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Social Anxiety

Why You Should Make Friends Online

If you have a hard time making friends because of social anxiety, then an online friendship might be the best way to go about it

Let’s go through 4 reasons you should make friends online if you have social anxiety.

I’ve had a
lifelong struggle with making friends. I mean, being a home-schooled kid that travelled the world to play professional tennis is not a normal thing to do – and when you’re a kid or a teenager, normal is the way to go.

Looking back, instead of venting and sharing my secrets with my friends, I’d write journal after journal, filled to the brim. 

I can probably pull out 10 filled handwritten journals, chronicling my days as a pre-teener and teenager, but everything changed once I found the online blogging world. 

I started blogging about my drama around 16, and I guess I never stopped (except I like to think I’ve evolved from gossiping about boys). 

Looking back at my posts and written journal entries, I was one lonely girl.

The common thread throughout all those years was my strong need to connect with people, but never knowing how. 

At some point, I realized that using the platforms I spent time on was the perfect way to make friends online. Here’s why:

Online, you can be yourself without consequences.

  1. You don’t have to ACTUALLY go out and socialize with them.
  2. You can read their blog (or thoughts) and get to know them at a much deeper level than you otherwise would in real life (potentially).
  3. If you realize the friendship isn’t moving forward, you don’t have to feel bad about “quitting” their blog (aka Ghosting).
  4. You quickly realize who you like and don’t like by reading their thoughts.

Since I’ve started sharing pieces of myself publicly and making content to help people, I’ve been more inclined to meet online people offline, mostly because I now realize how difficult it is to find people in the “real world” to connect with.

I understand why I can’t connect with the people on my street. And interestingly enough, because of the international moves I’ve made throughout my life, most of my relationships are long-distance. 

Rarely do I get to meet up with friends in real life, so the only way to keep my relationships strong is to invest in them online.

But this article is not about that.

It’s about using the online space as a starting point to make friends.

Especially if, like me, you live a non-conforming life that deviates from what “normal” looks like making it harder to connect with the people around you. But also if you have social anxiety. 

For those with social anxiety, the best first step to navigating social situations is to make friends online and progress from there.

5 quick ways to manage social anxiety

5 Quick Ways To Manage Your Social Anxiety

There’s no substitute for effort, but you can speed up the process if you understand and take these 5 ways seriously. This is your starter pack; what you do with it is up to you.

Times have certainly changed, haven’t they? 

For the older generations, this is probably unacceptable, although if we look back at the past few decades, everyone should have seen this coming.

With the advent of social media, dating apps, remote work, and Zoom meetings (too many of them!), is it any wonder that distance isn’t a factor when building positive and fulfilling relationships?

Also, let’s not forget that we’ve gone through a pandemic, which has significantly shifted our online/offline behaviour. I’d even go as far as saying that meeting people online is just the norm now.

Whether people move from online to offline socializing is still up for discussion, but overall, we’ve normalized making friends and finding partners online.

14% of people that meet on a dating app eventually get engaged or married, and 57% of teenagers have made a new friend online (this number is from 2015, so you can imagine how much higher it is right now with Gen Z overtaking all social platforms).

For those with social anxiety, meeting new people online helps them handle it more confidently. 

As a social anxiety coach, these two areas of difficulty are the most on my radar: making friends and having conversations.

If you have social anxiety, you’ll most likely complain about being unable to do these things at the level you (and society) expect.

This is where the online world becomes a great playground you can experiment in.

Let’s walk through 2 scenarios, and you can let me know which one you feel more comfortable with:

In the first scenario, a friend invites you to a party/event and decides to go. 

After all, avoiding social outings will only worsen your anxiety, so you make a point to leave the house. You might know a person or two there, enough to get you going, but the moment you arrive, you feel out of place.

People are off in groups, your friend is doing their hosting thing, and you’re left stranded trying to make small talk. The horror!

If you haven’t gone by now, you’re brave. Conversations are superficial, people are talking about things you’re not interested in, and you’re unsure what to say. 

Your social anxiety rises, and you tell yourself, “Never again!”.

At this point, you’ll probably enter what I call the “avoidance loop.” 

The “avoidance loop” happens when you want to stay in your comfort zone (home alone), but the longer you stay there, the harder it is to show up confidently again.

Chances are, based on this scenario, it’s not an experience you’re excited to run into again.

Now, here’s the second scenario:

You join an online community of people who love gaming and meet weekly on a discord channel (you can also substitute this with any social platform you’re on and the bubble you find yourself in).

You “run” into the same people weekly and get to know them quickly.

You’re not forced to make conversation, and you certainly don’t need to befriend them, but your social anxiety is manageable. 

You’re not placed on the spot to answer questions, you don’t have to worry about how much eye contact you’re making (or not), and you certainly don’t have to think about what they think about you.

The best part?

You feel comfortable talking to them and make genuine friendships with people who get you. Your confidence starts to pick up, and you’re excited about meeting them in real life.

