The Fine Art of Friendship

How to make and keep friends.

What would life be like without friends—those special people you enjoy being around, talking to and sharing life with? Your best friend is the person you call when you’re lonely, when you have good news, or when you need advice. Maybe you’ve lost friends over the years, have moved to a new city, or have never had a true friend. Whatever the cause of your lack of friends, you’re not the only one.

Loneliness is increasingly common even in this world of constant communication. Many have social media accounts filled with “friends” but still feel alone.

If you wish you had more friends, there are things you can do toward that end. Here are a few ideas to get you started.True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. – Baltasar Gracian

Be Confident

You may be hesitant to make new friends. Maybe you’ve been burned by a close friend. Perhaps you’re shy or bad at making conversation. Or maybe you’re scared of rejection or want to make a good impression. Whatever your reason, other people are likely dealing with the same worries. It’s time to put your fears behind you and move forward with confidence.

Find Friends

Reaching out to someone you already know is less intimidating than talking to someone you’ve never met. So start your friend hunt with someone you already know. Is there an acquaintance in your circles who you’d like to know better? This could be an old friend from high school, a coworker, a friend of a friend, a parent at your child’s school, or a neighbor across the street.

If no one comes to mind, it’s time to branch out. Where could you go to meet new friends? Take your dog to the dog park, join a group on an online social networking site, become part of an online community, sign up for a group fitness class, or attend a religious organization.

Reach Out

You have to be a friend to make a friend. And the first step to doing this is breaking the ice. Figure out who you want to befriend, then approach the person and strike up a conversation. It could be as simple as talking about the weather or her hairstyle. Show an interest in the other person’s life and share some of yourself. If the conversation goes well, exchange numbers. As you get to know her, avoid making quick assumptions or judging by first impressions. Give the relationship time to develop.

Not sure how to start a conversation? Get to know the other person by asking about her name, where she’s from, if she has kids or other family, where she works, and what her hobbies are. As time goes on, ask harder questions about her values, dreams, and the things that shape her life.

Spend Time Together

Take the next step toward making and keeping a friend by inviting him to spend time with you. This could be going on a walk, meeting up for coffee, or going out for lunch. Make an effort to stay in touch. Text to check in, find ways you can brighten up his day, see if there’s some way you can help or support him. As the friendship deepens, share life together. Celebrate the good things in life and be a shoulder to cry on when times are hard.

There’s risk involved in making friends, but all you can do is try. If it’s not meant to be, try again. Be yourself, be genuine, and be honest. In other words, be the kind of friend you want to have. Do this, and you’ll find the friend for you.