Asking for a friend: Help! I want to make friends, but I don’t know how to become close to someone

  • Each week, we respond to a question from our readers and give advice and resources they can turn to
  • This week, we help a teen who wants to know how to form a strong, long-lasting friendship
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Making friends requires a lot of time, understanding and commitment, but it’s worth it! Photo: Shutterstock

Need an answer to a personal question that you’ve never mustered the courage to ask? We’ve been there. Whether it is about school, family issues or social life, share your thoughts with us. If you have a question you’d like answered (about anything at all), please fill out this Google Form. Don’t worry – you will remain anonymous!

Dear Friend,

I know that friendship is important and I want to have a close relationship with someone but I don’t know how. How do you understand and get to know a person? And how do you develop a common hobby or interest with your friends?

Best, Alone

I hurt my friend’s feelings and now he hates me. How can I fix our friendship?

Dear Alone,

There’s no doubt that friends can make our lives happier. Friendships have a huge impact on our mental health, but building a strong one takes time and commitment.

We agree that having a hobby is a great way to get closer to people. Rather than forcing yourself to start a new hobby with someone, you can use your existing hobbies as a way to make new friends. Do you like volunteering? Strike up a conversation with someone the next time you’re doing it. Are you a huge bookworm? Join, or start, a book club!

In addition to having common interests, it’s important to be able to understand how other people feel. Here’s a few things to keep in mind:

A good friend knows how to listen and stand by someone in need. Photo: Shutterstock

Be curious

People who are good at understanding others are usually really interested in people. Pay attention and listen to your friends carefully, and try to explore their feelings underneath their words, as this can deepen your understanding of them. Make sure to ask questions to show you’re paying attention.

Be sincere

When someone tells you their feelings, ideas, or opinions, show how much you appreciate them sharing with you, and give feedback or support without expecting a reward (if someone is telling you about what’s troubling them, it may be helpful to ask if they want advice or simply want to rant!)

My classmate really wants to be friends, but I’m just not interested

Be embracing

Everyone thinks and acts differently. The more we know a person, the more likely we are to realise our individual differences. Remember to accept these contrasts and treat others with respect; these are key to building and maintaining a lasting friendship.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to dive so seriously into new friendships. You can start by getting together and hanging out with a few friends, or people that you know a little that you want to be closer to. Have a movie night, pop some popcorn, and enjoy each others’ company – you can see where it goes from there!

Hope that helps, Friend of a Friend

Check out these links from Youthcan for more information:

What makes a good friend?

A perfect friend

The question was answered by clinical psychologists from the Department of Health under Shall We Talk, a mental health initiative launched with the Advisory Committee on Mental Health.

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