It is human nature to want to reach out to others and create a social network of support. This is true whether you have anxiety about meeting new people or not. We are still drawn to other humans for friendship, companionship, and support, even if the prospect of meeting others is terrifying. All Friends Network is an online support network for people of all ages with developmental disabilities, such as cerebral palsy and autism. We offer online resources, networking, and interactive communications with other members who also have developmental disabilities. Our Live Link network app was designed to help members interact with others in a safe and friendly environment. However, we also understand and encourage the idea of making friends face-to-face, which is why we are also planning real life events and opportunities for our members to explore.
What is a Friendship?
There are different kinds of friendships with varying degrees of closeness and intensity. Some people find their best friends early on in life and will have a few close friends and acquaintance-type friends throughout their lifetime. Others prefer to make friends with a group and will switch from individual to individual or participate in group events together as they grow older. However, there are a few who never really find close friends or best friends because they hold themselves back from becoming that close with another person. They might have anxiety about closeness, fears about rejection, or a history of being ridiculed and bullied that is holding them back – even in adulthood. Instead, they have a few acquaintance-type friends at school, work, church, or in the community that they know and speak to regularly but don’t ever really share anything personal like they would with a friend.
When you consider all the different ways that people can be friends, it becomes apparent that online friendships can be just as real as face-to-face friendships. This is especially true if the person does not have a lot of real life friendships with people that they socialize with regularly. For some, this might be enough, and, during the pandemic, many people from all walks of life realized that they could forge real bonds and friendships with people over the computer. The thing about friendships compared to family relationships is that friends are voluntary. You can’t force a person into a friendship no matter how polite they think they need to be, but family members have to put up with each other regardless. Friendships are valuable – and scary at the same time – because they are not guaranteed. Learning how to make friends online can help make it easier to communicate with others in person.
Finding Common Ground
Participating in real life events and opportunities through All Friends Network might help you to find common ground with another member and forge a friendship. Similar to an online chat room, video game chat, or online networking program like the Live Link network app, real life events help our members to find others who share hobbies, interests, and other life experiences. Trips to the local zoo, museum or a pizza party event can be an excellent ice breaker that will help you find someone who understands your point of view and appreciates you for who you are. When you discover that you both like giraffes or animals in general, you’ll have lots of new things to talk about, making it easier to get over the fear and anxiety that can come from meeting new people.
It is human nature to want to connect with others who share our same passions about certain topics of interest or things that really matter to us. So whether you chat with someone online via the Live Link network app or meet up in person at a planned event, make sure to give that person next to you a chance. You just might have met up with your new best friend who likes all the same movies, hobbies, and foods that you do – and you don’t even know it yet. If you would like to join the All Friends Network, contact our team directly by calling 941-587-7172 or using our online contact form to reach out to one of our friendly staff members.