How to Make Friends Online

Four Parts:Picking Out Like-Minded PeopleMaintaining Friendships OnlineStaying Safe OnlineFinding an Online Community

Tired of talking to yourself? Are you stuck at home, or feel shy about going out on your own to meet new people? The internet is a great place to shake off your shyness, meet new people from around the world, and form friendships with people who share your interests and passions. It’s not hard to learn how to make friends online.

Part 1
Picking Out Like-Minded People

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    Scan the website first. When you join an online community, it’s smart to scan the site or “lurk” on (browse) the forums, comments, and message boards. Just like when you walk in the door of a social event, you want to get a feel for the place and how the people are interacting. You can tell from the comment conversations if these people will be ones you can relate to or not.[1]
    • Some online communities require that you sign up before you can read the boards or comments. You can do a little research about websites by reading reviews or reading on the website itself to see if you think it would be a good match for your personality.
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    Identify users who share your interests. Once you’re signed up on a website, it’s time to find users you think might make good friends for you. The easiest place to start is identifying others who share your interests. If you see a comment someone left about how much they love soccer or baking, and you love that thing too, you may want to pursue friendship with that person.
    • You can contact them immediately using the methods the website provides (such as clicking on their username to open a chat, or clicking “new message” by their name).
    • You can also copy and paste their name somewhere on your computer (or write it down) so that you can message them later when you feel more comfortable.
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    Decide on a solid username. Even though you’ll likely want to join more than one website—which means you’ll be setting up several user accounts—you want to be able to remember them all. Creating a username that you can use across all the websites is useful for this. You may have to tweak the name for different sites, but in general the similar name will prevent you from getting confused.
    • If a website already has a user with the name you picked out, adding a number, letter, or special character can usually allow you to still the use the name. For example, myrajane might be in use, but myra_jane might be available.
    • Use a different password for each site to protect your identity.
    • Create a file on your computer (such as Word or Excel) and save all the username/password combinations so that you don’t have to keep resetting the password.
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    Join the conversation. In addition to private-messaging (PMing) users you think you’d get along with, you can start commenting on threads already present. This way others will see your interests and may contact you first.
    • Make intelligent, unbiased comments so that you garner favor among commenters. Jumping in with a strong opinion or judgmental comment will most likely polarize the other commenters and contribute to your bad reputation on that site.
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    Introduce yourself. Some online communities have introduction message boards. You can type up a couple of brief paragraphs with your name, location (just your city or state, nothing specific), age, gender, and a few interests. This information will provide a way for other users to connect with you. For example, someone from the same city or age group may be excited to contact you.
    • You can also find other users with your interests by scanning this board.
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    Start groups about your interests. If you want to start relationships with users who have specific interests, but you don’t want the bias already present on other message boards, starting your own group or message board might be the way to go. You can attract other users to join this group by commenting about it on similar threads.
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    Play games. An easy way to make friends is to play online video games. A lot of online games today have a vocal component, so that you are playing the game and talking to other users at the same time. You can build relationships verbally rather than via text through games like Minecraft, Call of Duty, and many more.
    • Since you can join teams in video games, this often contributes to the creation of tighter bonds because you are working together toward a common goal.
    • Be aware that starting your own team and recruiting people to join it might create hostility in a game, so try to wait until people are interested and agreeable before starting your new team.

