How to Boost Social Connection


"How to make friends," "Where to make friends," and "Where to meet people" reached an all-time high as top searches in 2023, according to Google Trends, proving at least one thing is clear: we're not alone in longing for more human connection. In a world where we are constantly hyperconnected and can digitally "friend" dozens of people in seconds, why are so many of us resonating with the yearning for social connection now more than ever? Social disconnection may be on the rise, but luckily, there are ways to remedy that. In this blog, we'll break down the barriers between wanting those meaningful relationships and actually making them. 

Take initiative

Raise your hand if you've been guilty of saying the time-old phrase, "Let's hang out sometime," and never following through. (Slowly raises a hand to the sky). We're probably all guilty of that, but it's important to note that in the society we live in today, it's actually increasingly more challenging to foster meaningful relationships when many of us move around a lot and are further away from family and others we've spent several years building relationships with. Consider being the one to follow through on initiating plans and watch your social life flourish. 

Yes, being the person to take the initiative and ask someone to spend time together might feel awkward or overwhelming, but let's take comfort in the fact that belonging is a basic human need that's engrained in every single one of us at a cellular level. We are all looking for meaningful connections! 

Keep an open mind

While finding connections and a sense of belonging might not come easy to everyone, let's keep an open mind and try to engage with ourselves and others through activities we enjoy, whether rekindling an old passion or exploring a new one, like taking an in-person language course. ¿Hablas español? 

Say "yes" to invitations, ask acquaintances or friends to introduce you to their other social groups, and get comfortable with stepping into the uncomfortable. Opening ourselves to new energies and experiences might be the key to finding the meaningful relationships we crave. 

Focus on physical human experiences

Social media has volume but lacks depth, which is not the level of connectedness vital to us all. It's a virtual reality that can be time-consuming and isn't a complete representation of our lives or the lives of others. The pervasive nature of social media has created an illusion of constant connectivity, but if we turn off the screens, how do those virtual communities serve us? Do we really feel any more connected after all that scrolling?

This constant exposure to carefully manufactured narratives can lead to feelings of inadequacy, comparison, and a distorted perception of our own lives. As we scroll through feeds flooded with smiling faces and seemingly perfect lives, it's easy to feel detached or even alienated from our true selves, so there’s little surprise as to why this might be contributing to these Google Trends leaving so many of us asking the digital world how to find more physical connections.

Consider the time invested each day in the mindless black hole of social media and repurpose that time to build or tend to meaningful connections. Although some virtual communities can be beneficial, try setting a social media timer to limit digital consumption and setting a goal(s) for fun human interactions each week. 

While we can each determine our level of social connectivity (outside of the digital world), taking a social inventory and assessing our social infrastructures may be helpful. Evaluate the programs and groups you belong to or participate in, like volunteering, sports, or education. Take a yoga class, join a trivia night, or sign up for an intramural kickball team. Meet new people, get some movement in, and find new inspiration for self-discovery and personal growth along the way. Win-win! 

Lean into introspection at times of social disconnection

Let's be honest: the fact I'm writing this means people, including myself, are craving new ways to find meaningful connections. For anyone who has ever felt the impact of social disconnection, we know it can take a toll on our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Social Connection is a vital human need, just as water and food are imperative to survival, so why not see this time of solace as a chance to step back, reassess our priorities, and reevaluate the quality of our relationships? 

While we build our efforts toward adequate social relationships, it's okay to embrace social disconnection as it can help us cultivate a healthier relationship with technology while also helping us create more time for unplugged activities, foster mindfulness, reduce stress, and encourage being present in the here and now. Let's use this time to channel real human experiences that bring us joy and fuel our social batteries. 

Tap into your interests

Social disconnection may be on the rise, but there are many ways to break down the trends and fulfill our social appetites. For inspiration, here are some recommended communities from our pals: 

  • The November Project is a free, early-morning workout group fostering diverse social connections. Dylan, RI, encourages you to check out a local chapter near you!
  • SurfYogaBeer is an active and social worldwide travel company that promotes fitness, mindfulness, and new friends. Ben, NC, shares, "My first trip helped feed a part of me that sometimes felt neglected and helped me obtain a sense of belonging by allowing me to create new friendships and connections, even across the world." 
  • Pittsburgh Girls Who Walk hosts weekly walks and other social events to bring women together and help build connections. Alycia, PA, shares, "Making friends as an adult doesn't have to be a challenge."
  • Pride Cheerleading Association is a non-profit adult cheerleading network across the US that supports the LGBTQ+ community. Who said you can't be in your mid-30s still flipping and throwing people in the air? Sara, NY, says, "You're never too old to tap into your childhood passions."
  • Mountain Connect connects skiers and snowboarders across various locations to adventure together! Brooke, CA, shares, "Many of my friends moved away from San Diego, and despite having an annual pass, I stopped skiing. I later found this group through Meetup, went on my first ski trip solo, and left with a big group of friends."
  • Girls Who Meet NYC hosts local events for women to meet in NYC. Meet your new BFF at one of their upcoming events!
  • Volo Sports is the ultimate sports community offering pickleball, cornhole, and bocce. Jeff, SC, has met new friends through trampoline volleyball and recommends checking out a location near you!
  • Church of Sweden led Maria, NY, to find community by tapping into her Swedish roots. Joining the choir at the church led her to additional social groups, such as the Swedish Women's Education Association (SWEA) and the Swedish Business Community, and "lots of friendships along the way!"

Feeling socially disconnected might not be the most comfortable, but it's not necessarily a cause for alarm or something that has to be permanent. Set aside the negatives that can attach to feelings of social disconnection and view it as an opportunity for personal reflection and growth. By embracing the opportunities that can come with physically putting ourselves out there and disconnecting from the immense digital noise, we have the chance to reconnect or even rediscover our authentic selves, nurture the meaningful relationships that matter, and find serenity in the world around us that can often fade to the background in our quest for constant connectivity. Remember that it's okay to feel disconnected, as sometimes, those moments might be the ones where we truly find ourselves and, with intention, guide us to the connections we've been looking for.