As you get older and life demands more and more from you, it's not uncommon to find the number of people in your social circle dwindling. But friends are more than just entertainment. Making new friends and maintaining healthy relationships with people can help to boost your health and lower your stress. If you're finding it hard to meet new people and forge new bonds, it's time to shake up your daily routine and put yourself out there.
Share Interests to Share a Friendship
Jump start your chances of making friends by finding people who share common interests with you. This gives you an instant starting point for a friendship, and makes it easier to strike up conversations and find other things in common. For example, if you love the outdoors, join a local hiking group. Or, if you're a foodie, look for tastings and meet-ups in your community. Religious gatherings, such as a Bible study, can also often serve as an excellent starting point, as bonding over shared spirituality can strengthen relationships.
Be Your Own Friend
Sometimes, meeting new people is as much about how you present yourself as it is about others. Even as you focus on creating external friendships, don't forget to focus on yourself and making yourself a better person. Do things that let you bring excitement, new ideas and interesting experiences to the table. For example, take that art class you've always wanted to try, or finish reading that novel you've been putting off. The more interesting and appealing you make yourself as an individual, the more interested someone else will be in becoming your friend. And of course, smile often. This instantly makes you more approachable and friendly.
Put Yourself Out There
If your current routine isn't helping you to meet new friends, maintaining it won't make things better. Often, making new friendships requires you to take the initiative and put yourself out there. Never turn down an invitation to events or parties. Constantly look for ways to get more involved in groups or communities you're currently in. And as you do it, act like someone who is interested in forging new relationships. Make eye contact with new people you meet, strike up conversations with people at parties who look like they're alone or similarly friendless, and listen or look for cues in what people say or do that may point to shared interests or common lifestyles.
Add Some Bonding Glue
Once you've met a potential new friend, it's time to apply the glue that holds relationships together. The starting foundation for all friendships is shared experiences. Make a conscious effort to set up friendship "dates" that revolve around an event. For example, invite your new friend for a bike ride or antique shopping. The more shared experiences you craft, the more you grow this new connection.