We all crave friendships in some form or another. Whether we’re looking for people to have a good time with, a fellow mother or father to share the highs and lows of parenthood, or a shoulder to cry on when times get tough, human connection is the cornerstone of a healthy life.

Friendships tend to blossom during childhood, but all too often the strains of adult life, gaps in geography or lifestyle, or the addition of partners and children can sever these ties. Despite how daunting it feels to make new friends as an adult, it’s never too late to get back out there. To help you gather your confidence, here are five simple ways you can improve your social life – starting today.

Smile More

If you present yourself as a warm, positive person, then other people will naturally gravitate toward you. If you’re inherently shy by nature, smiling at strangers can feel daunting, but putting on a confident front will make conversation come more naturally once you get chatting. In this case, the old “fake it ‘till you make it” approach can work wonders for your ability to make friends and improve your sociability – and don’t forget the importance of open body language.

Stop Smoking

Since smoking is now prohibited in most public spaces, those who can’t kick the habit tend to get left out in the cold. E-cigarettes are the exception to this rule, as most restaurants, cafes, and stores allow the use of vaporizers indoors. Being more sociable is just one of the many reported benefits of swapping your cigarettes for electronic alternatives, and with so many exciting vape juice flavors on the market, there’s never been a better time to make the switch. You can read more about vaporizers and e-liquids online.

Create Meaningful Interactions

With so many communication channels at our fingertips, it’s easy to forget the value of face-to-face interaction. Rather than relying on Facebook comments or WhatsApp messages to talk to those you love, pick up the phone and have a conversation, or meet a friend for coffee. When you have company, turn your phone to silent and stow it in your bag, so you’re not tempted to scroll. It’s hard to listen and converse with someone if your phone is distracting you, plus your friend will rightly assume you’d rather be elsewhere.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

There’s nothing wrong with curling up with a book every evening, but if you always stick with activities that feel familiar, you’re unlikely to make new friends. Attend a new book club, take up a yoga class, or check out your local music venue in search of people with similar interests to your own. Psychologists suggest we are hard-wired to search for new acquaintances in stressful situations, like going to new places on our own, so this is an important step.

Be Yourself

When you’re desperate to make an impression, it’s tempting to play pretend to get people to like you, but this never works out long term. You deserve to have someone appreciate you for who you are, and if they don’t then perhaps they’re not right for you. Don’t give up if you can’t find anybody who shares your affinity for classical music or anime movies. Just like with romantic partnerships, there are friends out there for everyone, and if you’re pretending to be someone you’re not, you might not ever meet them.

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