The Friendship Equation, How to Get a Social Life

How to get a social life

This is a guest contribution by Chris Grimm. You can find his bio at the end of the article. We hope you enjoy the article.

The Friendship Equation

I used to do everything alone and put on a façade of happiness to keep my family from worrying. The past two years changed that though. Now, I am always going out with happy and uplifting people who help raise me to a level I could not have reached alone.

Despite the fact that I do math at the level of an ADD ravaged toddler, I feel there is in fact an equation to forming meaningful and lasting friendships. Being Social + Giving Value + Understanding Boundaries = Great Friendships.

Being more social gives more opportunities, giving value is what you can give to others, and understanding boundaries is what keeps a relationship healthy. This step-by-step process will help you make friends and learn how to get a social life that you only dreamed of previously.

Be Social

If someone told you I talk entirely too much, they would not be wrong. Studies show the average woman says 20,000 words a day. I call 20,000 words a slow Tuesday morning.

Whenever I am out socializing, I could be compared to the Energizer Bunny after he drank four cups of coffee. Follow this up with 2 caffeine pills and strapping his heart to a car battery.

You need to talk to people everywhere. Talk in line at the store, on the street, maybe even while waiting in line on the street. The more people you talk to, the more chances you have to make connections.

In order to increase your chances, try joining a club for something you are passionate about. This gives you a commonality that makes it easy to start a friendship. If you are nervous about this then that is good! Break your comfort zone and make new friends.

If you are in a random location, just use something completely functional to start a conversation. “If this line doesn’t hurry up, I’m going to have to shave again soon” or “If Starbucks is going to charge me so much for a coffee, I at least want a toy to come with it…like a mini happy meal.”

From here it isn’t hard to transition to a normal conversation, just shake hands and introduce yourself and you are off to the races!

Give Value

What sets you apart from the crowd? Every person wants to know how someone else can help them; this is where you “deliver value.”

It’s not hard to do this, especially in college. You just have to be a fun person to be around. With this in mind, you need to be laid back and fun. Don’t latch onto your new friend as if you’re a blind squirrel who finally found a nut – that gets annoying fast.

Imagine that you are not going to see this person after tonight, that means there is no point in completely overwhelming them with eagerness. Crack jokes, don’t try too hard and don’t take yourself so seriously. To further increase the value you can deliver, try to organize events that let people mingle. If you focus on being a fun person who is able to live in the moment you are well on your way to becoming a social animal that others want to be around.

Understand Boundaries

Respect is more important than popularity. No, I don’t mean respect in the form of The Godfather. I mean people need to respect and understand boundaries. A pet peeve of mine is someone interrupting me when I’m talking or is repeatedly late for something. The first time someone does something you dislike – just ignore it. The second time someone does it, tell them later that you did not like what they did and to please not do it again.

Slowly escalate the social pressure you put on them each time, until you are forced to call them out on it immediately after it happens in some cases (whether or not other people are there.)

The important thing is don’t get mad. Keep your calm and be polite. Do not act like the homeless lady I saw screaming at her purse who “stole her bank rolls.”

Setting boundaries is endlessly important, because people will always test your boundaries to see what they can get away with – it’s simply human nature. If you give an inch, you’ll soon give up a mile.

With this said, be aware of other people’s boundaries.

In Closing

The human animal is social by nature. People are so much friendlier than you make them out to be.

You may get rude reactions from some people, I certainly have. I have been screamed at, ignored, and once a gentleman who was hard of hearing misheard, “Hey, what’s up brother?” to something bad regarding his mother.

However, these are far and few between the hundreds of connections I have made – and it was worth biting a few bad apples to meet some of the people who I now regard as my best friends.

Go out there and talk to some people.

Hope you enjoyed Chris’ article. I encourage you to leave a comment for Chris! 

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Chris Grimm

Chris Grimm is a freelance writer at Chris Grimm SEO Writer - a site dedicated to providing high quality content that readers and search engines love. Chris is a martial arts enthusiast, aspiring world traveler, and admitted terrible (but enthusiastic) dancer.

Latest posts by Chris Grimm (see all)

55 responses to The Friendship Equation, How to Get a Social Life

  1. Thank you for the great guest post, Billy/Chris!

    Note for those just coming in, Chris Grimm is Billy Gambrino. 🙂

  2. I especially appreciate the “Deliver Value” segment.

    This is true for just about any encounter, because regardless of whether it is one chance meeting, a first date, or time you’re spending with someone you consider your closest friend, that one moment will never happen again.

