How do I get closer friends?

I’m a first year student from interstate, and threw myself into a few clubs last semester in order to meet people, and while I’ve become friends with quite a few, and have people I know to sit with and talk to in classes, there is no-one I’m close to. All of my friends are from different walks of life so I don’t have a single group to hang out with, and feel that they all have closer friends already. This makes me feel unable to suggest we meet up outside of uni, so I still spend a lot of time alone. I’m also very slow to open up, which doesn’t help. How can I make close friends??

Having a close and supportive friendship network is an important part of our wellbeing and enjoyment of life, and it’s great that you’ve taken steps to meet new people in order to make this happen. The transition from acquaintance to friend to close friend can be slow in some cases, and this is frustrating, especially if you’ve come from another state so are naturally feeling a greater need for new friendships.

A few factors that influence how close friendships can become include:
• Frequency of contact over time – we’re more likely to become close to people we see on a regular basis such as in class or at work as we have time to build up the friendship
• Shared experiences – sharing an activity or a new experience together opens up new avenues of conversation
• Interacting with people in a variety of contexts so we can get to know different parts of each others’ lives, such as meeting mutual friends, or seeing each other outside of class or work
• Opening up about deeper topics and feelings, moving away from superficial topics of conversation

It sounds like there are a few things that are preventing you from taking steps to develop these friendships. You’ve said it feels like they all have closer friends already, I’m wondering if this is true, and if so does that mean there is no room to become close with you? Sometimes feeling that we need friendships more than somebody else does can make us feel vulnerable which makes taking the initiative scary.

You’ve also mentioned that you take time to open up, this is natural, and a reason that having lots of contact with other people without time pressure can be helpful, but I’m also wondering if there are any particular fears about opening up that it may be helpful to address?

If you’d like to talk to someone about any of these fears that may be barriers to becoming closer to people, feel free to make an appointment at Counselling and Psychological Services. In the meantime, remember that even small steps and interactions can make a difference, asking some a question about their lives, suggesting a coffee after class etc, can indicate to the other person that you are open to developing the friendship and may make you feel more comfortable taking further steps down the track.


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