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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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                          Last Updated on January 15, 2021

                          7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

                          7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

                          The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

                          Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

                          Posture

                          First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

                          • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
                          • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
                          • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
                          • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

                          All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

                          Facial Expressions

                          Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

                          • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
                          • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
                          • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

                          If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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                          1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

                          A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

                          The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

                          This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

                          2. Relax Your Face

                          New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

                          The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

                          To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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                          3. Improve Your Eye Contact

                          Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

                          The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

                          To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

                          3. Smile More

                          There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

                          Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

                          4. Hand Gestures

                          Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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                          It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

                          5. Enhance Your Handshake

                          In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

                          “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

                          It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

                          6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

                          As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

                          Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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                          Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

                          Final Takeaways

                          Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

                          If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

                          More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

                          Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

                          Reference

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