Harvard University recently completed the longest study on adult development and life satisfaction. Its author, Robert Waldinger, concluded the following:
“…Over and over, over these 75 years, our study has shown that the people who fared the best were the people who leaned in to relationships, with family, with friends, with community.”
And if there was ever a time when we need relationships with each other, it is now.
So here are five ways to make new friends, even when you’re struck at home! This is from Dr. Marisa Franco who is an academic expert on friendship from Georgia State University,
Reconnect with old friends:
Why reconnect with old friends? Because research indicates that reconnecting with past friends gives us a higher level of trust than with current friends. The reason is that when we reconnect, we already have shared memories of each other, so the friendship potential is supercharged.
Plus, most of us lose friends because we simply got too busy. So the pandemic now gives us the time to reconnect with friends that we’ve fallen out of touch with.
This looks like. “Hey! It’s been a while since we talked and I’ve been wondering how you are. What’s new with you?” Take it from there, and if they’re responsive, suggest a time to catch-up.
There are tons of ways to connect online. There are apps, like Bumble BFF, or Friender to meet people. Meetup.com has a variety of virtual events. You can join a Facebook group, post regularly, and ask if anyone is open to a virtual chat. People even connect with strangers through Instagram or Twitter. After commenting on someone’s posts over time, eventually, start direct messaging them to develop a more meaningful connection.
This looks like: “Hey! I’ve been such a fan of all the things you post. It seems like we have something in common. I was wondering if you’d be open to connecting further over a virtual chat.”
Turn acquaintances into friends.
We all have some people swirling in our lives who we’d love to get to know a bit better. It could be someone from your old book club or biking group or a friend of a friend you met at a gathering. You can turn these acquaintances into friends by taking the initiative to reach out and ask them to meet up one-on-one.
Remember this, dear reader. EVERYONE IN THE WORLD is now isolated and most of them would LOVE to connect with someone like you!
This looks like: “Hey! It’s been a while since we had a chance to connect. I’ve been meaning to reach out and see if you’d be open to hanging out sometime.”
Become better friends with people you already see regularly. When we become friends with people we see regularly (like our neighbors or our co-workers), we capitalize on something called the “mere exposure effect,” which describes our tendency to like people the more familiar they are to us. One study involved planting strangers in a large lecture course for varying numbers of classes. At the end of the semester, students in the class were asked who they liked best amongst the strangers. It turns out they preferred the strangers who showed up for the most classes. This was true even though the students didn’t remember any of the strangers AND didn’t interact with any of them during the class.
Because of the mere exposure effect, we already have some friendship traction when we try to build relationships with people we see regularly.
This looks like: “Hey! I know we’ve been working together for a while and I’ve been meaning to find some time for us to get to know each other more. I was wondering if you wanted to set aside some time for a virtual coffee?”
Use your friends and family.
When friends put us in touch with their friends, they pre-vet our connections. Research also finds that when we’re friends with our friend’s friends, we’re less likely to be lonely. This may be because now, every time our friend and their friend spend time together, they’ll consider inviting us to join. It’s a win-win all around.
This looks like: “Hey! I’ve been wanting to connect with some new people. Do you know anyone who you think I’d get along with who you’d be willing to connect me to?”
The common thread here is that if you want to make friends while you’re stuck at home, we may need to take the initiative.
But it pays off!
One study found that the more people thought that making friends takes effort, the less lonely they were years later, and other research finds that the more we take initiative, the happier we are with our social circle.
I know it can be scary to reach out, especially when we fear rejection, but according to the research, we overestimate our likelihood of being rejected.
It’s not as scary as it seems.
It’s so very easy to get lonely when we’re stuck at home all day, but we don’t have to be. We can choose to reach out.
And yes, dear reader, it is a choice we can make any time we want to!
Steven Campbell is the author of “Making Your Mind Magnificent.” His seminar “Taming Your Mind, Unleashing Your Life” is now available online at stevenrcampbell.teachable.com. For more information, call Steven Campbell at 707-480-5507.