People say I’m good at making and keeping friends. I don’t know if that’s really true, or if I just slam people’s newsfeeds with my blog enough that they feel like they know me.
Either way, I guess it’s true that I have a pretty massive network of friends– not because I’m so great, but because I have moved a lot, so people keep piling up. Plus my attachment issues are pretty high (as you know), so drifting apart is not really an option for me.
I’ll admit that I’ve been pretty horrible about keeping in touch lately, but I know I’ll get back to my normal routine of phone calls, epic text conversations, and FaceTime wine dates eventually. Making and maintaining friendships is definitely not always easy, so I’ve created this quick list of ways to help you out:
1. Only hang out with people when you’re mentally prepared to do so
I’m an “extroverted introvert,” which means I gain my energy from being alone. I love spending time with people, but I am also very naturally inclined to just sit by myself. Pushing myself to socialize is super important– I do it all the time– but if there are days/nights that I know I can’t get into a social headspace, I say “no” to plans. If you go somewhere with a negative attitude, you won’t have fun, and then you won’t go again. Not to mention, the people/person you’re spending time with probably won’t want to see you again either. So know your social limits, and spend time with people accordingly.
2. Avoid small talk
I hate small talk with a passion, which is– yet again– a classic sign of being an extroverted introvert. Small talk makes me feel really uncomfortable, and zaps all of my energy. Therefore, I almost always turn small talk into deep conversations…and you’d be amazed at how quickly people become comfortable with you when you’re an open book. I mean, I don’t get into political debates or anything scary like that, but I’ll relate on relationships, goals in life, or any subject that isn’t work and the weather. You can befriend almost anyone this way, even people you’d not normally expect to get along with.
As for already established friendships, keep them that way by sharing how you’re really doing, not wasting time with trite updates about a recipe you tried or vague sentences like “Life is good, can’t complain!” That’s code for, “We no longer really know each other.”
3. Don’t write people off
Leading with the no small talk rule, let those deep conversations with strangers remind you that you can find friends in the most unlikely of places…or outfits…or backgrounds. Your friend circle is bound to remain small and uninteresting if you close yourself off to people who don’t look or act like you on the surface. Treat everyone like they have the potential to be your new best friend, and you’ll come to find that quite a few of them actually do!
4. Use your phone like a phone
You probably use your phone to scroll through Facebook more often than you use it to make phone calls. Stop that. I know it sometimes feels like a chore, but just once a week, force yourself to dial an old friend’s number. I never “feel” like doing this, but I’m always so happy that I did. Plus it’s a nice break from social media, and reminds you that people are so much more than the skeleton they show online. Best time to do this is when you’re walking to the train or sitting in traffic– might as well pass the time!
5. Text and Gchat when you can’t call
Calling more than one person a week is probably not going to happen, so that’s when texting becomes an acceptable form of communication. [Note: Texting is never an acceptable way to have an argument or share bad news.] I usually talk on the phone with each of my long distance friends only every two months or so– if that, but I still feel close to them by getting little updates via text. Sometimes they’re not extensive text conversations at all. I might just send someone “Hey, I’ve been thinking of you lately and wanted to let you know!” It’s amazing how long a simple text like that can extend the life of a friendship in between seeing each other or picking up the phone.
6. Don’t act “perfect”
I wrote a whole article about this HERE, but to sum it up– let your freak flag fly. This is similar to #2, but less about just talking, and more about actions. Awkwardness is relatable, because once everyone takes off their makeup and puts on their sweatpants, they’re just as strange as the next person. The amount of embarrassing things we do when we’re alone is mind-boggling, so what better way to make someone feel comfortable than letting them know they’re not alone with their weird quirks? Plus awkward moments (the good kind) lend themselves to laughter, and laughter is the glue of all friendships.
7. Don’t be easily offended
So many people assume that if someone hasn’t reached out to them, it’s because they don’t care. Not true. How many people do you still think about or would like to see, but don’t call them because you get busy and distracted, or because you feel like it’s been too long so now it’s too late? I never stop reaching out to people who don’t reach out to me. I accept the fact that most people are bad at keeping in touch, so I never take their lack of effort personally. I’m 95% sure they’re happy that I keep the friendship ball rolling, not that I’m not taking a hint from their silence. Yes, friendships are a two way street, but sometimes one person is the key initiator, and that’s okay.
8. Drink wine
Come on, none of you are surprised that wine is on another one of my lists. Seriously though– everyone likes wine. Not only does it unlock your awkwardness, deep conversations, good mood (and basically everything else listed above), but it’s a great activity for spending quality time with someone. And very few people will turn down a wine date, so you can really hook ’em that way.
Time to go get your squad in order! You’ve got this.