If you want to make new friends, the internet can be an excellent place to look. But finding potential friends and talking to people online isn’t always straightforward. You may struggle to think of things to say, or you have trouble picking the right site or app. In this article, you’ll learn how to meet like-minded people who are also looking for new friends. We’ll also look at how to take an online friendship to the next level by asking to hang out in person.
- Best apps for making friends online
- Benefits of reciprocal and interactive platforms
- How to make an online profile that draws people to you
- Establishing a positive presence in an online space
- Examples of how to start a conversation online
- How to make an online conversation more interesting
- Common mistakes to avoid when talking to people online
- The benefits of online friendships
The first step to making friends online is to choose an app or website that fits your interests and personality. By choosing a network with like-minded people, you’ll be more likely to find compatible friends.
Here are a few options to check out if you want to meet new people:
- Instagram: Interact with people by following them, commenting on their posts, and (when you feel as though you know them a bit better) via direct messaging.
- Facebook: Use the “Groups” and “Events” features to find groups and events about your interests and hobbies. Get involved by attending events or messaging with other group members to discuss and bond over your mutual interests.
- Meetup: Search for your interests or hobbies and find social events in your area created by other users. You can also create your own social events for other users to find and attend.
- Patook: This app, which describes itself as “strictly platonic,” allows you to find people in your area who share your interests.
- Nextdoor: This is a social networking site that allows people to connect with others in their neighborhoods.
- We3: This app is designed to help you make not just one friend but two by putting users in same-gender groups of 3 (hence the name). The app advertises “no awkward silences or unwanted advances.”
- Online Games: Play with other people, either one-on-one or as part of a team.
- Subreddits: Join the subreddits you like and contribute to discussion threads. Some subreddits also have live chats you can join.
- Discord servers: Join Discord communities that interest you; there are servers covering almost every hobby and topic you can imagine.
- Bumble BFF: Like a dating app, but for friends.
- InterPals: Learn or teach a second language through casual conversation with new friends/pen pals.
See our complete list of the best apps and websites to make friends.
People can and do make friends on all sorts of social media networks. But when you’re looking to make friends online, it’s helpful to remember that some social media networks are more conducive to making friends online than others.
When choosing a social media platform to make friends, research suggests you should look for a platform that is:
A reciprocal social media network promotes mutual friendship instead of allowing one person to have access to, or “follow,” the other person without requiring the other person to “follow” back.
Twitter and Instagram are two examples of non-reciprocal social media networks. Both platforms allow a user to follow a person, but the person being followed may not necessarily follow back. This is great for allowing people to keep up with celebrities and political figures, but they might not be so useful for someone who is looking to develop meaningful friendships.
Facebook, on the other hand, is reciprocal because when someone accepts a friend request, both parties instantly have access to one another’s profiles and information.
According to the results of one 2012 study on close-knit friendships developed through social networking sites, reciprocal sites tend to give their users a greater chance to form successful friendships.
The other thing to look for when choosing a social media platform for making friends online is the site’s interactivity.
Interactive social media platforms allow you to communicate with people in a way that is similar to real-life conversations. On these platforms, you can send and receive messages to specific people and talk to them directly in real-time in a way that mimics face-to-face interactions. By contrast, “socially passive” technologies, such as email, usually involve longer waiting times between messages and feel less like a face-to-face conversation.
In 2017, Desjarlais and Joseph surveyed 212 young adults about how they interacted with people online and the quality of their online friendships. The researchers found that socially passive types of social technologies are much less likely to be used in forming close online friendships—or, at the very least, will significantly slow down the development of the friendship.
Once you have chosen the apps or websites that you will use to make friends online, it’s time to work on your profile. Your profile is an important part of the online friendship process because it is your virtual first impression. It’s the first thing people will notice about you and can determine whether they are interested in developing a friendship with you.
1. Pick an interesting username
Some social media networks require you to use your real name, which means you have one less thing to think about.
But on others, such as chat rooms and many apps, your username will be your primary identifier.
A good username is unique and tells other users something about yourself. For example, “PizzaGirl85” is not a very original username because it tells other users nothing more than 1) you are female 2) you probably like pizza, and 3) 1985 was probably a significant year for you for some reason.
“SciFiAdam” is an example of a more unique and interesting username because 1) it tells other users you’re interested in science fiction, which will draw other science fiction fans to you, and 2) your name is Adam, which distinguishes you from other science fiction fans/users with “sci-fi” in their usernames.
