How to Build Friendships When You Have Social Anxiety

make friends with social anxiety

Although having an anxiety disorder can make you feel very alone, this isn’t the case. 7% of Americans have social anxiety, meaning that people around you are probably suffering from many of the same issues — you just don’t know it.

One of the main isolating things about social anxiety is the struggle to build friendships, which can feel overwhelming. However, it’s completely possible to do it — even if you have more obstacles to overcome than other, more naturally social people.

Here’s how to build friendships when you have social anxiety.

How to Make Friends

The first thing you need to do is start making friends. Here’s how to kick off some new relationships.

Set Small Goals

When it comes to building friendships, you might be tempted to take huge steps to overcome your social anxiety — but this isn’t the best way to do things. Instead, set small goals at first that will help you build towards making friends. Some ideas include:

  • Smiling at a stranger
  • Saying hello to someone in a store
  • Paying someone a genuine compliment

If you can start to practice these social habits, you’ll find it easier to engage with people and can move on from there. Once you’ve mastered those things, the goals can grow such as:

  • Striking up a conversation with a stranger in line
  • Asking someone how their day went

You can personalize the goals to what you feel comfortable with. Remember to push yourself a little though.

Find People Who Have Similar Interests

Finding people who have similar interests is key when it comes to how to make friends. That way, you have topics ready that you can talk about so you don’t have to worry about struggling with conversation or lapsing into awkward silence.

You can do this by looking for clubs or get-togethers in your area. Facebook events are a great way to find things happening around you. If you already have some friends and are looking to expand your circle, try to persuade them to come with you to give you confidence or have a family member come with you.

Talk to Others With Social Anxiety

You might find that other people with social anxiety are more understanding of your struggle. While everyone’s anxiety is different, 45% of all Americans struggle to make new friends and that number is likely higher among those with social anxiety. Therefore, you can be quite sure the other person will be in the same boat as you.

You can do this by joining forums for people with social anxiety and connecting through there.

Make Friends With Mutual Friends

If you already have friends, it’s also a good idea to have them introduce you to people in a group setting. This will let you meet new people easily and help build your confidence for future interactions.

How to Build Friendships

Once you’ve made some connections, it’s time to build those friendships and get closer to people. Here’s how to successfully do it.

Show Genuine Interest

While it’s easy to get lost in your own head when you have social anxiety, overthinking things and paying too much attention to yourself, try to disengage from your thoughts when talking to a friend. Showing genuine interest in what they’re saying is a great way to get closer to someone because it shows you care about their passions.

It also helps to ask follow-up questions. That shows you’re actively listening and not just waiting for your turn to talk, which people very much value in friends.

Reach Out

A lot of adult friendships, in general, fail because we have busy lives and often forget to keep up with each other. While this is understandable, this sad fact doesn’t lend itself to long-lasting friendships — and that can be worse for someone with social anxiety, who may not feel naturally inclined to reach out.

However, shooting off that quick text or commenting on a social media post will help you stay engaged with your friend. You don’t have to be talking constantly, but it is important to stay connected.

Practice Conscious Thinking

The main issue with most anxiety disorders is that it’s very easy to listen to irrational thoughts, such as:

  • Thinking someone dislikes you because they took a while to respond to a text
  • Reading too much into someone’s tone
  • Wondering if you’re annoying them, even though they’ve given no indication that you are

It’s important to take a step back and ask yourself if these thoughts are rational or a product of your anxiety. In each of those situations, there are much more likely solutions:

  • They took a while to respond because they were busy
  • Tones are hard to read over text
  • Unless someone tells you that you’re annoying them, you probably aren’t

Next time you have anxious thoughts as you start to build a friendship and overcome loneliness, try to take a step back and actively question them. It may not make the thoughts go away entirely, but it will give you an alternative narrative that’s likely closer to the truth and may help you move past those thoughts.

You Can Build Friendships: Don’t Let Social Anxiety Stop You

It’s very easy for social anxiety to feel life-ruining and a total ruiner of any potential relationships in your life. When it comes to how to build friendships, there’s a very obvious obstacle there and it can feel impossible to overcome.

It’s not, though.

Push yourself a little bit more every day, try to challenge your thoughts, and show people you genuinely care. Doing these things will build friendships and prove to yourself that you don’t have to be lonely.

Why not start by joining Special Bridge? We’re a site that brings people with disabilities together, helping you to find those new connections.


  1. Kyle (me)

    September 9, 2022 at 3:12 pm

    Needs help with finding friends

  2. alnava88

    September 9, 2022 at 8:49 pm



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