    In October, I spent a Sunday morning in my pajamas with my closest guy friend, his then soon-to-be one year old son, drinking coffee and chatting. Halfway through the morning he said, “You know, this moment will never happen again. We will never experience life the way we are right now, but we’ll remember and one day we’ll be able to tell him and you’ll be able to have a moment like this, with him.”

    No, not all moments can deliver the same kind of value. The first step is in just the cognitive awareness of it, and being present, not focusing on what’s happening next. You don’t have to reveal too much of yourself and you can respect your own boundaries, but be in the moment and the value will deliver itself.

    • Well….you just totally said what I was trying to say in a few sentences! Awesome, I’m glad I’m not the only person to agree with me :P.

      The funny part is, since I was such a socially awkward kid, I had to almost literally repeat this equation in my head when I was socializing. Now I’m much more used to socializing, so I don’t have to do math equations in my head!

    • Wow, great story, Anne. Thank you so much for sharing. It’s true that every now and then when we truly remember how amazing life is. Those small moments, all of it.

  3. Hello Billy. So good to see you here on Self Stairway. I love your equation and especially the part about Good Boundaries. I am very much the Energizer Bunny type when it comes to ease of talking – with strangers or anyone, but what I am keenly aware of – and I am much better now than I was in the past – people’s need for privacy.

    My husband and I write at a local cafe each morning, and we have developed a friendship with one of the regulars. He is rather shy by nature, and we were delightfully surprised when he approached our table one day. Even though he sits in the booth across from us each time he comes in, we are all respectful of each others’ boundaries and time. I think it is so refreshing to not be attacked or altogether ignored. There can be a middle ground where relationships have time to grow.

    I loved your blind squirrel with a nut reference. It is important not to jump on people’s gizzards. Delightful post. Thank you!

    • Hey Tammy, thanks for the kind words. I’m trying to make a career in Internet Marketing + freelance writing, so any advice you have on freelance writing would be awesome.

      I think a lot of it comes down to hard work and building relationships – although I still have no idea where to start to get a job as a freelance writer. Any advice you can give would be awesome!

      • Ah, I wish I had a ton of advice on freelance writing for you, Billy. I, in fact, am writing a novel with my husband but make my money by running my own tutoring business. I hope that by putting this comment out there, you will get a freelance expert who will be able to offer some insight. I wish I could be that person.

        If I hear of anything, I will be sure to get back to you. It is exciting to hear you are taking off on that path. Writing is surely one of the most exciting activities in which I partake each day!

        • Thanks for keeping me in mind! After a long hard look at everything, I decided that I wasn’t going to go back to college after this semester. I plan on moving out to a warmer area (D.C. is COLD), before finalizing my plans to move to Thailand or Vietnam.

          Writing is in fact, awesomesauce. Be sure to check my site out and let me know what you think 🙂 – I can always improve my writing more!

  4. I did indeed enjoy your article, Billy. Getting social has certainly got us some opportunities. Getting social with the right people got us worthwhile opportunities. We have learned to be discerning in our relations which makes them enjoyable since they are the ones that most matter.

    Usually aloof, yet never rude seems to work rather well. Then when someone special comes along I am ready for more of a commitment. Thanks for a humorous and witty post!

    • Thats interesting Cj, I usually play the opposite approach – although both work extremely well I’m sure! I usually am friendly to a fault, and always smiling. I’m like this even when someone is rude, although the smile turns from “happy smile” to “plotting a murder smile”.

  5. ‘You need to talk to people everywhere.’ – I need to start doing this, there’s another nut to crack…

    When it comes to understanding the boundaries, like you say I need to step up my game in asking people not to, I think I’m too easy and let it play off a few to many times…

    Nice read, got some talking to do! Have a wonderful day 🙂

  6. All great points, Billy. Boundaries are so often fluctuating, and you have great insight into this.

  7. Great advice, Billy. You never know who you will meet when you open yourself up to talking to them. A friend of mine talks to everyone and tries to make friends everywhere. One time he was talking to a waiter and made it a point to get to know his name and told him he was doing an awesome job. The waiter in turn made sure that there was a little extra food in our appetizer and made sure we had the best experience possible. I mean he really looked after us. All that from just taking the time to get to know someone.

    Talking can help develop relationships too. When I was single, I used to talk to girls everywhere. I remember one time I started a conversation with a girl in the soap isle about what soap smelled the best. We hit it off and I got her number. I wouldn’t have got it if I hadn’t broke out of my comfort zone and just started talking.

    • Awesome story man! I can totally relate to all of that. Whenever I frequent a place, I always make a point of talking to the staff and making connections. Its helped on numerous dates when I take a girl out, and gets me free beer sometimes! All this has the net effect of making a girl that much more into you – its a concept I’m going to go over on a new post in my blog.

