Making and keeping friends comes easily to me. It didn’t always, though. It’s something I’ve worked on, and now I feel like it has really paid off. Here are the things I do:
1. I reach out proactively to make plans. But I also watch to see how the other person reacts and what they need. Some people like more frequent texting. Others are more down for a quarterly in-person 3-hour dinner. I adjust my expectations accordingly.
2. I show up. If the person matters to me, I’ll be at their wedding, their birthday party, their stand-up show, whatever. I also don’t commit to stuff and then bail. If I say I’ll be there, I am THERE. And if I can’t make it, I’m clear about that up front. No flakiness, no noncommittal behavior. People know what to expect from me and I am true to my word.
3. I remember birthdays. It’s a small thing, but I think it matters! I keep them all in my Google calendar so I can send a card, text or gift for a friend’s special day.
4. I remember details about their lives and share things that made me think of them — articles, a text pic of a new restaurant opening they might like, invites to events they could be interested in. Even now in the age of COVID, there are virtual events and it’s easier than ever to share a link and tell a friend, “Hey, I’m going to this and thought you might be interested.”
5. With acquaintances or newer friends, I take the pressure off of lower-stakes activities. If I find something I want to do, I sign up for it and then I invite a friend knowing that I’ll go either way. I don’t let the friend’s response determine whether or not I’m going to do the thing. I think this is huge. It takes the pressure off the other person and also means my social life is not dependent on their decision.
6. Know the difference between deeper friendships and more acquaintance-type relationships and invest your time accordingly—but also know that friendships change over time and allow space for that. Today’s tennis partner could become a close friend in a year or two. The friend you currently feel really close to could move away or switch to a new life stage that you can’t identify with. There’s room in life for so many types of friendships and that’s the beauty of them: they can evolve. No matter who you are, where you live, how old you are, there will always be someone looking for a friend at this particular time in their life. Someone is out there (lots of someones!) looking for you! You just have to put yourself out there.
It’s a bit like dating in that you have to cast a wide net and lower your expectations at the beginning, but when you do find a good one, know when to put in more time and energy to make it something that sticks.
I hope this helps!