• Making Friends

Friendship: Starting from zero

September 16, 2013 | By | 6 Replies Continue Reading
How to make friends when you’re starting from zero and entering adulthood all alone. 

QUESTION

Hi,

I am 22 and I have no friends anymore. I find that in friendships I have helped people a lot but once they are back on their feet, they totally disregard me. I am often left feeling hurt. The true friends that I had as a child moved far away. Now that I have moved back to my hometown, I have no friends at all.

How do I go about making new friends at this age, since I have finished school? I am looking for work, but it’s really difficult, so with no money to attend activities or classes or take up hobbies, I have no option but to sit at home. What can I do to make a new set of friends from scratch?

Signed, Tiffany

ANSWER

Dear Tiffany,

It’s scary to be on the verge of adulthood, and even scarier to be there without a good friend or two by your side. I’m glad you’re concerned about making friends during this exciting yet daunting life phase you’re in.

There are two issues in play here. The first is that you’ve had a pattern of feeling hurt by “fair weather” friends. Think back on these friendships: What drew you to these people in the first place? Did you enjoy helping them and being a good listener, for example? Were there signs early on that they were perhaps not as caring or helpful as you tend to be? Is there a chance that you somehow played a role in their snubbing you? For instance, sometimes when we expect people to reject us, we become very sensitive and conclude that everything they are doing is a way of mistreating us. I’m not at all trying to blame you for being hurt! I’m just trying to get you to think about your friendship patterns so that you can avoid painful friendships in the future.

In other words, try hard to pick different kinds of people for friends this time around, and make sure they are worthy of your friendship before you help them and become their confidant. Once you’ve built up trust with them, you can be helpful without exposing yourself to the kind of bad treatment you’ve received in the past.

As for the second issue: It’s very hard to find a job right now. Job-hunting is probably going to take up a lot of your time, but once you find a job, it will be a great place for meeting potential friends. In the meantime, you’ll need less money than you think to have a social life. Think about a cheap or free activity that you’re interested in and look on Facebook or other social media sites to see if there’s a group connected to that activity in your area.

Or go to free concerts/lectures/exhibits/fairs and strike up conversations with people who seem like your “type.”  Granted, this is quite difficult and it won’t yield a bunch of instant BFFs. The good news is that you only need one real friend to make a big difference in your happiness and health.

If you meet someone who seems interesting, ask her if she wants to have coffee with you. It might feel weird to ask someone out on a “friend date,” but most people will appreciate it. People your age are particularly open to meeting new friends, so you have youth on your side!

Since you’re in your hometown, you must know people, even if you don’t consider them friends. Getting in touch and being friendly with them could get you included in social outings that could lead to your meeting a kindred spirit.

Loneliness is a terrible state to be in, but it seems to me that raising, rather than lowering, your friend standards will help you forge stronger and more fulfilling connections. Aim high and good luck!

Best wishes, Carlin Flora

Author of Friendfluence: The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are


*Carlin Flora is a friend and colleague of the Friendship Doctor.

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Category: Building trust, MAKING FRIENDS

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  1. Sophia A says:

    Hi Tiffany, you’re not alone, I think a lot of people feel this way. In our culture we don’t value and nurture relationships the way they do in other cultures, for example, in many regions of the world there is a heavy emphasis on family. We are so focused on our careers, our bank accounts and our accomplishments, we’re stuck working so hard to achieve “success” that we no longer have time for ourselves and others. But at 22 I think you have an advantage, most women your age are not married with children yet so they have more time to socialize. You sound like a lovely person, don’t give up, smile and be friendly!

  2. Aline says:

    This happens to more people than you realize. Not everyone is strong enough to admit that their friends list is really full of people they don’t really know. You’re still young, so it’s the perfect time to get out there and socialize. You might consider renting a room or sharing an apartment with someone or maybe even a houseful of new people. Your network instantly expands. You’ll likely share activities, such as happy hour or barbecues at the house, where you’ll meet lots more people. Also, try to develop a hobby. Join a roller derby group, a baking club, a sports/arts/cooking/foreign language club, or a church group. Volunteering is a great way to make friends. Places you can volunteer at: animal shelters and rescue groups, local theatre production, as a tourguide for historic sites, any kind of charity, pretty much anywhere with people around your own age or with whom you’d be comfortable. Meetup is a great site to meet people. Honestly though, most of my friends I have made through speaking up and introducing myself to random people. I make comments here and there to myself in the grocery store, walking around the neighborhood, waiting in lines, etc. A good ice breaker is to compliment someone. “I love your shoes/hair/shirt/tie/dog, etc.! Where’d you get that?/Where’d you get that done?/What kind of breed is it? Is it a boy or girl? How old is s/he? etc.” Brainstorm a bunch of questions for potential scenarios.

  3. Swagi says:

    I am experiencing the same problem.i mean I helped a lot of people in their studies,life etc but they directly told me that they cannot consider me as a friend.my birthday is approching this Saturday,I hope I don’t cry on my birthday.my therapist says its becoz of my nature I didn’t meet any friends and they didn’t seek me.what can I do if they r so selfish use and throw bitches

    • Jess says:

      Hi Swagi,

      I completely agree.
      Many times I was under the impression that I was making a new friend only to figure out about 3 months down the track that they’re actually using me for their own purposes.

      I think this happens to me so often because I am so willing to help other people. And now I attract these users/fake friends.

      The only remedy I can think of is to try not to help everyone that asks for help.

      Jess

  4. Amy says:

    Meeting people once you’re out of school is harder, and especially of you haven’t yet found a job. Irene has great suggestions for places to meet people. Since you haven’t yet found a job, maybe you can look into doing an unpaid internship in your field, or volunteer in your field so you’ll get experience in your profession for your vita and also be exposed to potential friends/acquaintances who share your career interests, plus you’ll get networking resources.

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