March 19, 2020 | David Chung

People Share The Stories Of How They Made Lifelong Friends

Some people say you only have until you're 24 years old to make genuine friends. Any time after that and you're going to have a much harder time doing so. However, it's not entirely possible—as the following people will explain, making friends really has nothing to do with your age:


#1 It's That Simple

Go to things. Keep going to them, no matter how anxious you feel. If you keep showing up and keep participating, you will eventually find like-minded individuals. Also, in addition to this, don't be a bad person. Don't stalk people, don't harass people, don't mock people, and don't make people feel less than you. It's that simple.


#2 Follow Your Passions

Go do things you’re passionate about! I can’t stress enough how much people like passion! I recently switched my career path in order to end up at a position doing something I was more passionate about and it’s incredible how much people’s attitudes change when they see you going to things and talking about what you love.


#3 Blurt It Out

I went to this arcade bar the other day and someone was playing Joust. I started watching them because I had just read the book Ready Player One and it has all sorts of '80s game references in it. They noticed me watching and I sort of just blurted out about the book and Joust and we started talking about it for a long time! It was awesome! I think I’ll go there more often now!


#4 No One Cares

I’m going to assume you get anxious talking to others, because for years that was why I had no friends. I learned something that really helped. Most people don’t give a heck about you. Not in a bad way, but in a “who cares what they do” kind of way. Did you mess up asking someone to hang out? They won’t care. Did you trip walking over to a cute guy or girl? Good. You made them laugh and now you have a conversation starter. People don’t care. Put yourself out there against every brain instinct telling you you’ll mess something up. You can do it!

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#5 Wise Words From Winston

Here's another good one: “When you’re 20 you care what everyone thinks, when you’re 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you’re 60 you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place. Do you have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.” — Winston Churchill


#6 Subjective Grading

We are our own worst critics, especially people with social anxiety. Whenever we mentally grade ourselves on anything, the grade other people would give us would be significantly higher. How did that conversation go? You might give yourself a C, so the other people in the conversation would give you an A.


#7 Tripping To Success

I worked with a guy who was an ex-Division I football player. 6'6", 260 pounds, and he just had an overwhelming presence. We sold flooring to commercial builders and he was an entry-level salesperson and had to make presentations to get the sale. One day, he walked in for a presentation, tripped and fell right on his butt.

The flooring samples went flying everywhere and people in the room rushed over to help him up making sure he was okay. They helped him gather his samples and he went on to give his pitch and sure enough, he got the sale. After that, he thought it might be a psychological advantage to let people feel empowered so every sales meeting he went into after that he purposely fell.

He was so successful he ended up making six figures and is now in top management. Yes, he was embarrassed, but people felt so good that they could help him changed the entire social dynamic in the room.


#8 Skip This Stage

Literally skip the “get to know you” stage. One of my best friends is my friend because, after a final exam, I stood outside the exam room and said, “Do you want to go get food?” to everyone who came out until someone said yes. I didn’t even know her name. Or, as another example, book clubs, group therapy, religious services, etc. puts people in situations of openness or connection. In a typical friendship, that would be “earned.”

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#9 Just Be Yourself

I didn’t make friends at all in college. But after college, I finally found some hobbies I really liked (circus acrobatics and Muay Thai). I just kept showing up for classes, multiple times a week, and now I have a couple of really close friends that have come from that and a bunch of acquaintances. Sometimes it pays to follow your interests.


#10 Getting A Backbone

I used to be painfully shy. Then I starting working in the service industry and found that with continued rudeness from patrons, rudeness scared me a lot less. Now, I'm not afraid of people and make a point of talking to strangers wherever I go. Guess what? Lots of people are shy and lonely and love talking to strangers. It helps to look at people as if they want to be your friend. Shyness in itself can be intimidating. If you're friendly to someone who's rude to you and doesn't want your friendship, screw 'em. At least you weeded them out.


#11 Board Game Bonding

People with board games are desperate for friends to play with! It gives you good motivation to be friendly, like being a missionary to hook people to your hobby, except they don't pay anything or do much to be your friend. Have you checked your local game/comic book store? A lot of them have a room where you can go and play for free. If you're a little awkward (like me), buy something from the store and ask the clerk about any regulars.

