Craving connection and friendship with other people is a fundamental part of being human. But what does being a friend mean in a world where hackers are trying to be your “friend” on Facebook?

The act of making and being a friend is as simple as it is difficult. Here are some ways to make new friends, as well as to take better care of the friendships you already have.

Accept the awkwardness and assume that other people need new friends, too

People assume that everybody already has their friends, but nobody already has all their friends.

Deciding to assume that other people also need friends is crucial to making said friends. And that puts you in a vulnerable position.

It’s weird and uncomfortable to send the first text message or hang out one-on-one for the first time — you often feel exposed. You have to accept that awkwardness and the vulnerability it stems from, because guess what? You can’t have friends without getting vulnerable.

Remember that people will like you more than you think they will

When you are moving through the world, don’t forget that human connection is yours for the taking. It’s science: Gillian Sandstrom, a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom, has done research on something called the “liking gap,” which says that the little voice in your head telling you that somebody didn’t like you very much is wrong, so don’t listen to it.

When you talk to someone else, you’re actually going to brighten their day.

If you’re up for it, Gillian and her colleagues have developed a scavenger hunt challenge to help you talk to strangers.

Invest in activities that you love

Ask anyone about how to make friends and they will most likely tell you to try a new hobby. It might sound hollow, but it works.

Do the things you’re passionate about and you will naturally draw people to you, and you’ll naturally connect with other people because you’ll be in the right place.

Don’t forget to start with something you are actually interested in, and if it doesn’t work out, remind yourself that you contain multitudes! You don’t have to be interested in just one thing.

It’s OK to treat friendship as seriously as you would dating

Having friends is one of the most nourishing parts of being alive, so it’s not weird or bad or wrong to prioritize it. Get comfortable putting yourself out there a little bit. Carve the time and space you need to find and nourish your friendships. It’s what all the cool kids are doing.

Be present

The planet is warming, our news alerts are constant, and there’s so much good television out there to watch. We get it. But if you want to prioritize and nourish your friendships, you have to show up for them.

Being a good friend is about noticing, processing, naming and then responding,” says Rachel Wilkerson Miller, the author of The Art of Showing Up: How to be There For Yourself and Your People. She shares a few tips for being present and engaged with your friends:

  • Listen and notice things about your friend.
  • Take notes! It will help you remember your conversations and allow you points of connection later.
  • Remember the names of folks in your friends’ lives. Another thing that can help: Ask to see a picture of the person they’re talking about so it sticks better in your head.
  • Think about a few things you’d like to talk about with your friend before you get together. Having a list can help your time feel more intentional.

Need help with developing friendships you love? Call or email Courtenay Monfore today.