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1) Carve Out the Time
Whether you feel down in the dumps, or are already overextended because you’re juggling too many responsibilities, promise yourself some time with people. These can either be people you know or people you would like to know. Friendships enhance our health and well-being because they allow us to feel supported and understood – they’re well worth the investment of time. Put it towards the top of your to-do list.
2) Put Yourself Out There
You’re not alone. There are other people yearning for close friendships. Summon up your energy (and courage) to do something different: Make eye contact, smile, and say hello (even if you are innately shy). Take the initiative to invite someone for coffee or a walk. Don’t presume that everyone else already has friends and that you’re arriving too late for the game.
3) Take Off Your Blinders
Friends don’t always appear in obvious places or look like you imagined they would. Don’t diminish the size of your “talent pool” of prospects by eliminating people who are older, younger, richer, poorer, taller, shorter, or just look different than you think they should. Potential friends are all around, especially if you are working, in school, live in a multi-family dwelling, or belong to various groups and organizations. If you’re unaffiliated, become a joiner. Sign up for a course, join a gym, book club, volunteer. You’ll find others who are as interested in making friends as you are.
4) Nurture the Seedlings
Every relationship with a potential friend isn’t love at first sight (in fact, you may have to worry if it is.) Give relationships time to blossom slowly and eventually deepen. Give potential friends a chance to show you their stuff and vice versa. We only get to know another person over time. Old friendships require nurturance, too!
5) Be the Friend You Would Like to Have
Be sincere, compassionate, and honest. Listen as well as share. Don’t gossip or betray. Reach out when someone needs you even if she isn’t able to ask or tell you what she needs. Be reasonable in what you expect from others but don’t allow yourself to always be on the giving end of a relationship. Be forgiving — to a point — but give up when a friendship clearly isn’t working. Friendships need to be mutually satisfying and you deserve no less.