of people out there whose first thought upon meeting you will NOT be something along the lines of "How can I take advantage of this person?" Most of them don't care, they have their own problems. A huge number of them would help in an emergency, though others won't because of fear/embarrassment, not wanting to be singled out or targeted, etc, and this changes for each person constantly. The number of people who are actually malevolent is very, very low. It's just that there are so many people in the world now, you run across that type far more often than they did in, say, the 1950s. The news doesn't report on all the people who weren't viciously murdered in cold blood every day, after all. They don't report on all the people who aren't out to rip off everyone around them either.

Of course I'm in the same boat as Chris P, so what do I know. My solution seems to involve struggling to find some common ground with the people around me, whether general intelligence level, education, movies, games, books, upbringing, outlook on life, etc. I've learned to avoid politics, religion, and music, the last of which I have added to the list of forbidden subjects as it causes almost as many intense arguments as the other two. Best friends like you see on TV would be nice, but I'm just not built to hang out with the guys 24/7 so I don't try to force myself into that. I'm better at good acquaintances.

But anyway, it sounds like the main symptom of whatever your real problem is is that you judge everyone. Basically, stop doing that. It won't be easy, but if you want to get out of your self-imposed prison, you'll have to. When you find yourself writing somebody off, stop yourself and try to find something about them that doesn't reinforce your judgement. People are complex things, and what you see the first time you meet them is never the whole story, or even half of it. People are usually not at home what they are at work, or on the highway, or on social media. It's just what they're showing at that brief moment in their life, with all their worries and history and self image and the image they're trying to project and the stresses and thoughts and insecurities of the moment pushing them, and that is all it is. I'm not saying hang around terrible people, but try to look deeper. What someone does today is not necessarily what they'll do tomorrow, which itself is not necessary what they'll do a week later, or a year later. Some of the most interesting people I know made terrible first impressions.

You have to put yourself out there and give people a chance, but most importantly, you have to be willing to meet them halfway. For a lot of us it's not easy at all to open up that way, but it's something you have to do or you'll never grow as a person.
 

NathanLyle

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Are you looking for someone to talk to? I'm always down for banter, however idle or involved. But, from your post, I'm not sure if you're looking for 'motivational peptalk nonsensical wisdom' or something. :D

I'd put in my one cent(s) with regard to that, but, eh. My primary statement to how you feel regarding your species is that yes, we're not 'all good'. Still, like you notice, it is important to have a handful of quality individuals to bounce your head on.

One of my favorite quotes is from men in black: “a person is smart. People are dumb panicky dangerous animals and you know it.” That being said, I’ve seen these animals possess great qualities like compassion, loyalty and love. I sometimes find myself wishing I could be more like them.

I guess the main thing I’m looking for is someone to have pointless conversations with. “Have you heard the new Travis Atreo album? He’s awesome isn’t he?” “That new sonic movie sucks right?” “I have a mole on my butt. Should I see a doctor or do I just need to do a better job wiping?”
 

NathanLyle

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Sadly a little part of me says, "Friends are scary. You don't really want friends." I want to erase that little voice. Thank you for making this thread.

That’s exactly what I’m trying to change. Most of the time when I have the choice I’d rather be alone. But then the few times I want friends it’s no longer a choice. I’m stuck with just me and my self-defeating thoughts.
 

NathanLyle

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I find it hard to make friends. I've never had a ton of them, and they tend to be very situational: a lot of work friends I see only at work, relatives I only talk to when I'm in town and only when it's an event someone else organized, church friends I see only at church, etc. As soon as the situation changes and we're no longer in contact, off we go on our separate ways.

I’d like to believe that’s my biggest problem. I’ve made some great friends but as soon as school ends or one of us leaves the job we never hang out again and slowly the texts stop coming. With many of them we’re still in contact on social media but it’s not the same. They post, I click like. I post, they click like. Hard to call that friendship. My situation changed recently and by being mindful of my own emotional state I came to realize how strongly it affected me to lose the one person I can commiserate with daily. Which is why I ended up making this post.
 

BlackKnight1974

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Just my 2 bob's worth (or 2 cents if you prefer).

My first question is: why? You're really not selling me that you actually want friends. It almost feels like your concern about being rejected/hurt outweighs your desire for company. I suffered physical abuse from my brother for about a decade following the death of my mother and so I can appreciate the abusive part. I had a period of what is best described as "bitterness" through my 20s and 30s, and it was only really when I met my wife that my outlook started to change.

That said, I really still prefer not to speak to people unless we have a shared interest, or I am obliged to through work or other necessity. I've kind of accepted that, and at times it's a chore that I just have get through. Likewise, I'm self-aware enough to know that it's not their fault - it's mine.

A couple of pointers/ideas to consider.

1) Ask yourself why you want a friend. What purpose do you want them to serve in your life. Depending on this requirement, you can start to work out where/how it might happen. Looking for someone to hang out with a couple times a month is going to require a different approach to someone you are going to go rock-climbing with twice a week.

