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Feeling lonely? Facebook, video games, or even virtual realities won’t make that feeling go away. We are social animals and thus our well-being partially relies on close relationships with other human beings. Virtual exchanges cannot replace face-to-face interactions and real friendship. So the most potent cure to your loneliness is to go out and meet real people. In a world optimized for individualism — a way of life that breeds isolation — this is easier said than done.

Let’s face it, finding interesting people and making friends takes time and, depending on your personality, it can be really tough. The Internet can take the stress out of finding people you will get along with. The trick is to find them somewhere near you, so you can eventually connect offline.

Find Common Interest Groups

The best way to make friends is to meet people who like the things you do. This is where the Internet shines. Humans love to organize social gatherings and what would be a better place to get the news out than the city hall blackboard? Exactly!

My favorite online network to find local groups is Meetup. The objective of a Meetup is to get together to learn, do, or share something. Anyone can create a group and organize events. Or you can just join an interesting group in your area and participate. This is a fantastic place to find friendships; you only have to show up.

MeetUp Groups

The Internet offers many more ways to find great activities in the real world. Members of the travel network CouchSurfing for example love to socialize. Thus most cities with an active CouchSurfing community 3 Ways To Take Advantage Of The Travel Network CouchSurfing 3 Ways To Take Advantage Of The Travel Network CouchSurfing CouchSurfing is an online network that connects travelers and locals. Originally based on the idea that travelers need a place to sleep and many people have a spare couch, CouchSurfing has long grown beyond just... Read More will have local groups and regular meetings, which are open to travelers and locals alike.

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CouchSurfing Groups

Craigslist usually has a section for meeting people, although that can be creepy. You can also try to find subreddits 5 Cool Things You Should Know About Reddit 5 Cool Things You Should Know About Reddit Read More for activities in your area on Reddit. Or use the Internet to find local clubs, the old-fashioned way to meet new people and make friends.

Try Online Dating

Gone are the days when online dating had a bad reputation. Meanwhile, online dating websites have become a way not only to meet a bed or life partner, but also to find friends. Services like OKCupid leave it up to you whether you want to be paired with a potential partner, have an adventure, or just look for friends.

online dating options

Use these tools to your advantage! Set up your profile to attract the kind of people you would like to meet in real life. Amy Webb hacked online dating to find the man of her dreams. Why shouldn’t this work for finding friends?

Browse Local Event Calendars

If you can’t be bothered to join groups or meet people for coffee to make friends, if you would just like to carry on with your life the way it is and casually meet people, go ahead. The key is to go out and be around people.

Fire up your Facebook events calendar and see whether you’ve been invited to anything lately. Maybe one of the suggested events will spike your interest. If Facebook is a good source, but a bad place to be, read Ryan’s article on how to best manage your Facebook calendar Best 4 Ways To Manage Your Facebook Calendar Best 4 Ways To Manage Your Facebook Calendar In this article, I’m going to show you four ways that you can make use of your Facebook Calendar. This will include how to export Facebook Calendar events to Output, how to export them to... Read More .

Facebook Events Calendar

Eventbrite and Eventful are other great sources to discover local events. If you’re in the US or Canada, you should try 99events, which synthesizes events from several different sources, including Meetup, Eventbrite, and Eventful. And last but not least, you can browse the calendars of your favorite venues or ticket offices. Once at the event, it’s up to you to strike up a conversation 3 Apps To Turn You Into A Sparkling Conversation Guru [iPhone] 3 Apps To Turn You Into A Sparkling Conversation Guru [iPhone] Some people are just not quick witted. Coming up with things to talk about while with people can be a real chore for them. There is nothing worse than being in a social setting and... Read More and make a lasting connection.

Ready To Meet Someone?

Once you find a group of people you would like to join or someone who seems like a good match, do go out and meet them! To make sure you’ll have a good experience, also consider the advice on meeting in real life Turn Your Internet Relationships Into Real World Friendships With A Meetup Turn Your Internet Relationships Into Real World Friendships With A Meetup There is one thing you must know when organizing a virtual meetup with an online compadre: don't be creepy. The prime consideration you must have is that your friend -- regardless of how close you... Read More from my colleague Joshua. And if it gets too much, try to end the relationship politely 3 Polite Ways To End Online Relationships Without Getting Stalked 3 Polite Ways To End Online Relationships Without Getting Stalked Read More .

