Why is it that the older we get, the LESS experienced we seem to be at making new friends?? You would think that since we’d been doing it our whole lives, it would get easier, but it seems the opposite tends to happen! Old insecurities and deep hurts seep in and take control despite our desire to love and be loved.
It would be easy to say that this is just an introvert problem, but I feel (from my extensive unofficial observations lol) that extroverts struggle with making friends as well. While we introverts might find the difficulty in the introduction and in putting forth the effort, extroverts tend to have a harder time opening up and getting past the casual.
No matter who you are, or where your weaknesses lie, we all have a hard time with new friends. But if we can make the effort to put ourselves out there, a friend can be a huge blessing. Friendship is a gift given to us by the One who created the concept of relationship and community. We are called to love and support one another, and when we do that, we find that we too are in turn, loved and supported.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25
How to Get a Friend
1. To Make New Friends, Choose Wisely
This is so important. I have had so many different friends in my day. Some of them have been so incredibly good for my soul, whether through laughter, love, or encouragement. But some have been such bad influences or have left me feeling insecure and less than.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23
Not all friends are created equal. If someone does not seem to be looking out for your best interests, RUN!! There are plenty of other options to pursue that will be a healthier friendship in the long run.
Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. Proverbs 13:20
(This is different than maintaining a relationship with an old friend that has gone down a darker path. For more on this, see the blog post What Are You Supposed to do with a Black Sheep?)
2. To Make New Friends, Stop Waiting for the Invite
One thing I have learned over the years, is that we are all sitting back waiting for someone else to reach out. It’s an easy thing to grow bitter when you think that no one ever wants to hang out, or to be your friend, but I guarantee you that the other person is sitting at home feeling the same way!
Be the change on this one. Take the first step and reach out. You will never find new friends if you aren’t willing to connect with them. The worse that can happen is that they say no. If that occurs, don’t give up, depending on their explanation try again a different time, or with a different person.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:9-10
If we can acknowledge that the other person is just as insecure in this area as we are, then isn’t it part of doing good to be the one to reach out and ease their insecurity a little bit? Isn’t that part of putting away self, and putting others first?
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4
After all, isn’t that what God did for you?
He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. Psalm 18:16
3. To Make New Friends, Be Vulnerable
Vulnerability is really hard for me. My fallback is to give the impression that I have no weaknesses, that I am independent and autonomous. The problem with this, is that by maintaining this façade, I am telling others that I don’t need them. And if people feel that they are not needed, they move on.
As women (men might feel this way too, but I can’t speak for them), we like to feel needed. It gives us purpose and a feeling that we are wanted. So open up. Share your struggles, ask for help.
It’s okay to be weak with those you are close to. It’s okay to lean on the people in your life that you can trust. For us women, this is how we bond.
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
2 Corinthians 11:30
4. To Make New Friends, Take Initiative
If you want to find new friends, you need to place yourself in the position to meet new people. This might mean attending a group event when you might not know anybody else going. Or maybe it means starting up a conversation (or reciprocating a conversation) with one of the other moms at karate or soccer.
Again, that other woman may be sitting there feeling insecure, hoping someone would talk to them. Isn’t it our job to take the initiative to serve others?
“…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28
There have been times that I have pinpointed somebody that I wanted to get to know but haven’t known how. In those circumstances, pray and ask God to create the opportunity (if that’s His will). And then follow His lead.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
5. To Make New Friends, Be Available
I once met a new friend for coffee to tell her some exciting news. I had just made the decision to leave my job to stay at home with my kids, and I wanted her to know that I was going to be more available now to get together. Halfway through our conversation, she cut me short and said she needed to be home to put her kids to bed.
While I am thankful that she made some time for me, the abruptness of her exit left me feeling unimportant and that she didn’t really have time for me. I honestly never reached out to her again.
This is something that I try to remember when pursuing other new relationships. If you want to make a new friendship, show up and be available. No one is going to waste their time on somebody who doesn’t have time for them.
