Jess Commons | Deputy Editor | Wednesday, 18 February 2015

How To Make Friends When You're Socially Awkward And Everyone Seems To Have Mates Except You

The Debrief: Because most people are just as lonely as you.

Ever feel like everyone’s got a million friends except you? Perhaps you’ve moved to a new city, or perhaps you’ve drifted away from the girls you went to uni with, or perhaps you’ve broken up with a boyfriend and realised that all your friends spend pretty much all their time (Sundays are the key day) with their boyfriends.

Or, perhaps, when you sit down and think about it rationally, you’ve actually got a whole bunch of friends but, thanks to how bloody busy everyone is all the time, it often feels like, on a Saturday afternoon, you’ve got no one to get a coffee with.

Basically, making friends comes super naturally to some people. If you’re even slightly introverted (like me), you’ll be baffled by those best friend stories in magazines where both parties claim ‘they met in the queue for the loo'. Like, who the fuck has ever formed a lasting relationship with someone they met in the loo? Loo people are for making small talk with (and then only if you’re at the right stage of drunk confidence), before you get to scurry back to the safety of your group of friends.

Making friends once you've left school and uni is really fucking hard for a lot of us. I ‘click’ with very few people straight off and, while I can do an excellent job of looking confident in a group, put me on my own in a one-on-one situation and I am in my own personal hell filled with thoughts like: 'OMG, HOW LONG DO I HAVE BEFORE SHE REALISES WHAT A TOTAL LOSER I AM?' Opening up to people doesn’t come easily and, feeling comfortable with them, even less so. 


Anyways, today over on Reddit, loads of people seem to be relating hard to this New York Times Ask Polly. In case you don't know, Polly’s like the rare kind of agony aunt that actually gives good advice. Today's topic? How can I make friends in my late twenties? It kind of made me realise that as I do have friends – I must have picked some tips up along they way of how to make them. Here's my humble advice...

First things first: Put yourself out there
A few weeks back, I went on a screenwriting course for the day. I was meant to go with my friend, but she cancelled, something about it being her Mum’s birthday or whatever (totally legitimate excuse). I nearly cancelled, too, because going into a room full of people that probably all know each other by myself? Nightmare. But as I’d already paid £56, I forced myself to go. And, you know what? I actually had a really nice conversation during a break with a girl for over 10 minutes. Which normally I’d try and escape from, and I felt WAY better for it. Sure, I didn’t exchange numbers with the girl or go for a drink afterwards, but getting out of my comfort zone meant I felt like one day, in the future, that might be something I’d be able to do. Getting yourself in that mindset is always going to feel uncomfortable and it’s always going to feel shit, but what you get in the end might totally be worth it.

Join a bloody netball team
Even if you hate netball. Even if you’re the least sporty person in the entire world. Netball is way more about the social life than the actual games anyways. Especially if you join one of the dosser teams (they’re probably the ones with no kit who show up to training hangover). When our creative editor Anna moved to London, it was a chance to make new friends. AND get fit. Now her netball lot are her actual mates. And, after playing a game on Sunday morning, they all go out for brunch. How nice is that?

Get searching for groups
You are super wrong if you think you're the only person who's feeling like you haven't got a friend in the world. Social media (specifically Instagram, the scourge of the socially awkward person) might make it look like you are, but trust us, you’re not. Big cities are FULL of chronically lonely people who just need to be hooked up with other lonely people. My friend Zoe recently moved to an area where she knew no one, only to find that one of her neighbours had set up a weekly pub night for young women around the area. Excellent shout. Look on Facebook to find things like that, or head over to City Socializer to find fun stuff going on around you and fun people to go with. Heading out with a group of new people is WAY less scary if you know you're all in the same boat.

Find someone that’s good at that shit naturally
Literally, the only reason I do like 60% of the stuff I do is due to my best, super-extroverted best friend. For her, leaving the house to meet a mate for coffee, heading to a museum with a guy, and even booking a holiday with randoms is not the tortuous and hideous concept it seems to me. For her, it’s actually fun. Even better, she drags me along with her, which means I have to do all this stuff and I have to meet new people. Find one of these people and become their own personal social leech.

Make friends at work
If you work with exclusively stuffy 50-year-old men in ties, you might struggle, but if there’s one girl or guy who seems around your age then wait until the next work drinks (when you’ve had a few), corner them and just CHAT. After you’ve made the inroads, don’t be afraid to ask them for a drink after work one day (main worries: they’ll say no), chances are they’re just as nervous and lonely as you and are just too scared to make the first move. Oh, and ask over email rather than in person, way less awkward.

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

Why You Should Never – And We Mean Never – Try And See All Of Your Friends In One Go

The Complications Of Shopping With Your BFFs

Meet The Guy Attempting To Have Coffee With All 1086 Of His Facebook Friends

Follow Jess on Twitter @Jess_Commons

Tags: Friends