Part 2
Maintaining Friendships Online

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    Use standard writing techniques. Maintaining the norm for typing helps people like you since this standard is widely understood, even internationally. Using all caps, or a mix of uppercase and lowercase, or fancy scripts, is difficult to read and makes you seem pretentious or needy if no one else is doing this.
    • This can make it look like you are trying to draw attention to yourself, which works online just as it does in person: it usually pushes people away. This is because it suggests that you are unable to take care of yourself.[2]
    • Avoid “text talk” like using numbers to abbreviate a word (l8er, for example) as it appears unprofessional and lazy, not to mention being difficult to read.
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    Stay kind and polite. In your comments, don’t be biased or rude. Although you want to be able to express yourself, jumping into a conversation with your guns blazing makes people want to get away from you, especially if they disagree. Instead, maintain a polite and kind demeanor—even when you do disagree—to avoid polarizing the conversation and losing friends before you even start.
    • Save your passionate opinions for a one-on-one chat with someone who agrees, or for forums specifically designated as a space for debate.
    • Don’t personally attack anyone. Online spaces are just as particular about this as real-life places. This fact is easy to forget on online, where you aren’t seeing people’s body language.
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    Ask questions. To get to know people, you want to show interest in their lives just like in real life. Show interest by asking pertinent questions that aren’t awkward or embarrassing to answer. You may find that they ask you questions in return.
    • Just like in real life, listening is a key for making online friendships.[3]
    • Be open about your life when you are asked questions, because just like in real life, being shy will push most people away. You can’t build a friendship if there isn’t both give and take.
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    Exchange email addresses. Once you have established a solid rapport with someone and feel that they are a safe friendship, you may want to exchange email addresses. This is especially useful if you are going to be out of touch (except through email) on a trip.
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    Maintain open communication. Just like in real life, you have to communicate with people in order to stay friends with them. This means replying to messages, to posts, and asking questions and making inquiries about people before they ask you. This is called pursuing friendships.[4]
    • Reply to messages promptly. If you wait days or week to respond, you risk losing an online friendship, as it makes you look disinterested or too busy.
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    Comment often. Not only should you PM (private message) other users on a regular basis, but commenting in forums and threads keeps you current with friends. It also keeps your name in front of them so that you don’t get forgotten.
    • Tag others in your comments to include them, share ideas, and encourage conversation.
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    Think about setting up phone calls. If your friendship is going well and you have made sure that someone is safe, you may want to consider talking on the phone. Although this mode of communication is already in place for most online gaming, not so for most websites. Phone chats are fun because they make communication instant, deepening your friendship.
    • Think about meeting in real life, but only if you have already talked on the phone or through video chat to verify their identity. Take your time getting to the point of meeting in real life.[5]
    • Both phone chats and real-life meetings are normal parts of online dating sites.
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    Deal with conflict. Conflict with online friends is inevitable, just like it is in real life. And just like real life, you want to deal with it so that your reputation doesn’t become tarnished with other users. Ask to PM or video/phone chat a friend in order to deal with the conflict, rather than trying to work it out in a public forum or slowly over email.
    • It is recommended that you take some time to cool off before trying to work through a conflict with an online friend, as well as discuss the situation with someone else to gain perspective.[6]

Part 3
Staying Safe Online

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    Trust your gut. You can often sense when an online interaction is unsafe by paying attention to the way a person phrases things. If they keep pressuring you to give personal information, payment information, or your specific location, this is a red flag. You can also sense if someone is lying about their identity by the way to they talk about their profession or school environment, especially if you are very familiar with it.
    • For example, if someone says they are 16 but consistently uses the vocabulary of a college student; or if someone says they are from the UK but consistently uses American turns of phrase.
    • Leave a chat if you feel uncomfortable. There is no rule that says you can’t simply close out of a chat or delete an email without any explanation. Doing so is wise if you ever feel the slightest bit uncomfortable.
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    Be strict about age. Even though plenty of people lie about their age in order to access particular websites or deceive people for personal gain, plenty of others are honest about their age. Do your best to strike up friendships with people from your age group so that you aren’t encouraged to do something that is dangerous for your age.
    • For example, if you are 16 and you chat with someone who says they are 25, the 25-year-old might want to talk about things that are illegal for your age, like smoking and drinking. Talking about things like this can make you want to do them in order to impress your friend, but this is unwise since it can get you put in juvenile incarceration.
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    Never share specific location details. You may want to share your school, state, province, county, or city in an online community in order to find friends who also live there or have visited, but don’t share your address. This is a good rule of thumb that can prevent you from accidentally telling a predator where you are located.
    • Ask external websites to take down your address, like, so that others can’t search for your name on the internet and find out where you are.
    • Set all your profiles to private so that you aren’t sharing your contact details with everyone.
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    Create an obscure username. Try not to use your actual name—at least not your last name or surname—so that others can’t find your details in an internet search. Instead, try to make a username out of an activity or show that you enjoy, like soccergirl or Sherlock_fan.
    • Likewise for your profile picture, use a non-descript profile image or avatar. Don’t use an actual picture of yourself, but instead upload an image of nature or your favorite movie character. You can also create an avatar on the internet to place in profile picture slots.[7]
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    Refuse to transfer money. If someone asks you for money through an online community, this is a red flag that you are dealing with a spammer or identity thief. Always refuse to pay for anything, especially if they ask for a card number or bank account number.
    • Do not share any type of payment information. PayPal may be ok, but make sure there is a real website that you are submitting to, if they are asking on behalf of a company or organization.
    • Avoid lending money in general to someone you have met online, as this can lead to a security breach.
    • You also don’t want to reveal that you can be pressured into giving money, because if you will give a little, you might give a lot, placing you in a situation where you might be repeatedly pressured for money.
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    Be stingy about personal details. Absolutely never give out personal details like your social security number, birthdate, and passport number, as these are what people can use to steal your identity. Studies show that most teenagers are pretty good about protecting their personal info and keeping their profiles set to private, and everyone should follow their example.[8]
    • Avoid describing your appearance online as well.
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    Be very cautious about phone and video chats. If you do decide to set up a phone or video chat, be very sure that the person you have agreed to talk to is a real person and not a spammer or predator. You can look for signs of online predators like these:[9]
    • Usually male, white, and older than a teenager
    • Has a lot of activity with children on their accounts
    • Asks questions about who you are wanting to talk to
    • Appears to be a respected member of society
    • Excessively flatters, compliments, and affirms
    • Tries to turn you against people you trust like your parents or spouse
    • Makes threats
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    Meet in a public place if you decide to meet at all. If you have vetted an online friend thoroughly, including having had both phone and video chats to confirm they are not a predator, you may want to meet them in real life. If you do decide to meet, make sure to do so in a busy public place (like a mall or subway station) and take someone with you who can protect you, like a parent or older sibling, even an older friend.
    • It is helpful if the person with you knows personal defense skills or has a reputation for identifying compromising situations or dangerous people.