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#12 A Four-Step Plan

Step 1: Be willing to be open yourself up. You will be hurt. I can guarantee you that. But if you want friends or romance, you have to open yourself up. Because if you don't open up, others won't open up. Step 2: Start a conversation. Be charismatic and don't be afraid to show emotions or opinions. Don't be a blank slate. Let people form an opinion around you. Step 3: If it's a group conversation, make yourself visible. Too many times, I just didn't say anything in those conversations. I wasn't visible. Step 4: If you're cringy or awkward… embrace it! People relate to that and that can easily be a conversation topic! There are many more steps but these four are incredibly important. Good luck!

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#13 Increase Your Chances

Been adopted many times, it works. Occasionally, the adopter is no good and you have to run away, but usually, its the good ones who go about adopting strays. It helps your adoption chances if you preen a little; mention your hobbies and accomplishments in casual contain. Keep up on your hygiene and looking adoptable, with bonus points if your look reflects your personality and passions. Be friendly when approached and never turn down an offer of adoption straight out of the gate.


#14 The Story Of Snoopy

When I was 10 years old, my parents made help out back to clear out the dandelions that had taken over our backyard. It was going to take a while because of how crazy it was, but I was taking even longer to help because I was so distracted by the cute puppy our next-door neighbor had.

I found out that his parents were going to take him back to the shelter because their son wasn’t taking good care of him as he promised. They offered to sell him to me for $20 and I had that saved up, so I went back and forth begging my parents if we could get him. They finally caved and he became ours.

I named him Snoopy and have never been as happy as I was that day. I was an only child so I looked so much forward to having a dog to play with and go on adventures with. It’s definitely my favorite memory because he meant to much to me in the almost 17 years he was a part of my life.


#15 Bond Through Hobbies

Find a hobby, any hobby works, but hobbies that have a social aspect are best. Meet people in that hobby, either locally or online. Local clubs are your best bet, but online forums can work. Interact with those people, the more frequently the better. Don't overdo it, once or twice a week works best in the beginning. You now have the beginning of a friendship! Keep investing time into it so it can keep growing! I've met most of my friends through hobbies. They're really the best way for socially awkward people to make friends.


#16 Gather The Courage

It takes some people more effort to gather the courage to do it. Being socially awkward can be a hindrance, but it's not unscalable. Muster up lads and lasses and take that hardest of the steps. I am super uncomfortable around people I don't know, being in those situations still got me some good friends, however. It feels good and you are worth it.


#17 Invest Your Interest

People are going to say "be easygoing" and "funny" and they are not wrong, so I'll just pitch in and comment that it helps to be generally curious about other people. Ask them questions about who they are and what they think of things. Don't be afraid to open yourself up as well. All friendships are based on the simple activity of conversation.


#18 No Hope

I wish I knew. I keep trying to make friends but they end up either turning out to be very toxic people, ghosting me after a couple of meetings, or taking my ideas and executing them with other people while telling me how great of a time they're having as I sit at home by myself. I'm not sure which one hurts the most.

I do most of the initiating. Sometimes it works, a lot of times people either made loose plans until something better came along or they were just always "busy." I just got to remind myself that not everybody treats their friends that way. My best friend lives five states away, and another good friend is moving across the country over the summer, and a few other friends are in different states. So we're all spread out, but locally, not much has stuck since the group I was part of fell apart.

#19 Start Saying Yes

I have a lot of anxiety. I get panic attacks when I am around a lot of people. I have very few really close friends that I have met through work. I used to always come up with excuses not to hang out with people, but one day I decided to start saying yes, and after a few months of this I was able to develop some genuine friendships. Good luck.


#20 Slowing Down

Lately, I've been thinking about how it's even possible that I used to be so comfortable and cool in middle and high school. I think ever since leaving high school I'm a completely different person socially. I was definitely not the most popular back then, but I was outgoing, funny, had almost too many friends that it was annoying. Now I can count the number of true friends I have on one hand and it's kind of depressing. I guess its part of growing up but kids my age at work and other places seem to be fine when it comes to hanging out, making friends, dating, etc.


#21 Stop Trying So Hard

Essentially, no friendship (or other types of relationship) that I ever "pursued" ever amounted to anything. You have to wait for opportunities to present themselves and then take advantage of them. I made my first real friends at 22, then another at 25 or so, then another just a year or so ago (and I'm in my late thirties now). It happens, but you have to let it, and you have to accept that it's probably not going to be exactly how you thought it would be. Friends who are worth having will not make you move heaven and Earth to hold onto their friendship.


