Are you discouraged because you can’t seem to make any true friendships? You long for a community to do life with, but nothing ever works out? Check to see if you’re making any of these seven mistakes when forging new friendships.
Why You Aren’t Making Friends. Are You Making These 7 Mistakes?
1. You give up too easily
Many people attend one or two group events or meet another mom at the playground, and if they don’t make an instant connection, they think, “why bother?’
Or they feel uncomfortable, so they don’t go back to the book club or pursue a potential friendship.
Or maybe they attend 5 out of the ten sessions of their new book club.
Cultivating new friendships in adulthood takes work. First, you have to be willing to be awkward and accept that you’ll have to push past fears of what someone may think of you or the doubts that creep into your mind telling you no one wants to be your friend.
2. You aren’t vulnerable.
Acting like you have everything together works okay for acquaintances and co-workers.
But if you are looking for a true community, at some point, you’ll have to let them into your mess. You may feel exposed at first but pushing past these feelings and opening up to others is the only way to forge true friendships.
If you reveal something about yourself and you’re not embraced, then you know that’s not a relationship that’s worth pursuing. Consider it a way to weed out surface-level friendships.
Continuing to avoid vulnerability in your friendships creates a false identity for yourself that can be exhausting to keep up. And with time, others can begin to see through this, and they wonder why you aren’t sharing your true self when everyone else in the group is.
3. You’re settling for online friends instead
Having online friends is great – for a purpose. Maybe you’re in the same Facebook group for a shared interest.
But rarely do those online friends become the person you’ll call in the middle of a crisis. Chances are you don’t have their phone number and haven’t met in person.
You don’t spend time with online friends. Instead, you converse online or like their social media status and pictures. These aren’t real friends, they’re online acquaintances.
4. You aren’t consistent
Ever think about how easy it was to make friends when you were a kid? One reason: consistency. You were at school every day or on the bus, each morning, or faithfully attended soccer practice. The reason you were consistent then and not now is because you had to be. Your parents made you go to school and attend practice. But that reliability is what made friendships so much easier.
Today, you’re the boss of you, and if you don’t feel like going to yoga class or bible study, you make up an excuse and don’t go.
But everyone else who is going that week has another opportunity to form relationships, and friendships develop over time spent together consistently.
5. You expect everyone else to reach out
You assume the new group you joined or a person you just met will reach out to you and invite you to things if they’re interested. Or maybe you’re the new person joining a group that’s already established, and so it feels like they should be the ones to invite you back, and if not, then they don’t like you.
The fact is, they may have the same reservations. If you desire new friendships and community, you’ll need to put yourself on the line. Most people aren’t initiators. You will need to invite others to get a coffee or go for a walk. And you’ll need to do it often.
6. You aren’t embracing the mess of friendships
If you can look back over the past two years and give a reason as to why all your friendships failed, or the new group you joined didn’t progress past a couple of meetings, or why you still don’t have any friendships, then chances are you have unrealistic expectations.
Friendships are messy even as adults.
There will be group members that don’t get along. You will get turned down and canceled on and possibly a lot.
But those who are serious about forging new friendships will press on.
7. You make it all about you
Sometimes your new friends will cancel on you or maybe not even show up. Someone won’t like a view you hold. No one replies to your group text.
Unless you ask someone why and you’re told “it’s you,” always assume it’s not about you. Everyone has complicated lives and insecurities. Not just you. Instead, give grace and move on. Ask if something is going on in their lives, accept the apology, assume the best, and move on.
press on for True Friendships
Be the one to invite someone else when the first two people said no.
Be understanding if someone cancels on you.
If one person or group doesn’t work out, try another. In fact, you should be pursuing and cultivating multiple friendships at the same time. One person can’t be everything to you.
Go back the next time to bible study if the last time was uncomfortable or think you said the wrong thing. No one is thinking about that except you.
Join a different playgroup if you don’t get along with someone else.
Be the one to press on. But don’t give up on finding community. We weren’t made to go through this life alone.