Part 4
Finding an Online Community

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    Use general interest sites. There are many general interest websites that are tailored to different demographics, such as academics, comics, instant messengers, virtual realities, art, and so on. Most of these sites have forums that you can comment on. There are also websites that are strictly discussion boards. Some examples of these sites include:
    • DeviantArt
    • Penny Arcade
    • LambdaMOO
    • Wikihow
    • Wikipedia
    • Second Life
    • Friendsies
    • FriendMatch
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    Find friends in online classes. You can also find friends when you take online classes. Most online classes require participation on discussion boards, which allows you to get to know other like-minded students. The online forums for these classes also allow you to access student emails so that you can communicate outside of class.
    • Most colleges and universities now have online counterparts to their on-campus courses, so search your campus website.
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    Use social media sites. By now, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and InstaGram are household names. Most of the “friends” people have on these sites are people they know in real life, but that doesn’t mean strangers can’t add each other as “friends.” In fact, teenagers say they find a lot of friends this way.[10]
    • Use sites for dating, like and eharmony. Although these sites are meant for helping people find romance, it is possible to make friends with the men and women who you don’t end up dating.
    • Use sites made for kids to teach them how to make healthy friendships online. Sites like Stardoll and Gaia Online allow kids to create friendships over safe things like comic books and tv shows.
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    Join the blogosphere. Start a blog and promote it through social media. Once you start to generate readers and followers, you can comment on other blogs, which will warrant comments on your posts by other bloggers. This is a fun way to connect with like-minded writers and discuss issues that are relevant to your daily life, as well as provide you a space for venting your thoughts.
    • Blogging is also becoming a way for many people to make good money.
    • Sites like,, and LiveJournal are reliable blogging spaces.
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    Use local meetup sites. Most large cities have sites so that community members can easily find others who share their interests. Meetup sites tends to focus on meeting in real life, but since these are group-oriented activities, users who are accompanied by friends are generally safe.
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    Use gaming sites. As seen in steps above, joining online gaming communities is an easy way to make friends. To play most games, however, you have to purchase the disc and pay for an online subscription, as well as have the home equipment to use it. Some free games do exist, but they are usually not as fun or interactive because gamers don’t like them.[11]
    • You usually need either a fast, high-capacity PC or a gaming system like PlayStation or Xbox, with a good quality controller and headset, to truly enjoy the gaming scene and make friends.
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    Use freelance sites. Why not make friends while earning money? Many freelancing websites allow you to set up chats with clients and fellow freelancers so that you can more quickly communicate about the work. These chats can easily turn toward personal things, developing friendships while you do your work.
    • Such sites include,, and


  • Several MMOs, fps and simple gaming communities might help you get friends. Get a steam account if you don’t have it. Get some free multiplayer games and find a nice server/group. Remember: just be active and friendly!
  • There are quite a few sites tailored just for teenagers. A few include:[12]
    • 4 Degreez
    • Alloy
    • Kidlink
  • Treat people how you would like to be treated.


  • It's okay to trust your online friends up to a point, but don't make yourself vulnerable to attack. Be safe about how you're choosing your friends.
  • Do not make plans to meet anyone that you meet online in person and on your own. Always meet in a public place, and take a friend or family member with you. Choose somewhere public and make sure that someone else knows.
  • Remember that you can always block someone who is pressuring you to do something or who won’t stop messaging after you have told them to.
  • If the person is insulting you or harassing you, save the conversation or copy all the words. Report it to someone on the website. If you are underage, tell your parent(s) or another responsible adult what's been going on.

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Categories: Keeping Safe Online