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12 Reasons Why Making New Friends Is So Hard and What You Can Do About It

12 Reasons Why Making New Friends Is So Hard and What You Can Do About It

After an uneventful and lonely day once, I wanted to pour my heart out to somebody so badly. Frantically scurrying down my phone for search of a patient ear to listen to my woes, I found myself scrolling down, skipping from one name to another. My Facebook page, Viber, WhatsApp listed 1000+ contacts but something made me skip names in my moment of fury.The plethora of relationships that we entwine ourselves today makes trust, faith, and being in a true friendship very difficult.

Growing up, getting married, having kids, or maybe being in a relationship has changed the dynamics of friendships today. One day, when a good friend confided in me some of her impending personal problems, I was horrified yet sad. “What made you keep this away from me for so long?” I demanded. She quietly replied, “I was scared, as what would you think of me”. Quite a change from our earlier childhood days, when we never thought twice before sharing about our shortcomings, inner fears, and absence of a particular thing from our lives.

Why has making new friends become so tough? If you count on your fingers the list of new friends you made say, in 5 years, you may say numerous. But out of them, maybe one or two are really genuine and dear to you. So the question arises – what now? Could you possibly linger onto your platonic relationships, let go, or do something else? Let us find out why making new friends is so hard and what you can do about it.

1. Virtual relationships.

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    Relationships and that includes our friendships are becoming more and more virtual. You have your old friends with whom you chat with endlessly, keeping them posted, pinging them, tagging them, poking them, sending them game invites and what not to keep in touch. Similarly when you make new friends, you always have this “gap” of communication as you prefer going the “web” or “phone” way. Sometimes communicating virtually might not actually work for a naive and new friendship which requires a lot of personal interaction. So one reason why friendships are limber is because of the excessive virtual communication between them.

    Communicate more, but in person. Of course you can’t visit your old friends time and again, but make sure you video call them frequently instead of chat or SMS. For those friends who are around, try to genuinely know them in the first two-three meetings. If you don’t hit it off, you can always back off.

    2. No time to invest in relationships.

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      Time is money or in fact even more precious than money nowadays. People hardly find time for social interactions as they are caught up by work pressure, marital problems, health concerns, and a lethargic lifestyle involving TV and social media craze. After all this, if they find some time left, they like idling away or sleeping rather than hanging out with friends.
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      Solutions? Nothing. Relax and chill but whenever you do squeeze in some time, make time for your hobbies or simply enjoy moments of silence. Your solitude may prove to be your best friend at times.

      3. People move on.

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        Need to pursue careers, spouses, or education outside of your home may at times weaken or even uproot your long friendships. After a tussle of trying to make new friends for quite some time, I can now safely say “In life we never lose friends… We grow up, we move, we change”. After studying for some years outside of my home state, when I returned back, I was met with no welcome visits, no calls, and no emails. I was devastated. Turns out many of my school friends too had moved and the rest were busy with their new-found friends. They had made friends of their own and so did I (at least I thought so).

        Nothing much could be done in situations like these, other than letting it go. It gets difficult to carry on and make new friends as childhood friendships are definitely the most special, but they too won’t be entirely the same. This is one reason why we don’t make new friends. We wait for the past friendships to be reignited and they don’t. Look for new friends where you currently are.

        4. Compatibility issues.

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          Somehow with the increasing intellectualism within the youth and rapid increase in general well being, people hold themselves at high accord with other people. So when the intermingling happens, you often do not see eye to eye with a recent (or old) friend on certain issues. So new friendships get soiled due to ego and compatibility issues and old friendships due to changing times and status issues. A not-so-old friend of mine just got back from her business trip abroad after staying away for like a couple of years. The way she dressed up, talked and reacted to situations was completely very elevated. In the next few days, she began finding herself more and more deserted by her friends here as they felt suffocated in her company. Turns out she was actually making people feel worse about themselves.

          I would say compatibility needs to be developed. Similarly, decide how you feel in your respective friendships. If you argue on some worldly affairs say politics, sports or culture that is fine but if there is an ideology or thought process clash, then I would worry.

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          5. Relationship issues.

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            I was talking to a classmate of mine who was heavily troubled by the dislike of his girlfriend towards his best friend-roommate. Finally one day it grew so bad and she demanded him to change his room as she could not stand the sight of his friend. My poor friend had to succumb to his girl’s wishes. He is not on talking terms with his friend and often tells me how unhappy he is to lose such a solid guy. Sometimes when couples meet, the wives may get along but the husbands do not. And we all know what happens after that.

            It is difficult to say what to do in deadlock situations like these but the choice is very subjective and whatever the person thinks is right for them at that moment. But I feel the person who really loves you will never tell you to choose among your friends.

            6. Priorities change.

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              Friends. But you have a boyfriend or girlfriend or family to turn to, so why do need friends? Sad but true. Once you become an adult it is natural for you to give importance to other significant people in your life. Obviously your time gets divided between your friends and other relationships. You start slowing declining in making new friends and the old ones too start to drift apart.

              Tricky one here. But why not try dividing time between friends and love interest or family? Or even better, try having common friends or introducing your partner to your friend. You can keep both your relationship as well as your friendships intact.

