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General Dating Questions/How do you make friends?

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QUESTION: Hi, Ali! :)

I couldn't find a making-friends section.

I'm Matt, and I don't know whether you recall, but I asked you a question about finding a girlfriend a few months ago. It was the one with the really lame thank-you note that referenced to the Roman god Janus. Your previous answer was so awesome that I thought I would take up my new query with you.

I'm 21, I'm currently a part-time college student, and unfortunately, jobless at the moment. I attend class Monday - Wednesday. I've been socially inactive for the better part of the past 2-3 years, but now that I'm in good health again, it's high time to make some new friends. Yay! It's very difficult, though.

While I'm there -- without being overbearing -- I interact with everyone. I have troubles reading body language and my social skills aren't up to par. There aren't very many clubs at my college (the metaphysics club is no longer existent, there aren't any book clubs, and the Spanish club doesn't sound like it will materialize either). There aren't many candidates, because it's been hard to find someone with whom I can establish a rapport. I'm not being picky. I won't be able to take any new classes until the summer and that's 3-4 months from now.

What should I do? What's the best strategy/approach to this situation?

Thanks a bunch,
Matt

ANSWER: Hi Matt! Of course I remember you :)


When you're in class, how are you interacting with people? Are you talking to them and saying "hi" before or after class? Do you notice that a group of people ever go get coffee or lunch after class? Do you spend any time on campus or in study groups where you have more of a chance to interact with people on topics beyond what is covered in class? If you see people in the caf that you recognize from class, it would be great if you felt comfortable saying "hi" and making some light conversation. Or, even better, mention as you walk out of class that you're going to grab some coffee, and ask the person you're talking with if they want to grab a cup, too.

When you say your social skills aren't up to par, what do you mean by that? Very few people feel 100% confident in their social skills, but if you stay true to yourself and your interests, you can keep your initial interactions simple and breezy. It's always easy to talk about hot topics in the region. It might sound boring, but if the weather is beautiful, just mention how it's a great day - and then tack on something like "can't wait for class to be over to go soak it up." This is a way to achieve a common bond with someone. Who doesn't like great weather? And it also opens the door for them to say something like, "yeah, tell me about it." If they seem open to further conversation, you can ask what their plans are to enjoy the day after class and take it from there. I know this sounds overly simple, Matt, but it's really easy to interact with someone when you show genuine curiosity in them. Ask questions, but don't be overbearing. Just really listen to what they are saying and respond appropriately. Keep the focus on them and learning more about them, integrating your own common areas of interest or experience where they emerge.

Also, it sounds like your hobbies skew toward the academic. It's a shame that the clubs you looked into are not a possibility right now. Do you have other interests that might be a little bit more popular with your fellow classmates? If so, look into those - perhaps you can write for the school newspaper or offer student tutoring. Any activity you do will offer the chance for you to meet and engage with more people, hopefully finding a few that you connect with as friends along the way.

There are things you can research outside of school, too. For instance, are you interested in sports at all? Even if you're not a tremendous athlete, many areas of the country have adult sports leagues that are meant more as a social activity. Think kickball or bocce ball teams. Often, googling something like Sport and Social, plus your state will yield some sort of interesting result, like this: http://indiana.sportsvite.com/leagues/

There are also places like meetup.com that might help you find ways to connect with others in your area.

I hope these tips can at least get you started, Matt. Try not to doubt your social skills and just focus on enjoying the people you meet and figuring out if you connect with them in any meaningful way - that's usually the best way to start the journey to making friends. Good luck!
Ali


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Well, Ali, I thought you might want a status update. Suffice to say, I'm in way over my head! So much has happened that I don't know where to begin, or where to go, what choices to make, whom to hang out with, what girl to chase -- in other words, sooooo many choices that I don't know what to do.

