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How to Initiate Friendships When You Feel Left Out and Forgotten

By: Kristen Clark

Have you ever been left out by a friend? Have you ever felt like a certain friend wasn’t reaching out to you enough? Unfortunately, when stuff like this happens, our natural tendency is to complain and whine about what the other person (or group of people) isn’t giving us.

We complain that they aren’t loving us enough, caring about us enough, initiating conversation with us enough, etc. Instead of doing something about it, we sit back and throw ourselves an internal pity-party.

I know, because I’ve done it many times.

However, about eight years ago my entire perspective took a 180-degree turn. I learned one of the most valuable truths about relationships that changed everything for me. Instead of selfishly viewing myself as the “victim” of other people’s “lack of care,” I decided to change my entire focus.

When it came to any relationship, someone had to take the first step (and the second, and third, and fourth).

Instead of waiting around for someone else to take the first, I realized that I could take the first step.

Instead of waiting for the initiative, I could take the initiative. Although this concept seems simple, it radically changed the way I viewed family, friends, neighbors, and future friends. Someone has to take the first step, so why shouldn’t it be me?

From that moment on I decided to be the initiator instead of the complainer. And guess what happened? I began building deeper friendships like never before. I began making new friends like never before. And I began to love and minister to other girls like never before.

When I took my eyes off of myself and instead focused them on other people, I was amazed at how many opportunities I had been passing by. When my focused shifted from “waiting for friends” to “initiating friends,” everything changed.

As Christian girls, we are called to take the first step.

We are called to love others. We are called to minister to other girls (Titus 2). Philippians 2:4 says, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

For the past eight years, I have been intentionally cultivating a heart of initiation and care for others, and I want to challenge you to do the same. Don’t wait for someone else to reach out to you…reach out to them first.

If you’re new this whole idea of being the initiator, I want to share with you 4 of my favorite ways to do this.

1. In Everyday Life.

This is the easiest and most practical way to initiate friendships. Simple invite a girl to join you in your everyday life. What fills your week right now? School? Sports? Church? Youth Activities? Exercising? Bible Study?

Think through your entire week and look for activities that would be fun to invite someone along to participate in. Initiate a relationship with that girl and invite her into your life. This is one of the simplest and most impactful ways to initiate a relationship with a new friend (or old friend).

2. At Church on Sunday Morning

I’ve always viewed Sunday morning as a time for fellowship and growing in the Word…but I’ve never viewed it as a prime time for pursuing friendships and ministering to others until recently. I was at a conference a while back and several of the speakers shared about their Sunday morning habits. They viewed Sunday morning church as a prime time to show love and care for other women.

They challenged all of us to purposely arrive to church early and stay late in order to initiate conversations with others. They challenged us to look for the women/girls whom we had never met and to go up to them and meet them. Instead of viewing church with the mindset of “what’s in it for me?,” we need to view church with the mindset of, “how can I love others this morning and be a friend to someone?”

3. Plan Gatherings and Invite People

Don’t complain about never getting invited to any parties…instead, plan your own parties! Growing up, my sisters and I would host super fun parties and game nights for every season and occasion. We would invite all sorts of different people and loved getting to know them. Our house quickly became known as the “fun” house because of our regular gatherings.

Maybe you’ve never hosted anything before…but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start now. I have a friend who hosts one game night a month and everyone looks forward to it. Don’t wait for someone else to plan something. Be the initiator and use your home as a place of loving and ministering to others.

4. Initiate Coffee Dates.

Nothing can beat a one-on-one coffee (or tea) date with a new or old friend. After you meet that new girl at church, choose to take the next step and invite her out to coffee or tea with you. Choose to be the initiator in building a friendship with her. Once there, take an interest in her life by asking her good questions that help you get to know her better.

Ask her how you can be praying for her. Show her Christ’s love through your words, actions, prayers, and genuine interest. Wouldn’t you love if someone did that for you? So why not be that person for someone else?

Being the initiator isn’t easy at first, but it does become natural over time.

If you don’t choose to reach out to other girls, you won’t build friendships and you won’t show other’s Christ’s love. If you truly want to build solid friendships, you must choose to look outside of your self and reach out. Even when it’s hard.

I have a challenge for you.

Who could you begin building a friendship with? Think of one girl you could reach out to this week. Once you have someone in mind, choose to reach out to her by doing one of the 4 things I mentioned above. Once you do this challenge, come back to this post and leave me a comment below telling me what you did!

And for some additional ideas, check out my other post called: 15 Fun Ideas to Help You Deepen Your Relationships.

Now, let’s chat.

  • Do you view yourself as the initiator or the receiver? Why?
  • What additional ideas would you add to my list from above? Share with me below!

