Turning an acquaintance into a friend
November 26, 2016 at 3:15 am #179741
When I read advice on “making friends”, I find that most of it is actually about how to meet people and get to be on speaking terms with them. We’re told to join clubs or interest groups, introduce ourselves to people, make small talk, find out something about them, be friendly etc. But the part I have difficulty doing, is the next step. How do you get from the acquaintance stage, where you see somebody once a week at whatever group event you take part in, to the stage of seeing them outside the group and considering them an actual friend? I am fine with meeting people and getting acquaintances, but then I seem to get stuck, to the point where I can see somebody regularly for years but the relationship never gets any further then “Hi So-and-so, how are you? Nice weather for it today.” Does that mean that nobody is interested in developing a real friendship with me, or is there something that I’m failing to do, and they think I’m not interested?
November 26, 2016 at 6:18 am #179742
The next step is to take the person you want to be friends with outside of your usual setting. After the initial small talk (“Nice weather today”) you start asking social questions like: “So what’s up for the weekend?”; “Got any plans for tonight/ friday night/ the weekend /the holidays?”. At first your questions should be just casual – still small talk – no intention of getting an invitation or something.
If they say they are going some place, you could say something along the lines of: “Heyy, I’ve been there, it’s a really nice place” or “You enjoy basketball too, I’m a huge fan of so and so”.
Then you can follow with “You know, we should really get together some time and do *activity*”. You can repeat this conversation a few times while still being casual about it without setting a certain time. The point is to get them used to the idea of maybe some day spending some time with you.
Once they know you are open to hanging out with them, they won’t feel awkward about inviting you next time they go somewhere with friends. Also after you’ve dropped the hint a few times, it won’t be awkward for you to set a certain date at one point. You could say something like: “Heyy, I’m going to the bar with a few friends tonight, wanna join us?”. Make it some place that is easily accessible and doesn’t require much effort from the other person.
Once you start seeing them outside of work or wherever you know them from, it will be easier to get to know them better and suggest doing even more things together. You could later invite them to your place for dinner for example.
Basically that’s one of the easier ways to set the initial stages of friendship with acquaintances 🙂
November 27, 2016 at 3:44 am #179766
HI I do just that. In my experience, people seem to have enough in their lives already, and no room for another friend. They have families and a social circle, I am alone. I am exhausted through making so much effort into getting out there and being sociable… after years and years of getting nowhere it is starting to make me depressed. I cry my heart out in secret every day. My heart is breaking.
People seem to like me, I make them feel relaxed and at ease. I do everything right, according to everything you read about how to make friends. I dont show any neediness, they have no clue about my depression. But people are not into making real friendships these days, maybe they are scared? Or they already have enough people in their life.
I feel like Im going to grow old and die alone. Once my mum dies there wont even be anyone at my funeral. That really gets to me.
I dont show desperation or sadness, I smile and am warm to people. I have a good sense of humour and they seem to feel happy around me. I tried letting things happen naturally but years went by and nothing, so I became proactive and started (casually) inviting people to meetup, giving out my phone number and making the effort without coming across as needy. Doing everything right…I dont understand why I dont have any friends, of any kind. I really do go out all the time, and do all sorts of things. I talk to everyone; even go to groups Im not really into to just to try new things. I feel cursed.
- This reply was modified 2 months, 4 weeks ago by greyowl.
- This reply was modified 2 months, 4 weeks ago by greyowl.
November 27, 2016 at 5:57 am #179771
Could it be that you are trying too hard, Greyowl? Perhaps people do sense it, and you just don’t realize it.
You are definitely not cursed! Although, I think there are times in everyone’s lives that they have felt that way.
Have you considered seeking some professional counselling to figure out why it is you cannot seem to make any friends? It could also help with your depression. There is absolutely no reason for you to cry everyday. There is help out there.
I hope some of my suggestions will resonate with you. I wish you all the best.
November 27, 2016 at 9:52 am #179784
Hi, Greyowl! I like Jacqueline’s advice about professional counseling. This may help with your depression as well.
On a side note, don’t forget that making new friends is mostly a game of numbers. 9 out of 10 new people you meet will be unavailable for reasons that have nothing to do with you. You shouldn’t let this discourage you. Yes, many people are busy, have families and established social circles or just don’t place a very high priority on making new friends right now. But this is most definitely not the case with “everybody”. And the more new people you meet, the more likely you are to meet those that click with you. Just don’t let the 9 people discourage you from meeting the 10-th person 🙂
Always remember that you are never alone in your situation, that you are not the only person in the world dealing with a certain type of hardship. If you are going through something / anything, then most certainly other people have been and are still going through the same thing. And there are people out there who have managed to overcome this problem and so can you! Also there are people out there who feel the same way as you do, who would love to have a friend like you and it’s only a matter of going out and finding them.