First the romantic. On the first day of class, I saw Emily and I lit up inside; I felt insane. Every Monday night, I couldn't sleep because I was so excited that I would get to see her the next day. I couldn't stop thinking about her, or talking about her, or talking to her. But I found her Facebook and she has a boyfriend that she's been with since 2010. Don't worry, though, that was over a month ago and I'm over her. The feelings still kind of linger and ebb and flow. BUT there are a bunch of other girls I'm interested in now. After an awesome piano presentation for class, one girl wants me to teach her! Another girl in the active minds club plays the piano AND speaks Spanish. The other two girls in the club are ridiculously hot -- way-out-of-my-league hotness, I mean, seriously hot. Girls, girls, girls, girls, girls! They're all I can think about, Ali, and I feel like I'm going crazy.

Casey (a guy) hinted that he wanted to hang out, so there's a possible friend! Patrick from the active minds club seems pretty cool and he speaks Spanish as well!! Chelsea is a potential friend as well (a girl from my Creative Writing class). I'm going to start my own book club at the school too!

Now the bad. My one and only local friend dumped me. He doesn't answer my FB messages anymore. We went our separate ways for a while anyway -- we went to different schools, he had new friends, he drinks, I don't -- but we stayed friends all the same. Now, he obviously wants nothing to do with me. I asked him if he wants to hang out some time, you know, to bridge the distance between us and rekindle an old friendship.... but he never responded. Fucking douche bag. My dad's friend whom I communicate via e-mail keeps pushing Mormonism on me, and I don't like it but I don't want to hurt his feelings...

Then add school to the mix, job searching, insecurities about my appearance, and things just get very confusing. I know that's a lot of information. Losing friends, meeting new people, girls having boyfriends, other girls I like but probably don't like me.

What should I do, Ali?

Thanks again for all your help. You're undoubtedly the best expert on this site!!!!! :) :) :)

Answer
Hi Matt,
It sounds like you've been busy! I'm so glad to hear that things are going well. That's great that you're meeting so many people that you have stuff in common with and you've been having a great time. Try to live in the moment and enjoy it. Get to know some of the girls in the active minds club and see if you connect with any of them on a mental level. Are there any that seem to share more of your interests than others? And that you're physically attracted to (of course)? :)

Try not to let insecurity cause you too much confusion, Matt. Believe me, there are very few people out there who are 100% comfortable with their appearance. The trick is confidence - it goes a long way. And, believe it or not, most girls - when they know a guy - will go for someone who is funny or charismatic over one who is drop-dead good-looking. You have a lot to offer, you have great energy and you should feel good about yourself and be confident about that!

As for your friend who isn't answering your FB messages...do you have any idea as to why he's stopped communicating with you? Friends can drift apart, that's not uncommon. But to flat out not want anything to do with someone is a different story. If you think he is upset about something in particular, maybe try to message him again and see if he'd be willing to talk about it. If you can't think of a specific incident, though, perhaps your best bet is to just move on and focus your energy on getting to know your new friends better and hang out with them.

Finally, for your dad's friend who is pushing Mormonism, let him know that you appreciate his emails and that you are glad his faith is positively impacting his life, but that you prefer to find your own way spiritually. You can let him know that you're not interested in a respectful way that won't hurt his feelings. If he keeps pushing after you've said something, you can let him know that his pushiness makes you uncomfortable, and change the subject or just delete the messages. Does your dad know the friend is trying to push Mormonism on you? Perhaps your dad could say something on your behalf if necessary, as well.

Very glad to hear things are going well, Matt! It sounds like things are falling into place! Right now, it's a whirlwind because you have so much going on. As you get into a pattern with school and are able to find a job, you'll be able to find more of a rhythm and hopefully a nice balance between work, school, friends and dates :) Have a great weekend!
Ali

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Ali

Expertise

I can answer questions related to "the chase"--whether to be patient or more assertive. I can answer questions regarding break-ups and moving on. I can answer questions related to flirting and meeting new people as well as how to inspire them to call you.

Experience

I have much personal experience as well as often play the role of matchmaker and advice-giver with many of my friends. I took several classes related to gender relations in college, giving me a solid perspective on communication between couples and what it means.

Publications
My writing has appeared on a website and various anthologies.

Education/Credentials
Graduated with a BA from Villanova University.

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