How to Make Friends During the COVID-19 Pandemic

how to make friends during the pandemic

Verywell / Laura Porter

While some folx may have always found it challenging to make friends, it might be even more difficult to make friends in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic as many are taking measures to protect themselves by staying home and limiting in-person social interaction.

Additionally, as most folx are expected to adhere to social distancing measures, it can be difficult to get to know people when you're standing six feet apart.

However, despite the unique and unprecedented nature of this global pandemic, it's still possible to engage with others and build friendships—it just may look a bit different than you're used to.

Benefits of Making and Maintaining Friends

A 2018 journal article that measured patterns for how friendships are made and maintained, defined friends as the folx with whom lives are shared beyond the casual meeting of strangers, by making an effort to maintain communication, who feel an emotional bond with each other.

The article also states that friendships "are the single most important factor affecting our health and well-being."

This bond can often include family members and romantic partners and folx often invest a great deal into their friendships.

Reconnecting With Old Friends

A 2011 research study of 224 participants in four Executive MBA classes across the U.S. and Canada found that reconnecting with old contacts after at least three years provided responses that were considered favorable in terms of novelty, solidarity, comprehension, and efficiency.

Such findings may indicate that there is value in reconnecting with old friends that you've lost touch with because you can build on the connections you once shared.

Additionally, now that more people are using technology to stay connected, it's more likely that your old friends will be equipped with the technology needed to connect with others during this time.

Turning Other Connections into Friendships

A 2020 journal article detailed a qualitative study of folx at a Fortune 500 company (with a largely remote workforce), and noted how its employees were able to transition from coworkers to friends via virtual mediums.

These friendships were built with the following factors in mind:

  • Availability: Do you want to develop a friendship aside from work?
  • Chemistry: Do we actually get along?
  • Trust: Do I feel comfortable with you?
  • Instrumentality: Can this friendship benefit me?

Participants reflected on how they had to be more explicit about their interest in exploring a friendship as there were fewer opportunities for developing that connection when not working together in person.

While such research bodes well for how relationships with coworkers may develop into friendships outside of job responsibilities, it is similarly possible for folx to engage in the process of getting to know folx while interacting online during the pandemic.

For example, you might try logging into a virtual arts and crafts event and make an effort to engage with the other attendees. You can also sign up for an online course that may require you to work with your classmates.

Online Community-Building in Activist Spaces

A 2016 journal article delved into a Guatemalan justice movement, Turkish migrants in Sweden, and an online creative space for youth, to demonstrate how activist efforts "to uphold the rights of a displaced group within a larger majority that marginalizes them, and as such empowers group members as a space of identity security and collective camaraderie."

With this in mind, getting involved in social justice work may allow you to make friends with others who share your passion for creating and fostering change.

Disability justice activists have relied on online spaces for community building long before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic given that it can be more difficult for folx with disabilities to connect in person when meeting locations are often inaccessible based on their needs.

While you may have different interests, their work of connecting with others remotely long before these constraints can be beneficial to remember in terms of making friends at this time, as online platforms have provided a rare space of connection for some.

Perhaps you can meet other abolitionists attending a virtual event to write letters to incarcerated folx where that common ground can build a friendship.

Maybe you can connect with others in a book club that is devoted to social justice. During the pandemic, most efforts are going online, so you may even be able to make friends by volunteering remotely.

Understanding the Role of Perception

A 2018 journal article chronicled how folx underestimated how much others liked them after engaging in conversations with those folx—the liking gap.

This was apparent among strangers who had connected in the laboratory, between first-year college students interacting with dorm mates, and folx engaging with each other during a personal development workshop.

What Is the Liking Gap?

The liking gap" refers to how folx tend to gauge themselves as being less well-liked following a conversation with others. This perception, however, is often skewed.

If you find that after having a conversation with someone else, you assume that the other person didn't like you, it might be worth remembering that it's possible that you were liked more than you had initially assumed.

Furthermore, the "liking gap" can be amplified when you speak to others through online mediums. For example, a 2014 research study found that communication delays of even 1.2 seconds made folx believe that others were less friendly or not as focused on them.

In this way, with delays in technology, someone's perception of you or your perception of them might be skewed.

When interacting online, it may help to remember such research because while you might assume that you're not well-liked after a conversation, your assumption might be inaccurate. So, try to be gentle with yourself and others when trying to make friends while engaging online.

Factors to Consider When Making Friends

When making the effort to create new or rebuild older friendships, it's worth taking the time to think about what you need out of a friendship.

For instance, if you believe that you need shared equity values with others to develop a bond of friendship, then that may be easier to find in an activist space.

If you find that you like to have shared interests and hobbies it might be helpful to meet others who are already involved in the things you enjoy.

It is important to note that friendships require consent from all parties and it often takes time to develop trust with new folx.

A Word From Verywell

COVID-19 has brought many unique challenges, which are bound to impact your life in a variety of ways, including how you navigate making friends.

Although it may feel like a lot more work to try to make friends during the pandemic, the benefits of feeling connected with others cannot be overstated, especially if you quarantined apart from loved ones.

When engaging in this process, it may help to consider the ways in which you have already been resilient through the course of the pandemic, as they may provide insights into how you can better navigate making friends remotely.

Even if you never quite got the hang of making friends, it is never too late to explore that, especially considering how friendship positively impacts your mental well-being.

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Article Sources
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