If you use or plan to use multiple sites or apps, it can be a good idea to keep the same username across different networks. Since your username is your “Internet name,” consistency between platforms will make you recognizable and can help other users who may also use multiple sites identify you more easily (which will increase your chances of being befriended by them).
2. Include a brief list of your hobbies and interests
Give other people a sense of who you are and what you’d like to talk about by listing your hobbies and interests. Share any experiences or achievements that relate to your hobbies, too. For example, if you’re a runner, name some of the races you’ve run. If you’re an avid video game player, share the names of any games you’ve gotten to “test play” for the company that made them. These details will spark the interest of people who have things in common with you.
3. Make it clear that you’d like to make new friends
Ending your “About Me” with something like, “I love meeting new people, so feel free to send me a message if you’d like to chat!” will make people more comfortable reaching out to you because you’ve already given them the go-ahead.
4. Indicate what type of friend you’d like to meet
If you’d like friends of the same gender, in a similar age group, or in the same geographical region, make your preferences clear. For example, if you’re looking for friends with similar religious beliefs, share your religion in your “About Me” and state that it’s important to you. By doing this, you’ll encourage compatible people to reach out to you.
5. Be honest about who you are and what you enjoy
Just like with face-to-face friendships, pretending to like things that you really don’t for the sake of “fitting in” will not attract the type of people you can truly bond over mutual interests with. In addition, the untruths will come to light eventually, which is sure to cause problems in the friendship.
To attract potential friends in an online community, try to establish yourself as a familiar face who treats everyone with respect. When people see that you add value to conversations and that you are friendly, they may be more likely to talk to you.
Here’s how to establish a presence and good reputation in an online space:
1. Introduce yourself when you join a group or forum
Write a brief, positive message with your first name (if you’re comfortable sharing it), the reason why you’ve joined the forum, and a quick overview of your interests. You will likely get some welcoming comments which can kickstart a conversation.
2. Contribute regularly to discussions
You don’t have to post every day or talk to everyone who talks to you, but try to be an active member of the community.
For example, if you’ve joined a forum, get involved in the discussions. Contribute your opinion. If you’re joining a Facebook group about one of your interests, post friendly and encouraging comments on people’s pictures and posts, and make posts of your own that share your own work related to the group’s topic.
3. Avoid starting arguments or being too negative
Sometimes, it’s fine to have a debate online, and communities encourage conversations about potentially controversial topics. But as a general rule, you’ll find it harder to make friends if you’re often passive-aggressive, hostile, or overly pedantic.
Unless someone asks for constructive criticism or honest feedback, try to stay positive or neutral. Even if you just want to help, you may come across as overly critical and negative if you make unsolicited, negative comments.
4. Welcome newcomers
It doesn’t take much time to write a quick “Welcome” message to new members. You’ll come across as friendly and approachable, which will help you build a reputation as a trustworthy person who is open to meeting new people.
Once you’ve joined online communities and started building a positive reputation for yourself, you can start putting more effort into one-on-one conversations that could lead to friendship. In this section, we’re going to look at ways you can start online conversations on specific apps and websites. For more general tips, read our guide to starting a conversation with someone online or over text/SMS.
1. Starting a conversation in a Facebook niche interest group
In a Facebook group, the main activity is usually to share pictures or content with the group. Make sure to engage regularly on those pieces of content, and leave a like and a comment or question.
The comment can be short and positive, like: “Nice!” or “I love that!” A question is even better if there’s something you are genuinely curious about in the shared content.
After a few days to a few weeks of being active in the group, you’ll start to recognize people (and they’ll recognize you).
If you strike up a good conversation with someone, you could also send him or her a friend request. Accompany it with a personal message. Explain who you are and why you’re adding them as a friend. Your message can go something like this:
“Hey [name], I’ve really enjoyed seeing your posts about [topic]. I also love [topic], and I’d love to chat with you some more about it!”
Your conversation might start branching off into other areas. Hopefully, you’ll start getting to know each other and strike up a friendship.
If you want to meet your new online friend in person and you’ve been chatting for a while, you could take the next step by trying to arrange a meetup.
Often there’s already some sort of regular meetup you can join. If not, you could arrange a local meeting at a café to discuss your mutual interest with anyone in your group who’s interested.
Alternatively, you could message someone privately and ask them whether they’d like to hang out in person. For example, you could say “Hey, I’m enjoying our discussions about [mutual interest]. Would you be interested in grabbing a coffee sometime? We could talk more about [a particular topic you’ve been discussing].”
2. Starting a conversation on Instagram or Twitter
Start by following people who share one or more of your interests. For example, if you’re into growing your own food, try to follow some local enthusiasts in your city. Try to regularly like their posts and share a few thoughts or questions.