#22 Two Ways

Being a friendly one and reaching out. Friends don’t happen automatically. Even if some people come to you that are friendly, you need to actually make a mutual effort there. If you rely on other people constantly putting the effort for anything, you’re going to end up bitter and feel like people stopped caring about you when they don’t reach out. Friendships are two ways. That all being said, some people don’t want to make it mutual either, and you’re just going to have to accept that they don’t want a higher level of friendship that you do. I find the more mutual the emotions, actions, and anything given into a platonic relationship, the closer it is.


#23 All Luck

To be honest I think a lot of it is luck. I met someone who became one of my best friends at 22. It was through a roommate's friend, a friend of a friend, yadda yadda. We just happened to both skateboard and listen to similar music (hardcore, so a little more niche than "pop" or "rock"). It was all luck, no putting myself out there, no going to awkward social gatherings or groups. This isn't the answer people want but this is how it happened for me.


#24 Reciprocation Is Key

I can't remember where I read it, but a huge little thing is asking a potential friend for a favor. Being willing to reciprocate is, of course, important, but asking for a favor is a huge step towards friendship. For the longest time, I was always the guy people could depend on, but because I didn't want to inconvenience anyone, I'd never ask for anything from anyone. This made me seem closed off and untrusting. Let people into your life and they're more likely to let you into theirs.


#25 My Source Of Friends

Honestly, going to the maker space near where I live has been my source of friends for months now. Just today, I met up with two individuals to try out some Indian food (It was great, for those wondering). Finding an interest and attending events or locations relevant to that particular interest will be your key to meeting new friends.


#26 The Gamer Strategy

Next time, when you respawn, try to increase your likeableness stat instead of investing too many evolution points into intelligence. Also, no matter what, do not pick the extra chromosome or brain "enhancement" buffs: they are actually debuffs that will affect your ability to interact with NPCs and will make you much weaker in PvP zones.


#27 The Secret Ingredient

When you go to work, replace half the sugar at the coffee machine with laxative powder. The next day, bring in a homemade baked good for everyone to eat, but secretly put Imodium in the food. Only bring enough for one serving for everyone. Now, every day you bring in those baked goods, everyone will feel great and they'll have something to talk about with you. Congratulations, you are on your way to having a life long friendship.

#28 Shooting Fish In A Barrel—Find something you genuinely like doing (hiking, painting, eating, yoga, anything really) and GO. Set a goal to go to at least one event a week. When you get there, look for someone who’s standing by themselves and strike up a conversation. It doesn’t have to be anything mind-blowing—just something like, “Hey, is this your first time here?” Many (if not most) people at Meetup groups are looking to make new friends, so it’s like shooting fish in a barrel really. I have several good friends that I met through Meetup. It really works!


#29 The Real Hard Part

Making friends isn't the hard part. It's hanging out with them that's tough. Most people can build up small talk and form an easy sort of friendship in the classroom or workplace. When it comes to hanging out with them, it's a struggle. It's annoying to be turned down. It's annoying to look on Snapchat or Facebook and see people hanging out without inviting you. It's annoying to always have to make the first move to hang out. It's hard to throw longtime friendships away and make new ones.

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#30 Not A Hollywood Film

Don't expect them to be around forever, and don't expect them to be anything more than company for certain activities. Life is not a Hollywood film. People come and go, nobody cares that much and you don't either. Friends are great, but they are just fellow passengers on one of the many journeys you will take through your life, don't expect too much of them.


#31 I Genuinely Care

Usually, my friends become my friends because I show them at some point that they can trust me with deeper issues they might have. For example, if someone I know looks sad, or posts a "sad" Instagram story or Snapchat story or whatever, I tell them that even if we don't know each other that much, I'd like them to know I'll be there if they ever need somebody to talk to. It usually makes them feel somewhat better and they realize I care (or want to care) about them. It has to be a genuine sentiment though, otherwise, it would probably not go well afterward if they actually come to you.

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#32 Just Talk

Talk. Talk to people who show interest in you. Go up to people and talk to them. If you get someone interested in talking then make sure that you are carrying your end of the conversation. I have seen so many people who want to make new friends fail because they expect the other person to do all the talking. No one wants to feel like they are interviewing or interrogating someone.

One of my best friends moved to a new city a few years back and joined a couple of clubs to meet new people but he just can't make friends because he just doesn't talk and gives short one-word answers when he does meet people who want to talk. It can be hard but you have to be proactive if you want to make new friends.

