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Friendless? Four Tips To Make (Real) Friends For Life

1. Different Types of Friends

Recognizing that you can have friends for different reasons is the first step towards bringing friendships back into your life. If you gravitate towards “all or nothing” thinking, it’s time to change your attitude. There are many types of friends and friends for different times and reasons.

You can have friendships based on activities you do together: sports, dancing, studying cooking, working out, etc. You can have friendships of different intensity levels: casual friendships for hanging out, friendships for fun activities, friendships of heart-felt talks, friendships with shared histories (even where lives have diverged), and so on.

Sometimes best friends forever blossoms from more casual friendships, sometimes not. But just because they aren’t the “best” doesn’t mean they aren’t worthwhile. Be open to different types of friendship experiences and let go of unrealistic expectations.

2. Givers and Receivers

If you are a giver, learn how to sit back a bit and receive. (Taking is something else altogether.) Receiving is about learning to accept what’s offered, whether that gift is time, friendship, help and assistance, and more. Taking is grabbing what isn’t being offered or forcing someone to give. Receiving is about allowing yourself to be vulnerable, allowing yourself to need. Receiving may also be about allowing yourself to accept something from another even if you don’t particular need it.

If someone offers you a gift that’s not quite your taste, for example, graciously accepting it is not dishonest, it’s about recognizing that someone wants to show how much they care. Of course, there are friendships where you can say: Hey, can I exchange this present? And the person won’t care. But sometimes it is best to just say thank you.

If someone shares something personal about themselves, that can be something you can receive, too.

If you are a taker, learn how to give. Giving can include your time, your advice (when appropriate and kind), your wisdom, presents, cards, and other kind words, and so on. One of the best routes to a successful relationship is to think of the other person’s needs as much as your own.

3. Believe in Yourself and Others

Why are some people friend magnets? It could be their healthy self-esteem, the kind of good magic that makes life lovely. When you feel good about yourself without being a narcissist, it’s almost universally attractive to others.

How can you tell if you have good self-esteem or narcissistic, selfishness? For starters, if your self-esteem is based on comparing yourself to others in any way, then your sense of self-worth may be unhealthy. However, if you believe in your good qualities and your potential without comparing them to anyone else’s, you’re on the right track.

True self-esteem allows you to believe others also have good inside and plenty of potential, too, because you aren’t threatened by someone else’s achievements or successes. You’re able to celebrate someone else’s talents because you believe what’s theirs is theirs and what’s yours is yours. Each person, each life is totally unique, a truism that surprisingly many people don’t really believe. Believe it and attract others who believe the same.

4. Respect 

If you honestly believe human life is sacred, each person’s life is precious, you’ll come to have an abiding respect for others. It won’t matter what their social status is, what they do for a living, how old they are, where they’re from–you’ll have a basic respect rooted in the fact that we all share the human experience. You’ll be able to find a way to respect a five-year-old’s humanity while treating an elder with care and dignity.

You’ll also have self-respect and not allow yourself to enter into relationships in which you’ll be used or abused. No amount of flattery, attraction, money, fame, status, or peer pressure will convince you otherwise.

True respect doesn’t crave honor, doesn’t demand worship–it simply is an honest way to find the point of dignity in each person.

More from the Friends series:

You Are Who You Meet–The Importance Of Friends

18 Healing, Surprising, Controversial, and Funny Quotes About Friendship


Friendless? Four Tips To Make (Real) Friends For Life

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC & C.R. Zwolinski

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC is the author of Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On Without Wasting Time or Money and is licensed in addiction and psychotherapy with over 25 years experience as well as a consultant to organizations and companies in the fields of mental health and addiction. He is the executive director of an outpatient behavioral health program. Learn more about Richard here.

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APA Reference
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2017). Friendless? Four Tips To Make (Real) Friends For Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 16, 2018, from


Last updated: 24 Nov 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Nov 2017
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