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48 Responses to How to Initiate Friendships When You Feel Left Out and Forgotten

  1. Heidi says:

    Thankyou for writing this! I’ve always liked the idea of “be the person you wish people were to you” 🙂

  2. whitefamily says:

    Thank you so much for writing this post. It came at exactly the right time. Recently I had been ‘pitying myself’ because my friends never seem to initiate in our relationships. But now I’m starting to be the ‘initiator’ and it’s making all the difference. God bless y’all!

  3. d_lovesdogs says:

    I have been the initiator and and receiver. I like to receive more than give more. Sometimes I initiate several times, but the girl I am trying to be friends with won’t accept, what do I do then? Do I keep pushing for a friendship when she won’t even respond to my “Hello, How are you today?” Thanks Kristen for the article! Girldefined is a blessing to me 🙂

    • Shanae B says:

      Thanks for asking this question! I have a similar situation. Great article though Kristen!

    • Chiamaka Oji says:

      Thanks for that question too. We all in one way or the other, face such scenario in our relationship with others. I think at such point, we need to as the scripture says “be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves”. Everyone could be your friend, but not everyone will be your buddy, at least, at a particular time. So if you keep trying to initiate friendship with someone and the person keeps resisting, just keep the friendship natural and be good to her when the need arises, with time she’ll be drawn to you. I’ve experienced this a number of times. Also, one tool I use always is PRAYERS. Funny? We could actually talk to God about anything. I know of wonderful friendships I have that has been borne out of telling God about it. I say things like (maybe not exactly) “God, I love that daughter of yours and will want us to be friends because…, Let something get us together”. Before long, I just realize that we are now close friends… So try that also. Thanks.

      • d_lovesdogs says:

        Thank you! I know that prayer is the first thing we should do when in a hard or even good situation.

    • GirlDefined says:

      Hey, great question! We can’t change people and we can’t force anyone to accept us. If you’re trying to pursue a friendship with someone and, after a while, they continually reject you, it’s honestly probably time to move on. Continue loving them from afar — yes — but until they’re ready to have a relationship, it’s not going to work well. Instead, pour your time and energy into pursuing friendships with others!

  4. Caitlyn says:

    Thank you girl’s so much for this!! It’s so timely because I recently moved and have been struggling to make new friends. This was a great encouragement to me to keep reaching out and to do so more. Thank you again!

  5. Bianca says:

    This is so true! I was always the receiver but eventually came to realise that I wasn’t the only one finding it hard and if everyone reasoned the way I did we wouldn’t get anywhere. Old habits die hard but I’m learning to initiate and somehow life seems brighter.

  6. Chiamaka Oji says:

    Thank you Kristen! I love those 4 ideas you shared. I think another great idea, and one I apply is “creating an avenue to teach them something, like a skill”. It could be cooking/kitchen skills, musical instrument, anything you know they’ll love to learn from you… (I wrote those two because they are the ones I do often). It could be in your home or any other place that is relaxed and welcoming. May God help us to always be true sisters and friends, and bless all our Christ-centered relationships. Amen!

  7. Abigail Edwards says:

    Girls, Bethany once told us that she keeps a prayer journal. I think keeping one could help me a lot, but I don’t know how to get started! Could you girls maybe give your advice or address this topic in a future video? I think this might help many young girls who struggle with prayer laziness!

  8. Beth says:

    What are your thoughts on trying to make friends, but feeling like it’s imposing on the other person because maybe they already have a friend group, or because I look up to them so much even if they’re a peer, or basically an inferiority complex? Thank you for this post!

    • Lydia says:

      Hey, Beth! I saw your comment and couldn’t help but relate! When I was younger I walked through this same exact thing. I always felt inferior and that I was imposing on others by approaching them. What changed my heart? God, of course! One day I was in my room feeling sorry for myself, hating that I felt inferior, but continuing to feel that way when it came to me, “I made you in My image.” After that moment my view on life completely changed. Not only was human kind made in the image of God, but I was specifically made in the image of God. I realized throwing off on myself was throwing off on what God had designed. Not only did it open the door for me to love myself, it also opened the door for me to love others more! The truth is no one is inferior and no one is superior! God made you and you are amazing and that girl/guy you want to be friends with is amazing! Don’t let fear, which is a lie, keep you from God’s promises! Remember that every good gift comes from above. God only wishes to bless you; He would never fill your mind with thoughts of doubt…
      And I would like to add on that if you face rejection, do not always blame yourself. Not everyone will accept you, and you are not meant to walk the road of life with everyone; you never know when He might be protecting you from a hurtful relationship.
      God bless, and I hope you find the courage to love yourself and those around you more!
      Psalm 37:4-5; Galatians 6:9.

