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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 November 11, 2019

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

Can a Dysfunctional Family Become Functional?

A dysfunctional family is more than disagreement or constant arguments. Anything from plain neglect, to abuse and even verbal and physical violence is the everyday experience of those who are part of a dysfunctional family.

You know how this looks:

  • Parents constantly comparing children.
  • Siblings in conflict because of tolerated bullying.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Adultery…
  • And many others.

For all the members, this will mean emotional pain and even trauma; which, in case it doesn’t get resolved, will have a detrimental effect on the individual’s personality and development.

Needless to say, the younger members are the most vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean the parents are out of danger, as most commonly the parents play the roles of abuser-codependent, and in some cases, both parts inflicting pain on one another.

Most like to think these problems stem from deep-seated issues, and that therefore it’s pretty much impossible to deal with them.

This is only true for families not willing to do what it takes, for if only a single member is determined and knows how to do it, the whole family can do a lot of progress.

In this article, I’ll break down for you the basic steps of fixing a dysfunctional family. Although it may seem hopeless, it is possible to turn things around.

If you have ever felt in this position, or if you know somebody who is, this article is for you.

How to fix a dysfunctional family

In a few words the solution for a dysfunctional family lies in dropping the ego, focusing on the solution, switching blame for responsibility and doing the work as a unity, for the good of the whole family.

And this will accomplish things you once only saw as a dream.

Dropping the ego? Switching blame for responsibility? Doing the work? What does all this mean?

It’s simple. In a nutshell, it’s that which will allow you to turn a dysfunctional family into a functional one.

Let’s take a look at how exactly this can be done. And near the end we will also talk about what you can do in a dysfunctional family with cynical traits.

Dysfunctional families where not only problems are well-known, but also nobody seems to want a fix or openly decide to perpetuate the harmful behaviors. Such as the case of abuse and physical violence.

There is also a solution for these, it’s just not what you are expecting…

Dysfunctional… Or just average?

Most families are dysfunctional, though at varying degrees of dysfunctionality.

The milder cases, are just marked by “typical” comically-shrouded bullying or lack of interest in other members’ development or wellbeing.

You can know a family is dysfunctional if their interactions are anything different than cooperation, solidarity, care and support. But let’s get more specific…

A dysfunctional family is one in which members directly or indirectly suffer emotional and/or physical harm inflicted by other members of their family. Most commonly, perpetrated by the parents.

Even harmful actions as “passive” as neglect, which is inflicted by inaction rather than action, signifies a dysfunction within the family.

Dysfunctional families have conflicts such as:

  • Unrealistic expectations
  • Lack of interest and time spent together
  • Sexism
  • Utilitarianism
  • Lack of empathy
  • Unequal or unfair treatment
  • Disrespect towards boundaries
  • Control Issues
  • Jealousy
  • Verbal and physical abuse
  • Violence and even sexual misconduct or abuse

You may think a dysfunctional family has very little or nothing to do with personal productivity, but you would be wrong in thinking this way…

If a person is not emotionally well, she will not be able to perform as desired, as the emotional harm that has been inflicted will hinder everyday performance in the way of inability to concentrate, lack of mental clarity and low levels of inspiration, motivation and discipline.

Having a functional family does exactly the opposite: It creates productive members with no emotional baggage.

How to turn it around

When you’re part of a dysfunctional family you know it. You can quickly identify in other members the behaviors and conflicts that create the dysfunction.

But just in case you’re having trouble telling functional from dysfunctional I will tell you the following:

One of the easiest ways you can recognize if you are in a dysfunctional family is to survey your won feelings.

We often overlook this, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you feel?

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As cheesy as it may sound it really sheds a lot of light on the subject.

What behaviors, actions and attitudes in your family you wish were better?

Do you think certain behaviors and actions from your family marked you in the past?

Sadly, we cannot go back to the past to correct it. But we can do a lot in the present…

Correction is possible

In order to fix a dysfunctional family, you must start by putting an end to the behaviors and actions that are affecting you.

Verbalize it.

All members of the dysfunctional family have one issue in common: They don’t put a stop to the harm.

Whenever you feel your boundaries being overstepped there is just one single word you have to remember: STOP.

This is the door to a better, more functional family, because after this, comes the fix.

But first you have to identify and make others know where exactly lies the problem.

So go ahead and fearlessly start with “Stop”, followed by your expression of dissatisfaction.