The same goes for our phones. I try really hard (I am not always perfect at this, but I do try to make an effort) to leave my phone alone when I am with a friend. This is especially important for new friends as the relationship is not quite secure. There is nothing that says “you are only partially important” like a friend that is scrolling social media while you are pouring your heart out.
It is impossible to do life together in friendship, if you are not truly available to do life with.
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
6. To Make New Friends, Respond
I know everyone is different with this. I know some who are over responders (you know the type, those who always have to have the last emoji) and some who never respond. I’m telling you right now, it is really hard to build new friendships with those who never respond.
I understand that life gets busy and overwhelming. I understand that some of you just aren’t texters. But if you want those new friends to trust that you are into them, you need to respond when they reach out! And I’m not talking about in a day or two, let them know as soon as you can that you got their message.
Put yourself in their shoes. It is hard to be the vulnerable one, taking initiative. It is hard to put yourself out there for rejection. And when you try multiple times to reach out to someone, receiving only crickets in return, it is even harder to remain engaged.
Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31
7. To Make New Friends, Pour into Them
Now we are getting into what it means to be a friend. Friendships aren’t solely for our own benefit; they are also for the benefit of the other party.
If you want to know how to make real friends, this is how. You invest. You spend your time and energy on them, encouraging them. You get to know their families, and love those they love.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
You should also be available with a listening ear and wise counsel. Be ready to point your friend to the Bible for answers, or to pray with them through a tough season. These are the things that will deepen a relationship beyond the superficial.
Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice. Proverbs 27:9
8. To Make New Friends, Show Grace
Nobody likes to feel judged inappropriately or unfairly. While we are called to judge many things against what scripture tells us to be true, we are not called to rub each other’s noses in our mistakes.
If a time comes to call out another’s sin, do so in love. Acknowledge the many poor choices that you yourself have made and recognize your own need for grace. Do this before you approach your friend, and then go forward with humility.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17
The words we speak into each other’s lives can stay with you for a very long time. If they are hurtful, they can leave a scar that is hard to ignore. But if they are nurturing, they can be life giving to all who hear them.
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24
9. To Make New Friends, Know When to Back Off
Sometimes a friendship is just not meant to be. The women that I seem to pursue the hardest (usually without seeking God’s direction first), seem to be the friends that are the most toxic. Sometimes personalities just aren’t meant to jive, and that’s okay.
If a friendship feels one-sided, it’s okay to let it go. Having new friends can be fun, but not if you are doing all of the work. Sometimes, they are just not that into you, and that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be personal, it’s just not a good fit.
A mismatched relationship will drain everything you have. Don’t allow that to happen. Pray about it, and make sure that your loyalty is in the right spot. Sometimes we can feel an unhealthy loyalty to a friendship that no longer deserves it. There is only One who deserves our loyalty, and He will never disappoint.
Our purpose on earth is to please our Lord, not an unhealthy friendship.
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:24
10. To Make New Friends, Understand that the Unicorn Doesn’t Exist
So I have long had this dream, that I would someday meet the perfect new friend. Someone that I would immediately connect with, and who would instantly be as excited about me as I would be about her. Someone I could laugh hysterically with (this is really hard for me, as I am NOT an easy laugher), someone who would drop by regularly for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, someone who would get me completely and who would point me to the Lord when I need it.
The problem is this – this person does not exist. The perfect friend is not out there. The best friend from the movies is fictional. Once I started realizing this, I began to notice that I already had these things in the friends that I currently have. I already have a friend that I can laugh hysterically with. I have friends that drop by with coffee and wine. And I have so many friends that get me completely and will not hesitate to point me to the Lord.
There is only one who encompasses all that we need in a single friend. His name is Jesus. He is the unicorn.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14
While it is so important to surround ourselves with many new friends who will love on us, it is imperative that we do not confuse ourselves with who can really provide what we need. Friends can only give so much. Jesus can give everything.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2