Ways of Finding Friends

If you want to find friends, you have to meet new people. You need to find ways to be out in your community. If you need help to get around or talk, ask a support person to help you at first. After a while, new friends may begin to take the place of your support person.

Be willing to meet new people. Ask a support person or another friend to help you at first. Choose someone who models the kind of relationship you would like to have. This will be someone who talks to you respectfully. It will be someone who lets you be as independent as possible. Being with this person can help others to see how they can support you.

If you are shy, you have to make an effort to get to know other people. If you do not do this, it will not matter how often you see other people. Taking the first step can be scary. You may want to ask a family member or support person to do a role-play with you. This way, you can practice meeting new people. Even smiling at the other person can be a start. Look right at the person when they speak to you. Look right at them when you speak to them. If you use your courage, wonderful things can happen.

One thing you can do is to find a place that you can visit often. Or go for a regular walk near where you live. This way, you can see the same people often. Then you are more likely to say “Hello” and introduce yourself. Gradually, you may start a friendship with someone. Some people have a favourite coffee shop or group or social club they attend.

Joining a Social Club
Joining a Social Club

Josianne belongs to a social club. She enjoys many activities with friends there. They watch movies. They play video games. It is a good place to make new friends. It is a good place to spend time with old friends. Having fun activities that many people can share is nice. It makes it easier to get to know people. And it is a nice break from work and school!

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Art and Friends
Art and Friends

These young people all joined an art class. They are getting to know each other. They are enjoying the activities they do in the class!

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More Ways To Find Friends:

Take a class to learn something that interests you. Some examples are cooking or drama or making a scrapbook. Having similar interests will give you something to talk about with others.

Try to choose an activity where you will be doing things in pairs or groups. Do not choose an activity where you will be working alone. If you have difficulty speaking or being understood, choose something where you don’t have to talk a lot. In choosing an activity, think about your abilities. Be realistic, but don’t limit yourself too much.

If you need a support person to go with you, think about who this could be. Talk with them about how they can support you. Tell them you don’t want them to take the place of the people in the class that you want to get to know.

Get a job. Talk to your co-workers if you can. What are their interests? Ask them if they want to hang out after work sometime.

Find a place to volunteer. Here are some places where people volunteer: a school, a library, the humane society, a nursing home, a sports club, or a community centre. Volunteering requires work. You will be counted on! But you will meet new people. Also, you will feel great about helping.

Join a group that interests you and where people are friendly. There may be a cultural organization for people who share your ethnic heritage. You can learn more about your past and yourself. For example, if you are Polish, see if there is a Polish community centre near you.

Other examples might be:

  • a faith or social justice group
  • a men’s or women’s or youth group at a church or temple or mosque
  • a service club like the Rotary or Lion’s Club
  • a choir or band or karaoke group
  • or an acting group. Acting can increase your confidence and give you better social skills.

Have a talking point. This is something that will lead people to want to talk with you. Ask other people about their pets. You might start with, “What is your dog’s name?” And “How old is he/she?” Tell them about your pet.

Are there people who are already in your life who you would like to get to know better? They could be a neighbour, cousin, co-worker, almost anyone. Think about ways that you can get to know this person.

If you are having trouble getting to know people in the group or class you chose, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the activity you chose something that you are actually not interested in?
  • Are you trying to meet people? Do you smile? Do you have a friendly attitude?
  • Are you being inconsiderate—maybe talking too much when they are busy?
  • Is the problem with the other people? Do they feel afraid or shy about talking to you? If so, ask someone you know to attend 2-3 classes with you. They can model how to relate to you.
  • Are you able to participate in the activity you have chosen? For instance, a person using a wheelchair can dance if they have a partner who will swing their chair. However, they may not be able to do every kind of dancing.
  • Have you asked the leader to help you find ways to participate?
  • Have you been in the group long enough? It takes time to get to know someone.
  • Are the others just not interested in making friends? There is nothing you can do about this.

Some suggestions from young people in different parts of Canada who answered our on-line survey:

Making friends in my post secondary program was the same as in any class. By working with the same people day in, day out, you can get to know them.
Survey respondent, NS

Showing interest in other people is a good way to get to know someone. I offer to help someone occasionally. Mostly I make friends by chatting with people and trying to find out what their interests are.
CF, Survey respondent, BC

I try to be a friend to everyone I meet. People like me for that. They like that I am polite and happy.
Mark, Survey respondent, AB

Be available to them. Share life with them. Help and connect with others together. Hang out.
Survey respondent, BC

Friends don’t fall from the sky. It is necessary to search out friends with hard work—especially those who will be true friends. I would say that it is a question of courage.
Survey respondent, QC

Making Friends at Work
Making Friends at Work

Having a job can give you opportunities to make friends. Anik and Mimi support each other. They spend breaks together. Sometimes they meet up after work too. Having a friend at work makes their job more fun. If they did not work together they might never have found each other!

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