2) You're best bet is probably to meet people through a hobby or interest, if nothing else it will give you a shared interest to strike up a conversation with. Try to go to event and talk to some people - and don't talk yourself out of it before you get there. It will feel daunting and perhaps a lot of effort - but if you do want to make a friend, you'll have to weigh up whether you are prepared to put in the effort or not. All but the most casual friendships require work - especially at the start. You could try volunteering somewhere - most people doing charity work are at least halfway decent people, it's unlikely you'll meet many neo-nazis at your local animal shelter.

3) You don't have to be BFF with someone overnight. You can take as long as you need to get to know someone - and walk away at any point. I have a large circle of acquaintances, but very few are what I would consider friends - and it takes time to get there. Listen to people, let them do the talking, you can general tell more about someone from listening to them than you will from talking. Let them go first and don't rush into baring your soul.

4) Try and give people a chance or at least the benefit of the doubt. Everyone is different and just because someone isn't to your taste, doesn't mean they aren't worth bothering with. Try and see the good rather than the negative - all humans are flawed, if you're looking for faults, you'll likely not have to look far to find them.

At the end of the day, you have to want to. Social skills are degradable - the less you use them, the harder you'll find it.

Good Luck
 

Belle_91

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Have you thought about joining a local writing group? I'm actually about to head over to my first in-person writing group tonight. I'm a little nervous, however, I think it will give me an opportunity to meet people who obviously enjoy the same stuff that I do.

My fiancé met a bunch of his friends through this thing in our city that advertises for people to meet up and hang out. They offer different events like horseback riding, kayaking, wine tastings, and those kind of things for people to get to know one another. Maybe that might be something else you try.
 

Woollybear

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A friend of mine, one who I only see about every five years or so, said something once that stuck with me. Spending time with people is how we become friends.

It's sometimes as simple as that. Start spending time with people--people you feel good about. And treat them well--as in, be respectful and kind-hearted toward them. Personally, I enjoy writing groups at the moment. We can always find shared interests over writing.

Expect little in return. Because everyone's on their own trajectory. And yeah, some people you simply won't want to spend time with--for example if all they talk about is the mole on their butt. :) Some of the people you do want to spend time with won't want to spend time with you. that's life. But keep your expectations low and be kind to others, be willing to be open (~sort of in the ballpark of vulnerable) a little bit, now and then, in other words be human not angry, and after a while you see the goodness in them and a little light like that will help drive out the dark.

I'm sorry to hear about your childhood. There are good people too.
 

Auteur

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As some other members have posted, you can meet potential friends through shared hobbies and interests. That way, even if you don't make friends, you're still doing something you like to do.

I used to play music in a song circle and made several friends through that activity. I haven't been in a while, though. Once I stopped going, I lost contact with most of them, so obviously, they weren't close friends, but you never know!

When I was young, I had some drinking and drug buddies.

It's hard for some of us to form close bonds. There's only one person I consider a true friend, and that's my wife. I know that I can count on her through thick and thin because she's seen me at my worst and still loves me, remarkably enough.

And in this day and age, you really need to be careful. There are a lot of assholes out there, and they prey on people who are a little different or have low self-esteem.
 

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As someone who also came from a toxic/abusive/mentally and socially shut-down childhood, I wholeheartedly empathize. I'm in my mid-thirties and lead a life of deep depression right now, because I'm the only person I know who doesn't seem to have friends. People look at me with pity. I invite them over, and they have other things to do. But they "will think of me and hope things get better". As long as they don't have to be personally involved with making them so.

Chin up.
 

seashelly

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One of my favorite quotes is from men in black: “a person is smart. People are dumb panicky dangerous animals and you know it.” That being said, I’ve seen these animals possess great qualities like compassion, loyalty and love. I sometimes find myself wishing I could be more like them.

I guess the main thing I’m looking for is someone to have pointless conversations with. “Have you heard the new Travis Atreo album? He’s awesome isn’t he?” “That new sonic movie sucks right?” “I have a mole on my butt. Should I see a doctor or do I just need to do a better job wiping?”

It's hard feeling you don't have anyone to interact with. Sometimes you just want the look of recognition and commiseration in somebody's eyes when you tell them the d*** post office bent your Netflix DVD, or to rejoice with you that your latest short story sold. I, too, grew up in an abusive household and went on to several abusive marriages. My trust in people is somewhere around -20. But I am starting to work on opening up the slightest bit. Perhaps when I feel that much is safe, maybe I might open up a little more. But it's really hard to find people you even click with, let alone trust with your thoughts and feelings. I don't have any advice for you beyond take it slowly, but I would encourage you, DO try taking it, because the alternative to trying is no people in your life, and that's a terrible hollow feeling.
 

C.bronco

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Generally, I just try to meet people where they are in life. I've been fortunate to find like-minded people in my work (in education with those who value knowledge, and some of whom are still working on their social skills as am I), and through my and my son's hobby.

Get involved in group activities in your personal interests, and you will also find relatable people and enjoyable company. That is the first step. In time, they become friends and make your life richer.
 

