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Finding friends in today's world can be more of a challenge than it used to be, as people move more frequently and also work and conduct so many of their activities electronically.

Instead of knowing the same set of friends for their entire lives, many have to make new friends when they move, change jobs or their circumstances change. Here is a refresher course on making new friends.

How to know a potential friend
The saying, “you’re the shopper, not the head of lettuce” is a good rule of thumb for acquiring new friendships. Just like it takes picking up several tomatoes before finding the perfect one, so it is with new friends. Think of the sort of person you want, rather than always being chosen. Notice the sorts of people you’re attracted to. Perhaps you think you like the life-of-the party type, when in reality you notice you’re drawn to the more bookish introvert who you can have deeper conversations with. Notice these observations and you’ll probably know your “type” after awhile.

How to help a new relationship flourish
Once you observe the people you are attracted to, it’s time to start reaching out. They could be people from work, school, church or temple or the neighborhood. The easiest thing to do is to choose an activity that coincides with the way you know that person. For example, with a neighbor you could ask them to go for a walk or with a coworker you could chat over a morning coffee break. The most important step is to initiate the relationship. It takes inviting new people to do things to find the friends who will work for you. If it feels intimidating, take baby steps, such as striking up conversations, asking them about themselves. Do they ask back? How does it feel?

How to know if you’re a match
Rather than seeing new acquaintances as a “good” or “bad” or “mediocre” friend, another way to look at it is to ask yourself: “Is this person a good match for me?” Perhaps when you’re with this person you feel uneasy or find conversation is stilted. These sorts of clues will tell you when it’s a fit. Conversely, when you feel comfortable talking with an acquaintance, find that you have similar interests or senses or humor, these are indicators that it’s a good match.

How to recognize and let go of a friendship that is not healthy
Sometimes friendships reach a level that no longer satisfies one of the friends. That is when it requires the friends to either let the relationship go to the level it is meant to be, for example, maybe you’ll just be parent friends, or shopping friends, but not share deeper information. But if there are warning signs, or red flags, that is when it is time to evaluate the healthiness of your friendship. If you notice yourself feeling down repeatedly after seeing your friend or other negative feelings, take notice. Notice red flags that mean a lot to you. For example, if canceling plans really bothers you, then that’s a red flag. For someone else, it may not be. You evaluate. Then you can decide whether you want to gently put some distance from the friendship or let it go entirely. You may wish to gradually go apart, if that’s your style, or perhaps have a more direct conversation. Find your own style of letting go. It may take experimenting.

Friendships today are more important than ever, as the meaning of community changes so rapidly. It is important to nurture this type of relationship to maintain a sense of belonging and enjoyment of life.