Making Friends Online: Where to Begin and How to Succeed

making friends online

Online friendships are natural for our social lives. According to the Bumble BFF survey, 62% of people feel like meeting friends online is more normalized than ever, and 60% — especially those within the millennial age range — are open to meeting new friends online. Making friends online is a great way to build connections with people from around the world, regardless of geographical boundaries and physical distance.

The good news? It’s possible to make friends online without sacrificing your comfort or safety. Here’s how to develop meaningful friendships while meeting new people over the Internet.

Choose the Right Platforms and Groups

Between social media, online communities, and apps, there are more ways to connect with people online than ever before. The Pew Research Center reports that nearly one in five 13- to 17-year-olds in the US visit or use YouTube and TikTok “almost constantly,” with more than 90% of teens using the Internet at least daily and 46% — “almost constantly.” Such accessibility of virtual communication has its challenges, especially for the young generation.

How can you tell the good platforms from the more lax ones? First, take a step back and consider the verification methods that each platform requires. Some apps, like Bumble BFF, require users to connect their Facebook accounts to verify their identity. If you’re concerned about sacrificing your safety to find friends online, you can choose an app or platform that goes the extra mile to make sure only legitimate members sign up.

In addition to verification measures, choose platforms and groups you’re genuinely passionate about. From connecting with music lovers on Soundcloud to finding a fun workout buddy on Reddit, there’s something for almost everyone with a unique hobby or interest. If you’re not sure where to start, take some time to research different platforms and reach out to like-minded people on platforms you frequent because of your hobbies, goals, and personal interests.

Make New Connections With Intention

Choosing the right platforms can make all the difference in your online interactions, but you don’t have to steer clear of social media platforms to find friends. If you’re searching for friends on networks like Instagram, TikTok, or X (Twitter), you’ll need to be more intentional about finding the communities you’re passionate about within those spaces.

Of course, each platform favors different types of content, so you’ll need to factor that into your decision-making process. While visual platforms like Instagram are ideal for artists, Discord is a great place to find other gamers. No matter what platform you’re on, the more you like and engage with the subjects you want to connect with, the more you’ll be exposed to relevant content — and the easier it will be to make friendships online.

Once you’ve settled into the right spaces, try participating in discussions, sharing your thoughts, and showing interest in others’ contributions. When you join groups and engage with people who share similar interests and goals as you, you’ll boost your chances of forming long-lasting, deep connections.

Instead of sitting around and waiting for people to comment on your posts or pop into your inbox, start the conversation by reaching out to potential friends with common interests. This is where a lot of people struggle since connecting online can feel less personal than talking to someone in person. Ultimately, building rapport and cultivating meaningful interactions can take your new connections from acquaintances to friendships.

Be Selective, But Not Too Selective

how to make friends online

It’s important to be selective about who you talk to online — but not too selective. The more people you reach out to, the more likely you are to get a positive response. We’re all craving connection, so don’t let a fear of rejection or hesitation hold you back from making new friends. If you’re just getting started, try casting a wide net by initiating conversations with people whose content you admire.

Meanwhile, if you’re someone who tends to critique others, know that critiquing content isn’t always the best way to connect. You might think you’re being helpful by offering feedback, but people don’t always know your intentions. After all, their first impressions of you are your words — and it’s best if those words are friendly, inviting, and supportive. Just like in-person friends or online dating, you’ll need to build a foundation of trust for people to let their guard down.

That said, don’t take it personally if people don’t respond. When you put yourself out there, it can hurt when people aren’t interested. Remember: People might seek out online friendship for a myriad of reasons — and most of them have nothing to do with you. There will always be someone else to connect with online, so don’t be hard on yourself during the process.

Set Clear Boundaries With New People

Now that you’ve pinpointed the people you want to connect with, it’s time to start setting boundaries for your online interactions. If you’re new to online friendships, reflect on your comfort level and what feels safe for you. What type of personal information are you willing to share? What are your expectations for communicating with a new friend?

Once you’ve started interacting with new people, be upfront about those boundaries. Don’t hesitate to communicate your limits, whether it’s regarding sensitive topics (think: money, mental health, etc.), sharing personal details, or how often you’d like to communicate. It might feel intimidating to chat about your life or express your boundaries to someone new, but the key is to be authentic — and to react authentically to them. You want to start a conversation, and the best way to do that is to be honest.