The Black Prince

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I don't think I'm equipped to offer any advice, but here's my rumination on the matter...

I guess I'm very lucky as I come from the complete opposite perspective. I've always had heaps of friends - indeed my two closest friends (still) were both in kindergarten with me and we continue to swap notes to this day about life as it evolves. Most of my other close friends were from school or playing amateur football - I guess it was football that kept us all together after school and through our twenties.

Having friends, I think, is all about being with people long enough for them to be comfortable with you. It's about equality (more or less) and both putting in as well as taking out.

It can't be forced. You can't make yourself like someone and you can't make someone else like you. There's an indefinable link in there that just happens when it's supposed to - although some links are stronger than others.

I reckon the best advice you've had on here is to join a writers' group. You'll meet people with similar interests and that weeds out a lot of the people with whom (maybe) you don't have enough in common to feel a genuine link.

That's all I have to say about that...
 
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Aegrin

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I’d like to believe that’s my biggest problem. I’ve made some great friends but as soon as school ends or one of us leaves the job we never hang out again and slowly the texts stop coming. With many of them we’re still in contact on social media but it’s not the same. They post, I click like. I post, they click like. Hard to call that friendship. My situation changed recently and by being mindful of my own emotional state I came to realize how strongly it affected me to lose the one person I can commiserate with daily. Which is why I ended up making this post.

It may not comfort you, but it is still better situation than mine. And there are plenty of people in even worse situations. As small, nerdy and exceedingly uncharismatic person I had few friends (two to be precise), but after graduating they said "screw you, we can meet better people than you now". I'm now paranoic about it. But I just had to accept that. I know, easier said than done.
The only advice I can give you is to not give up and seek more folks with similar hobbies. It won't click with many people, it won't click quickly. That's just me theory, keep in mind, I'm still on that road.
 

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In my experience it's best to forget about ideas like "how do I attract such and such person? How do I become likeable?". I've found that people tend to really enjoy when you wear your heart on your sleeve and aren't afraid to just openly be yourself and all that entails. Even downright admitting to someone, like you've done in this thread, that you have issues with people but really want to get better at it makes you seem more likeable. Sorry to hear about your previous bad experiences. I won't pretend like I know exactly what you're going through but I've dealt with similar things so I can relate to what you say. Put trust in that you, as you really are, are good enough for people. Because that's actually the truth! I had to learn to like myself more before I got better at dealing with people but I'm not sure if you have that same problem.

That said I'm not sure if I'm the best person to speak on this. I used to have a bunch of irl friends but gradually let them go because I got too tired of shallow friendships and wearing the social mask. I just can't do small talk and prefer having fewer more closer friends. Unfortunately none of them live in my country! So making irl friendships that are deeper and more meaningful is something I'm also struggling with. I think you've made the right choice in seeking online communities with similar interests to you at least. Try to worry less and keep doing what you're doing, you're already doing good.

Edit: also it's okay to feel like most people aren't worth the effort. You'll have to be prepared to look hard for those diamonds in the rough but that approach just works for some much better than being surrounded by superfluous friendships that go nowhere.
 
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jeb101

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I don't dislike people - enjoy being around them - but I live alone and I really like doing so.

I didn't grow up in a "normal" household - no brothers or sisters, Dad in the Navy and gone most of my life as Mom and I didn't follow him and Mom working. I rode the school bus from home in the morning and rode a different bus to my Grandparents in the afternoon. They were running a pottery so had no time for me - until I was old enough to start working in the shop as well. At both the house and my Grandparents there were no other kids around so i never had that interaction except at school.

I like living alone - and a while back saw an article that said people that like being alone are smarter. So there. :)
 

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You are now reading a post from someone who was naturally shy and unpopular. I was so quiet as a kid that some people thought I was learning disabled. I meanwhile was age 28 when I had my first serious relationship and 44 when I married. Furthermore, like you, I am somewhat distrusting of people. With the pandemic, my wife is pretty much the only person I see live and I have been fine with this. I'm still not some mega-social butterfly.
 

druid12000

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I sometimes feel like you. And have thought a lot about the subject over the years, mainly because I used to have a ton of friends and was very outgoing and popular. Now, not so much and, frankly I'm good with that. It's hard being comfortable being alone. It frightens people, freaks them out I think, because they see it as abnormal. We're social creatures after all, right? I lost count of how many times people have asked me why I'm so quiet. To which I usually respond, "why aren't you?". That goes over really well :tongue. It's different for everyone, of course. Some folks crave the intimacy of close friends, while others like myself are perfectly happy being alone. Is either way more correct? Of course not. Just different strokes. Be yourself, authentically. If that draws people to you, Great!. If it doesn't, Great! At least you can look yourself in the eye because when it comes down to it, you have to live with you all the time. And hey, you put yourself out there on a thread on a writer's forum (and got some really good advice in the process as well as plenty of folk to talk to, myself included). It's all good my friend :D
 

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