      Yeah man, it is a HUGE comfort zone breaker to approach a girl for the first time. I remember getting sweats my first time attempting it. Now I don’t think about it – the more you approach, the more you score in most cases ;).

    • Not only does it open up opportunities, but it improves your perceived value! Tying into Billy’s idea of giving value, having the ability to open up is often seem as valuable by others when you do it well. The benefits of being friendly with everyone is just amazing.

    • That’s sweet! Being nice to others plays a huge role in life.

  8. Interesting view.

    “This step-by-step process will help you make friends and learn how to get a social life that you only dreamed of previously.” seems to work for some, but not for others. Finding ones value and working from there to get the process seems to be better than following a formula for what someone came up with. I see the point, and take it as a suggestion of what one might try to get out of a comfort zone.

    I’m curious how this works across different cultures with different languages, norms, and expectations. Cultures as in East versus West, Middle East, Deaf, etc.

    Interested to hear more about how non-verbal communication also comes into play with making these social connections.

    Also want to find out what your thoughts are for those of us like me who are introverts. We aren’t all shy. We can talk with people in spontaneous ways, F2F, in groups in casual settings or more formal get together situations.


    You mentioned studies of 20,000 words per day. I think that’s about right for me for the whole week, if not 2 weeks. I like it that way because otherwise, it’s too overwhelming and I lose my sanity. This is my ideal social life. it allows me more time to do what I want and need to do. Myers Briggs, if you believe in those things, I’m either INTP or INTF, and find my peace when working jobs as such.

    Billy – in regards to freelance writing + Internet marketing (we talking social media here or what) my suggestion is just do those things you do. What I mean is do it for the love of it and the connections and $ follow. Have faith. Pay forward with volunteering to non-profits, or whatever church/temple or other organizations you belong to. When you see grassroots groups setting up, offer your services. No expectations = no disappointments. Being altruistic in this kind of manner, interestingly, set one up for success down the road.

    All the best to you!

    • Thanks partner! The formula is tried and true for countless other people. You just have to make the effort and it will all work itself out in the end. I could write another post on each of these if I really wanted to (I just don’t think Vincent wants more of my haphazard writing!).

      Body language is universal across the board. I am not sure about these tactics in the Middle East, as talking to strange women may result in stoning.

      And thank you for the advice for freelancing and IM!

    • Wow, very insightful. It’s hard to discuss how these things apply across different cultures because as writers, we only bleed from what we know. It can work for 99% of the Earth (most likely not that high) but there is always that number of people it won’t work for.

      I love the questions you’re asking, but they will be things that will be discussed in future articles. There’s no master list on any website that can perfectly tackle every intricate detail without spanning several editions, books, or anything like that while still maintaining everyone’s interest.

      Perhaps you’ll have your questions answered in future pieces. 🙂 Thanks again!

  9. Great equation Vincent! Relationships are so important when it comes to living a fulfilled life. They take work but have a high return on our investment. I think the “giving value” is huge when it comes to building a relationship with someone, we have to be humble enough to serve and help people we come in contact with. Great post!

  10. It’s easier for me to be social online in my situation of being a single parent. I’ve met some great people through social networking. My only complaint is that I wish I could meet some of them in person.

    • We feel the same way, Dan! It is a great way to find like-minded people, but computers can only go so far. That said, we are very happy to have found many great people like you have.

    • I guess that means we all have to meetup somewhere, Dan! 🙂 Can you imagine the Starbucks, Tammy? All us personal development writers swapping stories and wisdom in a public place? The world will explode with that much power in one room.

  11. Men are social beings. Its a great way you shared to lead social life

  12. Nice post Billy! Value is key here. We hang around with the people we value. We may value their insights, humor, pastimes, or we might just plain value the presence of their company. Whatever the reason, the people we return to time after time are the one’s we value most.

    If you can provide that value, that worth, then you will be well on your way to a better social life.


    • It’s important to surround yourself with people who can teach you too. Our social circles can be our biggest teachers.
      “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
      -Jim Rohn

  13. I like that: the more people you talk to, the more chances you have of making a connection. Guess that’s common sense, but we don’t really tend to think that way. I suppose the more you talk to people, the more chances you have of deepening a connection as well. Good advice. I was also socially awkward as a kid, some might say I still am, I don’t know. All I know is it’s fun as heck going out and meeting new people once you get over any initial feeling of anxiety. And that usually goes away pretty quickly if you have an open mind toward the opportunity at hand.

    • It is somewhat common sense, but even things that appear obvious can be huge wakeup calls.

