Do you remember when making a new friend used to be as easy as sharing your crayons with the kid next to you? As I grow older, it has become apparent that random strangers aren’t interested in my Crayola collection.
We know that developing meaningful relationships is often what adds immeasurable joy into our lives. While finding success on your own does give you that hit of dopamine, nothing quite beats sharing your success with others. And on the flip side of the coin, meaningful relationships are often what help us crawl out of life’s valleys to be able to find the top of the mountain again.
If you find yourself craving connection with others, this article will give you steps to take to satisfy that craving and help you develop new relationships that could last a lifetime.
Now some of us are less interested in being social. As someone who identifies as an introverted-extrovert, I at least half understand this sentiment.
However, the research indicates that having a well-developed social circle is a predictor of your well-being. And the studies show that as we age, our social support system becomes even more critical for our overall wellness.
And if you find that your love life lacks luster, you may want to start meeting new folks and developing friendships. Because studies show that most people report that their lover started off as a friendship that slowly grew into something more.
So if you’ve been looking for that extra something to turbocharge your wellness and give your love life the boost it needs, meeting new people is a great place to start.
What happens if you avoid making friendships
As it turns out, avoidance of developing meaningful relationships can result in more than a non-existent social life. It can significantly impact your physical health.
A study in 2011 demonstrated that older people who reported being lonely were more likely to develop malnutrition. And the research shows that loneliness has been found to negatively affect the quality of your sleep.
And if you’re still not convinced that loneliness can be harmful to your well-being, let me throw one more piece of evidence your way. A study in 2020 found that loneliness was associated with an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and reduced cognitive function.
The evidence is clear. Meaningful connection with others is good for both mind and body.
5 tips for meeting new people
So if you’re ready to ditch Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band, use these 5 tips to start meeting new people and expand your social circle starting today.
1. Try a new hobby
We all have that “thing” that we love to do or that we have been dying to try out. Whether it’s joining a hiking group or an underwater basket weaving club, giving that hobby a go is a great way to meet new people.
When I first moved to New Mexico for grad school, I had no friends outside of the PT program. And while being around people who are in the same boat as you can be helpful at times, I wanted to meet people with different perspectives.
I had always wanted to try out rock climbing. So I decided that was as good a time as any to see if I could channel my inner monkey and climb up walls.
I joined the local rock-climbing gym and in doing so I met new people, some of which I now call my best friends. Through trying out this new hobby, I was able to find like-minded people and bond with them over the task of learning a new skill.
And let me tell you, trusting someone to not let your body fall to its death is a great foundation upon which any friendship can thrive.
If you're afraid to start something new, here's an article we published on that subject.
2.Network through friends you already have
When it comes to meeting new people there is one beautiful truth that we often overlook. This truth is that you already know people who know people.
If you find yourself hanging out with a certain friend a lot, you may bring up in conversation that you would like to make some new friends. Chances are that if you enjoy hanging around this individual, they can help you meet others like them who you would also love to spend time with.
This is actually one of my favorite things to do. I like to play both friend and romantic matchmaker. And yes, sometimes it blows up in my face.
But 9 times out of 10, I have found that people really appreciate you helping them broaden their horizons when it comes to their social circle. So don’t shy away from “friend networking”.
3.Engage with people at work
Now I’m not suggesting you go become best friends with negative Nancy who always complains about how cold her coffee is at 8 am. But we do typically work with many individuals who could easily become our close friends if we just paid attention.
I remember this became clear to me when I was working at a clinic a few years ago. I was focused on work and work only. It wasn’t until I actually slowed down and had real conversations with my co-workers that I realized the people I worked with were actually really cool.
Conversations at work led to us going to grab food and over time I grew close to many of my co-workers. And through developing these relationships, my work environment became ten times more enjoyable.
4.Try online platforms and groups
In today’s society, making a new friend could be as simple as sliding into someone’s DMs.
I genuinely met a few of my friends by commenting on their fancy-looking lattes on their Instagram pages. The online world makes it easy to make new connections with people near and far.
There is also a slew of MeetUp groups or applications like Bumble that allow you to put on a friend filter to meet new people. With technology allowing us to meet new people with just a few clicks, there are really no excuses for not being able to make new connections.
5. Talk with strangers
I saved the hardest one for last. I can honestly say that I have to make what feels like a gigantic effort to implement this one.
But how many times in a day do you interact with total strangers? I guarantee it’s probably more than you think.
I actually made a close acquaintance by talking with my barista. Being the caffeine addict I am, I often find myself in coffee shops. This leads to many potential interactions, but the one that is forced is with the barista.
And often, I simply tell them my order and say thank you. But on this day, I decided I was going to chat with the barista. As it turned out, the barista was interested in going to physical therapy school and all things outdoor-related. We exchanged numbers and I still keep in contact with this person to this date.
So as cheesy as it may sound, that person that you are afraid to say hello to may just end up becoming your new best friend.
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Meeting new people doesn’t have to be complicated or intimidating. And when you put yourself out on a limb to develop meaningful connections with others, your mental and physical well-being are sure to thrive. Who knows, you may even meet that stranger with who you want to share your crayons for the rest of your life.
Do you find it hard to meet new people? Do you feel confident enough to use one of the tips I shared? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!