wikiHow to Stop Being a Loner

Three Parts:Reflecting Upon Your LonelinessBreaking Out of Your ShellFinding More Ways to Make Connections

Do you look at social butterflies in amazement? How do they do it? How can they be so comfortable talking to other people? If you describe yourself as a loner but would like to try to break out of your shell, we've got some helpful advice on how to get out, meet people, and form new friendships.

Part 1
Reflecting Upon Your Loneliness

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    Study your personality. If you're reading this, it's probably because you're not completely happy with your circumstances, you're feeling isolated, or you'd like to have an easier time getting out and making friends. Even so, it will help to try to figure out if you are a loner or if you're experiencing loneliness.
    • People who describe themselves as loners typically prefer to spend a lot of time alone, are often exhausted by interacting with others, and usually aren't bothered by being with themselves. There's nothing wrong with being a loner if that's just how you are and if you're fine with it![1]
    • This is different from being lonely, when you actually crave interaction with other people, and either struggle or aren't able to make connections with others.
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    Figure out why you want to stop being a loner. Spend some time thinking about why it's important to you to break out of your shell. Are you unsatisfied with your situation and would like to start talking to people and doing things with them? Or are you feeling pressure from other people to change your habits?
    • Realize that some people just don't need a lot of social interaction to be content, and that you don't have to give in to people who think you “should” be a certain way or that you “should” like to go out all the time.
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    Understand the importance of social interaction. While you should never feel as though you must change yourself to conform to an idea of what is “normal,” you should understand that everyone needs some degree of human connection.
    • Those who are truly isolated or lonely (we can be lonely even when we're surrounded by people!) are more prone to depression and other potentially serious health problems, so it's important for even content introverts to spend time with other people.[2]
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    Understand the importance of developing people skills. Maybe you only have one or two good friends, or are happy spending time with yourself or your pets. Even so, it's important that you develop the “soft skills” of being able to strike up conversations with other people, participate in small talk, and function in social situations.
    • Your ability to get or keep a job often depends upon you having minimally decent people skills, so you need to spend some time learning how to be comfortable around other people.
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    Assess your circumstances. If you've decided that it's important that you stop being such a loner, you'll need to come up with a plan. Before you can do that, you'll need to study your current situation: why are you so isolated? If you can pinpoint the likely cause for your isolation, you'll know where to start when trying to get out more.
    • For example, have you just moved to a new town or started a new job? Are you a new college student on a campus far from home?
    • Do you work from home and thus don't have to talk to people face-to-face on a regular basis?
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    Limit your time spent online. If face-to-face conversations are hard for you, or if you don't have a lot of opportunities to interact with people in real life, it can be very tempting to strike up on-line friendships. By itself, this is not a bad thing, and you can develop some important conversational skills and explore your interests with like-minded people.
    • Nonetheless, talking through a keyboard is not the same as being in close physical proximity to people, and you can still find yourself feeling lonely and isolated if you spend too much time on the computer or your phone. Make it a goal to start to broaden your interactions.

Part 2
Breaking Out of Your Shell

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    Talk to animals. If you're really nervous about talking to people, you may be more comfortable if you find ways to spend time with animals, preferably outside of your own home. Volunteer at your local animal shelter or start up a part-time dog walking business.
    • You'll be able to make new furry friends, but more importantly, you'll eventually have to talk to at least one or two actual people, such as the other volunteers or the dog owners.
    • If you feel relaxed around animals, you should be more comfortable talking to other people, and the topic of conversation can stay focused on the animals, so you won't have to struggle so hard to think of things to say.
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    Focus on just being near people at first. If you're just beginning to try to break out of your shell, you don't need to push yourself to start a conversation with a stranger (or even a classmate or coworker) or start a new friendship immediately. Take small steps, and make it a priority to get out and about on a daily basis where you'll be around other people.[3]
    • Take a daily walk, or go to the coffee shop once day. Start to get comfortable just being near other people.
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    Try not to focus on the negative. It's easy to note all of the ways that people ignore, shun, forget, or exclude you.[4]Focusing on just these negative aspects of interactions is counter-productive, though.
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    Be on the alert for social cues. When you are around other people be on the look-out for clues that they may be welcome to getting to know you better or might be open to you joining them.
    • Is anyone flashing you a friendly smile? Are any “hi-how-are-you's” directed your way? Did someone move their bag over on the bus for you to sit? Did the person in front of you at the cafeteria choose the same dessert as you and smile?
    • These all may be invitations for you to strike up a conversation. Be careful not to automatically dismiss them as the other person just being polite.
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    Be approachable. Besides looking for the ways in which people are offering you invitations, you should try to draw people towards you. The easiest way to send the message to other people that you are open for talking or hanging out is by smiling at them and offering a friendly greeting.
    • You might think that saying “Hi, how are you?” is an empty gesture, but you may be surprised at how often people are willing to strike up a conversation after your lead.
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    Project a positive air. If you expect that you'll be rejected or that you'll stay lonely, you may be writing your own destiny. Do your best to avoid negative thoughts such as “No one wants to talk to a boring loser like me.”
    • Tell yourself that you will have fun when you go out, that you'll have an interesting conversation, or that people will like you once they get to know you.
    • You may feel ridiculous and may not believe yourself at first, but there can be real power in repeating these affirmations to yourself. [5]
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    Pay attention to the details of other people before you decide to strike up a conversation. You may feel weird or awkward striking up a random conversation with someone you've just met. Instead, pay attention to the people you see regularly when out in your neighborhood or at school or work. Recognize their faces and listen for their names as other people talk to them, and then file this information away so that you'll have an “in” for a later conversation.
    • For example, pay attention to the professor as she calls on students, and make note of any intriguing comments from your classmates. You may be able to strike up a conversation if you see them later waiting for class to start, at the bus stop, etc. Tell them that you had the same question about Plato's theory of forms, for example.
    • Or maybe you noticed your neighbor across the street got a new puppy. One of the times you see them while out on your walk, make it a point to comment on how much the puppy has grown in such a short time.
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    Make a connection with someone who has to talk to you. A great way to practice your conversational skills and potentially make new friends is to look for opportunities where you'll be in regular contact with someone who has to interact with you.
    • For example, you can sign up to be tutored (or to be a tutor), or you can register with the Boys or Girls club in your area (to be either a little or big brother or sister).[6]
    • This social setting will be be more focused: for example, if it's tutoring, the subject matter is clear, so you won't have to search for topics to talk about, and the one-on-one setting can be less intimidating.

