“How To Develop Fulfilling Friendships
That Will Enrich Your Life!”
Do you want more friends?
Do you want different friends? Friends who are more interesting, more passionate, more alive?
When you’re stuck in shyness and social anxiety, it feels impossible to create the friendships you truly want – the ones that deepen and enrich your life.
In fact, if you’re currently held back by your social fears, then your social life is suffering in one of the following ways:
Friendships That Fall Short
1. You Don’t Have Any Friends
You might have some acquaintances — people you see at work or know through some meetup you go to — but no one you talk to and hang out with on a regular basis. You may interact with people, but deep down you feel lonely because you know you don’t really matter to those few special people.
2. You Have Superficial Friendships
You have people you talk to and hang out with, but it’s all about doing something — going to the bar, watching the game, or playing a sport. While this is enjoyable to a point, it can also be frustrating because you can’t talk about what’s really going on. You can’t share if you had a hard day or a difficulty with your wife, girlfriend, boss, dad, or whoever. If you do try to share, your friends get awkward and quiet, change the subject, or mock and tease you. In my book, these aren’t true friendships and I found them highly dissatisfying.
3. You’ve Outgrown Your Friendships
You do have friends, but spending time with them isn’t as fun as it used to be. You have the same kinds of conversations about the same kinds of things. They aren’t doing much interesting in their lives. You’re growing and trying new things, but they seem to be stuck in a rut. Even worse, they might actively nay-say or have negative thoughts about you, your goals, or your passions. These friendships can feel stagnant and confining.
4. You Have One Good Friend
You have one person who you’re “best friends” with. You guys love hanging out, enjoy the same activities, and can talk about anything. Pretty sweet huh? The only problem is, you don’t have any other friends. You want to have similar relationships with a few other people, but you don’t know where to begin. This is where I spent much of my life – having one good friend and feeling completely unable to meet new people.
So, what situation are you in?
Most importantly, what do you want?
Getting clear on what you want gives you the ability to start going after it.
- Do you want more friends?
- Deeper friendships?
- Inspiring friendships where you encourage each other to grow?
- How about all three!
But how do you do it? How do you go about making these lifelong friendships that enrich your life?
4 Steps To Outstanding Friendships
How To Create Fulfilling Relationships That Enrich Your Life!
Step 1. Go From Passive To Active
This step applies to all areas of life, not just friendships. I spend a lot of time on this topic in both Confidence Unleashed and 30 Days To Dating Mastery, because all areas of your life will improve when you get out of being passive and into being active.
What does this mean?
Let’s start by looking at what you currently do when it comes to making friends.
Are you passive or active?
- Do you wait for people to come talk to you?
- Do you go about your normal, solitary activities and somehow hope that things will be different?
- Do you hesitate, hold back, and avoid taking risks?
These are all passive behaviors, and they do not lead to results.
Well, actually that’s not true, they do lead to results, but not the results you want! They lead to boredom, apathy, helplessness, hopelessness, and loneliness.
What would it look like to be more active in seeking friendships? What could you do?
Take a moment to brainstorm with me here…
What could you do if you wanted to be more active in creating the social life that would enrich your life?
- Talk to strangers more
- Ask acquaintances about their plans for the weekend
- Invite people to come along to something you are already going to
- Go to gatherings and group events and then actively talk to and meet people when you are there
- Ask people for their phone numbers and contact info
If this list freaks you out, you may need to do some work on building your confidence. If talking to a stranger or asking someone for their contact information fills you with anxiety and dread, then get a copy of The Solution To Social Anxiety and read it thoroughly. It’ll help you break through our fears of talking to people.
Step 2. Talk To People
I know this may sound obvious, but creating fulfilling friendships is like planting a garden. You don’t know who your next best friend is going to be. The only way to find the people that are “your people” is to interact with others and find out. This means building up your level of social fitness.
Just like going to the gym and working out gets you into good physical shape, talking to lots of people in different settings puts you into better social shape. This allows you to interact with people more casually and authentically. When you’re around someone you really like, the interaction will flow much better if you’ve been practicing being social.
So start by talking to people. When you walk down the street, make eye contact with strangers, smile, and say hello. Chat with store clerks and servers at restaurants. Chat with co-workers and acquaintances. Share little bits of information about what’s going on in your life and ask them questions about theirs. Get to know the people around you. This will build up your level of social confidence and social comfort.
You can also go to events and gatherings that involve things you are passionate about. Go to art events if you’re into art, pickup games if you’re into sports, or the nerd dungeon if you’re into Magic The Gathering. When you’re there, be active and practice the same social skills of getting to know people.
