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June 30, 2022

Why do we all need more friends?

The research is in and it says that our social connections are the MOST IMPORTANT piece to the "how to live your best life" puzzle.

It is more important than eating healthy, sleep/rest, or exercise. After reinventing my life based on the triad of getting enough sleep, eating healthy and regular exercise, I was astonished. Sure, I knew friendships were important. I just didn’t realize how important they are to our health and longevity.

First, looking for friendships is a bit like dating in that you have to put in the time to get to know someone, even a platonic friend. Decide if this is a friendship you want to spend the time nurturing.

Second, you need to be open to meeting new people. They aren’t always where you might expect. Maybe the lady who sent you a message on LinkedIn could be a friend, not just another salesperson.

Third, not all friendships are the same. You can have a "golfing buddy," a "spiritual" buddy, a "running buddy," or a "movie and dinner" buddy. It’s okay.

Not all friends can be all things to you. It’s good to hang around other people, learn what makes them tick, and see what you can learn from each other!

If you are a bit like me, you spent most of your adult life tending to the needs of other family members and neglected your own circle of friends, if you even had one. Learning to make new friends is not reserved for those on the playground in elementary school. Adult women need plenty of friends too.

I am pretty much a loner, an introvert who enjoys occasional interaction. COVID has convinced me more than the studies, that I do need, really need, more social interaction. But how was I going to grow my girlfriend network?

First I read books, notably Shasta Nelson’s books: “Friendships Don’t Just Happen” and “The Business of Friendships.” I joined some on-line groups and interacted, somewhat hesitantly. But those relationships didn’t really seem real. They were virtual at best.

I wanted something more, then I realized it was just like regular ‘ol business networking….you have to have a plan — a plan that works and you slowly gain real friends, that you get to know, like, trust and have fun with.

There are ways to go about this that are not difficult or time-consuming. The easiest way is to start with the people you already know. Maybe you met them at your exercise class, work, a networking event; or you belong to the same church, club, or organization. Write down the names of all the potential friends you know from all your different interactions, even if you don’t know them very well. Then spend some time figuring out who you might want to become better friends with. You will likely have to get to know them better to even figure out if you want to be friends.

Contact your potential friend via the method most appropriate for how you already know them whether it’s messenger, email, text, or a group site. You might not even know their phone number or email. Don’t let that deter you.

Approach a few of them each week with short interactions to see if there is any potential. A phone call, zoom meeting, meet for a quick coffee, will all do in the early stages. The purpose is to see what you have in common and if there is enough interest to pursue future meetings. Find out about them and their interests. Show some enthusiasm. Ask questions. (See, I said it was like dating!)

Then keep your eyes open for brand new contacts. Maybe it is someone you crossed paths with on social media. Take a chance and email or message them. See if you can talk or meet one-on-one. We all need more friends so even if you don’t want to be best buds, think of it like getting to know another person you might be able to help in the future or vice versa.

To avoid overwhelming and eating up big chunks of your time, be creative. Fit these social contacts into your existing schedule. Perhaps you have time before an appointment to meet for coffee. Or suggest an activity like golf, walking, jogging, swimming, or eating out. You know, all those things you are doing anyway but are more fun with a friend!

So now on the weekends when I am scheduling my workout routines or classes for the following week, I also schedule some time to interact with new or established friends I want to know better. Not all will become my new best friend, but I am sure to increase my friendships and social connections along the way!

  • “Janie has been an inspiration to me. Her no-nonsense, no-fluff approach to finding the most important ways to make the biggest impact on her own life has helped me grow in my life too.”
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    The Networking Motivator
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