Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Monday, April 20, 2009

How to Make New Friends When Your Old Ones Aren't Good For You

As a clinical psychologist in private practice, I often follow my clients on a wild journey. They come to me with a particular problem but often end up discovering other areas in their lives that need a little tune-up. In many instances, one of the troubled areas is relationships. People who come in for therapy often find that their friendships and/or romantic relationships aren't fulfilling, and they look for answers as to how to change existing relationships or to create new ones from scratch.

Here we will focus on friendships. If you have come to the point where you realize the friendships you have are not enough, you need to make efforts to bring about change - and changing your social circle doesn't come easily. It can be difficult to start new frienships because you may feel weighed down by having to start all over again. As you approach this new challenge, try to see it as an opportunity to create something new and better as opposed to viewing it as an obligation.

One of the most important things to do in changing your group of friends is to get out of the house. Once out of the house, though, where should you go? Ask yourself what you like to do - interests, activities, etc. - and set a goal to invest time and energy in just one of those interests.

Do some research on the internet, look through the phone book, or ask people you know about how and where a person can engage in this activity. It can be a little uncomfortable to arrive at places alone, especially when there are groups of people already there together. Come up with a mantra that you can use to say to yourself when you are prisoner to those awkward moments (e.g., "this is uncomfortable but it won't last forever" or "at least I'm trying!).

Be patient as you approach the challenge of meeting new friends because an Insta-Social Circle (!) isn't born overnight. Think about the way you come across to people you meet - happy, relaxed, and interested or perhaps anxious, insecure, and uncomfortable? Look at this challenge as an experiment of sorts. This experiment can help you get to know yourself better and can potentially introduce you to people you might not otherwise have met if it weren't for the challenge you're taking on.

As you meet new people, you must ask yourself what you are looking for in a friend. Some men and women are incredibly fun but not necessarily that dependable. Others may appear a little boring but they may be good listeners and may be incredibly trusworthy. No relationship is perfect, but you really can find friends who are a good mix of all the qualities you want.

Remember not to judge a book by its cover.

Take some time to get to know someone so that you can see all the sides of that person and determine if this friendship would be a good fit for you.

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