I’m one of the founders of online dating, which turns 25 in 2020 I helped build and launch Match and was the site’s dating and relationship expert and served as their spokesperson for a decade.
Today I’m a co-founder at Meetopolis (www.meetopolis.com). Meetopolis is the first social network for dating and relationships of all types, including friendships. On Meetopolis friends help friends socialize and everyone gets to know each other through the exchange of ideas, content, shared goals and by posting/answering questions and voting on things like who might have chemistry with a member, or what someone should wear on a date.
When we were building Match we were sure technology would make it easier to find and form relationships, making people accessible to us no matter where they lived. We urged singles to “cast a wide net” in their search for someone special, assuming more is better when seeking a relationship. We talked about dating being a “numbers game,” suggesting that there was no real consequence for dismissing someone as not right for you, as there were hundreds, if not thousands, of other candidates behind them.
Somewhere in the process we contributed to the epidemic of loneliness now plaguing so many–disconnecting, rather than connecting, people with the constantly evolving bells and whistles of our technologies.
Given all of that, here are my tips for making friends in 2020
1. Be curious. Social media profiles have made it easy for us to learn someone’s story without doing the social footwork that used to be necessary to learn about someone. In face-to-face connections, it’s unlikely someone will say hello and then immediately share their life story. It’s your job to connect with someone face-to-face and pull their story from them. That’s easy to do if you let yourself be curious. How did this person land this job? Why are they volunteering for this organization? How did this older couple first meet?
2. Say “yes.” It really doesn’t matter what you’ve been invited to do. Bowling is just as good as bike riding for getting to know someone. A movie and dinner works as well as wine and a gallery tour for making a connection. “Yes” gets you a step closer to friendship.
3. Step away from your technology and do something. Meetups are a great way to have fun and make new connections. Volunteering helps you meet like-minded people in new situations.
4. Take a risk. Similar to dating, when developing friendships, someone has to make the first move. Ask people to join you for lunch at work. Give your phone number to someone you have a great conversation with on the bus.
5. Throw a party. I recently threw a party and invited a broad group of people. Some were good friends, a few were neighbors, and about half were people I had only casually encountered, or friends of friends, whom I had hoped to get to know better. I was surprised at the number of people who took the time to tell me how much fun they had at the party and how they wished more people would do what I had done.
6. Be interesting. If you want to connect with new friends, it’s helpful to have something to offer–opinions about favorite authors, funny stories from your job, unique hobbies, great events you can invite someone to.
7. Deal with rejection Some budding friendships fizzle. Maybe the friend chemistry wasn’t there, or more likely, there were competing opportunities in people’s lives and just not enough of a connection to continue the investment of time. It’s not big deal and happens all the time. Just move on.