Do you know how to make friends when you have social anxiety?
Forming new connections can be hard for anyone, but those with a social anxiety disorder (SAD) may find it particularly difficult.
After all, symptoms such as self-consciousness and nervousness in social situations make it tough to make and maintain friendships.
If you suffer from SAD, you may not know where to begin with socializing.
Fortunately, there are still ways to meet new people, expand your social circle, and develop meaningful relationships.
How to Make Friends When You Have Social Anxiety
1. Avoid Negative Thoughts
Anxiety about social situations can be exacerbated by dwelling on the negative.
- Assuming the worst and overanalyzing people’s words and actions
- Thinking no one is interested in what you have to say
You can use a strategy called cognitive reframing to help you shift such thinking.
This process teaches people how to recognize thought distortions, see things in a more positive light, and adjust their mindset.
Cognitive reframing can be practiced in the following ways:
- Recognizing your negative thoughts
- Examining the veracity of these thoughts
- Challenging your negative thoughts
- Replacing your negative thoughts with more positive and helpful ones
Fortunately, SAD treatment can help you relax and enjoy spending time with others.
For example, a therapist may be helpful if you’re unable to meet new people or the thought of socializing is too overwhelming.
As your social anxiety improves, meeting new people and forming friendships will become less intimidating.
2. Set Minimalistic Objectives
Making new friends can be difficult if you try to overcome your apprehension too quickly.
Instead, begin by setting short-term goals and working your way towards them.
Consider the following as possible short-term objectives:
- Smiling in the presence of a total stranger
- Shopping at a supermarket and conversing with the cashier
- Making eye contact with a neighbor and waving
- Texting or calling acquaintances and friends
It’s a good idea to brush up on your social skills while you’re trying to meet new people.
This will not only alleviate your stress, but also make it easier during new interactions.
Using open body language and basic conversation methods are two skills that can be useful.
Having a list of conversation starters and rehearsing these openers can help you feel more at ease in these informal encounters.
Whether you’re at work, school, or the grocery store, all of your social interactions are opportunities for you to practice your abilities.
Even if you don’t make a new friend from every encounter, you’ll improve your social skills by smiling and conversing with others.
3. Get to Know New People
If you want to meet new people, you must look for opportunities to do so.
For example, when seeking new friends, the best place to look may be your interests.
Can you join a club, group or organization around your existing hobbies to meet more people?
In the beginning, it’s important not to be too picky as first impressions aren’t always accurate predictors of long-term friendship.
If you’re looking to make friends and meet new people, here are some ideas to get you started:
- Meeting a coworker for lunch
- Joining a library book club
- Assisting a local charity as a volunteer
Using apps like Bumble and Meetup can also help you meet new people if you’re seeking a romantic connection.
People with social anxiety may find these apps appealing because they help get to know someone before meeting them in person.
It’s also a good idea to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances you may have fallen out of touch with.
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4. Accept all of The Invitations You’re Given
Collaborate on both accepting and actively making plans with new acquaintances.
The aim is to attend as many social events as possible to reduce your anxiety via exposure therapy.
Saying yes demonstrates your interest in the other person and your willingness to put in the time and effort necessary to improve your network.
Begin by inviting new contacts to join you for a cup of coffee, a walk, or a shared activity.
As your friendship progresses, be patient. According to studies, it can take up to 50 hours for a stranger to become a close friend.
5. Be Consistent in Your Communication
Once you’ve made some friends, it’s critical to keep in touch with them intermittently via phone, text or email.
The ideal frequency of communication will become apparent depending on the person and the nature of your relationship.
Don’t be too pushy or needy, but equally, be active in reaching out to organize activities.
Everyone’s busy and a new contact will always appreciate an invitation.
Friendships take time and effort on both sides.
In this way, creating deep connections is more like a marathon than a sprint.
Having good friends can provide significant comfort, confidence, and joy in your life.
Unfortunately, social anxiety can get in the way of crafting these nourishing relationships.
Fortunately, even if you suffer from social anxiety, it doesn’t mean you can’t meet new people.
You can begin to cultivate meaningful connections by taking baby steps, battling self-doubt, and actively seeking out new people to meet.