How to Become a Friend

Three Parts:Forming FriendshipsKeeping FriendsGrowing Your Social Skills

It's not always easy making friends, and it can be even harder to keep friends around if you don't know how to be one. Train yourself to meet new people, be considerate, and overcome your insecurities. These things will make maintaining friendships much easier; before you know it, you will have become a good friend.

Part 1
Forming Friendships

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    Find peer groups. In order to become a friend, you have to find friends in the first place. Get out of your comfort zone by joining a group that shares your values or position in life, sometimes known as a peer group. Studies show that having friends can actually add years to your life, so meeting new people is not just a good idea—it’s essential for your health.[1]
    • If you're a parent, find a mom group in your area. Most communities have more than one type of parent gathering, whether it's a mother's day out or a park stroller group. Most of these groups have Facebook pages you can join.
    • If you like political activism, most cities have lobbyist groups or volunteer centers you can join. When a group of people works toward a common goal, a bond forms among them.
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    Join a class at a gym or community center. Repeating your attendance at each meeting builds a rapport with other classmates. Having a shared goal also builds strong ties among people in a group.
    • Find classes that encourage interaction among members. Activities like yoga and Pilates are good for your body but don't allow much socialization. Look instead for opportunities like self defense classes, Zumba, even sewing and cooking classes.
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    Initiate conversations. Even if you’re in the habit of visiting new places, simply introducing yourself to people isn’t enough. You have to ask questions. Show interest in other people, and they will be interested in you in return.
    • Pay attention to nonverbal cues like smiling and eye contact. When someone invites you with these gestures, you can give a compliment, comment on what's happening, or share some information.[2]
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    Be easy to talk to. Keep a list of easy conversational topics running in your mind. Things like happy childhood memories, the weather, and food are all topics most people can engage in.
    • When starting a conversation with someone you haven't spoken to in a while, take some time to remember that person before you greet them. If you have a humorous memory or a friend in common, let that be your conversation opener.
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    Invite acquaintances out for coffee. You can make new friends both in person and online, it's true. But it turns out that maintaining face-to-face contact with people is important, and you can't get that by relegating your friendships to your smartphone.[3] When you recognize that conversations with someone are leading toward a friendship, inviting them to an activity outside of where you met provides opportunity for the friendship to truly grow.
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    Be tactful. Tactfulness is defined as being “careful not to offend or upset other people.”[4] While you don’t need to be a doormat, you do need to be considerate of the person you’re interacting with.
    • Be considerate of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or what their opinions might be. Don't make jokes or rude comments at the expense of your friend--or anyone like them.

Part 2
Keeping Friends

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    Listen well. Listening is key to being a friend. No one enjoys meeting with someone who doesn't stop talking. In fact, one rule is to listen 75% of the time and speak only the remaining 25%![5]
    • There are several things that prevent you from being a good listener: judging others; thinking you know what your friend is going to say; and your own emotions.[6]
    • Instead, allow others to be themselves without judgment, believe your friend has something new to say, and set aside your feelings about a topic. This way, you'll be well on your way toward listening well.
    • If you’re an outspoken person, take time to study your friend to see how much of your opinions they can handle. Then ask them to express their side and listen closely.
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    Work on negative traits. Everyone has flaws, but some things can stand in the way of a meaningful friendship. Try to identify negative traits that you may posses and make a conscious effort to stop them.
    • Resist bragging about yourself. This behavior is arrogant, and most people find it irritating—you'll lose friends before you get the chance to be one. It is important to have balance in a friendship so that you are celebrating each other's achievements, not competing with each other.
    • Refuse to gossip. When someone confides in you, don’t share that information with others, even if they don’t specifically ask you to keep a secret. This builds trust, which is essential for maintaining a friendship.[7]
    • Keep your commitments. Canceling plans at the last minute is inconsiderate and it can disrupt your friend's life.[8] Sometimes this might be unavoidable, such as in an emergency situation, but you should give as much notice as possible if you have to cancel.
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    Share from your life. Although you shouldn’t be overbearing with your own thoughts and feelings, you shouldn’t be too guarded, either. If you allow someone else to talk your ear off without ever offering your opinions, you're just as unlikely to stay friends as the one talking too much.
    • You don’t have to tell your friend your deepest, darkest secrets, especially if it’s the beginning of a friendship and you’re establishing trust. But personal anecdotes are what connect people to each other. Sharing you life experience is key for a strong friendship.
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    Keep a sincere demeanor. Insincere people tend to smile too much, talk too loudly, and usually laugh to cover their insecurities. To be a good friend, you must do away with insincerity. You can’t keep up a friendship this way because eventually, your friend will see your true self, and it's likely they will feel betrayed.
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    Be kind. This is a basic rule of society, but if you want to have a friend, you must be a friend. Practice doing small favors, giving gifts to show your thoughtfulness, and staying available for your friend’s needs even when it’s inconvenient.

