Nina from Australia, Wikimedia, CC 2.0

Source: Nina from Australia, Wikimedia, CC 2.0

Many people’s lives feel swallowed up by work, romantic relationship, kids, etc. Platonic friendships may not be high priority.

But when stopping to think about it, many people miss friendship‘s benefits: someone to play with without the complications that sex can bring, and the compatibility that’s more easily found in friends than in family because you’ve chosen them.

Some people need make no effort to find friends – people come to them. Or they’ve maintained friendships. But if you feel the lack of friends, these ideas may help.

Which of these are important to you in a friend?

  • Intellectual or political discussion
  • Sharing personal issues
  • Practical advice about career, relationships, money, health, etc.
  • Sharing a hobby, sport, or other recreational interest (specify):
  • An antidote to loneliness
  • Flirtation without sex (Those too often change into a sexual relationship. If that’s not what you want, think twice — easier said than done.)
  • Other (specify):

Finding an appropriate friend

In light of your answers to the previous questions, consider these approaches to finding a compatible friend:

  • Think about past friends, even those from childhood. Should you recontact them, for example, “This may be the weirdest email you’ve gotten in a while. You may not even remember who I am. After all, we weren’t exactly BFFs back in the 6th grade. But somehow, you popped into my head. I recall liking that you were kind and a good listener. Now, amid the COVID lockdown, I figure it’s a good time to resurrect friendships, even ancient ones. Might you be interested in getting together for a Zoom or, heaven-forbid, an old-school phone call?”
  • Ask an existing friend or relative to “set you up.” For example, you might ask, “I’m trying to widen my world a bit, especially to people who (Insert your #1 priority from the list above) What do you think about inviting a friend of yours to join us for lunch or in our COVID world, a Zoom call?
  • Is there an event, live or virtual, at which your desired type of friend is likely to be present? For example, especially these days, political kinship is an important bonding agent. So you might want to attend a Zoom class that’s compatible with your politics. If someone intrigues, join them in the Zoom chat room if available. In any event, email or text them saying, for example, “I found your comment X interesting. I’d welcome a Zoom or phone call to continue the conversation. What do you think?”

Deepening a friendship

It can feel easy to stay superficial: chat about politics, pop culture, sports, and just silliness. And some people feel that’s fine, at least with some friends. But if you’d like to deepen your relationship, one way is to gradually ask more intimate questions, listen well, and reveal things about yourself so it’s a mutual sharing, not an interrogation.

Most people have one or two personal issues they care most about. Typically, they’re from among the following list: health, career, family, money, looks, and yes, politics. So, after a bit of small talk to calm and bond, and if you don’t know which if any of the above are important to the person, here’s a sample conversation:

So, what are you thinking about these days? (That question opens the door to revealing  something s/he cares a lot about.)

Let’s say that the person responds, “Well, staying home because of the COVID threat has been pretty tough on the family.”

You might respond, “I understand. I’ve been suffering from a little cabin fever myself. How are you coping?” (That moves the conversation from the third-person to the personal.)

The takeaway

If you’re craving more friendship, perhaps especially in these COVID-isolating times, I hope this article’s ideas help you find or resurrect a compatible friend. Who knows? Maybe even a BFF.

I read this aloud on YouTube.

Also in this series on friendship: Platonic Friendship, Mentoring a Gifted Child, and soon: Your Child’s Friends, and then Befriending Your Aging Parent.

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