Putting it to work in real life

In real life it would be something like this:

“OK, stop! Every time you belittle me I feel you don’t care. I need attention and respect, and it is your responsibility as my family to provide them to me”

Or:

“Stop. When you compare me with my cousin it hurts, I feel like I don’t matter and that’s not ok. I ask you to stop doing it.

Or:

“Please stop. When you start yelling all respect is lost and it turns into a battle of who can do it louder. Don’t raise your voice and let’s work this out the way humans do”.

As you can see, here you start by putting a stop to the toxic behavior when it arises. And afterwards you verbalize why it’s wrong and what needs of you need to be fulfilled.

This is what you have to remember:

1-Stop.

2-Why it’s wrong?

3-What you need.

And this will also work well in case you need to do it for another family member.

It’s a family thing

A dysfunctional family cannot be fixed by one member alone.

Yes, a single member can initiate progress and be the leader of the change. But in order to completely become functional all members must contribute to the solution.

In other words, you will need cooperation…

So don’t be afraid of asking for it!

Approach your family member and ask to be listened.

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We sometimes feel our needs are “not that important” or we simply believe they won’t listen. But thinking like this would be like being defeated at an unfought battle.

You will be amazed by how much people listen when you voice your needs, especially if it implies showing yourself open, vulnerable and in need.

It’s not a free-for-all battle

In order to get your family to cooperate, first you must fix your individual relationships with every member of the family. Remember: Relationships are always between two people, and two people only.

No matter how complex, the quality of a multi-member relationship (like a family) will always depend on the quality of the individual relationships.

Once you have straightened the relationship with every member of the dysfunctional family you will be able to better communicate with other members and help in the betterment of their individual relationship.

And this is where we will talk about the fix itself. The one I mentioned in the introduction…

The method

1. Drop the ego

Wherever there is conflict there is ego.

You cannot fix a relationship where there is ego, because the ego will want to win. Always. Yours and the other person.

Ego craves control and satisfaction, and in many cases, to establish dominance.

What does this have to do with a dysfunctional family? Everything. Ego will interfere with every plan you have to fix it.

It will make people suborn and defensive. And it will also make them drop responsibility. This is why, the first step is to drop the ego.

After you make sure you are not going to allow your ego to interfere you must work to make the other person do the same. How? By speaking from the heart…

Tell the other person how important all this is to you.

Tell the other person that it’s not a matter of arguing, but just working things out together.

Point out how it is not possible for you to do it alone.

And ask for sincere attention without any desire of opposition, because what you are doing is by no means in the hopes of harming the other person, but just to better the relationship and stop the damage being dealt to you.

You will have to point out the mistakes you need corrected, that’s for sure. And that leads me to the next point…

2. Not blame, but responsibility

When talking about others’ mistakes we often use an accusatory tone. And that’s natural, it’s what things should be like if ego was not present.

But since we are all creatures of ego, this immediately brings the shields up. And then unsheathes the swords…

When we blame others they automatically enter a defensive state, and this only leads to a failed negotiation.

What you need to do is to shift from blame to responsibility. And even that will have to be done carefully!

Instead of telling them off or demanding change or complaining, calmly point what the problem with their behavior is.

As much as this feels contradictory, also make them feel understood. You know how difficult it is to accept a mistake, so just make them feel it’s no big fuzz… which does not mean it’s ok, but it takes tension off.

You will do something like this:

“Hello dad. Can I talk with you for a minute? I really need to tell you something.

I have been feeling pretty sad lately and I know this is something you do care about.

You see, whenever I talk about my accomplishments you mention something else that makes my achievement pale in comparison.

I know you don’t do this intentionally and I know you might have not realized this until now, but I want to let you know this really brings me down.

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It would mean a lot to me if you could stop doing it, and it would help better our relationship, because this has already forced me to distance myself from you. And I don’t want that, I want a good, healthy relationship with you”

What happened here?

We started off with making it something important, something that needs both time and attention. Then we openly show ourselves vulnerable, just as we are.

We also mention why he should listen, and shove our feelings there again, because they are important.

We describe the issue with no attachment and with no hostile intention. It’s just a description.

And then we take the blame off. Just before we assign responsibility without actually saying it.

You are not blaming him directly, but you are pointing out the inevitable fact that his actions are causing a dysfunctionality. He is now responsible for changing.

This is what “switching blame for responsibility” means. What comes next? Doing the work!

3. Doing the work

What would any of this mean if, in the end, nothing changes? Exactly, nothing!

This is why you must follow up with every change that needs to be done.

