Although it lessens each year, there is still some taboo with making friends online. It can seem somehow less real. It can also seem scary. What if it turns into a catfish situation?
Today I want to open up about my experiences with online friendships and start a conversation with you! It's something I feel very passionate about, and I'm curious to hear your thoughts on the subject as well.
Online friendships are real too.
Let's just get this out of the way first!
I understand the initial instinct that online friendships are "less real" than real life. But I have to say that I think the reason they are often MORE successful is because what's bringing you together are common interests and passions, not proximity.
Just because you can't hang out and grab coffee weekly doesn't mean you can't become close, real friends. Although, it doesn't hurt to have both!
When I made my first online friends about ten years ago, it felt weird. I was really nervous to meet them in person. But after years of friendships, meeting up and just… life, I realize that online friendships are THE SAME as real life.
They take a lot of work to grow. They take communication and respect. Some will grow over the years and some will phase out over time. It's exactly the same as any other friendship.
I no longer segment my online vs. real life friends in my mind. I even have a close friend who I have talked about everything to for years who I have never even met in person (hey, Jill).
How to make friends online.
Just like any other friendship, it takes courage to connect with new friends online. You have to put yourself out there! And in my experience, sometimes when I reach out, it doesn't result in friendship. And that's OK! That doesn't mean I won't ever connect with that cool person I want to connect with – sometimes it takes time. So I try to never take that personally. :)
If you want a friend, reach out, be kind, leave comments, send an email. It won't necessarily come to you; you have to initiate a friendship if you want it. But don't put a ton of pressure on yourself; just take it one step at a time and send a friendly email or leave a nice comment.
When you do spark a connection with someone, don't be afraid to take it to the next level! Just like any other friendship, online friendships need effort to grow. That will mean different things to different people. But to me it means sending an occasional gift, sending flowers during a painful time, planning to meet up or visit each other, or even just taking the time to write long emails and catch up on real life stuff.
What if it turns out badly?
Sometimes it does. This is reality in any relationship for the rest of your life, though, not just with online friends.
Over the years I've made a few online friendships that fizzled out or ended badly. But in the grand scheme of things, when I consider all of the amazing, genuine people I've met, it's more than worth that risk.
What to look for in an online friend.
At different seasons in your life, you will notice new and different needs that you have. There was a time in my life when I was very new and struggling with my small business, and I needed a lot of support in that area. It helped me to have friends who could commiserate with me over my tax bills, problems with hiring and firing, and marketing ideas.
These days my biggest goal is to live my best life and create memories with my family. This means planning activities to do together and setting aside family time. So I notice myself gravitating toward other women who are in that zone. I'm also remodeling a house, so I've bonded with people over that.
Each season has its own unique set of highs and lows. The best friendships will challenge you to be a better you while loving you the way you are! I think knowing what your goals and dreams are is a big part of finding friends who support and nurture those things.
I hope my experiences and advice are helpful to you! I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments! xx- Elsie