How to Make—and Keep—Quality Friends

These past few weeks, I’ve been engaging with more and more women in this community. We’ve connected on social media, chatted on last week’s first-ever Substantial Sisterhood call, and backpacked through Henry Coe State Park.

The number one thing I’ve realized through all of these connections is that women have a really pressing need, something they want to make a priority, but don’t know how. They want to make good friends. Not just new friends, but really good friends.

They want like-minded women to share experiences with. Sisters they can call on to laugh with, and maybe even cry a little with. They’re looking for women they can trust and share a deep level of understanding and communication with.

As a woman who has moved close to thirty times in her life (I’m not exaggerating), and as an introvert who has had her fair share of shy, awkward, uncomfortable moments, this topic is close to my heart.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve had moments of feeling like something was wrong and wanting to give up, but here are two important things I want you to know:

-----> It’s hard for everyone to meet new people and make good friends.

You’re not alone and nothing is wrong with you. Whatever your age, residence, or circumstances are, there’s another woman out there who completely relates and knows what you’re going through. If we were sitting in a circle of women and I asked, “How many of you have a hard time making good friends?” I bet every single woman would raise her hand. We’re all longing to develop quality connections.

------> Don’t give up.

Friends are one of the most important ingredients in the recipe for a happy life. Friendships provide comfort, prevent isolation, improve quality of life, and give support during the tough times. It’s really not something we as humans can stand to live without.

Now that I’ve gotten these two very important things out of the way, I’d love to share with you a few tips to help you get on the path to making good friends. You don’t need to do all of these things at once; simply scan the list, see which idea resonates with you most, and start there.

1.) Connect to yourself first.

When was the last time you had a moment of quiet just for you? When was the last time you felt really connected to yourself? If you can’t remember, then start here first. Connecting with yourself is a prerequisite to connecting with others. So get to know yourself, who you are, what you like, and what you don’t like. Without this, you’ll lack the motivation, confidence, and self-esteem to get started on the good friend search.

2.) Put making good friends at the top of your to-do list.

Often when we’re in a friend making slump it’s because it’s no longer a priority. We talk about the desire for new friends, but never really do anything about it because our calendars are so packed. Like anything in life, you have to make time and space for it. Just like you have appointments in your calendar for tasks, meetings, and appointments, add in a “Find a good friend” timeslot. Seeing it visually in your calendar will remind you that it’s just as important as everything else in your life.

3.) Follow your passions, not people.

What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to do? What are you curious about? What fascinates you? Go do that and see if you connect with anyone. I promise, if you’re doing something you’ve always wanted to do, you’ll be completely lit up. In doing so you’re honoring your desires and bringing adventure into your life, and the combination brings out your best self. So stop following people to the same places, doing the same things. Skip the boring after-work function or the same yoga class you go to every week and sign up for that handlettering class you’ve been dying to try or that hip hop dance class that’s been calling your name.

4.) “Hit on” potential good friends.

I’m not kidding! This works every time. I hit on friends pretty much everywhere I go—at movement classes, walking around the farmer’s market, when I’m hiking, you name it. If there are cool chicks around, I have my friend radar on. Just last week I was taking a class at Planet Granite, met a woman, liked her vibe, and gave her my phone number so we could go climbing together some time. She emailed me within hours! Now, I never got that fast of a response when I was dating. :)

5.) Appreciate the friendships you already have.

Make gratitude your practice. When we appreciate the friendship that’s already around us, it’s a lot easier to see the opportunities for more friendship to enter. Call up one of your current girlfriends and tell her how much you miss her, send your mom a thank you note for always being there for you, tell your sister you appreciate how hard you laugh when you’re with her. Thank a woman, any woman in your life, for the happiness she’s added to your life. With a heart full of gratitude and love, it will be much easier to recognize when a potential good friend is right in front of you.

Good friends don’t just happen (sorry to be the bearer of bad news). So if you’ve been waiting for it to magically happen, it’s time to shift that now and get into action. Developing and maintaining friendships takes time and effort. Start this week with one small step. And remember, keep it simple and be gentle with yourself along the way.

With loving friendship,