Doing things with friends is great. Making plans to do those things is the worst.
Yes, modern technology technically makes it easier to plan a dinner or game night, but it also introduces a slew of other drawbacks, annoyances, issues, and cancellations.
We all want fulfilling friendships, but how many people were taught how to make friends or how to develop those relationships over time?
When you’re ready to take your online connections into the real world, follow these simple rules for connecting with people and creating meaningful bonds.
1. Take control – Be the one that reaches out.
Many people experience these same anxious thoughts! It’s normal to feel these things. Keep that in mind when you’re thinking of suggesting a hangout: they’re probably just as scared to reach out as you are. Trust that a lot of people are willing to show up to things when the plans are already coordinated, and take matters into your own hands.
If there’s something you want to do, check in with their available days and then decide the date, time, and location. Don’t be afraid to reschedule or reach out more than once; adult life is busy, and plans can get lost in the shuffle!
2. If someone’s putting in all the effort, offer to help them out.
If you notice that another person is always the one taking the first step, suggest some dates you’re free and a few places to go. By not making them do all the work, you show them that you’re dedicated to building the relationship just as much as they are.
Alternately, if you and a few friends have all decided to meet up, don’t be the disappearing friend who sits back and relaxes as everyone else figures out the tedious logistics. Be involved! Active participation shows that you’re a dependable friend. Not to mention, participating in logistics ensures that the location isn’t an hour out of your way.
3. If you say no to a date or place, suggest an alternative.
If you need to take a rain check, for a legitimate reason or not, try to immediately suggest an alternative time or activity. You don’t want to be impolite or place the onus on the other person to figure out ideas and logistics all over again. It’s okay to say no, but be careful saying it too often, or people will think you aren’t interested in hanging out with them.
4. Don’t ghost on the day!
You just need to go. You need to show up. Push through those feelings of nervous anxiety. If the plan is really something that you’re uncomfortable participating in, make sure to reach out privately and apologise – true friends will understand (and hopefully won’t invite you to that type of activity again), but you still need to let them know.
5. Try to make plans a week in advance.
Scheduling something for Friday night on a Thursday afternoon may work out some of the time, but so does going outside in April without an umbrella. If you want to have a better chance at other people coming out with you, arrange your schedule in advance.
You may want to adjust this timeline depending on the type of day you want to have (drinks vs dinner vs beach day vs LARPing in the park), how many friends you want to see, and what kind of schedule you’re on. Think about it this way in general: Because you’re only as available as your busiest friend, plan ahead of time to allow for alternate dates and times.