Which online services have you used to form friendships in the real world? What was your experience and do you have any advice? Please share!

Image Credits: Lee Haywood Via Flickr

  1. Lisa M
    December 13, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    TL;DR, but...

    I live in a pretty remote area. I was homeschooled and attend college online. I don't have a job or car (and no job to afford a car), and my parents do not drive, so that significantly limits the opportunities I have for even so much as leaving the house. My family tends to be on the same arch-conservative spectrum that "Like Fun But Not" mentioned, and they can get very vocal and hateful in their commentary, so I don't talk to them much. Actually, most of the people in my area are not all that easy to get along with. There is a lot of poverty, crime and substance abuse in this area too, which means stretching out a bit to discover new people in the nearby cities would probably be a life-threatening venture. As such, there aren't too many "real life" people I get to talk to or hang out with. My sole hope is Internet forums and websites like this one. Meet Up is not an option because as I said, there really is no one to hang out with around here, and I cannot simply get in a car and go meet some random people at a dinner party. (I'm also 17 so that's practically a safety issue too, as is online dating.)

    However, most of these websites are now *requiring* that you sign in with a Facebook account. I am wary of Facebook and do not use it. I actually block it with a firewall, along with other big-name social media sites (Twitter, Tumbler, Pinterest, etc.). I am very passionate about social issues and used to have an account on Huffington Post before they required Facebook just to comment. I really liked that site and the community I found there. In fact I had never signed up for a blog account before and as such have no other "people networks" in my life at all.

    I would never go on Twitter because most Twitter users are famous people, and I would never be so brash as to cross that line of asking a famous person a question. Unless it was a fake account for a dead person, like say @JesusHChrist or @HonestAbe. :) I would never go on Tumbler because I've heard that it contains pornography. I don't trust Google, which means I can't go to YouTube either. I can't even join Yahoo Answers because I can't sign up for a Yahoo account without a mobile phone. I lurk on Reddit but they seem waaaaay too smart and savvy and would probably not like a loner joining up and ruining all the fun. Plus, it looks like it's mostly a technology blog, and I'm not a programmer by any means. I have some opinions about Windows 8, but 80 million people have probably said the same thing already. I know they post pictures of animals, but I don't have any pets either. Unless people want to see a photo of a plush Brian Griffin. ;-) Reddit's category system strikes me as being similar to Usenet, but hardly anyone uses Usenet anymore either, except as a sort of "paid upgrade" to the Pirate Bay.

    I really miss HuffPost and hate their stupid Facebook system. Other than Salon, Slate and HuffPost, where can I go? Am I doomed to be a lost soul, "forever alone"? Any advice for someone who *can't* get out and "meet up" face to face, and is also too self-conscious to even make the attempt? I often say I have a face for radio and a voice for silent films. ;-) Therefore, I'd be very much at home as a pseudonym on the Internet. I need to know where to find a worthwhile "social network" that doesn't use social media, *isn't* social media (i.e. the big names), isn't "real life" and isn't "niche." Where to?

    • Grim Reaper
      July 7, 2016 at 8:34 pm

      I hope you found an answer to your troubles. :)

  2. Plasbot
    November 10, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    I'm pretty social despite being introverted. I have a decent number of friends. I find it easiest to meet random people at bars and events after a few drinks (imperative to have control and know your limit), as long as the rest of the clientele is there drinking as well, you can just randomly go up to people and flat out explain you like to talk to random people, ask them what they do and what their interests are. Sometimes you may be able to offer advice or encouragement, maybe offer your business card. Make an excuse and walk off if it gets weird or boring. Only about 5% of the time do any of these people turn out to be someone you want to stay friends with, friend on facebook or whatever. But it's still a fun, albeit potentially risky, way to build up a social base. My problem is that using this method I have Never, ever met someone that shares my interests in computers and programming in particular. Probably because all those people are interacting at a higher level somewhere in cyber-earth... does anyone know how to get there?

    • Tina S
      November 11, 2013 at 9:04 am

      If you're in a bigger city, see whether you can find a Meetup group that caters to your interests. Or generally events and conferences around the topics you are interested in. To meet people who love programming, look for hackathons,

    • Plasbot
      November 11, 2013 at 10:49 pm

      Thanks Tina! I tried Meetup and joined 3 programmer-related groups that sound interesting!