When you’ve had a few interactions, it’s natural to message them (if you want to meet them). So, for example, you could send a message like this:
“Hi, I love what you’ve done with your garden! I’m especially curious about your fig tree. I’d love to visit your garden sometime in the coming weeks if you’re open to it?”
“Hi, I’m so curious about your orchids. Can I buy you lunch this weekend? I’d love to learn more about your collection!”
Not everyone will say yes, but some people would love to meet up with someone like-minded.
3. Starting a conversation on Discord
On Discord, you’re usually part of a “chat group.” It could be a large group of several hundred people, or it could be a small group of friends who game together. (Smaller groups are better for making friends, but large ones can work too.)
Start participating in the conversations. At first, you can talk mostly about the game you’re playing. But after a while, once you’ve got to know your online gaming friends a bit better, you can start to ask more personal questions.
From there, you can invite someone to play with you. It’s a lot easier to get to know someone when it’s just the two of you. Then you also have lots to talk about the game you play, so the conversation never runs dry.
4. Starting a conversation on a “friend dating” app or website
First, you need to write your own profile. After that, you can start reading other people’s profiles to see if you have something in common.
When you find someone you like, it’s time to message them. Try to message at least 5-10 people to start off because not everyone will be a good match.
Here are some examples of how you can start a conversation on a friend dating app or website:
“Hi, how are you? I see we have a lot in common. I would love to get to know you better! Check out my profile and see if we match :)”
“Hello, I see you also love Disney movies. It would be fun to go watch the upcoming new Disney movie together at the cinema. Check out my profile to see if we match 🙂 Have a great day!”
After your first message, they’ll respond if they think you match too, and it should be relatively straightforward to set up a meeting after that.
The secret to making a conversation interesting is to find commonalities. A commonality could be anything from growing up in the same city to sharing the same passion for role-playing games.
One reason why it can be easier to start a conversation online than in real life is that you usually know much more about the other person from the start. You can often read their online profile to find what interests you have in common before you even start talking.
Use that information to make your conversations more interesting.
For example, if someone is interested in the same TV show as you, you can ask:
- Who’s your favorite character in the show?
- What did you first feel about the show when you saw the first episode?
- What do you think about the latest episode?
By focusing on your common interests, the conversation becomes more interesting for both of you. And then, you start getting a connection.
After you’ve asked for basic factual information, ask them about their feelings, opinions, or experiences. Try to take the conversation in a slightly personal direction.
For example, after you’ve asked, “Where do you live?” you could then ask, “What do you like to do in your town/city?” or “What’s the best thing about living in your town/city?”
Here are some examples of even more personal questions:
- Where do you dream of living?
- What’s holding you back from moving?
If you struggle to think of things to say, try chatting while doing a shared activity. There are also lots of fun things you can do with your new friend online that will kickstart some interesting conversations and deepen your bond.
Here are some fun things you can do online that will deepen your bond and give you some more things to talk about:
- Watch a TV show or movie
- Do a puzzle
- Follow a tutorial or course and teach yourselves a new skill
- Take a virtual tour of an attraction, such as an art gallery or zoo
- Work on a creative project together, such as a short story, a drawing, or a podcast
- Play video games
- Play online versions of traditional games, such as chess or Scrabble
Many people are afraid of scaring people off because they seem too needy. You want to strike a balance between showing that you’re interested in knowing someone better and coming off as clingy. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when talking to people online:
1. Talking to only one person
Try to keep in touch with several potential friends simultaneously. That way, you don’t get too attached to the outcome of any single one because there’s always someone else you can meet up or chat with.
It also ensures you don’t invest far more energy and feelings than the other person. This approach puts you on equal ground so that neither of you feel pressured.
2. Investing more into the relationship than the other person
Good friendships, whether they are offline or online, are based on mutual interest and effort. In general, you want to build two-way friendships that you and the other person both enjoy. If you are making a lot of effort and don’t get much in return, you may be in a one-sided friendship. In general, this type of friendship isn’t very satisfying.
Watch out for these signs that suggest your online friendship is one-sided:
- You’re the one who starts most conversations.
- Your messages are almost always longer than your friend’s.
- You are trying to meet up repeatedly, but your friends don’t make any effort.
- You’ve shared a lot more about yourself than they have shared.
- You always respond instantly, while they often take some time to respond.
If you get the feeling that you are much more invested in the friendship compared to the other person, it’s probably time to focus on other people who genuinely want to talk to you.
