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How to Become Sociable and Make Good Friends

12.06.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

“Friday evening, and again I am staying at home alone. It’s so sad and lonely, I even really have no one to talk to. There are no friends from school and  from university. Everyone has their own activities, their own parties and companies, and I am alone. My colleagues called me to go to a pub, but I don’t like pubs, and I haven’t made any friendly relations for a year of work. In the childhood it was easy to approach any child on the street: “What is your name? Let’s be friends,” and then you both play. And now I want to make friends. Well, now it is an absurd to bother people on the streets. Why does everyone have friends, but I don’t?”

– Anna, 23

Anna’s worries are understandable – friendship is really a very important thing of a person’s life. But if someone easily communicates with everyone and quickly makes friends, then for others to make friendship is more difficult.

We are used to the fact that in childhood, friends appear on their own – we and our parents help us. But in adulthood no one “delivers” us friends. Is there any way to help those who do not know how to communicate and find friends? Of course it is. The ability to be friends, like any other skill, can be developed. Even introverts can do that. You just need to understand what friendship is, what it is based on and how to build friendships. We’ll talk about it today.


What is friendship

what is friendship

Friendship is a close relationship between people based on trust, respect, common interests, mutual understanding and mutual assistance. Sometimes people put a different meaning into the concept of “friend”, for example, a person whom I sometimes meet on Fridays. Or a person with whom I was in the army. Or a person with whom I studied at the same school. True friendship, however, is not only the amount of time you spend together. Sometimes it happens that a person knows how to communicate, he has many friends, but he still feels lonely. Why does it happen? Because his/her relationship with other people is more matey than friendly. And one wants real closeness and support.

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Why do we need friendship?

Why is it necessary to make friends? To observe conventions, take care of the feelings of others? Isn’t money and fame needed to live happily ever after? There are people who really think so, but in fact, for a happy life, most people need other people. Or, more precisely, true friendship and strong attachment, the knowledge that there is someone you can rely on.

People who are isolated from other people more than they prefer, feel more miserable, are often sick and live less. [1] And the point is not whether you have a family, whether you have a permanent couple or buddies. More important is the quality of the relationship. Therefore, it is so important not only to make superficial acquaintances, but also to develop friendly relations. Yes, sometimes it can be difficult, but we can bet on strong friendships now to be happier in the future.

And this is not to mention the company in such obvious things, like “there is someone to eat pizza with and go to the movies”.

How true friends behave. Unspoken Friendship Rules

Of course, these rules may differ among different people, but the researchers identified the following 4 categories that are important in friendship for most people: [2]

Reciprocal exchangeRelationships with other people
to share with each other news about your successes;to support each other voluntarily in difficult situations;to try to make friends enjoy chatting with us;to repay debts and benefitsto protect your friends in their absence;to tolerate other friends of your friend;to be free from jealousy or criticizing relationships with other people;not to criticize in public;to keep secrets
          • to trust and be confident in each othernot to teach, not to be annoying;to respect the beliefs and boundaries of a friend

Violation of some of these rules may serve as a reason for termination of friendly relations. For example, the disclosure of other people’s secrets or non-returning money can undermine trust and end friendship.

What qualities are needed to make friends

necessary qualities for friendship

The unwritten rules of friendship themselves can say a lot about what qualities you need to have in order to be able to be friends. Let’s flesh them out.

  1. You need to be ready to support your friend and share not only sadness, but also joy.
  2. It is necessary to show interest in the life of a friend, his/her problems and concerns.
  3. You need to be a person one can rely on and trust in.
  4. You need to respect the opinions and actions of your friend. Even if you disagree on some issues, this does not mean that one of you is a bad friend.
  5. You need to be prepared to work on friendships. Friendship does not get anyone simply, it is the result of our efforts. 

“Why don’t I have friends?”

why are there no friends

“How is it possible to make friends if there is only stupid youth around? TV series, TV shows, social media all day – and what to talk with them, how to respect them if they spend their lives without goals?”

– Anton, 29 

Not always the reasons for the absence of friends are in the people around us. What qualities don’t let us make friends?

  1. Selfishness. Some people strive to constantly receive something from others, but at the same time they are not ready to give anything themselves. For example, they complain about their problems, but are not ready to listen to another person. They demand that they should be helped with house renovation, but they are not ready to help themselves. They ask to borrow money, but do not pay back. People who seem to be friends with such a person have the feeling that they are simply being used.
  2. Intolerance to the opinions of others and tactlessness. “It’s time for you to give birth to children, the clock is ticking”. “Well, you’re a moron! A normal person will never watch and read this”. “Are you crazy you are not drinking? Don’t you respect me? Are you my friend or who? I’m telling you to drink!” Such and other similar remarks and interferences in someone else’s life can alienate anyone, even the most patient person.
  3. Carelessness. If a person does not know how to bear responsibility for own actions, can blunder someone else’s secret, break a promise without warning, then he/she will be treated with caution and people will try to stay away.
  4. Unfriendliness. If a person is closed, does not show friendliness, can suddenly flare up, snarls, misspeaks, makes offensive jokes with others, hardly anyone will desire a close relationship with him/her.
  5. Low self-esteem, self-doubt. “I don’t know what to talk about. I’m afraid to say something wrong. I think it’s always boring with me”. Such thoughts lead to excessive constriction and isolation. No one will force a person to be friends if he/she does not take the initiative or, in other words, does not demonstrate readiness for friendly relations.