              7. Ghosts of past friendships.

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                Whenever I try to venture out and seek new friends, I always am reminded of my not-so successful attempts in the past. The times when I had tried to venture, seek and met new people. The times when I invited them over for dinner, offered to take care of them when they fell sick, called them up frequently only to be let down at a later date. On one hand, we have the vulnerable side of us scared and hurt by the past traumas. On the other, we have the eager, lonely, and expectant us who wants to try again and trust people. Emotional baggage can be difficult to let go of but remember that not everyone will be the same.

                If you feel people let you down every time, maybe you need to contemplate and think about your actions. Oprah Winfrey quotes: “If friends disappoint you over and over, that’s in large part of your own fault. Once someone has shown a tendency to be self-centered you need to recognize that and take care of yourself. People aren’t going to change simply, because you want them to.”

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                8. A hint of suspicion.

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                  There is always this hint of judgement nowadays when we meet somebody new. Moreover in this world when people are vying each other, there is always this strange feeling when people are trying to be sweet to us.

                  What to do? Some of them can be really genuine. Take a chance and reciprocate. There are some people who really care about people and are trying to make new acquaintances. Allow them and be led.

                  9. Putting ourselves into defined brackets.

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                    Making new friends gets seemingly difficult as people with similar tastes and preferences get together and the rest get sidelined. I felt myself surprisingly aloof initially living in Europe, being an expat. There are groups for cooking, mothers, kitty parties, and I didn’t fit in any of them. Even though in some places I found common interests, I didn’t meet like-minded people. I felt out of place with groups of mothers and kids, people sharing the same native language, or people talking about cooking recipes all the time.It is like putting an extra effort to go and bond yourself with the groups.

                    Quoting ― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye, “I am always saying “Glad to’ve met you” to somebody I’m not at all glad I met. If you want to stay alive, you have to say that stuff, though.” Of course we will always need people but if you feel you are being with people just for the heck of it, that doesn’t sound nice at all.

                    10. The fake, the formal, and the famous.

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                      I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod. One of the reasons why we don’t end up in making lots of new friends is the closed web that people weave around them and stay put. As we grow up, we tend to get more closed and stay huddled within ourselves. When we were in college, we had an easy way of looking at things and behaved similarly. Once we grow up, we begin to feel more threatened by the stiff competition around us, be it in work, relationships, or money. We somehow don’t like hanging out with people more popular than us, famous or likewise.

                      I would say get challenged and hang out with all weird personalities of people and observe them. Yes, you may not want to do anything with the fake and the formal ones but they help you to distinguish between the wrong and right ones. They give me food for thought and end up being some weird character in my articles!

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                      11. Lack of initiative.

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                        In the beginning of any new found friendship, there has to be someone who takes the initiative, breaks the ice, and offers to get together. That is perfectly fine. But there are some people who do not do anything and are always waiting to be led. Although some people can’t help but be overly enthusiastic, sometimes it can get you no where or even repel people.

                        I would say give people their space and check if they are genuinely interested in you or are in it for the sake of the event, food, drinks, loneliness, or for some real company.

                        12. The selfishness quotient.

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                          The using people thing. When I started to hang out with new people after I started working, the dynamics of friendships around me took a rapid hit. Friends whom I knew from yesteryear and new ones started giving me undue importance due to the nature of the job I had. Initially, it felt good to be recognized, but then the uneasiness grew. People started knowing me not for what I was but for who I was. Eventually, as we grow up, we realize that people make friends because they “need” them, not because they adore them. Mothers of kids may not actually be great friends but they hang out together because of their kids.

                          People would always be selfish but maybe not everybody. But yes there would have been times that you would have been the selfish one unknowingly. Unfortunately the world has been programmed that way, so try to do as much as you can for the people who mean something to you and those in distress. For the rest, well you know what to do.

                          “I think if I’ve learned anything about friendship, it’s to hang in, stay connected, fight for them, and let them fight for you. Don’t walk away, don’t be distracted, don’t be too busy or tired, and don’t take them for granted. Friends are part of the glue that holds life and faith together. Powerful stuff.” ― Jon Katz. There are some people in life that make you laugh a little louder, smile a little brighter, and just live a little better.

                          Your career and life will change for the better when you learn to surround yourself with positive people and keep the negative ones away. Of course meeting and retaining all the new people you like will always be a challenge now, but then I say hold one to the few ones before they fly away. So who knows, maybe the new friend you just ran into the party yesterday, might turn out to be your best friend one day?.

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                          1 Why an Attitude of Gratitude Is Essential (And How to Develop It) 2 Procrastination Is a Matter of Emotion, Here’s How to Stop It 3 What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It) 4 How to Get Unstuck in Life and Live a More Fulfilling Life 5 What Will Happen When You Surround Yourself With Positive People?

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                          Last Updated on March 30, 2020

                          What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

                          What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

                          Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

                          You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

                          This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

                          What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

                          According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

                          Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

                          There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

                          How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

                          When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

                          Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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                          1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

                          One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

                          The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

                          Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

                          2. Be Honest

                          A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

                          If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

                          On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

                          Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

                          3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

                          Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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                          If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

                          4. Succeed at Something

                          When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

                          Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

                          5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

                          Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

                          Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

                          If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

                          If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

                          Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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                          6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

                          Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

                          You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

                          On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

                          You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

                          7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

                          Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

                          Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

                          Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

                          When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

                          Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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                          In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

                          Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

                          It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

                          Final Thoughts

                          When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

                          The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

                          Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

                          Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

                          Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

                          More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

                          Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

                          Reference

                          [1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
                          [2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
                          [3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
                          [4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
                          [5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
                          [6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
                          [7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
                          [8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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