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11 Reasons You Have Trouble Making New Friends (And What to do About It)

11 Reasons You Have Trouble Making New Friends (And What to do About It)

Making new friends is really hard to do when you don’t know how. Who wants to do something just to wind up struggling and failing?

That’s why I’ve put together this list of 11 reasons you’ve had some trouble in this part of your life and what to do about it. Once you see where you’ve been stuck within any of these common holding patterns below, you can more easily change your approach so you can start building a fulfilling social life today.

1. You think making friends should “just happen.”

Once we graduate from school, there’s not a lot of structures in place to help us along in making new friends. We have to be grown-ups and make those opportunities and structures for ourselves.

Health and wellness coach Sarah Jenks suggests that you come up with a strategy that works for you on finding and making new friends, including showing up at places where you figure people with your interests are already hanging out. When you do that, you’re not leaving things up to chance, but taking steps to go after what you want. Aside from making more friends, just the practice of taking strategic action feels good in and of itself.

2. You haven’t realized yet that making friends is like dating.

Last night I was at a party that my friend and charisma coach Fel Spar hosted, and I ended up especially hitting it off with one of the women there.

When I was leaving for the night, Fel said to me, “Looks like you two really enjoyed each other. You should make a girl date!”

As soon as I got home, I texted my new friend to plan a brunch date next month. The process of making new friends is a lot like dating – you meet someone you like, and you schedule a time to see them again. Fel is brilliant and has lots more great info on making new friends quickly and easily here.

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For whatever reason, scheduling new-friend-dates happens more rarely than it could. It’s normal to feel a little shy when initiating getting together again, but the important thing to remember is that when you feel a spark and genuinely enjoy each other, make a date!

3. You’re afraid that initiating conversations will come across as creepy.

Because of what I do for a living (teaching introverted men on how to attract women naturally), this is a fear that I hear often. The truth is, if there’s genuine mutual interest and it’s a gentle invite, it’s not creepy! In fact, my new friend and I were talking about this last night in the context of dating, and she said of men who have this fear, “If you think you’re creepy, that means you’re not! Because the truly creepy ones have no idea they’re being creepy.”

This is pretty funny, and there’s definitely some truth in there. Better than worrying about whether or not you’re being creepy, focus on noticing whether there’s a genuine mutual interest there, and whether the other person is ENJOYING you. If she is, then she’d probably like to see you again too, so it’s not creepy to help her have more of what she wants. This goes for dating AND friend contexts.

4. You forget your friends have other friends like them.

Another reference to last night’s fantastic get-together – My friend Fel brought together 10 of the brightest women she knew because she figured everyone should know each other. Because we’re all friends of hers, we had a lot in common. It was a big hit, and we’ve already made plans with each other to grab lunch or drinks and keep getting to know each other.

If you’re at a loss for where to find new friends, start with the people you love and respect the most. Organize a small get-together, or if your friend loves to do that kind of thing, offer to co-host. Then, even if you each just invite a couple more people, you’re making a great opportunity for new friendships all around.

Bonus points that you’re now a connector in your friends’ eyes (and in reality), so you’re an even more attractive person to get to know. Everyone loves a connector, and it’s really not hard to do. It all starts with a small get-together or two, bringing folks together.

5. You haven’t sat down and actually thought about what you want.

Until my mid-twenties, I would become friends with whoever was around, just because they were there. This habit took real effort to change, and my first big effort towards it was at a business development weekend I went to.

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I’d gone to the same workshop the year before and made mediocre connections. Throwing business cards around like confetti doesn’t tend to get you anywhere substantial.

So this time, I said, “You know what? I’m going to look around this room and purposefully notice the people I like the most, who I feel most drawn towards.”

I had to first consider what I even wanted in a connection, and I landed on ambition, style, and grace. I connected with three women that weekend, one of which remained a dear friend a couple of years later. Boom!

6. You pressure yourself to like everyone.

If you’re a nice person, you like everyone, right? Certainly, you don’t NOT like people. This is what I believed most of my life, anyway.

When I realized I can respect everyone and show kindness without doing back flips over getting to spend time with them, I became much happier and more relaxed. It’s okay not to like everyone. You can’t possibly, so don’t try to force it. If you find you like someone, capitalize on that by setting up “dates” and getting to know them better. Soon, you’ll have a budding friendship.

Meanwhile, don’t stress when you’re not into someone. Still be kind and respectful, but you’re under no obligation to spend time and energy getting to know them if you don’t want to. It wouldn’t be fair to them anyway. After all, do YOU want anyone befriending you just because they think they should? Yuck, didn’t think so.

7. You don’t want the chaos & messiness that intimacy can bring.

Don’t think that just because you make friends with someone that it’s going to be dramatic. It’s only dramatic if either (or especially both) of the parties involved are dramatic as well. You can make sure your relationships are full of ease and collaborative by first being an awesome person yourself (often takes work, folks), and secondly, choosing your friends well.

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Be the friend who naturally attracts the kind of friend you want. The same goes for dating, by the way. Be the man/woman who naturally attracts the kind of dates or partner you truly want.

8. You feel shameful about your lack of friends, which keeps you stuck.

When we see ourselves as “not social enough” or inherently undesirable, we don’t feel (or look) so hot. Just because you don’t have as many dear friends as you’d like now, doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. It simply means you’ve not identified exactly what you want in a friend and then gone about becoming a natural, intuitive match for that kind of person, and second, not sought out those folks and invited them on friend-dates.

9. You didn’t realize that making friends is 95% SKILL and 5% talent.

Does a little talent help? Good looks? Sure. Do you NEED the 5%? No, you don’t. Making yourself a more attractive potential friend is a skill. You can make yourself attractive to the kinds of people you’re drawn to by taking great care in your presentation, emotional health and happiness, ambition, and everything else.

Skills are learn-able and build-able, and most of life can be dramatically enhanced with skills alone, regardless of any talent that may or may not be there to offer its tiny 5%. We don’t often think of talent as so tiny, but it is compared to the monumental force of skill-building. It’s just that most of us don’t know how to skill-build very well, so we end up noticing and crediting things to talent much more than is warranted.

10. You’re a private person and don’t want 55 best friends.

Perfect! You don’t have to go nuts and spend every waking moment with folks just because you set up one friend-date. Remember that making friends is an inherently gradual process. You decide what kind of social life you want. It’s a creative process that is completely up to you, and with time and attention, you can make as many or as few friends as you want.

11. You’ve forgotten what you have to offer.

I bet you $100 that you’re awesome at something.

Maybe it’s something purely social like making people laugh. Maybe it’s intellectual or something more strategic, like with your career success. Maybe it’s a warmth and coziness, like baking or homemaking skills.

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Whatever you’re awesome at can be a GREAT quality to bring to the table in a friendship.

Laughter? That one’s obvious. You put people in their happy-endorphin-place.

What about intelligence and success? You can provide reason and objectivity to problems your friends are trying to solve.

Warmth and coziness? When your friends come to your house, they feel happy, loved, and nourished.

Think about the skills and/or natural disposition you have and how you can start sharing it with new friends.

Then, get cracking at skill-building to fill any missing pieces in your friendship-making process and enjoy what happens.

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Last Updated on January 24, 2021

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

    6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

    More Tips on How to Say No

    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
    [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
    [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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