Do so in a manner that is not hostile. Bring it up in a casual manner, and emphasizing how you both reached an agreement and how that is important to the family.

If the person doesn’t follow up don’t hesitate to bring it up again, and tell them you feel disappointed that your honest try at it was not listened.

It may even be a subject in itself, and therefore the need for another conversation.

“When you go back to old habits it shows that you didn’t really care about what I said. But back in real life you just reinforce how much contempt you show towards me and my feelings.

I talk with you because I care. Because although it would be easier for me to just distance myself from you I rather do my part in nurturing this relationship.

But there is just so much I can do, if you refuse to do your part I can do nothing else.”

You need very clear and positive communication in order to make this work.

Love is all you need

You must remember that in order for a dysfunctional family to become functional, all the work needs to stem from love.

That is the single one requirement for all this to work: Love.

And what happens if it simply is not there?

What happens if, nobody is willing to do what it takes?

What happens if a member of the family refuses to change and is happy with the harm he or she is dealing?

There is only one thing you can do:

To break away.

Let’s be honest, people, especially adults, are very difficult to change.

There is a Jewish proverb that I love, which sums it up like this:

“We spend the rest of our lives trying to unlearn what we learned before we were 7”

If you find it very hard to change the very traits that make your family dysfunctional or if it’s simply impossible, you still have a card up your sleeve…

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Although nobody likes to beak away from family members, we must remember we have a responsibility with ourselves as individuals, before any relationship with anyone.

You have the responsibility of making yourself happy and free. Because you matter as an individual, regardless of any relationships you have, be it family, friendship or romantic.

Putting distance

So in case you are dealing with a family member who is simply unwilling to change take both physical and emotional distance.

What do I mean?

Learn, first, to take their damage in a detached manner.

Don’t let it hurt you further. Instead take a deep breath and distance yourself emotionally.

Don’t be attached to feelings such as “Why doesn’t she love me?” or “What did I do to deserve this?” or “If he wasn’t like that my life would be perfect”.

Simply refuse to keep participating in the emotional downward spiral and accept, even if it’s painful” that there is nothing you can do. Accept that even without that relationship you are whole, you are worthy of love and respect.

They are their responsibility and you are yours. So decide what is best for you.

Realize it only comes down to two possibilities:

I keep the relationship and therefore accept the abuse. Or…

I choose my peace of mind.

And don’t let your mind fool you. We often think that since we all are imperfect, we must take the good and the bad behaviors of people. And we are especially forgiving towards our family…

Well, guess what? We are also responsible adults who are aware and must own to their acts. Never excuse abuse or violence or transgression towards you or anybody else.

Choose your happiness and if possible, also distance yourself physically, as it will increase your peace of mind tenfold.

How to prevent it

There are two key concepts you must bear in mind in order to prevent the dysfunctionality of a family:

  • To be completely aware of one’s own mistakes and not allow them to impact others and…
  • To make sure our SO’s are also on the same channel before creating a family (i.e. having children)

Dysfunctional families are the product of irresponsible paternity, for the decades-long unresolved emotional conflict ends up surfacing in the family inevitably, and it will for sure harm those who least deserve it: Innocent children.

You may notice we went from talking about family, to talking about individual relationships, to talking about you. We went from “them” to “us” to “me”.

Why? Because in the end you have the power to fix a dysfunctional family. To correct the mistakes you have in yours and to prevent dysfunctionalities if you don’t have a family but plan to create one.

Priorities and clear thought

You may be part of a dysfunctional family, but that does not mean you are powerless or that you have to suffer the consequences.

You learned today how it’s all a matter of priorities and thinking clearly.

You learned that, if love exists, everything is possible. You learned that even when there is no love and no fix for your dysfunctional family, there are still things you can do. It’s a matter of choosing your peace, because you deserve it.

Everything will be better if you apply this knowledge. If you talk to that problematic family member. If you help them see the harm they are doing. If you make sure they do change and treat you the way you need to be treated…

If you choose yourself over that toxic family member. If you refuse to justify the harm that others can do to yourself. If you realize the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

And lastly, that you also have to be aware of your actions and be open to criticism. Because we might be unknowingly harming others. And that would be us creating a dysfunctionality. Don’t allow it to happen.

Dysfunctional families are not impossible to fix. It just takes love, cooperation and responsibility.

But if you tried and those elements are not present, just choose yourself instead.

Featured photo credit: Xavier Mouton Photographie via unsplash.com

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