How to Build Meaningful Friendships

A Three-Step Guide to a Fulfilling Social Life


Sofya Pangburn, Cactus Contributor

In all of the hustle of college life, many students feel alone and isolated. Friendships can be the most rewarding part of your college experience; however, many students struggle to make friends and be social. But fear not, meaningful friendships are possible! Building them can be difficult, but the result is often incredible. No matter your background, level of shyness, or interests, making good friends is possible through three simple steps.

Step#1: Find friends

For many students, this step can be the most intimidating. Finding friends involves putting yourself out there and communicating with others. Remember, if you want deep friendships, you must make friends first.

The easiest way to make friends is to join extracurricular clubs and activities. These organizations are literally groups of friendly people with common interests. Join a sport, a club, or just walk into the building that hosts your major. For example, if you are interested in STEM, the Signal Peak Campus has a great STEM lounge in room N-108, complete with 3D printers, a laser cutter, and fellow nerds and geeks to hang out with. For a full list of clubs, check out the Central Arizona College website.

If you’re a more adventurous student, try talking to people in random settings. Whether you are waiting for your food at the café or waking to class, starting a conversation with a stranger may start a friendship. Ask if you can sit with a group of people at lunch or join in on some gaming at the student lounge (located next to the Signal Peak Campus bookstore). It may seem difficult to just approach someone, especially for those of us who are introverted or suffer from social anxiety, but remember, most people you meet in these settings are very friendly and welcoming.

When conversing with people, be polite, respectful, and ask questions. It is an almost universal fact that human beings like to talk about themselves. By asking questions, you are not only making the person feel special, but you are collecting information about them for future conversation.

Making friends is only difficult if you make it difficult. Enter the situation with confidence and a positive attitude and get ready to make some friends.

Step #2: Build the bond

Now that you have learned how to make friendships, it’s time to learn how to develop them. A new friendship is like a building. A shared interest or experience is just enough to set the foundation, but it is up to you to continue construction. You must also decide how much time and effort you want to invest in the relationship.

For a strong friendship, ask questions to discover more about your friend, but don’t forget to share yourself with them too. Many people close themselves off from others, preventing this critical part of a friendship from happening. Sharing secrets and stories creates a special bond. By doing this, you are building your relationships from the ground up. The more time and effort you put into these friendships, the greater your construction will be. After a while, you will feel comfortable sharing almost anything with your friends. You will be in an atmosphere where you can express yourself freely with people who understand you.

Step #3: Maintain the Relationship

Congratulations! After building and strengthening your relationship, you now have a real friend. You have someone to share the best of times with, and someone to talk to in periods of need. Having such a friendship can be a great joy, but like all things, it needs regular repair and maintenance. Many things can split a friendship apart, but fortunately, open and regular communication can solve almost any problem.

Be sure to spend time with your friends. Whether it is virtually or in real life, every moment you are together provides an opportunity for a new memory and experience. Go to a park, hang out on campus, or attend an event together. Forgetting to spend time with a friend is an easy way to make the friendship unravel, especially if the relationship suffers from distance issues.

The easiest way to lose a friend is to lie or talk behind their back. If you want a friend who respects and understands you, you must be willing to give that respect and understanding back. Throughout your friendship, do not be quick to anger or judgment, but rather, be understanding and respectful. Many different things can cause menacing situations in friendships, but compassion and understanding can always resolve those issues.

In conclusion, enjoy the journey of friendship, for its hard work is totally worth the reward.