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What to do if you have no friends

Yesterday a new friend came over for dinner.

This was a total triumph.

Why?

Because making friends – even as a grown ass woman – is f*cking hard.

At least, for me. I feel as awkward now, as I did when I was 12 years old and starting fresh at a new school.

Like many of us, I have experienced love and loss in friendships that have woven in and out of my life – some fading, some exploding, some remaining constant.

A churning soup of disappointments, betrayals, and triumphs of the human heart.

When you have had a forever friend break up with you, it can be very painful. When friends move away or drift apart, it can hurt just as much.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was still nursing a broken heart from friendships I had lost along the way – which left me deeply vulnerable and deeply afraid of trying again.

So I decided to do some research, and I found that I was not alone.

Lockdowns, cancellation of events and a move toward digital interactions have left many of us with fewer in-person relationships.

 

A new study found that the average American hasn’t made a new friend in five years. 45 percent of adults say they find it difficult to make new friends and, for many of the 2,000 people polled, they felt their popularity peaked at age 23. Shyness and introversion were primary factors. Some cited hesitation because of the belief that potential new friends already have their set, core group, and others admitted to feeling nervous about trying to join in a preexisting circle.

I felt all those feelings, too.

It also dawned on me that post-pandemic, the way we live and work has changed. All my most enduring connections had previously been forged through in-person work. But without an office – a central place for people to gather – this was no longer a possibility.

So, how did I take my tattered heart and open it wide enough to let a new friend slip in? Rather than focus on what I was missing?

 

First, I had to *Spring Clean and *Swamp to move all of those righteous emotions through my body and soul. I made space by clearing out my old hurts.

(*Not familiar with these tools? I detail them all HERE in my latest book, Pussy, a Reclamation.)

Next, I struck out and opened some new doors.

I went to Burning Man. Then, to some amazing workshops. And while I met some incredible new people, it only served to expand my network of ‘pixel friends’ – folks who live all over the world, but don’t see each other much except on Zoom or Facetime.

I needed the real real.

Which meant stepping out of my so-called ‘comfort zone’ – the one that was actually making me lonely and keeping me small.

So, I did something that I really didn’t want to do…I joined a gang of polar plungers.

Every morning at 7 am, a kooky, marvelous collection of human beings meet, all year round, to plunge into the icy sea of the Long Island Sound.

Necessity may be the mother of invention, but adversity is the mother of friendship.

 

Nothing bonds you to a total stranger quite like the frigid sting of an ocean in winter. We admired each other’s boldness. We helped one another through the challenges. Sometimes we would sip a hot coffee together to warm up, following the plunge.

After a few months of this, I started inviting some of them to dinners, or girls’ nights.

And somehow, some way, gradually, almost imperceptibly, tiny sprouts of friendships began to emerge.

So, here are my top 3 tips on how to make friends (after you have peaked, socially):

  1. Spring Clean and Swamp. You do not want to carry your past hurts into your current friend circle.
  2. Cherish the pixel friends, but take a step to join a real live group that is already in motion. This may be a choir, a church/synagogue/temple, a volunteer opportunity, or some recreational sport. Be willing to make yourself a little uncomfortable to open new doors.
  3. Be the connector. Take the first steps to invite people to do things – create a gathering, a dinner, a lunch date. Release your expectations and your fear of rejection, and just ask.

Remember, we all want friends, and we are all just as scared, and uncomfortable, and filled with longing as you are.

If you feel awkward inside of these pursuits, know you are not alone.

There is someone, or many someones out there who could use a friend, just like YOU.

With so much love and pleasure,
Regena

P.S. Need a little help getting started? I have a whole collection of free tools, designed to help you build confidence and start creating the life of your dreams. Check them out right HERE!

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