The connections we form, the friends we make and keep, the family life we create -- all of that, in my opinion, is what makes life worth living and, by the way, plays an enormous part in living the healthy life! Have you caught the many studies and other articles discussing it's significant impact on both our physical and mental health?
If you have more friends than you can count - the kind you consider "high quality" - and other deep relationships -- wonderful! You are very blessed. But, I must ask: have you ever, at some point in your life, found yourself with less than a stellar social life or even a small circle of people to call true blue? Life is full of changes that can negatively impact our social lives and cause it to wither. I know I have found myself feeling a bit friendless when many of my "besties" moved far away. Maybe you, too. So, how did that happen? And, more importantly, how to fix it? Let's explore that a bit and if you want to improve your social circle - even just a little - let's get on with it! After all, if you want a great social life and better connections, it is up to you to make it happen!
How A Social Life Can Go South
- You've moved to a new city and don't know many people yet -- if any.
- You've been in a long-term relationship or changed your marital status and have let your social life dangle.
- Good friends have moved away, began demanding careers or started a family and just are not available much any more.
- Current friends don't match your lifestyle or values.
- You're different - you seek to be around people more.
- You are shy and find friend-making difficult.
- You made some mistakes with a friend or two and took the friendships for granted.
How to Become a Great Friend-Maker
1. They look around.
Good friend-makers draw on current contacts. Here are some places where some great friends may be hiding for you that you may not have considered:
- Acquaintances you're friendly with when you run into each other, but who you do not see regularly
- People at work or in your activities who you get along with
- Friends of people you've gotten along with in the past
- Those who have extended invitations, but for some reason you were not free
- Friends you've gradually lost contact with
- Relatives with your interests or in your age group
2. They put their hand out.
Good friend-makers extend invitations and don't think too hard about it or worry too much about being rejected. They make the gesture to do something together with people that interest them. Simple, right? Well, I know it is not always easy to be the first to stick your neck out. But, remember all those people can think you are interesting and great to be around, but if you don't take any actions to do something with them, then you won't form new relationships and make friends. Instead, those people will remain as the nice guy with the great dog you see in the dog park every weekend, the fun woman in your yoga class or friendly neighbor you pass in the hall and complain about the noise together.
Yup, maybe it should be you to take it beyond the acquaintance stage. If you want more friends, you must put in the effort. If you're bored on the weekend, get in touch with various people and put something together yourself, or find a way to be included in others' plans. Let others know you're interested.
3. They say yes.
Skilled friend-makers accept most invites. If you are trying to expand your social circle and someone asks you to hang out, score! Go do it. Don't turn down a chance to get out there with people. Ignore those thoughts it may not be fun, and go anyway. You never know! I can tell you I was basically forced to go out with my girlfriends one night many years ago and I met my husband that night! And, on another occasion, I insisted my husband go to an event with me and he made a great business connection that day! As I said, you just never know!
4. They keep building.
If the tennis match was fun or drinks sparked a great conversation or points of interest, good friend makers keep in touch and try again. Of course, not all friendships have to be deep ones, but over time a tighter relationship with some of the people you meet can happen with more experiences and time together.
One or two good friends may be all you need for a great social life -- others may want more. However, either way you will most likely begin meeting friend's friends expanding possibilities as well if that is what you seek.
Key Points to Create a Great Social Life
1. Don't be too choosy.
First impressions may not always be correct. For example, if your initial goal is to get some sort of social life going after moving to a new town, try being open-minded to do activities with anyone you seem to get along with. The first people you meet may not be your ideal friends, but it could lead to them. You can always decide later if it is a good match or not. And, don't let age, gender or social status lead your decisions either. Some of the best connections I had at work were with coworkers much older than I.
2. Don't get discouraged easily.
Sometimes the party will be a bust, sometimes you just won't click, sometimes people behave badly. We have all been there. Do not take it personally, keep the big picture in mind and begin again.
3. Be patient.
It is so important to realize that it will take time to form real friendships.
15 Actionable Ideas on How To Bump Up Your Social Life
1. Join in.
Research meet ups in your area and find a few to try over the next month or two . . . or even start one yourself!
Don't miss this: Look up meet-ups in your area here.
2. Make it right.
If you wronged a friend in the past, fix it! Apologize and try to begin again! Don't let wonderful people get away if you can help it. Your relationship may even be stronger afterwards.
3. Plan a regular shin-dig.
Schedule a yearly party you want to host either at home or in a park or restaurant or even an ice cream parlor. It does not have to be elaborate or difficult.
4. Go back.
Choose two people you want to reconnect with that you have lost touch with over the years and make the initial calls, the emails, the letters. You enjoyed them in the past and I bet they would love to hear from you. I recently connected with a childhood friend of mine I had not talked to in decades and it has been so fun to reminisce and reconnect.
5. Get out your calendar.
Set a goal to invite people over regularly - whatever feels good to you - once a month. every other week -- for tea, coffee, dinner or watch a movie.
Don't miss this: Sometimes an impromptu gathering is the most fun of all. Just do it and here is how to do that.
Pick 2-3 people that you think would get along and plan a regular coffee date that meets for just an hour - everyone has an hour. You can make the focus to bounce work ideas off each other, share child raising advice or travel ideas -- whatever you have in common.
7. Improve your hobbies/skills.
Enroll in a class or clinic. Sign up for a healthy cooking class or join a clinic to work on that golf swing or improved running times, etc. You will have others that already share your interest right there to initiate friendships.
8. Exchange information.
When you feel comfortable, make a habit of getting people's contact information. You can't assume you will see them again and if an opportunity arises that you want to extend an invitation to an event or group get-together where he or she expressed interest, you will have the ability to actually get in touch.
9. Challenge yourself.
Create a goal to initiate conversation with a new person each week. A lot of people, while out, wait for other people to talk to them. Become that person that initiates conversation even in a line at the bank! Get in the practice of doing it.
10. Attend some lectures.
This is a low key way to meet people and even if you don't, the inspiration you can receive from new ideas and concepts is great for you and makes you more interesting too.
Don't miss this: don't be a snore and choose at least one of these 39 ways to be a more interesting person
11. Do it again.
Go walking, jogging at the same time everyday. Take your dog to the dog park at the same time. You are bound to see others with the same routine and perhaps make a friend.
12. Look the part.
Look pleasant. Smile and appear approachable. Not many want to talk to the grouch. When you look like you’re having fun, others want a part of that.
Don't miss this: Tips to making your best first impression.
13. Take interest.
Please take a genuine interest in people. Small talk isn’t even necessary – particularly because it can be painfully boring. Think of a few questions to ask your potential friends and actually listen to their responses and build from there.
Don't miss this: The key to your strongest relationships.
14. Keep in touch.
Even a text to say hello is so easy to let others know you are thinking of them and remembering important days for them or wish them luck on a project, etc.
15. Work on what you have.
Getting more out of your current relationships can go a long way to making for a meaningful social life. Make more effort in the ones you already have.
Please do add in any experiences you have enriching your social life in the comments!