For added protection online, take advantage of privacy settings on social media platforms and messaging apps. This way, you’ll have full control over who can see your information and who can contact you. Depending on your preferences, you might adjust your privacy settings to limit access to your profile, posts, pictures, and personal details to the people you’ve met in real life.

Research New Friends Before Moving Forward

It might be tempting to trust everything your friend says but don’t wait too long to find out who they are. If you’re connecting with someone and want to keep talking to them, it’s crucial to do some homework to stay safe. Don’t worry; you won’t need to take any drastic measures to verify that your friend is who they say they are.

Instead of spending hours digging through social media profiles, you can save time with a people search online. To get started, all you need to do is enter their basic information, such as their name, location, phone number, or email address, into Nuwber’s people search tool. From there, you’ll get instant access to their contact and background info so you can verify whether the information they’ve shared is accurate. With the prevalence of anonymous profiles and the ever-increasing potential for misinformation, verifying their identity can help you minimize the risk of catfishing.

At the end of the day, researching friends before moving forward can help you build trust and confidence in your relationships. By verifying their credibility, you’ll be able to establish a stronger foundation for meaningful friendships.

Meet Online Friends in a Public Place

find friends online

Some of your interactions will probably stay online — and there’s nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, some friendships might lead to more. Most of the time, you’ll be able to gauge this level of interest for yourself. For example, you might feel more comfortable hopping on a call with good friends than sending a message. Later on, you might end up making plans with an online friend to grab coffee or hang out in real life.

When it comes to meetups, public places offer a safe environment for both parties. For instance, places like cafes and parks can help reduce the risk of dangerous situations. Moreover, being surrounded by other people and familiar surroundings helps provide a sense of comfort and reassurance, which can make the meeting feel less intimidating and more relaxed. If you’re not sure how to suggest meeting in person, try researching upcoming events that align with your interests.

Parting Thoughts

In today’s 24/7/365 always-connected digital world, online friendships are becoming more normalized than ever before. As you start immersing yourself in virtual interactions, don’t be afraid to set your boundaries and cadence. Start small — whether that’s reaching out to one person a week or joining a new online community each month — and see where it takes you. Throughout your journey of learning how to make friends online, the goal is to do what feels right for you.

FAQ

How do you start an online relationship safely?

Just like online dating, you’ll need to take some precautions when starting a friendship online. First, opt for reputable platforms that prioritize security. Never share too much your profile — let the personal remain personal. You can adjust your profile settings as needed to share the information you feel comfortable with.

There’s nothing wrong with doing everything at your own pace. Take your time to get to know the other person before sharing personal information or meeting in person. Always communicate openly and honestly, and be upfront about your intentions and boundaries. If you’re feeling unsure about a new relationship, consider conducting a people search with Nuwber to verify their identity.

How do you build trust in an online friendship?

To build trust when making new friends, be authentic in every interaction. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences — and encourage your new friend to do the same. At the same time, be sure to respect your friend’s boundaries and limits, and avoid pressuring them to share more than they’re comfortable with.

How do you maintain an online friendship?

Above all else, maintaining an online friendship requires consistent communication and effort from both sides. Take the time to check in with your friend — whether it’s through a text, video call, or shared activities like online board games. Express your interest in their life, celebrate their achievements, and offer support when needed.

Are online relationships healthy?

Yes, online relationships can be healthy when they involve authentic connection, mutual respect, and effective communication. Just like any other relationship, keeping up with friends online requires effort and understanding.

Should you meet online friends in real life?

Deciding whether to meet virtual friends in real life will depend on a few factors, including your comfort level and safety concerns. If you and your friend both feel comfortable and you’ve established trust through consistent communication, consider meeting in a public place. That said, it’s essential to prioritize safety precautions and let someone you trust (such as parents or other friends) know about the meeting.

Eugene Kirdzei
Eugene Kirdzei

Chief Technical Officer at Nuwber
With nearly two decades of experience in the IT industry, Eugene possesses comprehensive knowledge across his professional field, including in data management, data protection, and information search. Through his writing, he aims to provide valuable insights and practical advice on how to safely explore the online environment and leverage digital tools to enhance people’s lives.