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#33 Glue Up

Realize that "friends" are kept close through some type of bond. Think of it like glue. If you meet someone online playing a video game, you might become insanely good friends with them, but as soon as one of you stops playing that particular game, the friendship gets weaker and weaker. This is how all friendly relationships are, they're glued together by some mutual characteristic or interest.

It could be a place of origin, the place where one lives, the school they go to, etc. As soon as that glue gets removed, the friendship will start to drift apart. Obviously, this is just generally speaking, but it seems to be like this in almost every case. Find out what your interests are, and seek out other people with the same interests or similarities. Glue up with someone!


#34 Be Careful With Labels

I’ve learned over the years to be careful with who I label as “friend.” To be honest, I feel I really just have one friend who is my best friend. I’ve known him since the first grade and we’re both 27 and 26 now. I would take a bullet for that guy. If we were in a heist together and I was asked to turn him in for a shorter sentence, I wouldn’t. I would lie for and defend him and stand by him even if he is in the wrong. His whole family is my family. We don’t even call each other best friends. We just tell people we’re brothers. Everyone else I socialize with I’d consider as just a friendly stranger.


#35 Things Happen

Several years ago, my friends and I started a friend group where we would hang out together and do stuff. We didn't care about our backgrounds, we just did stuff we liked. Recently, some of the group started being loners and don't want to do anything together. Many friends slowly turned into jerks and we stopped contacting each other. The rest got busy with life. I told my best friend (who was the last active member of the group besides me) that we should disband when he moves out of state. No one wants to participate in things together anymore, so we decided to disband.


#36 Friendship Destroyer

I think one thing people miss pointing out is that you have to be relatable. If you are a loner, then you probably aren't very relatable to people who socialize. When people are relatable with each other, they can empathize with each other and share emotions. Idiosyncratic behaviors are probably the biggest friendship destroyer people fail to notice and recognize.


#37 Be Genuine, Be True

My least favorite advice has generally worked for me. Be yourself. If you try to be someone who isn't you, the people who will like YOU won't see you, and you'll be surrounded by people who won't get the real you. It may not always be the piece of advice that nets you a massive quantity of friends, but for me, it's always provided the most meaningful friendships I have ever had.


#38 Love Yourself

The best advice I've ever received: be friends with yourself. I was on a camping trip with a few of my best friends and when I asked what one guy was doing off the side, he just said, "Hanging out with myself, I love talking to me." If you can have a fun and entertaining conversation with yourself, chances are it'll make it a lot easier to do it with other people. Plus it really builds my self-love which gives me self-confidence. After I heard it, I changed my approach to life and I try and get to know myself more every day. It makes it easier to express who I am around other people.


#39 Don't Give Up

I learned just how great friends can be. I went out last weekend with them and had a blast until 4 a.m. Before all that started, when I parked my car, I thought I was gonna have a panic attack. I had to calm myself and just bite the bullet and go have fun. I met about 10 new people and it was amazing. I’ve been a loner, anti-social, and depressed my entire adult life. If you do have a problem making friends, then try to analyze yourself. I’m sure deep down there is something you can work on to be a better person for yourself and others. “Courage is doing something regardless of feeling fear, win or lose, you chose to fight it. Bravery is the same thing but with the absence of fear."

#40 Teaching A Lesson

I had to drive a coworker who'd just been stationed at our base around to show him around. I stopped by my house in the middle of it. The next afternoon, he showed up at my apartment after work because he rode the 10 miles from the base into town and didn't realize how tiring it would be. Not being the friendliest person, I didn't know how to feel about his surprise visit. But I let him in any way, not knowing that would end up being the best decision I'd ever make. I let him refill his water bottle, let him catch his breath a while and told him I wasn't going to drive him home because then he wouldn't learn his lesson. So he biked home. Then he started biking to my place regularly, and next thing I know, he just moves in. He ended up becoming my roommate and best friend.


#41 Still Curious

I’d like to know the answer myself. I thought I had the “how” of making friends mastered, but it appears I actually know very little. All of my old friends sort of managed to fall away and trying to find new ones has proven a fruitless endeavor. The old adage to make friends be one seems flawed. Most people just take your kindness for weakness.


#42 A Leap Of Faith

I took a leap of faith. I was done with high school for a handful of years, and most of my friends graduated and moved on from the community college. When my cousin asked if I wanted to go to an anime convention, my first reaction was "No," but then I told myself this... "What else are you gonna do that week? Nothing. You're going sit at home and play games that you already have played while you could be out and socialize for once. You WILL regret it if you don't go"

So I went. I was awkward, quiet and shy while everyone was hyper and bouncing around but I forced, my self to make small talk, carry cosplay gear, anything I could do as long as I was involved. Now, 3-4 years later, those people I met that day are not my friends. They are my family.


