Last week, I shared with you a new study how hard people find making friends. Today, I wanted to go into 5 reasons why I think that’s the case. By knowing the why of the issue, you will have an advantage for overcoming that so-called difficulty and develop the friendship and social life you want.
So let’s dive in the 5 reasons why people find it hard to make friends.
1. The Commoditization Of People
With all the social apps out there like Meetup, Eventbrite, Facebook events, etc. (which do help) and all the Tinder-type “instant dating” apps, people get the impression that it’s easier and easier to meet others and socialize.
This impression that you can access anyone, at any time, gives the illusion of people as a commodity. It makes the need to reach out, not urgent.
The fact that you think that “it’s not urgent to go and socialize…” makes the motivation to do so even harder to come by. You now need extra motivation to take care of your social life. The procrastinator inside you is saying “meh… I’ll do it later, after all.” But that’s only part of the truth. Although it’s easier to meet new people, technically speaking; it isn’t a substitute for having good friends, who actually care about you.
Developing real friendships takes time the time it takes; but the sooner you start, the better.
2. Low Levels Of “Social Integration,” And High Levels Of Individualism
Now when it comes to the lack of social integration, social scientists have been tracking trends since the 1900’s. Here is what they say now: (although you probably hvae noticed this yourself)
People are less and less “engaged” in their neighborhoods, with local charities/places of worship, with their municipal matters, and with their national politics. There is less and less of what we can call “public life.” And that trend started way before the social media era. Although they seem more animated on social media today, people are more and more disengaged from anything that could make them “come together.”
That lack of social ties makes it more and more convenient to just stay home and just cruise facebook.
3. The After-College Shock
Up until you graduate from college, finding friends, and meeting new people is rarely an issue. All you have to do is go to school.
Once you enter the workforce, you can rarely make friends with co-workers; you find that now you need to be pro-active about your social life. All your life, people were just there, you didn’t have to go out of your way to find them.
Now, you have to make the time to even think about it, let alone actually go out and meet people. And we all know how much motivation is left at the end of the day.
4. The Belief That Your Personality Is Static
If you’re an introvert, you like spending time alone, even during weekends.
If you have unique beliefs and ideas, most people won’t understand you.
If you’re extroverted, that means you can’t engage in serious topics, when you socialize.
These examples of stigmas and beliefs about yourself can keep you stuck in a place where… you don’t have enough freedom to socialize when you want, be alone whenever you want, and just enjoy life on your own terms.
Please realize, as soon as possible, that your personality is “elastic.” It’s not either-or. You don’t have to fit into a box, and always do the same things you’ve always done. You can spend as much time analyzing, thinking, reading, or working, or even travelling by yourself – and – you can enjoy the company of casual friends, party, schmooz, and build a social life filled of good, loyal friends.
5. Lack Of Education On Friendship And Social Skills
Other than learning by doing, people never get an education on how friendship works. Most don’t know how two strangers become friends. I’m talking about what happens exactly in the minds of people which makes them want to become (and stay) friends with you.
In fact, educating and training yourself on how social life and friendship work is the best way to make it easy for yourself to build your social life. Lack of knowledge of the principles and techniques is what makes it into an “ordeal.” and makes it feel like work.
What You Can Do About It (Yes, There Is Hope)
Even if it seems that it’s not urgent to improve your social life, you can motivate yourself by reminding yourself, every week, to take action, follow up, and make plans. ( I recommend a weekly reminder in your calendar)
Even if it looks like people are less and less engaged, it has never been easier for those who want to come together. You can pick any cause, or topic, and find others who are interested in the same things. (although it can be harder in smaller cities, I say don’t seek perfection, go with the group that is closest to what you’re looking for.)
Even if it seems hard to manage your social life as a busy adult, it is in fact easy if you follow simple rules, and arm yourself with the right techniques that save time.
Even if it seems that your attitude and personality is static… try and experiment with letting yourself discover another part of yourself. A part which can be social, open, and socially skilled.
And, even if it most people don’t know how friendship actually works, it doesn’t have to be the case for you. You can start by reading my free newsletter, my eBook, or subscribing to my advanced social skills training.
Just because it seems that making friends is hard doesn’t mean it has to be. I believe anyone can learn how to build a social life, wherever they live, and however busy they are.
– Paul Sanders