Part 3
Finding More Ways to Make Connections

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    Identify and explore your talents. By spending some time identifying your natural strengths and talents, you can start to feel better about yourself overall, and you'll also be able to find ways to start making connections with other people who have the same interests.
    • If you've determined that you are gifted musically, for example, you can begin to think of ways that you can meet other people in a music-oriented setting.
    • If you're not so great at athletics, then deciding to meet other people by joining a soccer club could be a bit too challenging at first. Not only will you have to deal with your anxiety about talking to new people, you'll also be nervous or awkward about performing physically.
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    Join clubs or groups which are centered on your interests. Now that you're starting to feel more comfortable being around people and have thought about your interests and talents, it's time to step it up and look for ways to find longer lasting friendships.
    • If you love to read, for example, consider joining a local book club. You can ease into it, and may not have to talk much at the first couple of visits, but know that you'll be surrounded by people who have the same interests as you and who want to hear what you have to say.
    • If athletics are your thing, look for advertisements for running clubs or intramural sports teams, or join a local gym and sign up for a group class. After a couple of sessions, you'll recognize familiar faces, and you'll know that you have something in common to talk about.
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    Go to events. If you don't have time in your schedule for regular meetings, you may still be able to connect with other people by going to concerts, readings, plays, or talks in your area.
    • People often linger around after these events, or you may start to recognize familiar faces after you go to a few concerts, for example, in which case you could have an in for a conversation and maybe a new friendship.
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    Volunteer. Yet another great way to meet people is to identify causes you care about and volunteer for them.
    • For example, you can work to build homes for the needy, read to the elderly in nursing homes, or work for a political campaign.
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    Extend invitations to other people. After you've gone to a few club meetings, concerts, or volunteer sessions, and have a few conversations under your belt, challenge yourself to take the initiative and invite someone else to do something with you.
    • For example, if you joined a running club and chatted with Sam a few times, you could let him know about a 5K you were thinking of running next week. Ask him if he'd like to sign up to run it together.
    • Or perhaps you've gone to book club a few times and learned about a famous author's visit to the local college campus next week. Invite the other members of the club to go to the reading with you, and suggest that you all go out to coffee afterwards.
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    Make it hard for you to cancel or make excuses. If you're a true loner at heart, it can be easy for you to be tempted by the call of your couch and your Netflix queue and find excuses to cancel your plans. Try to find ways to make it harder for you to cancel your plans; if others are depending upon you, you'll be less likely to find excuses to be anti-social.
    • For example, if you told your coworkers that you'll go out for dinner on Friday, you might be thinking about being “sick” come 6pm. If, however, you had agreed to pick up your colleague and drive her to the restaurant, it will be much harder for you to bow out and spend the night alone.
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    Be selective. Even though you may feel really unhappy being alone and are starting to get desperate for friends, it's important that you choose to spend time with people who will treat you well.[7]
    • You don't have to follow through on a relationship that is not fulfilling, that makes you feel bad about yourself, or which is abusive just for the sake of being more social.
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    Learn about social anxiety. If after time you find that it is still really difficult for you to break out of your shell, or if the thought of being around other people or in crowds makes you feel nauseated or panicky, you may suffer from some degree of anxiety disorder.[8]
    • If this is the case, you will benefit tremendously from seeking professional help from either your physician or a mental health care professional.Together, you can help identify the cause of your anxiety, and work on a treatment plan, which may include therapy, medication or a combination of both.[9]

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Categories: Overcoming Shyness & Insecurities