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5 Psych-Backed Tips for Making Long-Lasting Friendships

It’s an age-old question: how exactly does one make friends? For most people, it just seems to happen so naturally, but everyone will find themselves friendless at some point or another — especially if you don’t happen to be the most outgoing person in the world. Approaching people with the intention of being friends is intimidating and awkward, but if you’re looking for friends, what else can you do? Luckily for you, psychologists have the answers, and we’re sharing them with you in this post.

popcorn, 3-D glasses, and movie tickets
Buying two tickets forces you to make a move — and it’s a pretty smooth way to ask your potential friend to hang out.

Make the First Move

It’s one of the biggest secrets of friendship-making that you must put effort and thought into it. It may be awkward, it may be weirdly reminiscent of a romantic relationship, but you need to court your potential friend. One of the easiest and least nerve-wracking ways to do this is to happen to buy two tickets for an event, whether or not you have anyone (right now) to join you. Then, all you have to say to your potential friend is say “hey, I have two tickets for this, and my other friend/significant other/sibling (if you’re desperate) doesn’t want to go — would you be interested?” That way, it doesn’t seem like you don’t have anyone to go with in the first place, and the focus is more on the event than it is on your relationship.

Even if they don’t accept, it’s always nice to be asked, and you may be able to grow closer from that interaction. It makes for an easy segue into a conversation about your interests, and finding common interests is a big step towards friendship. Who knows, you might even end up finding a new hobby as well as a new friend!

waving man with a camera
A simple “hi, how’s it going?” can be the starter you need to build your friendship.

Target Interesting People

It’s likely that those who intrigue you will be more natural conversation partners, and we all want to be surrounded by interesting people. Rather than sitting back and waiting for them to come to you — as many introverts are wont to do — try putting yourself out there and making friends that you actually want. That way, you won’t end up in the awkward situation — again, reminiscent of a romantic relationship — in which your friend likes you more than you like them.

Proximity is Key

Even before you have the chance to make the first move, you want the person to know that you exist and a little about you so that they can make the same friendship judgments about you that you have already made about them. Sit next to them in class, join a club that they just happen to be in (make sure you’re interested in it as well — you don’t want to change your personality just for a potential friend), or even just make an effort to say hi.

fist bump between a woman and a man
Just as it takes two hands to fist-bump, it takes two people to be friends — you need to make it into a collaborative effort.

Talk as Much as you Listen

If you’re introverted, you’re likely more comfortable as a listener, and while listening is a great skill, remember that you need to say something, too — a friendship is all about give and take. If you’re overly quiet, your potential friend will never have a chance to find out how awesome you are, and they may feel as though they’ve been tricked into oversharing. Ultimately, friendship requires intimacy and vulnerability, and you’ll never get to the point of closeness if all you do is stay in the comfortable listening zone. As long as you share little by little, it shouldn’t overwhelm your potential friend.

Don’t be Afraid to Move On

You may really, really want to be friends with this person, but if it’s not working, it’s not working. Don’t take it personally — friendship chemistry is a fickle thing. Plus, that just means you can devote more time to finding a new potential friend, and perhaps this one will work out better for you.

Friendship is an intricate, risky endeavor, but we all crave it, whether introvert or extrovert. Sometimes just have to take the fall and trust that the other person is also engaged in the friend-making dance. Remember, though — it does take effort.