As an adult, it can be incredibly difficult to make new friends. In addition to the careers we’re trying to build and families we’re trying to nurture, we’re constantly looking for ways to support our friendships — old or new. However, making new friends isn’t as easy as it used to be like when we were younger. Nowadays, if you want to connect with someone new, you need to be available to meet in person and not come off as too forward — basically, like dating. It seems as if making new friends has become so complex that friendship insecurities are becoming more prevalent, and to be honest, it feels really lonely.
But because of modern technology, you would think it would be so easy to add a new friend to your roster. All you need to do it reach out, compliment someone, and boom, you have a new friend. However, social media can sometimes feed the lonely soul. It can deepen the scars that have been created before by seeing these perfectly curated feeds and Stories of people going out and having a good time, or when someone chooses not to respond to your DM or text to hang out.
Frankly, for myself, I began to weigh my self-worth through the friendships that I lacked in the new city I’ve been living in for the past couple of years. I began to notice that every time I reached out to someone, I wouldn’t receive the response I was hoping for, and I didn’t know why. I began to question my personality, the way I communicated, and how I was being perceived when none of those negative thoughts were close to the truth. Making a new friend seemed like an impossible feat and I wanted to know why and how I could change that.
As much as this story is for you, it’s honestly for me, too, and if you feel like your social life is lacking or you’re recently going through a social slump, then I want you to know that you’re not alone. See below for six ways you can revitalize your social life and overcome that friendship insecurity.
1. Stop seeking reassurance from other people
When you’re trying to make new friends, you shouldn’t give them the responsibility to make you feel secure in yourself and the friendship. Seeking reassurance from others is like asking them to take the reigns of your life because you don’t trust yourself enough to do so. The actions of others have nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. And if they don’t give you the reassurance that you seek, your thoughts and actions will be influenced by this external factor instead of your own voice.
Instead, try to trust your gut. Say the things you want to say and do the things you want to do without thinking that you’re going to ruin a potential friendship. Being your authentic self is the greatest gift you could give to someone, because ultimately, you want someone to be your friend for who you are and not for someone you think they want you to be.
2. Focus on one or two friends to build that security
Sometimes it can feel overwhelming to overcome friendship insecurity when you want to focus on everyone in (or not in) your social circle. You want everyone to like you and possibly do anything to make that happen. However, while that idea might work short term, you could be building a friendship off false truths. This trick could be mentally draining and prohibit you from finding an authentic friendship. Ideally, you want to make baby steps when you’re trying to overcome friendship insecurity.
Try to focus your energy and time on one or two friends and build your friendship confidence through these mini interactions. Once you begin to feel confident in how these friendships are forming, then it might be a good idea to expand and connect with other people you’ve been meaning to connect with.
3. Don’t base your friendships on how they initiate
Friendship insecurity tends to rise to the surface of your mind when you begin to notice how some people initiate their interactions with you. You may want someone to invite you out to drinks or text you to see how you’re doing, but sometimes, that just doesn’t happen. However, that doesn’t mean these people don’t care about you. Maybe they’re scared to initiate a conversation because they don’t want to deal with the idea of rejection or they’re just too busy to hang out at the moment.
No matter what the reason may be, the one thing you should remember is to not base these friendships on these assumptions. Friendships are a two-way street, and if you want to hang out with them, reach out to them! By taking this brave step, you might realize that this person was experiencing the same self-doubt you were or been wanting to connect but just didn’t have the time. Either way, the way people interact is normally not a personal attack on you as a person, but usually based on what’s going on in their life at that moment and time.
4. Be the type of friend you wish others to be
While we can wish and pray for others to do the work for us by reaching out or setting up coffee dates, sometimes we need to be the ones who pull the plug. As scary as it might be, figure out what kind of friendship you seek, what these friendships mean to you, and go out there and strive to be that friend you wish others to be based off what you want. Be more vulnerable, make jokes, invite people to happy hours, or text more often. The more you put that kind of energy you want to receive out there, the more likely people who’ll relate to that type of energy will gravitate towards you.
5. Be kind to yourself
First and foremost, making new friends isn’t always easy. However, this doesn’t mean you should beat yourself up when you feel like you’re struggling to connect with someone. What you’re trying to do takes a lot of guts, and you should be proud of yourself for making this first step and putting yourself out there. Always remember to treat yourself like you would any other friend and be kind to yourself. True friendships don’t happen overnight and will take time to develop the trust and candor that you wish.
6. Don’t give up if they don’t reciprocate
Even when you think you do everything right, there’ll be moments that’ll make you question yourself. Sometimes people won’t respond the way you wish they would, they’ll cancel last minute, or they’ll stop talking to you in general. These situations will hurt and make you want to stop reaching out, but don’t. Just because these people don’t reciprocate your invite doesn’t mean you should give up or take it personally.
Remember that things happen for a reason and their actions might have nothing to do with you. It’s totally normal to take this rejection as a wash and try again later. The more you reach out, the more likely you’ll be able to connect with someone new. You won’t have any success if you don’t put yourself out there and give someone new a go. Just be mindful and kind to yourself and everything will work out.