One more thing – beware of generalizing. When you hear yourself think “everybody / nobody is so and so”, make a mental note and stop yourself, because these generalizations are never true.
November 28, 2016 at 6:49 am #179803
Hi Socialite, Thank you for the reply. Yes I did have a counsellor, she told me Im doing everything right and that my attitude is spot on. She could not help me with my depression, neither could another counsellor. I do have a lot of difficulties going on, mental and physical health issues, and am dealing with a hell of a lot. I know that psychoanalytical therapy would help but here on the NHS they can only offer CBT or counselling, I tried both of those many times over the years and were no use at all. What I need is only available privately nowadays, and I am out of work due to sickness. Tried drugs but had terrible reactions and permanent side effects, left me with tinnitus and severe hyperacusis so I cannot take anything now. I do the best I can , and keep my chin up and keep positive. I never moan to people and always see the good. I cry because its an outlet for the pain and hardship I have to face alone.
If I had friends, then I would have a social life which would help take my mind off things. When I thought I had a friend in the past I could face the world more easily. Not relying upon them, just knowing I have company now and then sure helps!
I don’t generalise, I know everyone is unique. Though it must have seemed that way in my post. Everyone is completely different, and I accept that.
Its just that each person so far have been too busy already for friends, even the ones they have! Guess if I keep trying long enough the law of averages is that someone will bound to be on their own! It just gets hard after getting out there for so many years so far…
I get hit on by men but I don’t want a man. And the ones that hit on me are only after one thing… definitely not friendship..lol)
Counsellors I have seen have been amazed at how much I have to deal with, and how positive I still am. They admit that they cannot help me.. they say I need expertise that they are not trained in. Although you’d never know it to meet me, I have severe ocd, and PTSD. Trying to get past painful experiences and move forward without the help I need has been a huge battle. Tried the entire NHS… spoke to the ‘boss’ there and he simply said ‘we dont do that type of therapy anymore’. Anyway… keep on going. Maybe I’ll meet a lovely man who isnt just after a legover, or a nice friend. Bound to happen eventually…
November 30, 2016 at 6:37 am #179847
Estella & Greyowl you both sound like you are out there trying. You are not alone in feeling this way! For me it is too nerve wracking to ask acquaintances to get together and they seem to sense something is off, I assume by the deer in the headlights look they would get when I asked or made suggestions. If someone suggests something like meeting up for coffee, I go – but that happens once every 5 years so not a lot. And then half the time they have “something come up” and cancel anyways.
What seemed to work best for me was to accept that my social times would be made up of being with acquaintances for a while. At least I was around other people and it wouldn’t be forever. Somewhere along the way I got so used to it that I forgot to be so lonely and then made a friend. Then a few old friends looked me up and got back into my life.
Since this is the holiday season for so many I suggest that you send out cards or facebook messages to old friends from long ago. You might reconnect, or just brighten their day.
January 8, 2017 at 10:59 pm #180842
I agree with your original post- there is little on getting from acquaintances to friend.
My niece has zillions of really really good friends who word take a bullet for her and she has told me that she has no time for superficial chat she lines likrs to ‘deeptalk’. I gather she learned her deeptalking through group therapy sessions and her social worker mom.
Deeptalking did not work for me though VB and I gather that it is because I have so many deep concerns and such that getting it off my chest makes ppl run away. There lies the paradox because a good friend would not run away and yet too much of anyone’s woes is a lot to take on for ppl who have their own issues.
I therefore recommend group therapy because even if you don’t have friends it will be a support forum for you and maybe that is what you really need right now. In fact I should take my own advice though not quite sure if the NHS offers these or where to find them but I do know that a sympathetic ear from a therapist who is paid to listen is not the answer.
January 8, 2017 at 11:07 pm #180844
What about a singles club where they go and do say outdoor activites or weekends away, ship cruizes?.There are some of these clubs that are organised through agencies.At least that way you can meet other singles even if you are not looking for romance.
January 12, 2017 at 10:23 am #180957
I find it hard to make new friends as well at 38. I have friends but Their lives are all over the place. I work in a large company and have met people Men and women that I know I’d get along with well but everyone is so busy it’s hard to turn the acquaintance into a better friend. I also have weird gaps in age with some of my close friends 30 years older than myself. That never bothered me but I notice that there are things in my life and theirs that are polar opposite.
Being an adult is hard lol
February 23, 2017 at 7:18 pm #181799
I can completely relate and I have 35 years of trying to turn acquaintances into solid friendships.
Some people just get each other it seems; others don’t.
Life is complicated and I am too searching for the answers.
Looking forward to new friendships, Anita.
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