I am a 21 yr old female, just recently divorced. I have always had a problem making and keeping friends. I guess I don’t know how. I need help. I am a good person, clean, and attractive. What am I doing wrong?
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There is no way to know what (if anything) you are doing wrong without meeting you and getting to know you (and this cannot happen in the context of this column). However, there are a variety of ways that you can get the feedback you need from others. Basically, you’ll need to get feedback from other people about how you are coming across to them, and what (if anything) you can do differently to increase the number of people you meet. You won’t get this sort of information from strangers too often. Also, it can be difficult to get good information on how you come across from your friends (because they don’t want to criticize you). But nevertheless, you are in need of some constructive criticism. Places to get such criticism are: from a therapist or counselor, a mentor, friends who care about you. You’ll want to find someone who likes you or at least who has no motivation to hurt you. You want constructive, helpful criticism, not mean and nasty tear-you-down stuff. The general principles for making friends are not that difficult. It is easier to make friends when you are in an environment where there are a lot of people and you have some reasons for cooperating and you see them over and over again. It is just easier to make friends with someone when you see them again and again. Think of some situations you can put yourself into that involve cooperating with people again and again (e.g., school, religious worship, volunteer work, clubs, adult education classes, singles groups, etc.), pick one or two that appeal to you and force yourself to go again and again. You need to become active rather than passive. Once people know who you are, you’ll still have to break the ice. Waiting around for people to approach and get to know you doesn’t work. You have to make the first moves generally. They don’t have to be complex. You can just strike up a conversation about the weather. Do that enough times with the same people and you’ll have some (at least lightweight) friends. When you find someone you like, invite them out privately (like to have a coffee and ask them about themselves. Be concerned about their welfare and before you know it you’ll have some friends.