      Sounds like you have the right mindset, Matt. Most people neglect the simple act of getting out to meet people. It’s common to think that friendships just sort of somehow happen by standing around. Sometimes it is a conscious effort! Glad to see you’re putting the work in. Thanks for stopping by, Matt.

  14. That is a great article, Billy. I wish I could be as comfortable as you are when you are in line with a group of strangers. I am usually afraid that, after the first few comments, that I will not be able to think of anything more to say, and that I will be “out on a limb” feeling very self-conscious. So I am shy in those situations. You obviously have confidence. I can banter with people in passing, but to have longer conversations with strangers is a challenge for me. Thanks for writing the article.

    • Hi, Bob. I think most people feel the same way as you are describing. Running out of things to say is natural and for the most part, still happens quite frequently for me. I think the key is usually actively listening and asking questions.

      Make it a goal to have the other person do at least 75% of the talking while you listen 25% of the time. This works well for both parties because A) people love talking about themselves and B) you don’t have to “come up” with so many things to say. The only thing you really do is ask open-ended questions.

      Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” is a GREAT book to get into that whole “be more interested in others,” subject. 🙂

    • Years of experience brother. I looked back at my record books and have done around 1800 approaches at this point. I’d say a very good chunk of those have been rejections. Some were brutal.

      Most were just awkward, or I got a very kind letdown. The successes though, boy oh boy, do I have some stories to tell!

      In the end, is the juice worth the squeeze?

      • That is an interesting phrase: “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” I can’t imagine making 1800 approaches (do you keep a diary?), but, of the approaches that I have had the courage to make, there have been a few memorable encounters. And those encounters… those stories… were definitely worth the risk. Thanks for the follow-up comment, Billy. It is good to focus on the positive events in life.

  15. Welcome Billy to Vincent’s blog. 🙂

    I loved all that you wrote, and yes indeed, both men and women ARE social animals, though we rarely find them really getting social due to various reasons again. I guess it’s the sedentary lifestyles they lead nowadays or staying home and working from one locations etc – all adds up to it.

    Oh yes…I read about that too that women speak nearly 20,000 words per day and that surprised me too! Yes indeed, you really don’t lose anything by talking, instead you are able to express yourself much better when you talk out to people. Besides getting to know the other person better when you talk, you are simply getting social and that’s the only thing that helps build better relationships – isn’t it? 🙂

    Thanks for sharing, and have a great weekend both of you 🙂

  16. There’s a reason why more than a few people have reacted negatively to you: genuine, authentic people with personal depth don’t like shallow, disingenuous, self-centered, loud, yapping, annoying people who speak in fatuous self-help bumper sticker slogans.

    • Thanks for the honest comment, Mark. I’m curious as to how Chris will respond to this.

      Honestly though, I don’t think Chris came off as any of those things you listed. There is definitely nothing wrong with consciously working on your social skills and using self-help.

      I can see how some people can be insincere when they attempt to make friends or “improve” themselves, but for most people, they are aware of their flaws. They then understand that these flaws can be changed and do not define them. There can also be the genuine desire to change into a better person without being fake.

    • Thank you for your reply, Mark. I am not denying that I can self-centered, or loud. I am in fact, a narcissist and genius – those are two common traits.

      I did not watch the video you linked me to:

      1. Because the librarian has yelled at me once to keep quiet already.
      2. I am taking a wild stab that Ms. Cain is going to praise the wholly misunderstood introvert to high heaven, and expect that every builds their world around them. Please correct me if I am wrong.

      It is a person’s own choice whether or not they want to talk to somebody – I have never stayed and attempted to force someone to like me. If they dislike me, fuck them – I’ll find someone who does.

      While I wish you wouldn’t make fun of my bumper stickers that are on the back of my 1999 Chrysler Concorde, I agree they do sound cheesy at times. We simply use names so people can identify them and hopefully better themselves in the long run.

      You wouldn’t be on this site if you weren’t looking for help either…would you?

      In the end, I changed how I socialized because I wanted to be taken seriously by the world. I was upset they didn’t take me as I was (sound familiar?), and that I had to change. The people that talk more get the most chances. Nobody is going to stop you or give you an opportunity because “even though you refuse to talk to someone, you are a nice guy”. They give it to a person who takes over the room.

      Which person are you going to be?

  17. Nice equation. The value part doesn’t even have to be tangible value in the form of a get together or something. Provide value to espousing cool ideas you’ve read in books or developed yourself etc. Exposing people to these things will help provide a high level of value for them.

  18. I love your equation. You nailed it that it boils down to: do people want to be around you?

  19. and yet again asked on how do I get a social life and another site that cant help what I need is some king of site for socializing where I can just be my self and just be accepted for who I am sorry I had to check this one out heck don’t know why im even saying this

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