  3. chris
    November 8, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    Sorry to place this here, Tina, but I can't ask a question in the Q&A section:

    I am unable to sign in now that school has started using Untangle. I hit the login button and it shows the message: "Loading the rewards program..." then the pop-up box goes blank... I'm wondering if you could help me out on this...

    • Tina S
      November 8, 2013 at 8:03 pm

      If your school blocks PunchTab, i.e. our login system, then I'm afraid there's not much we can do to help. Sorry!

  4. Rob H
    November 5, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Before attempting to solve your loneliness problem by any of the ways mentioned there's something you need to do first. Take a long hard look at yourself. What impression do you give to any other person you might like to befriend? They have preferences too and on the whole deviation from "normal" is a negative indicator. And you need to use their definition of "normal" which may include factors which in other spheres of life would commonly be considered to be discriminatory: race, religion, style of dress, physical attributes, age. Other factors can be very important to a prospective partner although of no consequence to you, perhaps you don't even understand why they should be a problem. If you are a heavy drinking, pierced, tattooed chain smoker don't be surprised if some people just aren't interested in talking to you. Call it prejudice if you like but you too have prejudices although you will probably call them preferences. The Amy Webb video demonstrated this, she wanted a jewish guy. You could say she's prejuduced against non-jews. From her perspective that ruled out hundreds of otherwise perfectly fine candidates. Some of those prospects would have ruled her out too some maybe on the basis of her being "too jewish".

    If there is a factor that's really important to you then there are specialist dating sites - "jewish only" for example. On the other hand if you were to put up a profile on a dating site saying "no jews" I expect there'd be problems - I know because many years ago I tried online dating. I met a woman who had described herself as "petite", it turned out she said that because she was only 5ft tall but she was also 5ft wide. I subsequently changed my profile and in the "looking for" section said something like "no larger ladies". That resulted in a flurry of angry correspondence saying things like "how dare you..." or "you don't know what you're missing" (I did know). The simple fact is that we all have preferences and in the context of looking for a life partner we are entitled to exercise personal choice. Otherwise you might end up with a partner who falls way short of your aspirations. As Amy found, in a city of 1.5million there was just one near perfect match and finding him was a challenging task.

    But back to looking at YOU, what is there about you that you could change to make you more attractive? It's a pity Amy didn't post her full list of factors, that might be a good starting point. There are an awful lot of people who'd be healthier, more attractive, fitter if they lost some weight. That is an aspect of you that you can control (eat less - I tried it, it worked). Or smoking : stop. What about attitude? Another commenter on here is surprised people quickly turn him off social media chats. He has decided on a couple of reasons politely calling all westerners ill-mannered racists. Actually in the space of just a few words here, HE has made HIMSELF sound like someone you'd not want to communicate with.

    As MakeUseOf is a site with a technical slant I think I've found a technical approach. Amy had 100 factors and weighted them in order of importance and assessed each guy against those criteria. This is how Google works too. Consider yourself as a website owner who'd like to be on the first page of Google results. You turn to SEO (search engine optimisation), you make changes in order to present the best information to Google to get your prominent listing. Do some "partner potential optimisation" to get yourself higher on other people's "results page". Amy did that but only in respect of changing her dating page profile, it may take more than that. Some lifestyle changes can help. When we first met my wife was a smoker, she knew I wasn't happy about that so she quit, not only did that help her capture a fine specimen of manhood (!) but it also improved her health and saved money.

    • Jimmy
      November 5, 2013 at 11:04 pm

      Well said, Rob H.

      Very good article.

    • Hytem
      November 6, 2013 at 4:35 am

      @Tina: My apologize Tina, I didn't blame your article or yourself, I was just confused. Yeah, I knew Omeagle wasn't the best place to start, that was my fault.

      @Rob H: I don't drink, pierced or tattoed, i'm a fine person with many friends around me. Honestly, I have friends from Aussie, China, Arab and we're good. Maybe, I just don't know how to build a good communication with European people. Yeah it's my fault again, maybe I'm just too dumb for them. Thanks Rob, well said

    • Tina S
      November 6, 2013 at 9:41 am

      Well said, Rob.

      There is always room for improving oneself. And one should always start with loving oneself! How can you expect someone else to like you, if you don't like yourself? How can you expect someone else to treat you with respect, if you treat yourself -- your body, your mind, your soul -- like ***. Treat yourself well and treat others well.

