#2. Don't Fall into the "Shopping for a Car" Mindset
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We all have fairly specific traits that we look for in other people. It doesn't matter whether it's for a partner or a general friend. I could never hang out with a person who interrupts others when they're speaking. If they don't like video games, their other qualities need to be pretty damn strong to make up for it. And I always think that people who never laugh are secretly robots collecting data for the government.
The problem ends up being that you start to look at people the same way you look at buying a car, comparing what you're investing in the relationship to what you're getting out of it. On an emotional level, that's not only fine, it's smart. You don't want to be friends with someone who constantly takes from you but never gives back. But on a realistic, human level, it's easy to forget that this car gets an equal say in who gets to put their sweaty ass on its sweet rhinestone seat covers. You're not shopping for Herbie the Love Bug. You're shopping for the sane version of Christine.
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Christine, nooooo! What did you do?! They were INNOCENT!
It's so easy to forget that the only way I can keep it fresh in my mind is to reverse the roles and imagine that the other person is also shopping around for a friend. For instance, you're sitting in a library when some stranger walks up out of nowhere and introduces himself. Until that very second, you hadn't even noticed him, and now he's right in front of you, offering up an invitation into his big ol' floppy thoughts.
What are the chances that this guy perfectly fits your idea of "friend"? That what you're looking for just showed up out of the blue and presented itself to you with zero effort on your part? Because in your situation, you're not the person at the table -- you're that dude.
Wait, you're not going to try to sell me insurance or Bitcoin or something, are you?
That's not to say that you shouldn't be picky, nor is it saying that "beggars can't be choosers." It's just that the "car shopping" mindset is easy to fall into and difficult to escape. The ability to overlook some minor rust and dings could net you something that you'd have the time of your life ramping over shit with. And just like shopping for a car ...
#1. It Takes Time
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Here's my personal biggest problem with meeting new people: I am impatient. When I want or need something, I go out and get it right now, consequences be damned. Now, given, my job here at Cracked has made that much easier (my Twitter account is full of weirdos and freaks whom I love to death), but it wasn't always like that for me.
I don't think the impatience is all that uncommon. When you realize that you need to make new friends or find a romantic partner, it's generally because you're feeling lonely. And when you start to feel lonely, your brain tells you that there's something wrong and you need to solve it right now. It's an emotional itch that needs to be immediately scratched. Unfortunately for your asshole brain, that's not the way relationships work.
"What sounds good tonight? A writer? Or maybe I'll pick up a movie buff who likes to cuddle."
There's a pretty lengthy ramp time involved, because at their core, relationships are a buildup of trust. The more you trust, the more you share. The more you share, the stronger the relationship becomes. That's not something that happens on Day One. So you're not deciding to "go out and find some friends." You're deciding to start the long arduous journey that will eventually, hopefully lead to friendship.
If your goal is a quick one-night fuckathon, fine -- go to a bar, find the drunkest person with the least inhibitions, and offer them your bathing suit area. But if you're looking for something more substantial, it's going to take time. That can be pretty off-putting. What you can't do is give up on it because the work sounds exhausting -- the payoff is your own emotional stability.