How to Make New Friends in High School

Four Parts:Discovering New PeopleIntroducing Yourself to New PeopleEstablishing New FriendshipsKeeping Friendships

Making friends in high school doesn’t always come easily. And because making friends is a process, it doesn’t always happen quickly. But if you want to find and make new friends, there are strategies you can adopt that will help you expand your friend circle.

Part 1
Discovering New People

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    Join a club. If you want to find new friends, you’ll need to start by finding new people to be friends with.
    • Clubs are a great option because they provide a structured environment for you to interact in and can expose you to people with whom you already have something in common.
    • Depending on your interests, you can consider joining a service-oriented club, a language club, a gaming club, a literary magazine, etc.
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    Join an academic or athletic team. Being on a team provides built-in camaraderie and gives you frequent and structured opportunities to hang out with and talk to the same people.[1]
    • If you’re unsure of your sporting ability, try joining a recreational league. They’re more casual and less competitive.
    • If you have some athletic ability, look for a team sport where that ability will be most appreciated. If you’re a good runner, for example, consider joining a soccer, lacrosse, or cross-country team.
    • If your skills are more academic than physical, join the debate team, Model UN, or similar.
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    Take elective courses. Electives are another excellent opportunity to collaborate with people who share a particular interest.
    • Electives like journalism, yearbook, and theater all offer the chance to get to know new people while collaborating to produce something tangible.
    • Many electives also involve staying after school, which may on the surface not seem that great, but staying after school with a group of people allows you to get to know each other in a more relaxed setting, away from the daily monotony of school, and to build camaraderie.
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    Volunteer or get a job. Both working and volunteering are good for your resume and for your social group.
    • Volunteering can be a great way to meet people from different backgrounds and age groups. Look for local volunteering clubs on campus, or check out different volunteer organizations in your town.
    • Working will expose you to people you can talk to on a regular basis with minimal pressure, which can be ideal if you have a hard time approaching people. Look for a job where you’ll be working with and talking to a range of people and avoid jobs where you’ll often be isolated or on your own.
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    Go to social events. It may seem obvious, but social events are designed to be, well, social.
    • Dances, parties, town events, and rallies can all offer you a chance to meet new people in a socially conducive setting.
    • If you’re shy, try to find another person or an acquaintance to bring with you. Often having a familiar face nearby can help you feel more at ease and less alone.
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    Be approachable. Looking blank, preoccupied, or frustrated will not invite people to approach you. And if you want to make new friends, you want to be as approachable as possible.
    • Smile. Offering a friendly smile makes you seem more likeable, will put people more at ease, and will make them feel more comfortable engaging with you.
    • If you feel weird randomly smiling at strangers, you can instead consciously put in an effort to have an open, friendly expression on your face rather than a closed-off one.
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    Start with people you already know. Approach people who are already acquaintances and try to develop the relationship further.
    • Look for opportunities to talk to your acquaintance and learn more about them and what they like. If things go well, invite them to do something with you outside of school, which will help you develop the acquaintanceship into a friendship.
    • Ask people you know to introduce you to other people. If you know someone who’s part of a different clique or involved in an activity you’re interested in, ask them to invite you along.
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    Make use of social-networking. There are various social meetup groups that are organized online and can expose you to a whole new set of people based on your shared interests.
    • Notice, though, that these are only helpful if they’re specifically oriented around actual, physical meetups.
    • Don’t try to make friends using only Facebook or Instagram. It’s not that nobody has ever made a friend on a social-media site, but those friendships tend not to go anywhere unless you physically hang out. And some people are put off if a stranger or a relative stranger approaches them online wanting to be friends.
    • Do, though, offer to connect with a new potential friend on social media. If you’re getting along well with someone, ask them to add you as a friend or follow you on Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

Part 2
Introducing Yourself to New People

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    Choose your moment. Approaching someone at the wrong time can sabotage your chances before you really even get started.
    • Don’t try to start a conversation at an obviously bad time, like in the middle of a quiz or while the person is distracted by other things that seem to be commanding their attention.
    • Realize that some people don’t like talking in certain situations. Some people don’t enjoy talking while riding the bus or wiping the cafeteria tables. If they don’t seem to warm up to your attempts to engage them in conversation, let it go.[2]
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    Ask questions. The adage that people like to talk about themselves turns out to be largely true. And questions are also great icebreakers.
    • If you don’t know how to start a conversation with someone, begin with a question like, “What’s the homework?” or “Who are you taking for biology?”[3]
    • A good way to get closer to someone is to ask them questions about themselves.[4] Ask questions about their hobbies, their family. their pets, etc. If they tell you about something they did or accomplished, ask them how they got into it and why.
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    Listen attentively. Key to getting to know someone is listening carefully to what they say.
    • Show that you’re giving them your full attention by holding eye contact, nodding your head, and pitching in small comments here and there to show you’re following the thread of the conversation.
    • As you ask the other person questions, listen carefully to their answers to find out what the person is most interested in or passionate about. If one topic doesn’t elicit much of a response from them, don’t keep asking more questions about it. Instead, move on to another topic. Once you find a topic the other person seems excited about or has more to say about, ask follow-up questions and pitch in your own thoughts to keep the conversation going.
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    Mirror their body language. People feel more at ease when you mirror their body language--subtly. Don’t pantomime their every movement, just subtly adopt similar body postures.[5]
    • If they’re leaning forward, do the same. If they’re sitting with their legs crossed, cross yours.
    • If they’re showing negative or closed-off body language (arms crossed, legs crossed while standing, or hands in their pockets), don’t mirror the negative body language. Instead, take that as a cue that they’re not feeling at ease. Adopt an open body language (leaning forward if sitting, arms at your sides with palms out, shoulders back, and legs shoulder-width apart, with feet towards the other person if standing) and try to redirect the conversation to something that elicits a more positive response.
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    Relax. When you’re nervous or tense, you make other people nervous or tense--which most people don’t like.
    • Don’t psych yourself out. Practice quieting the doubting voice in your head telling you “you look so awkward right now” or “they’re just going to laugh at you.” Realize that it’s only the voice of insecurity and it doesn’t have any actual merit.
    • Breathe. When you’re nervous you tend to hold your breath or take quick, shallow breaths, which perpetuates your nervousness. To calm yourself, take several full, deep breaths before approaching the person you want to talk to and remind yourself to keep taking deep, regular breaths throughout the conversation.
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    Avoid oversharing. Sharing too much about yourself too quickly can be off-putting.[6]
    • Don’t tell the other person your entire life story. Not only do they probably not care enough to listen to you talk all about yourself at this point, people tend to see people who overshare about themselves as having poor boundaries or being self-obsessed.
    • When first getting to know someone, keep the personal details fairly general. Don’t get into details that might make the conversation awkward, like your cousin’s stint in jail or your sister’s habit of eating paper towels.