#43 Friends Come And Go

I had a friend once. I mean, I've had lots of friends, but this one was special. He told me I was his best friend every time he could. I told him he was my best friend every time I could. We drank together, cried together, laughed together, did everything together. He was my brother. More than that. I loved the guy. I knew him. I knew his fears.

I knew everything about him. He was more than a family. I trusted him. We'd either see each other or at least text each other every single day for over 14 years. We both had several girlfriends. His girlfriends hated me. They thought I was a bad influence. My girlfriends hated him. They thought he was a bad influence. It didn't matter.

We were happy as long as we were together. We were brothers. We started making music together. Several songs. We performed live. We were both shy. It didn't matter. We did it together. We were happy. I haven't talked to him in over a year. He started going out with a new girl. At first, I'd text him. Same as always. He wouldn't answer.

Two weeks would pass by. Still, he wouldn't answer. I'd call him. Same thing. He'd text two, three weeks later with just a "Hey!" That was it. After so many years of being brothers, I went from being his everything to just a "Hey!" over text. I was devastated. After all those years, I deserved more than just that. I had earned it.

She had just known him for a couple of months. I had known him for years. 14. He was my brother. He didn't care. We don't talk anymore. It's been over a year. I think they're still together. I don't miss him anymore. I've made a new life away from him. I don't have "friends" anymore. Just some people I know. I'll never open my heart to anyone who calls me a friend anymore. It's not worth it. His friendship broke me. I thought we'd be friends forever. Forever doesn't exist. At least not to him.


#44 Get A Peek

I find that a great way to get to a point of comfort with people is to get to know them. The early stages of friendship are definitely the most difficult, so to get past the “awkward” parts, I find that asking questions goes a long way. If you’re not good at talking to someone, be good at listening to them. Be curious about the things they like and let them tell you all about it. If you can get someone to talk to you genuinely about themselves or something they like, you get a peek at who they are, and that IMO is a really healthy step towards friendship.


#45 Thank God For Gamers

In high school I was pretty friendly, just talking to the people near me. So I got to know the people who had similar interests as me. It was easier in high school because of all the cliques just sitting around. I don’t go out of my way to make friends anymore, and I just don’t see many of the same people going back and forth to different classes in college. I just have acquaintances and my only friends are online gaming buddies and my roommates.


#46 Don't Be Creepy

As my father put it, "In order to have a friend, you must first BE a friend." A lot of the friends I've made were because I showed up at events/places I liked, mainly sports that were just for fun and not serious. I always try to keep things laid back and ask people questions about themselves. People usually like to tell others about themselves.

Don't be creepy or anything either. Also, don't bring up a subject the other person clearly doesn't know about unless it's really easy to explain and relate to, or it's something they know about and they can tell you all about it. I won't tell a new female friend about the mobile games I play unless she's interested, but if I ask her to explain hair terminology that women use, girls tend to be fine answering that.


#47 Deeper Connections

I didn't really have any friends for the first 6 years out of college. About a year ago I decided to be extremely true to myself and started exploring things I was interested in but have always been too scared to try. The minute I took the dive I started not only making friends but for the first time in my life, it felt like they were true friends and not just shallow, surface-level friends.


#48 Thanks A Lot, Dad

I came very close to having a friend once. We were talking at school and were getting along. Then, I decided we should hang out at my place. My dad said it was okay, but that we should be quiet. Sadly, during the movie, there were some loud sound effects. My dad came up and had a rage fit. He unplugged the TV and threw it on the ground. My 'friend' never came back.


#49 Keep Going

Find a place that you like going to, keep going there. The 'keep going there' is important because friendships generally develop over several meetings. The 'place that you like' is important because you need to have a good time even if you don't get into conversations early on. If you don't feel like you have good social skills then work on them in non-social settings i.e at the supermarket. Chat to the check out staff etc. Practice making small talk. Be yourself is important advice.

#50 Suppress Everything

Suppress how weird you are, get stuck working with a bunch of extroverts. Accept their FIRST invites. If you accept they are inclined to do it again rather than if you reject the first. Learn from their behavior, take everything in. Then when it's time to say goodbye and go back, use what you learned. It certainly did wonders for me.





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