These qualities are united by one. All these are habits, learned behavior, which can and should be corrected. We are not used to taking care of others, or are not used to keeping our word, or, on the contrary, are used to being silent and doubting ourselves. How to change and learn to make friends?

How to make friends for an adult: psychologist’s advice

how to make friends psychologist's advice

To build friendships, it is important not only to change yourself, but also to consider external factors: [3]

1. Take into account the territorial characteristic

Friendships are often tied up at work or at a university, but then, due to a job change or after graduation, they disappear. And the point here is not that someone has changed, you just became less likely to see each other, you have fewer points of contact. If people constantly intersect, the likelihood that they will make friends increases. Therefore, in order to make friends, try to be more often where you will meet people: go to the dining room for lunch, do not miss teamwork activities and meetings of your apartment block residents, etc. So you can expand the circle of friends, and this, as a rule, is already the first step towards friendship.

2. Learn to find similarities

What is important is not external resemblance, but common habits, lifestyle, opinions, similar worldviews, passions. And the more common attitudes, the higher the likelihood of sympathy and friendship. Therefore, it is good to look for friends in thematic communities, dancing, yoga, etc. That is, in those places where people already have something in common. Please note that this rule also has a flip side: the more we differ from others, the more severe hostility can arise.

3. Learn to be friendlier

To be able to start and maintain a conversation, it is important to master basic communication skills. For example, you met a person who seemed nice to you. Take the initiative, try to find out what he/she is fond of, ask how he/she spent the weekend, where he/she prefers to relax. People love when others show sincere interest in them, so try not to talk only about you, pay more attention to the words of the interlocutor. A smile and active listening will also help you make contact. And most importantly – communication skills can and should be developed. If you are currently having difficulty communicating, this does not mean that it will always be so. How to become more friendly and sociable? To do this, you need to change your habits. Changing a habit involves 3 main steps:

  1. Identification of interfering behavior, for example, I cannot say hello with a smile, I hide my eyes.
  2. Determining what behavior is desirable for you, for example, I want to look into the other person’s eyes
  3. Teaching new behavior, for example, every time I am greeted, I do not hide my eyes, but smile and greet in return.

Such retraining requires a careful approach and patience, but then you will never again wonder how to become a friendly person. After all, you will already become one.

We cannot control people as puppets – but we can control our behavior. It is in our power. To change your habits and become more sociable and friendly, use the 7Spsy behavior modification technique. This is a patented method of behavior psychology, based on the scientific theories of I.P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A. Ukhtomsky and others. After 2-6 weeks, you will learn how to get to know other people, communicate with people around you, pick up successful phrases and topics for conversations, you will become more open and friendly, learn to build real friendships. Classes are held remotely and confidentially, and the psychologist will always be in touch – by phone, in online chat rooms or e-mail.

4. Pay attention to those who treat you with sympathy.

The obvious fact is that friendship requires mutual sympathy. At the same time, people tend to sympathize with those who already treat them well, do not criticize them – and respond positively. Someone likes us – that means this person has a hell of a good taste! But jokes are jokes, and this rule really works. Therefore, look at those who already sympathize with you, perhaps you have a lot in common.

5. Think what you can give a friend in a relationship

In order for matey friendships to develop into real friendships, focus on what you can give, not what you can get. How does it work? We love those people with whom we are well and pleased. In fact, in relationships we strive to receive various rewards: attention, care, love, support, acceptance, reassurance. If the relationship is fun, we strive to continue it. Friendships can be enjoyable, but they usually take place in the “you – to me, I – to you” mode, that is, we are doing something good and are waiting for something in return. A man brought coffee to a colleague and expects that he will also take a step forward, for example, share an apple. Friendship begins when we stop counting who did what and how much. We are doing something good for another just like that, disinterestedly, and do not expect any response. And if your desire for friendship is reciprocal, then you will receive a similar attitude in return. The person seems to think: “Well, wow, he’s ready to make an effort for my sake, which means I can rely on him and trust him”. Of course, there may be situations when only one begins to “make friends”, but such relationships usually end quickly.

Friends for Introverts

“Well, it’s clear with extroverts, everything is simple, but can one somehow make friends with an introvert? I’m so exhausted, I want to have friends, but long-term communication is terribly tiresome, after a couple of hours I want to go home, as I can’t stand noisy companies”.

– Ilya, 34 

Indeed, popular wisdom says that the problem with introverts is that they want to have friends, but do not want to communicate with them. It seems that real life is where there is noise and fun from morning to evening, but you don’t feel like going to this crowd at all. It is important to understand that people have different needs. The fact that you do not like noisy companies does not mean that something is wrong with you. No need to rack your brains on how to become more sociable and step over the features of your temperament. You just need to take for granted that, for example, “my need for communication is 3 hours a week”. And already on the basis of this you can start to look for friends. You don’t have to be super-sociable to be someone else’s friend. Make friends with those who also have rare meetings, who do not like noisy companies, but share your love of going outdoors or reading. And to search for friends, you can use the methods given above, including the 7Spsy behavior modification technique – these universal methods are suitable for both extroverts and introverts. And remember, the main thing is not the quantity, but the quality of the relationship.

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1. About the benefits of relationships, a 75-year study (https://www.ted.com/talks/robert_waldinger_what_makes_a_good_life_lessons_from_the_longest_study_on_happiness?language=ru#t-27942).
2. Igor Kon, “Friendship: An Ethical and psychological essay”.
3. D. Myers, “Social Psychology”.