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A young single adult writes in asking for help in making friends, yet is tired of hearing the advice "put yourself out there."

Dear Angela,

I really bristle at the advice of “putting yourself out there” when it comes to dating and friendship. Everyone uses that as if it’s the answer to all of life’s loneliness issues. Maybe you can say it some other way — or better yet, can you offer some tips as to how I can make friends? Please don't say the forbidden phrase!


Friendless for Now

Dear Friendless for Now,

I read an article the other day that was geared toward small-business owners who were spending too much time looking for new customers and not enough energy into building loyalty among their existing customers. If “putting yourself out there” is a turn off to you, then get your small-business-owner groove on and start working on the relationships you already have. In no time you can turn an acquaintance into a dear friend.

Here’s a list of five people that are just dying to be your BFF:

Housemate/roommate: You know that girl that lives down the hall who you see every now and again and make random small talk with in the kitchen? Yeah, you guys can be friends! Spend a little extra time in the house common areas; see if she wants to go with you to the grocery store or to the gym. She’s already living with you; you’re already seeing her almost every day, insta-friends!

; “Like” guy: You know that guy who is the first to like all of your Facebook pictures and statuses? Well, obviously he thinks something about your life is cool, so “like” something on his wall. Then when you see him in person ask him about it: “Saw you became an uncle! How does that feel?” “That hike was beautiful. Where was it?” “Congrats on the new car!” Or, whatever! You get the point — your reciprocal interest can be the spark that gets this thing going!

Siblings: They are the best. If you have siblings your age make those the first relationships you strengthen. It’s hard, and in many cases impossible, to find friends who can cure loneliness better than your siblings can.

Yoga class friend: We all have friends that are only our friends in a specific area — but many of them can transition into playing a bigger role in our lives. Next time you two are leaving class ask her about another aspect of her life and offer some info about yours.

That committee member: Whether it's a church committee, school planning committee, arts council committee or some other kind of committee, you’re doing stuff with people all day long and they want to feel close to another person, too. Just because you all met and are together for the purpose of planning something doesn’t mean it can’t be more. Try getting something to eat afterward, or meet beforehand to discuss ideas on the project and sneak some casual talk into the conversation. This friendship is easy pickin’s.

So in short, if “putting yourself out there” and meeting brand new people is making you hate everything then stop doing that. Instead, look at the relationships you already have, make them more fulfilling — and then see how you feel.



Readers: What friends have you found in unsuspected places? What friendship advice could you offer aside from “putting yourself out there”?

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