Making friends is super important for your social health. It can sometimes be challenging to get to know people and move from knowing them into a friendship. First, let’s talk about what makes a good friend. It’s important to be a good friend, and look for qualities of a good friend in the people we spend time with.

A Good Friend:

Is safe

A good friend will never make you do something that doesn’t agree with your values. They will never put you in a situation that would harm you or put your bright future at risk.

Respects your boundaries

Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits. (A Guide to Psychology and Its Practice) Something like not drinking alcohol underage could be a personal boundary that a good friend would support.

Has things in common

This is an important one, but it might not always be obvious. It could be something like having a similar sense of humor or a similar love of reading. It takes getting to know people to see if you have things in common.

Steps to making friends:

First, be your own best friend

If you feel like no one would want to be your friend, this is the first place to start! You need to develop some self-confidence. Try and be the type of person you would want to be friends with. Be kind to others and give of your time and energy to things you care about. Spend time thinking about your good qualities and reasons you would be a good friend. This will help you feel more relaxed and confident when you’re trying to make friends.

Think about the people you know

There are probably already some people that you know even if you’re not super good friends. This is a great place to start looking for new friends. Think about people in your classes, who you ride the bus with, or who you go to after school activities with. Set a small goal to say hello to the people you are around or ask if they did anything fun over the weekend. If you have closer acquaintances, you ask if they want to hang out after school sometime. Get in the habit of talking to people around you. Be a friendly person and people will naturally want to be your friend.

Try something new

Join a club or sports team. Consider signing up for choir or band, something that would allow you to interact with people outside of class. It can be easier to join conversations when you are spending time together working on common goals.

Increase sharing

Friendships are built on sharing. If you want to become friends with someone, it usually doesn’t happen in one big jump. It includes sharing more and more about yourself and letting the friendship develop over time. You could talk with an acquaintance and share what your favorite hobbies are and listen to theirs. This could either lead to realizing you don’t have much in common, or becoming closer and starting to hang out outside of school doing things you both love.

Remember what is really important

Sometimes friends come in ways we don’t expect. Keep an open mind and look for good friends everywhere you go.

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