Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you recently met someone new and felt like you could have a lasting friendship with that person? The trouble is, you’re not sure if the other person feels the same way. As with all relationships, sometimes you just hit it off right away with new friends, and other times it takes a bit more cultivation. Perhaps the other person is shy or feeling a bit awkward, just as you are. But sometimes doubts and worries get in the way, undermining our confidence. Is there any way around this?
The good news is that usually your instincts are correct. If you feel there is an opportunity for a friendship, the other person usually does also. Those little things that pick at your confidence could be a number of things. In a new friendship in particular, for example, you don’t want to offend the other person, so you may find yourself treading carefully. This can feel like you have no confidence, when in reality, you’re simply testing the waters as you get to know the other person.
Social issues can get in the way as well. If you’re self conscious about social interactions, even when they’re one-on-one, you may find yourself having difficulty knowing what to say and how to act. This usually is related to a lack of self confidence or an excess of self-consciousness. What you should know is that many people share these feelings. Just as you are worried about what to say, the other person may very well be feeling the same way. And even if this is not the case, everyone, at some point or another, has been in a situation where they felt awkward. It’s likely that the other person will be empathetic, particularly if you’re upfront and honest about your insecurities. Simply saying that, while you’re a great friend, you find it hard to form new friendships, will often be enough. Yes, this puts you on the line a little bit, but think of it this way. If the other person is unkind in his or her reaction, this probably isn’t the type of person you’ll want to form a friendship with anyway.
Developing new friendships does require you to be vulnerable to some extent. Obviously, this increases the longer and better you get to know someone. But even in the early stages of a friendship, if you don’t open up a little, your chances of developing a meaningful relationship diminishes. All relationships require a bit of give and take, and friendships are no different. You don’t need to expose your deepest, darkest secrets right away, but do give the other person some clues as to who you are, your interests, and feelings. This also makes it safe for the other person to do so as well.
Is it possible to get better at developing relationships? Sure! All it takes is a bit of practice. Yes, this can be a bit scary and intimidating, but the more often you reach out to others, the more likely you are to find people with similar interests. Also, the more you practice developing new friendships, the more confident you’ll become in your ability to meet and relate to new people.
If you’re stuck on things to say or how to go about it, consider looking into some books devoted to conversational starters and social interactions. Some of the tips are useful and provide a good starting point. Also consider taking classes or taking part in a favorite activity with a group. This is a great way to meet people with similar interests, and this makes it much easier to start a dialogue, as you already have something to talk about.