Part 3
Growing Your Social Skills

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    Boost your self-esteem. If you believe in yourself, so will others. And it goes deeper than that—if you like yourself, you will treat yourself well, which translates to treating others well.
    • Practice becoming aware of your thoughts and beliefs when you encounter situations that make you feel bad. When you identify negative self-talk, challenge it.
    • Do things like using hopeful statements, forgiving yourself, focusing on the positive, and encouraging yourself.[9]
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    Be discerning. You are much less likely to feel insecure with someone who understands you. You can generally tell when you have a genuine connection with someone. If someone finds you odd, they may criticize you and increase your feelings of insecurity.
    • Ask yourself questions. Does this person make fun of my quirks? Do their facial expressions seem genuine or fake? Is this someone who will laugh with me or laugh at me?
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    Know yourself. If you don't know yourself, no one else will be able to know you either. Start a habit of quiet time each day to explore your thoughts. This practice will also boost your self-esteem. Try doing some writing exercises and think about what your responses reveal about your values. Some writing exercises that may help you include:[10]
    • Reflecting on an amazing experience. Think of a time when you felt really happy. What was the experience? Why did you feel so good? What does the experience reveal about you?
    • Identifying what upsets you. What things make you really mad? What things annoy you? What are your pet peeves? List everything that upsets you, from major things to minor things and try to identify why these things are upsetting to you.
    • Think about what you are good at. What do people tend to compliment you on? What do you think you do best?
    • Figure out what activities or things are important to you. What do you like to do for fun? What things are precious to you?
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    Respond to communications. Even though sometimes it's uncomfortable to talk to new people, part of overcoming your insecurities is facing your fears. Answer phone calls, text messages, and emails within a day or so no matter how much a person intimidates you; pretty soon new people won't make you nervous anymore.
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    Let go of toxic friendships. If you're used to friends who stress you out, don't return favors, aren't there when you need them, or are overly demanding, then you may have some toxic friends in your life. In order to be a true friend, you've got to show you know what a friend really is, so you may want to consider ending friendships that are one-sided.[11]
    • Keep in mind that just because a friend has some flaws, that does not mean he or she is toxic. Try to weigh you friend's good traits against the bad to determine if the friendship is worth saving.
    • For example, if you have a friend who annoys you because she is always complaining about her boyfriend, but she listens to you when you need to talk about something, then you may decide that her willingness to listen outweighs her frequent complaints.


  • When ending a conversation with a friend, shake hands, hug, or at least say goodbye. This politeness will maintain a positive rapport.
  • Sincere compliments are important in good conversation.
  • Even if you have a lot of friends on the internet, making time for people in real life is the best way to have meaningful friendships. You can speak so much more easily and read body language in person, leading to deeper connections between people.
  • Keep the secrets of your friends unless it is damaging or physically harmful to do so.


  • Just because you follow these steps perfectly doesn’t mean someone will stay your friend. People have many reasons for ending friendships or avoiding them in the first place.

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Categories: Forming Friendships