Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Want More Friends? Go First

Your love life and circle of friends isn’t decided by who you met in school, what you do for work, or even magical thinking. It’s decided by how many people you meet per week.

And by ‘meet’ I mean have a conversation where you give someone your undivided attention for at least five minutes.

Do you meet as little as one person per week?

Then you either have a tight knit group of friends who you’ve known for a long time, or you’re leaving one of the most important aspects of your life to chance.

We’ve all been led to believe that relationships just happen. That fate will one day drop the person of your dreams in your lap.  

Which is possible. But if you put your love life in the hands of a higher power and get dealt nothing, you won’t just be lonely. You won’t even know how to make it happen.

And that’s a problem.

Luckily the answer is more simple than you think: go first.

Most people wait. They won’t show interest in another human being, most don’t even dare smile at someone walking by on the street, unless they know they won’t be rejected. 

Fear of rejection makes us timid.

The fiendish joke?

Once you start smiling at strangers, you’ll see that almost everyone smiles back. People aren’t assholes. Just afraid.

That’s why it’s your job to go first.

Once you get into the habit of reaching out to new people, you’ll become more confident. Why do you think you sometimes revert back to being a blushing stuttering wreck? Because you’re rusty.

How do you shake off the rust?

By consistently meeting new people.

Which sounds tough. But you can easily integrate it into your every day routine. The key to becoming outgoing is fitting it into your existing habits.

Here are some examples:

  • Talk to everyone who serves you. Waiters, cashiers, bus drivers, baristas, delivery people. You’re already talking to them, so you may as well strike up a conversation. 
  • Learn the names of everyone you regularly see. Perhaps it’s the lady who works behind the desk at the gym, your UPS man, or your neighbour that you’ve only seen for the past three years.
  • Talk to everyone who’s walking a dog. “Hey, excuse me. Just wanted to say that you have a very cute dog.” If you like, you can take it one step further and find out what type of breed it is.
  • Say hi to everyone who’s reading a book and see if they can recommend you something to read. Sure, some will be annoyed you interrupted their story of who dun it. But most will be thrilled that you value their opinion.
  • Ask the person behind you in line at the bakery or coffee shop what type of pastry or snack they’d recommend. If you’re feeling particularly cheeky you can reply, “Hmm… too bad. You failed the test.”
  • Transform a solitary hobby into a sociable one. Do you usually go running by yourself? Try joining a running group.
  • Become like Jim Carrey in Yes Man and accept every invitation you get. Most of us get invited to do stuff all the time, but we often say no because we’re busy, tired, or just not interested. Time to change.
  • Act like a pinball. When most of us walk into a large social gathering, we flock to the bar, an empty seat, or to the one friend across the room. That’s fear. Instead of blending in with the furniture, bounce off everyone in the venue. A simple, “Hey, how’s it going?” Once you’re lost for words, end on, “Enjoy your night, I’ll see you later” and go right on to the next person.

The key takeaway?

When you’re chatty with everyone, you’ll be socially fit and able to make a good impression on anybody. Whether that’s a potential new friend or lover.

Go first, because the person you’d like to meet probably won’t.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach