How to Get Closer to Someone & Become Real Friends
Make no mistake about it, new friendships require dedicated time and attention. When a great new friend enters your life, the effort is quickly outweighed by the benefit of true, meaningful connection.
Maybe it’s a friend of a friend who ends up at the same social functions or someone at the office who you rarely run into but truly enjoy for the four minutes it takes to brew a cup of coffee. The conversation goes something like this:
Wonderful person you’d love to have as a friend: “We should get together soon!”
You: “Yeah! Let’s make it happen!”
Then, you don’t.
Here’s the problem: When we both say “let’s get together!” but then we don’t follow through, a natural cognitive dissonance can build up between us. We may start to feel uncomfortable over time and even avoid seeing people we really like because our words and actions (and energy and desires, for that matter!) aren’t in alignment.
No effort = no meaningful friendship.
Now, if you’re fully satisfied with all your friendships and have zero room for new people, then you may be perfectly content leaving those conversations on an empty promise. If your cup is “full” already, then the only alignment you might want to work on here is saying what you mean.
Most days, this is where I land, but it’s only because I’ve put in a boatload of effort over time to get here. However, every now and then someone new comes into my world, and I follow the approach below to intentionally build a wonderful new connection over time.
Getting Closer to Someone If You Feel Unmotivated
If you find yourself feeling lonely at times, disconnected, or isolated, that may be a sign it’s time to increase the amount of effort you’re putting into this area of your life. This may sound like a catch-22, but you can think of it like exercising: The less you exercise, the lazier and more out of shape you will feel, and it becomes harder and harder to get to the gym. Then, the day you do finally break a sweat again, you feel great.
Social connection is not much different. The more you isolate yourself and stay disconnected, the easier it becomes to convince yourself the reasons why you might feel this way are true. This can be very damaging to your self-esteem and energy levels!
If you’re serious about wanting to bring someone closer and become real friends, ask yourself this: Can I commit to just a few small actions per week toward this goal?
Get Started With a List
To get started, sit down with a good ol’ pen and paper. Your goal is to identify three to five people who you know and would like to get to know better. Go into this exercise with an open mind!
There is no “should” attached to this, and no “end game” that looks a certain way. You may end up having a great conversation with one person and never see them again, or you may end up with a fresh trio of friends who stick with you for the rest of your life. You never know! The key is to stay open to possibility and hold up your end of the social commitment.
Follow these simple steps:
- Does anyone come to mind right away? Write down their name.
- Think back to the last couple of social events you went to. Who did you connect with?
- Look through your message history. Anyone stand out?
The key is to identify people with whom you have an existing mutual connection, not focus on someone that “seems interesting” from your Facebook feed who you’ve never really met before.
Communal by Nature: Friendship
We Surveyed 500+ People to Find Out Why It’s Hard to Become Closer Friends
We’ve got an in-house obsession with keeping people close and bringing them closer, so we surveyed 500 people to zero in on the barriers in their relationships. The more you know, right?
What If Negative Feelings Come Up?
It’s perfectly normal to have some negative reactions or objections during this process. Here are some common ones:
What if they were just being nice?
Do we really have enough in common? They’re not like my other friends.
Our schedules or locations are really inconvenient. This might be too hard.
Ask yourself if your objections are really so important that they take priority over your desire to cultivate new, fulfilling, meaningful friendships. If the answer is yes, then cross them off your list and move on. If the answer is no, then stick with it. That’s the rule.
If I’d dismissed someone for being a busy mom who lives 30 miles away from me, or the Burning Man free spirit who is 15 years older than me, or the soft-spoken woman who works in corporate, I would have missed out on some of the most fulfilling friendships of my life.
There’s one exception to the above rule. If you skip someone because you want to avoid feeling vulnerable, then get out your eraser and uncross that person right now. Why? Because whether we like it or not, vulnerability is key to meaningful connections. Yet we tend to wait for someone else to give us signals first, so we can lessen our chances of feeling vulnerable (or worse, rejected). In reality, it takes real courage to take action first, and the receiver almost always admires and appreciates the other person for doing it.
Time to Get into Action
Now that you have your list of three to five people you’d like to get to know better, it’s time to reach out!
I like to express whatever I’m actually feeling and be direct. It might feel risky in the moment, but in my experience it almost always produces the best possible result.
“Hey Tara! It was great running into you the other day. Every time we see each other I just love our conversations and would love to get to know you a little better. Want to get together next week?”
How’s that for honesty? If Tara is on the same page, this immediately opens the door for a friendship to grow. Obviously these are my words, and you’d want to say whatever is authentic to you — don’t worry about being a little awkward. Keep your invite short and low pressure.
How Fabriq Can Support Your Goals
To stay accountable to your new intention of getting to know people better, you can add these new people to your outer circle in Fabriq. This way you’ll have an easy reminder to touch base on a regular cadence, via push messages or notifications when you use the app.
Over time, you may notice yourself resisting the effort it takes to stay in touch with some folks, and in that case you can make the choice to move on (no hard feelings, of course!). If it doesn’t feel worth it, move on before any resentments build.
In other cases, you may find that this is someone you really value, and that person may move up in priority for you. Wonderful! You may decide that you want to see them more often, in which case Fabriq can help you deepen that relationship over time by increasing your connection cadence. One day, you may want to move that person to your middle or inner circle.
Ready for a Pro Tip?
If you’re looking for a low-pressure way to jump start these new relationships, try hosting a “new friends” dinner. Invite four to six people over that you want to get to know better, and let the group dynamic take over! These are especially great because they save time and avoid the “new friend date” that can put a bit of pressure on two people who don’t yet have a social foundation built between them.
When I want to get to know people better, I prefer to host dinners at home (versus going to a restaurant). This allows people to really kick back and be themselves in a more intimate and low-key environment. If your space is small, going to a casual restaurant can be just as good. Just try and avoid loud spaces so you can hear each other.
The good news here is, no matter what, you’ll enjoy fresh, new connections that feel meaningful.
We’re Here to Help!
Make no mistake about it, new friendships require dedicated time and attention. And no, they don’t all turn into BFFs. However, in my experience, when a great new friend enters your life, the effort is quickly outweighed by the benefit of true, meaningful connection.
Do you have any concerns that you feel would keep you from trying this out?
Or have you tried something else that worked well in the past?
Any favorite Fabriq app hacks to support this process?
I’d love to hear any and all of it in the comments below.
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Science-backed and the first of its kind, Fabriq is designed to improve your social health and make building better social habits easy, so you can focus on what (and who) really matters.
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