Are you ready to cultivate better friendships now? Do you want to have the kind of friends who inspire you, excite you, and make you smile and laugh? Do you want to feel confident that you have people who will always be there for you and know you deep down to your core?

If you want powerful friendships that build your happiness and bring you a sense of security, stay tuned, because we’re going to dive into how to create those connections in your life starting now.

Welcome to Part Two of our “Better Friendships Now” discussion. If you haven’t watched Part One yet, stop the video and take a look at that episode first—it’s best if we all start out on the same page, after all!

In the first part of this episode, we talked about building friendships—how to develop a clear understanding of what you want from your platonic relationships, being willing to upgrade your friendships, and the importance of making high relationship standards a priority in your life. In this episode, we’re going to discuss what steps you can take to help you do just that.

Step one: let go of the old before you reach for the new.

This does not mean that you have to cut off your old friends completely—it simply means that you must assess the level of energy it takes to maintain the relationship as it currently stands and decide if it’s time to make room for something more fulfilling. For example: imagine you have a long-distance phone friendship. Maybe you absolutely love it—the relationship is with an old friend who you value dearly and can talk to for hours. Great!

But what if it’s not?

Maybe the two of you no longer have anything to talk about; maybe you’re both just busy with your own lives; maybe you’ve grown apart . . . that’s ok, too! This is where you need to decide, however, if it’s worth the effort to keep spending time on something that no longer brings you joy. If not, you have options: you can simply start tapering the frequency of your phone calls, for example. It doesn’t make you a bad person—it just makes you a person who has new priorities.

No one should be beholden to a relationship that feels like a chore. If your time with someone begins to seem like an obligation, it might be time to let go. Trust that this person will still be your friend—you can still see him whenever you want to, but now the relationship is more like that of a family member who lives in a different city—something we can all relate to.

Step two: open yourself up to new possibilities.

Who are the types of people with whom you’d like to connect? Where do they hang out? In order to meet the kind of people you want to make your friends, you’ll might need to step outside your comfort zone of work-home-repeat and involve yourself in some new activities.

The good news is that you’re very likely to find the people you most want to connect with at places you’ll enjoy, doing activities in which you already want to participate. The sports, hobbies, and other activities that bring you joy are your ticket to a thriving social life rich with people who you love being around and gel with perfectly.

Just like any social endeavor, you have to put yourself out there to find success. When you find a connection that thrills you for whatever reason—we’re always laughing our butts off; we really seem to get each other; there’s never a lack of good conversation—move toward that feeling and put in the effort to nurture that friendship.

Of course, this can be scary—it’s challenging to put ourselves out there and get vulnerable by seeking the company of others. If it seems beyond your comprehension at the moment, that’s probably because we’re looking at this using very broad strokes. To get into the nitty-gritty and explore social skills, self-esteem development and the true specifics behind building lasting relationships, then my program, The Confidence Code, is the choice for you.

In the meantime, however, you must begin to act—approach the people who provide you a feeling of fulfillment with a request to hang out at some point. It might feel uncomfortable, but that’s okay. Find an approach that works for you, and practice the wording so you feel comfortable. Many people would want to keep it casual—asking for the person’s phone number or email, taking the pressure off the other person—but, being a very loving person, I tend to approach these situations with my cards on the table. I’ll usually say something like, “Hey, I really enjoy talking with you and hanging out. It would be awesome if we could do it again—maybe grab a drink or something.”

That, to me, is genuinely expressing what I want. If I get rejected for whatever reason, that’s ok. I’ve done the emotional work to prepare myself for that, and it doesn’t bother me one bit. I’m offering my time, and it’s that person’s right to accept or decline it. We’re all grown-ups, and we are all dealing with different schedules and time constraints, so just know that a rejection is not necessarily a reflection on you.

This brings me to my final point—step three: insert yourself into that person’s life.

You’re no dummy. You’ve probably decided that this person would be fun to hang out with because that person is fun to hang out with. For that reason, he or she is probably going to attract a lot of people and have a fairly busy social calendar. This means you’re going to have to be persistent. You may have to try a number of times. If you invite the person to something and he doesn’t get back to you or can’t make it, avoid the temptation to jump to conclusions by deciding the person is a jerk.

People are busy—it doesn’t mean they hate you, and it doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. They’re just busy. You have to make an effort to insert yourself into people’s lives.

Now, if you try two or three times, and the person is still not available, maybe it’s not the best fit, and at that point, you can feel justified in moving on. You must attempt to be persistent, however, before you resign yourself to a lost opportunity.

Clearly, there is a lot that goes into cultivating the friendships that are worth maintaining . . . but hopefully this discussion has shown you that you can create the social life you want. If you’re not satisfied, take action and make something happen. Friendships are essential. We have to feel like people know us and love us for who we are. Even if you are in a relationship or are married with a dozen kids, it’s not the same—you need friendship in your life. It’s the kind of connection that you deserve and that I want for you. You can make it a part of your reality with just a little bit of effort, and it all starts here, with this work!

As always, I invite you to share your questions or comments below. How have you made better friendships a priority in your life? How do you feel most comfortable approaching people for deeper connections? We can all learn from each other in order to make great friendships a reality in our lives. Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome.

Dr. Aziz