3. Expecting (or demanding) instant replies
Most people who work or study don’t have time (or energy) to answer their messages within hours of receiving them. Sometimes it can take a couple of days to get a reply. In most cases, that’s perfectly normal and fine, especially in new friendships. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the other person doesn’t like you.
The problem starts if you get whiny or complain that they don’t reply quickly enough. That signals to the other person that you’re needy or very demanding, which is a big turn-off.
If you feel anxious that someone isn’t replying, take a step back and focus on other people (both online and offline) in your life. Remind yourself that there are lots of people on the internet, but you won’t have time to befriend them if you are too busy worrying about how long it’s taking for someone to reply to your messages.
4. Being too eager to meet up
When you’re trying to make friends online, it’s normal to ask if people want to meet up pretty quickly. So never be afraid to ask. But if you get a “no” or a “maybe,” take a step back and forget about meeting up for a while.
It can often be better to step back and not push the issue. Let your friend develop more of a desire to meet up with you first. Let them show some initiative (even if it takes time).
If you get impatient, ask someone else instead. That way, your potential friend who doesn’t want to meet up right now won’t feel pressured into meeting with you. You never want someone to feel pressured to be with you because then they’ll start associating you with that bad feeling of neediness and desperation.
Sometimes, people feel more comfortable talking on video chat first before meeting in person. If you’re talking to someone who seems shy, or you aren’t sure whether they’d be interested in meeting up, you could suggest a video chat instead.
For example, you could say, “Hey, I’d love to chat more about [your shared interest]. Would you like to hang out on Zoom/Google Hangouts/another video chat sometime?” If your virtual hangout goes well, you could suggest meeting up in person.
5. Unloading your life story too quickly
Opening up is good; it’s essential to form a close connection. But opening up needs to be mutual. If you’re the only one sharing, you are going to feel a lot closer to your friend than they feel close to you.
Make sure you also focus on getting to know the other person and open up more about yourself at an equal pace as they are.
Tip: The opposite mistake (that’s just as common) is not to open up at all. If you relate to that, here’s a great guide on how you can learn to open up to others.
6. Talking too much about yourself
Two of the most important principles to becoming friends with someone is to make them feel heard and appreciated. Don’t talk too much about yourself. Try to follow the 50/50 rule: aim at talking about as much as you listen so that your friend feels heard and appreciated.
7. Writing very long answers
It’s not always bad to write long answers, but make sure that your friend is writing replies of a similar length.
For example, if your friend replies with a few sentences and you reply with a long essay, your friend might feel overwhelmed. It demands a lot for them to reply thoughtfully, which they might not have the time or energy for, making them avoid you or try to cut the conversation short.
Keep your messages about as long as the other person’s. That way, you build your friendship on an equal basis where you both feel like you’re on the same level. You won’t feel resentful because their replies are too short, and they won’t feel pressured into writing more than they have the energy for.
Finally, remember that it’s impossible to win everyone over. You will get rejected, and some relationships will never amount to anything. But all it takes is a deep connection with one person, and you could have a friend for life.
Online friendships are not a substitute for face-to-face socializing. There are some aspects of in-person relationships that you don’t always get online. For example, if you’re talking over text or video chat, you and your friend won’t be able to see each other’s body language, which means you might misunderstand each other. But online friendships can be a lot of fun and a good source of social support.
Here are some of the benefits of online friendships:
- Chatting with people online can be an opportunity to practice some of the social skills you need for all types of friendships, such as rapport building, making conversation, and self-disclosure. If you want to expand your offline social circle, it might feel less intimidating to start by practicing your social skills with people on the internet.
- It may be easier to open up about sensitive subjects when you’re talking to someone online. Psychologist Suzanne Degges-White believes that an online friend who isn’t part of your everyday life can feel like a safe source of support because you don’t have to see them in person. If you start to feel too vulnerable, you can quickly end the conversation, which isn’t so simple to do when you’re opening up to someone face-to-face.
- You can make friends online with people from all over the world, which can expand your worldview and give you insights into different cultures and ways of life. According to a review published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, interacting with people of other ethnicities can make you less prejudiced and more tolerant of differences.
- Online friendships can improve some aspects of your mental health. A 2017 study of 231 undergraduates found that online social support may improve self-esteem and reduce feelings of depression.
In summary, the internet can be a great place to find new people and expand your social circle, whether you want to keep your friendship strictly online or start hanging out in person. It may take a while to meet compatible, like-minded friends, but it’s worth putting in the effort; you may end up making a friend for life.