Part 3
Establishing New Friendships

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    Set up structured activities. While getting to know someone new, it’s helpful to start off with structured activities that will take the pressure off of one-on-one conversation.[7]
    • Good ideas for structured activities include going to a movie, a play, or a sporting event. That way you’ll both have something to focus on and to talk about, and you won’t have to try to carry the entire conversation yourself.
    • Once you feel more comfortable, you can move on to some equally structured but more interactive activities like playing basketball, miniature golf, snowboarding, ice skating, or going to a museum.
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    Be patient. It takes time to make friends. Don’t try to rush it or force it, just be patient and persistent.
    • If you get the sense that a person just doesn’t want a new friend, or if they’re repeatedly giving you excuses why they can’t hang out, let it go. If you keep pressing, they may become hostile.
    • If getting to know someone doesn’t pan out, don’t give up. You’re not going to click with everyone you meet, and some people just don’t make good friends. If they don’t want to start a friendship, don’t take it personally; they may have any number of reasons for retreating that have nothing to do with you.[8]
    • If you seem to get shot down by every person you approach, though, reconsider how you’re presenting yourself. You may be coming on too strong or inadvertently saying offensive or off-putting things. Talk to a trusted family member about what you might do differently.
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    Be calm and courteous. Whether they agree or decline to hang out, don’t over-react one way or the other.[9]
    • If they agree to hang out, smile, say something positive, and move on. Seeming to be too eager or overly excited can make them distrustful or dubious of you.
    • If they decline your invitation, don’t freak out. Just calmly say something like, “That’s okay. It’s been fun talking to you” and leave it. Don’t get mad or act crushed. Just take it in stride.
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    Be positive. Don’t start beating yourself up or telling yourself you’ll never make friends.[10]
    • It’s okay if you feel somewhat hurt if someone doesn’t respond positively to your overtures. Recognize that it can hurt to feel rejected, but don’t fixate on that feeling. Acknowledge it and move on.
    • Remind yourself that you won’t be friends with everyone, and, more importantly, you likely don’t want to be friends with everyone. This person may have turned out to be a really crappy friend, and you may have actually just dodged a bullet.

Part 4
Keeping Friendships

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    Tell each other secrets. If your friend can trust you with a secret, don't spread it or tell anyone. Even if you think you can trust the person you are telling, don't take a chance on it. Your new friend would probably be very angry if they found out you'd been gossiping about them!
    • Wait a few weeks before you tell them one of your secrets; make sure you can trust them first. Observe and watch their actions, do they gossip about other people?
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    Avoid gossip. Unless it's just something funny or everyone is talking about it, try not to gossip around your new friends just yet. After a month or so (when you fully trust them), you probably can begin to gossip. Just make sure you're not speaking poorly of others behind their backs.
    • At all costs, avoid talking about your friend behind his/her back. If they find out, then you're in a lot of trouble and you could be excluded from the group.
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    Use social media. Social media is a great way to make new friends at school. Find out a couple of your classmates' social media handles and add them. You can also find out their interests and maybe it will help you spark up some conversation.
    • Social media is also a great way to start up conversation. Take Instagram for an example; send a couple of Direct Messages and text your classmates. You may find out a few facts about them, their hobbies and interests. This will be great for starting up conversation in class.
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    Meet up outside of school. Invite a few classmates to hang out; you could do all sorts of fun things and even have a sleepover. This way, you will have the opportunity to spend a few hours together and create friendships.
    • Go places like a theme park or just the local park. It would be fun for the both of you.
    • Don't bore your friend. Make sure they enjoy themselves as much as you enjoy yourself.


  • Give yourself time. Making friends is a time-consuming and often challenging process. You won’t make friends with everyone you meet, and not everyone is worth pursuing as a friend. Don’t be discouraged when you don’t instantly become best friends with someone--genuine friendship takes time.
  • Don’t beat yourself up. If you’re having a hard time making friends or if it’s taking longer than you’d like, don’t get down on yourself. If you start telling yourself you’re a loser or you suck, it will reflect in your behavior and in how you present yourself. People are attracted to others who are confident and at ease with themselves (or at least appear to be), so stay upbeat and remind yourself of all the great qualities you have to offer.
  • Be discerning. When looking for new friends, it can be tempting to want to accept anyone and everyone who seems receptive. But don’t get carried away--if someone gives you a bad feeling, is overly negative, or seems abusive or manipulative in any way, keep your distance. Bad friends are worse than no friends.[11]
  • Remember to be selective. Pick friends who you will enjoy spending time with, hang out with people for a day then ask yourself: Did I enjoy today? Did I feel left out? If you answered no develop your relationship with them but if you answered yes then don't worry just continue looking.

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