This might seem too basic or obvious, but let me ask you a question… are you doing it?
It’s one thing to know how something works, and it’s something completely different to put it into practice on a daily basis until you get the results that you want.
Step 3. Pursue And Be Persistent
In order to create friendships, you have to be willing to pursue the people you’re drawn to most. If you wait for other people to ask you to do things, you’ll end up spending your time with whoever pursues you. This might work out and you might really like them, but it also can lead to “good enough” friendships. (I’ll say more about this in the next section about not settling.)
To have the most amazing, outstanding, and fulfilling friendships that makes your life that much better, you have to go after what you want. You have to pursue the people you really like. The ones who make you smile, make you think, expand your mind, entertain you, support you, and fascinate you. The ones who make you laugh harder than you’ve ever laughed before.
So find the people you’re drawn to and pursue them. Who knows if it’ll work out, or if you’ll really click, but it’s impossible to know that before you’ve tried.
This starts by you being direct and asking them to do something. For example, “I like talking with you. Let’s do this again. How about we grab lunch sometime next week?”
Pursuing also means following up with them until you make it happen. If they don’t respond to your email or message, wait a week or so and try again. People are busy and their lives are full — especially if they’re awesome. You need to insert yourself into their lives enough for them to be willing to allot some time. Once they do, they’ll enjoy it (because you’re awesome!), and then they’ll make time more readily.
Be willing to ask someone to do something at least three times before you give up and move on.
There are two major obstacles to pursuing, which will trip you up and greatly reduce your ability to make outstanding friends. These are Pride and Coolness.
Many guys I’ve worked with have a level of pride that prevents them from pursuing someone. They have this idea: if he really wants to hang out with me, he’d get back to me right away. I don’t want to waste my time with someone who doesn’t want to hang out with me.
Translation: I’m feeling rejection (or scared of being rejected), so I’ll protect myself by not taking action. Then, to maintain my self-esteem, I’ll tell myself I just don’t care anyway.
This kind of pride just shoots you in the foot. Remember, the reality is people are busy. Haven’t you not gotten back to someone for quite a while? Haven’t you blown someone off a few times, then eventually hung out with them and had a great time?
Having a high level of confidence means you go after what you want. You try three or four times to meet with someone, and if they don’t follow through, you let it go. You know it means nothing about you as a person, and it’s their loss (because they passed up an opportunity to hang out with you!).
The second obstacle to pursing someone is wanting to maintain the image of being “cool.” You don’t want to look too desperate or needy, so you act laid back and play it cool. While a little of this relaxed approach to relationships can be a good thing, too much of it leaves you in a passive state.
I’ve seen some people who look really cool, but underneath they’re terrified of being seen for who they are. We all want connection, closeness, and friendships. We all need other people in our lives. It takes much more confidence to be outspoken and enthusiastic about pursuing a new friendship than it does to hide behind a mask of indifference.
“Don’t Try To Be So ‘Cool’
You Never Make Anything Happen In Your Life.”
Step 4. Don’t Settle
As you pursue people and start hanging out with potential friends, it’s important to study your reactions to people.
- Who do you like?
- Who do you dislike?
- Who’s nice but kind of boring?
- Who’s really fun and exciting, but a terrible listener?
As you spend time with others, you’ll become more and more clear about what you want. This is an incredibly important part of the selection process — for friendships, business relationships, dating, and marriage. You have to know what you want and don’t want. What you like and don’t like.
For me, I have many things I want out of my friendships, mostly because I bring so much of myself to the table. I want someone who shares my sense of humor so we can laugh together. But I also want someone who can be serious and talk about sensitive our difficult topics, so we can support each other through hard times.
As time went on, I began filtering out my friends who could only do one of these things. It might sounds selfish, or mean, or bad, but those are just ideas you have picked up along the way.
The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with building relationships only with the people you choose.
Why spend your limited free time with someone you only sort of like? That sounds miserable to me.
Part of not settling means, being willing to end friendships. Or you can reduce the frequency of contact with someone. For example, I still have a few friends who don’t meet me on all levels. That’s ok, because I only see them once in a while, and we talk about very specific things (like business).
“The Question For You Is,
What Do You Want In Your Friendships?”
And an even more important question is — do you bring what you say you want?
If I want a friend to be a great listener, then I need to be a great listener. If I want a friend who’s willing to try new things, then I have to be willing to try new things.
Who do you need to be in order to attract the friendships you truly want in your life?
If you’re stuck in some pattern of shyness, social anxiety, or self-doubt, then it’ll be difficult to create the friendships you truly want.