7 Tips for Finding New Friends

13 min
How to find friends (Elena Lacey)

There isn’t a clear path on how to make close friends. Some people find making friends even harder than dating. They say with romantic relationships there's at least some semblance of steps: You ask a person out, you go out again, maybe you keep going on dates, maybe one person isn't feeling it and the relationship ends, or perhaps both people are feeling it, you talk and then make your relationship "official".

Last year, Bay Curious received the question: "How do I make friends?"

We tried reaching out to the question asker, but they never responded. However, surveys show many Americans often feel lonely, and a lot of those lonely people also feel socially isolated.

To help our question asker, we're going to start off with tips for finding potential friends, then next week we'll talk about how to make them closer.

Click the audio player above to hear more examples, tips and studies on how to find friends.

Spend Time Socializing

If you want to find friends, it helps to prioritize socializing and to make time for it. People in their late teens and early 20s spend the most time per day socializing and communicating, according to the 2018 American Time Use Survey, which may be correlated with young people having the most friends of any age group.

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Propinquity

Propinquity is essentially proximity or routine opportunities to get to know people. When socializing is convenient, it can speed up friendship formation. For example, one study looked at an apartment complex and found that people living on different floors are less likely to be friends, whereas people living near stairs or mailboxes are more likely to have friends on different floors.

Change Can Lead To New Friends

When you’re going through big life changes you’re often meeting new people and more open to befriending them. This could include starting at a new school, becoming a parent or switching careers. According to Jeffrey Hall, who studies friendship formation at the University of Kansas, friends can be a huge part of identity formation. “Our friends help us become the people we want to be. We change in part because of their influence and partly because we're trying to figure out who we are vis-a-vis them.”

Trust Your Gut

When you first meet someone, you often make decisions pretty quickly on whether that person could become a close friend. Some researchers say people often know by the second week, while others find people recognize a potential friend immediately. So similar to love at first sight, there can be friendship at first sight (though it isn’t always mutual).

Birds of a Feather

You’re more likely to be friends with people who are similar to you, and one study shows that friends even think alike. At Dartmouth, researchers took brain scans of people while watching a series of short clips. They found people who had similar neural responses were more likely to be friends.

Humor Matters

Having a similar sense of humor is attractive in potential friends. Additionally, if people make you laugh, it makes you feel good because it literally produces endorphins, which can help you to endure more pain.

Do Things That Make You Happy

Do activities that make you happy in a social setting. Angie Thurston, who co-wrote "How We Gather," which looks at how millennials form community, says working toward a shared mission larger than yourself is both fulfilling and effective in forming meaningful connections. “The experience of being of service to others can be the most profound and meaningful conduit to both the transformation of the human heart and also the experience of meaning and depth in community.”

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