  5. Hytem
    November 5, 2013 at 8:47 am

    i love to make friends but yeah, probably you all won't like to befriended with a south-east asian guy like me. Because everytime I start to chat with one of you in any socmed, you always turn off your chat. And that pisses me off.
    Maybe you think asian people are primitive or stupid or whatever you think, but in fact, we don't and we have more manners than you, especially in Omeagle.
    Hate to say this, but this article made me to.
    Thanks cool westerns, all of you.

    • Tina S
      November 5, 2013 at 3:56 pm

      Hytem,

      I'm not sure what to do with your criticism or what you're criticizing about this article in the first place. This post is about using the Internet to meet people and make friends offline. Omeagle doesn't seem like a good place to start.

  6. likefunbutnot
    November 4, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    Here's the thing: Online dating DOES NOT WORK for a lot of people. No, really.

    The people it works for are called women who are looking for men, and the reason it works for them is because there's an endless supply of straight guys who ultimately take the approach of talking to everything that has a pulse and a pair of X chromosomes. A sad outcome of this is that any human female who has invested any serious amount of time in any dating site, be it free or premium, will come to understand that there are a lot of creepy, nasty guys who will try to socialize with them and that will just make them more bitter and defensive, which isn't exactly the greatest mindset for meeting people. For a lot of women, being on dating sites is a half step above just trolling for random guys on Craigslist. Their inboxes get flooded with disgusting crap, they get frustrated or squicked out and then they quit.

    Dating web sites also work better for relatively young users in relatively urban areas, for people in places where there are ironically still many, many other ways to meet people that don't involve the web.

    I can also say with absolute certainty that going on a dating site with the stated intention of making FRIENDS is a very, very long shot. It's possible, but even if your profile indicates that's your intention AND you make it plain in whatever communication you initiate, the default assumption every other person on that site will have is that you're there for some less noble purpose.

    I could probably write a pretty decent article about how dating sites fail in almost every aspect of the experience of using them, but it suffices to say that it has a lot to do with the ways in which men and women are socialized from childhood, and the degree to which the internet shields people from the consequences of antisocial behavior.

    Similarly, services like Meetup really only work in places with a reasonably high population of internet-using people. That's great if you happen to be in a city or campus town, but at least a lot of the United States isn't like that.

    If I had to make a suggestion for the lonely folks on the internet it would be this: Participate in a small general purpose internet forum someplace (as opposed with to one with a specific purpose like MUO). I spent a lot of time on TotalFark.com, which has an active population of a couple thousand people. This community was small enough that I did not become an anonymous set of words but rather a definite personality, but also not so small that I was constantly talking to exactly the same people. I was able to make friends all over the world, but it's also something that led me down an unlikely road to things like roommates and significant others.

    • Tina S
      November 5, 2013 at 4:12 pm

      The article is not about online dating.

      Although I haven't made any negative experiences myself, I can follow your reasoning. Yes, it's probably easier for women; not necessarily better.

      From my own experience and that of friends I can say that online dating platforms do work for finding friends (if they have that option). Joining (real life!) activity groups via Meetup or other local organizations works much better though.

    • likefunbutnot
      November 5, 2013 at 5:48 pm

      @Tina S,

      No. The article is not about online dating. It is about meeting people, but there are those words right there, as a top level heading: "Try Online Dating." And online dating is a terrible thing to try. If you happen to live someplace where it might actually work for you, you probably live someplace where you have 500 other immediately obvious options for meeting people.

      Meetup in my experience has the same problem. In my area Meetup is a great way to find people whose political beliefs align on a continuum between "Ayn Rand is too touchy-feely for us" and "We were the Klan until the mid-1980s." Without a critical mass of actual sane local users on the service, there's no point in even bothering, as the number of single person meetup groups with no events scheduled or activity within the last three years will attest.

    • Tina S
      November 6, 2013 at 9:35 am

      I get where you're coming from. Maybe I should have put up a disclaimer that my experience is from living in bigger cities like Berlin and Vancouver. I can't speak to the situation in rural areas, but what you say makes sense.

      I chose the 'online dating' heading to challenge people. I don't think many consider online dating sites when seeking for friends and you kind of confirmed my notion. But what I have noticed is that it's becoming a 'thing' to use those sites for this purpose, which is why they have started offering the option in the first place. Too bad I didn't manage to get across my point. :)

      Thanks a lot for your input!

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