Two tickets to your favorite opera just fell into your lap, but no one you know shares your passion for arias. Or you need to get something upsetting off your chest but fear that none of your usual confidantes would really understand. Or maybe you’re just a bit bored being at home by yourself and wish you had more pals to hang out with.

Whatever your reason for feeling alone, the solution is to find some more new friends. Here’s how to get started…

Go to places where you’ll see the same people repeatedly. Familiarity fosters friendship. Clubs and classes provide the opportunity for repeat encounters that promote increasing comfort with and connection to fellow members. As a bonus, they also guarantee a shared interest upon which to build a bond. So: Register for that fascinating history course at the local community college…sign up for that spin class you’ve been meaning to try…or join your town’s gardening club.

Pursue activities that invite interaction. You may love going to the movies or the theater, but a dark auditorium is not a great venue for getting a conversation going. Better: Go to lectures about movies, where people will be exchanging ideas…or join a community theater or improv group, where participants naturally get to know each other on personal levels. Or if sports are your passion, don’t just stay home alone to watch games on TV. Instead, go to a local restaurant where the games are broadcast or, better yet, become a booster for a local team. The high-energy environment at the restaurant or playing field helps dissipate shyness and encourages strangers to interact enthusiastically with fellow fans. You don’t even have to spend big bucks to see professional athletes—your local school teams would welcome your support.

Take a fresh look at current acquaintances. Sure, it’s great to meet new people, but don’t be too quick to dismiss those you already know in passing. Your initial indifference (for instance, to the foreign-born coworker who never laughs at your jokes) or even aversion (to the neighbor who looks like the vixen who stole your high school boyfriend) might be unwarranted. Challenge yourself to see beyond superficial characteristics to recognize that a person with a different outlook or background can provide a refreshing change of pace as a new pal.

Make the first move. Once you’ve found another woman with whom you’d like to be closer, show that you’re interested and can be counted on. Pass along a book she had mentioned wanting to read or a CD you think she’d enjoy…invite her to go for a bike ride or to come by your house to sample a new recipe you discovered…offer to walk her dog or run an errand for her when she’s feeling overwhelmed or under the weather. Remember, the easiest way to make a good friend is to be a good friend.

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