The dating game no one told you about.

If you’ve ever had to get out there and make new friends, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

When you’re young and still in school or college, making friends is a breeze. It almost happens without any effort at all. You see these friends every day or you live with them in a dorm. Not much work is needed.

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Then you leave school and life takes you to a new city and maybe your friends do the same. Sometimes, sad as it can be, you just simply outgrow friends. Inevitably, at some point you’ll have to get out there and make new ones.

That’s when the “dating game” begins. You’ll meet someone who seems like a cool friend to have. You get their number and all of a sudden you feel anxious with weird questions haunting you: “Is it too soon to text them to go for coffee? Will it be strange to ask them to go to this event with me? How much of myself can I reveal to them so early on?” Sounds familiar, right?

Making new friends can be overwhelming and often leads to feeling isolated, sad, and depressed. Having a support system and friends you can talk to is more important than you realize.

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In his book “The Happiness Advantage”, Shawn Achor states that “Studies have found that people with strong relationships are less likely to perceive situations as stressful in the first place.” (p243)

Having good friends who support you makes you a happier and more relaxed person. So how can you make the process a little easier?

Actionsteps1) Don’t be shy! Join a club, cooking class, or charity organization. Make it something you’re interested in. This will help you meet lots of people with similar interests. These places also oftentimes have social events where you can mingle. Friendships will form with ease and it will feel less forced.

2) Make it a priority to build friendships. Commit to one night or one coffee date with a new friend every week.

3) Say “YES”. When you get invited somewhere make sure you go. Even if you don’t foresee the people who invited to ever be your best friends, you never know who else might come a long. Seize every opportunity to meet new people.

All relationships take a little effort, but if you have the right friends (and partners), it will mostly feel like a lot of fun and no work at all.

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