You don’t even think twice about whether or not your social anxiety will show up.

You don’t have to take risks and can feel more relaxed about being judged. You’ll still feel some social anxiety, but it’s much less, so you can form relationships you might not have been able to in person.

It’s important to remember that while meeting new people online is great, you must also make time to interact with people in real life. 

It’s not a choice between one or the other – you can have online and offline friends!

Making online friends can help you learn how to handle your social anxiety in a safe environment.

However, it is not a complete solution. Meeting new people online should help you to feel more comfortable talking to people, sharing your stories, and bonding with others. 

This will enable you to use these social skills offline.

5 quick ways to manage social anxiety

5 Quick Ways To Manage Your Social Anxiety

There’s no substitute for effort, but you can speed up the process if you understand and take these 5 ways seriously. This is your starter pack; what you do with it is up to you.

Here are 4 reasons why you should make friends online:

1. Communication is on your terms (it’s asynchronous)

This means that you’re not placed on the spot to react or reply immediately, as the case would be when you’re face-to-face with someone. You can take your time to think about what you want to respond with and have more control over the conversation.

An example of this is leaving someone a voice memo. 

You’re having a discussion/conversation, but it’s on each other’s terms and timelines. It’s asynchronous, unlike a phone call.

2. You can skip the small talk

Small talk can be difficult when building relationships, especially if you experience social anxiety. But online forums can provide a way to skip the small talk and dive into deeper conversations without feeling like you’re being too forward or trying too hard. 

For most of us with social anxiety, this can lead to nightly rumination sessions.

3. The physical elements won’t get in the way

If you have physical symptoms due to social anxiety, these will be minimized online. Blushing, sweating, and trembling probably won’t show up when you’re meeting someone new online, allowing you to feel more at ease with yourself. 

And even if they do, chances are that you’re off-camera, and they can’t see you!

4. It’s a practice ground for people skills

When you talk to someone in person, their reaction can make you feel anxious and unsure of yourself. But when you talk to someone online, it’s harder to tell how they react. 

You might be able to hear their tone of voice, but it’s a good opportunity to practice your social skills without feeling as much pressure.

Before you dismiss meeting new people online, test it out for yourself. The reasons are there for it to work out. Be open to the idea and see it as an experiment. The worst thing that can happen is that nothing comes from it, and you have to return to the drawing board.

I want to remind you of these 3 things if you’re having a hard time finding friends or connecting with people:

1. Not everyone is for you. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you – because trust me, when you meet the right person, you’ll immediately know what connecting means. 

You must keep putting yourself in front of people and seeing which ones you click with. Make sure to move on from those you don’t quickly.

2. You need to make an effort also. While most of my friends are extroverts, I’ve had to put in the time and effort to open up to keep the relationship going. You can’t expect someone to open up and share their story if you don’t reciprocate. 

The relationship will die if you don’t.

3. Look where you wouldn’t otherwise. Don’t quickly turn down a potential friendship if you find it in an odd place. Pinterest is an odd place. A Facebook group is an odd place. Your person is waiting for you in unconventional mediums because, well, let’s be honest, introverts tend to be more introspective and are better skilled at the written word. 

So go ahead and reach out to people you find interesting.

As for me, I have several new friends now because I’ve opened up my realm of possibilities.

And in today’s world, where everyone is just a flight away, there’s no excuse for not trying to build friendships.  You need different resources and different ways of going about it.

But I think making friends online is a totally valid way of building relationships and taking it from there. 

And even if you never encounter this person in real life, you can translate the skills you’ve learned by communicating with them online to the real world, to a potential face-to-face friend that’s, you know, down the street from you.

You will do yourself the biggest favour if you try to find friends in different ways and areas without shame; there’s nothing wrong with any of these ways of making friends or of dating or whatever the case may be.

It’s just the world we live in, and let’s use the available tools to make the relationships we wish for. And I’m just going to leave you at that. I hope that this gives you a new perspective on online friendships. 

They’ve fulfilled me, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out the way I once used to.

You can make friends across the world, and they can end up being the best friend that you’ve never had. Don’t discard yourself. Don’t discard its potential of it.

I would love to hear if you have a story where you connected with someone online and are really good friends, whether you’ve met in real life or not.

In this post, I walk you through my struggles with making friends.

I also give you 4 reasons to make friends online, especially if you have social anxiety.

  1. Communication is on your terms (it’s asynchronous)
  2. You can skip the small talk
  3. The physical elements won’t get in the way
  4. It’s a practice ground for people skills


I'm Roxana

I went from being scared to ask a question out loud to hosting summits online. I love coffee, french crepes, and working from home. My mission? Help others build their social confidence to make friends, have conversations, and be comfortable around people!

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There’s no substitute for effort, but you can speed up the process if you understand and take these five ways seriously.
5 quick ways manage social anxiety

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