    • GirlDefined says:

      Great question Beth! In short, it’s a lie that you are inferior to anyone. Don’t believe it! We are all equally created in God’s image (Psalm 139:13-15). You are not worth less than any friend group. But I know it can “feel” that way at times. I would encourage you to be bold and pursue friendships with those kind of people. If they’re not receptive, that’s fine. You can’t change people. Graciously move on to a different group/person and try to befriend them instead. 🙂

  9. I love this! I love your posts about friendships.

  10. GirlDefined says:

    Great question, Lydia! Each situation is so different, but it’s never easy to get betrayed by a friend. Since the Bible talks a lot about reconciliation, I think that’s a great first step. Matthew 18:15-17 says, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”

    If the friend isn’t willing to reconcile and hear you out, then you can peacefully move on knowing that you have done what God commands regarding conflict by pursuing peace and reconciliation. I wouldn’t recommend shoving things under the rug and just moving on without trying to reconcile first. 🙂

    Also, be prayerful for that friend and the entire situation. Ask God to give you a heart of humility and grace. You can always pray for strength and wisdom to not withdraw from other people in your life as well. God will help you if you seek Him!

    • Ruth Jackson says:

      I’ve been stabbed in the back multiple times and I still struggle with letting people in. For most of high school, I closed myself off. In college, I began to seek out new activities, classes and try to join in other people’s fun. Looking back, I realize a big part of the reason why I withdrew was because I wasn’t happy with who I was. I believed the lies people had told me about myself. This is a great topic to explore with other friends especially those who are older and can guide your friend. I’m sure there are books on the subject you can look up. Max Lucado is a favorite bible study author of mine, but I’m sure you can find some others. I also will say pray! A LOT!

  11. Bella D. says:

    This was an amazing post! It really helped me to become other centered in my thoughts towards would-be friends.

  12. Addi F. says:

    I love this post! Thanks for the tips- it’s always a good reminder to try to focus outwardly on others instead of on ourselves:)

  13. Hannah says:

    Love this post! I recently moved from the West Coast to the East Coast and I’m really missing my friends! But this post has really encouraged me to start making meaningful friendships! I have quite a few friends, but they are not really that close, so thanks for the reminder do really get out of my comfort zone and make deeper friendships!
    I also have a question that isn’t really related to to the topic. What do you think a women’s role in the church is? Like do you think that women should be preaching in the pulpit? I’m just wondering what your view is on this topic.

    • Ruth Jackson says:

      Funny you should mention your move. I recently moved from the East Coast to not quite the West Coast (Colorado). I didn’t have close friends outside of older adults at my church back East, but I moved to CO without knowing a soul. In the last couple months I’ve been trying to reach out to others by hosing parties, inviting people to dinner and inviting people to activities I’m doing. I invited my new roommate to go to the taco festival with me tomorrow. Super excited! It is a good reminder to be a friend first before becoming someone’s friend.

      • Hannah says:

        Oh wow, that is funny! I’m sorry that you don’t really have friends where you live! Oooo that sounds fun!! Are you attending collage or university in CO?

        • Ruth Jackson says:

          No, I graduated college back in NY. Now I am a working adult lol I like my coworkers but they are all married and/or old(er). This summer I’m making it my mission to invite people to things I want to do and be involved in the Christian meetup groups. Just joined a bible study a couple weeks ago so we shall see how that goes!

          • Hannah says:

            oh okay lol. I’m going to start my Freshman year of college in the fall! I’m really excited. I’m planning on doing an Occupational Therapy major. Oh that’s awesome!

  14. Ruth Jackson says:

    This post really got me thinking. Now that I have more time to focus on others and explore my new home (Colorado), I feel like God has been encouraging me to be the friend that I’ve always wanted. I’ve had a few friends here and there that have been there for me, but none that lasted. I envy those who are still best friends with those they went to elementary school with. I have a few friends from college that I hope will stick around, but I’ve noticed as soon as my life gets rough — people disappear. On a more positive note, since moving to CO, I’ve been making efforts to do new things, join meetup activities, go to women’s bible study at my new home church, join a small group with young adults, invite people I’ve met to things I’m doing etc. I like having friends as I’m sure many of us agree. However, we can’t expect everyone else to do ALL the work. I typically view friendship as 50/50. If the other person wants to make me do all the work (which happens way too often) then I have to draw the line and step back. So I’m hoping that I find people who enjoy being around me and invite me to things every once in awhile instead of me always hosting parties and asking them to join me on hikes, festivals etc. That’s what I pray for. But I won’t let it stop me from being a friend! Thank you, Kristen!

  15. Caroline Elstrom says:

    I’ve always had a hard time with this and have always felt left out. This post was really encouraging. Initiating friendships is hard for me because I always feel unwanted, but I’m going to try to put myself out there more. Thanks for the encouragement and ideas.

    • Bianca says:

      Caroline I totally relate! It’s been amazing how my feelings have changed; how much more confident I feel just by getting out there and focusing on others and making them feel important and appreciated!

  16. Jessica says:

    What would you recommend to someone who is very introverted when doing this?

    • Bella D. says:

      Hey Jessica! Being a former introvert, maybe I can help inspire some ideas.

      We all have to acknowledge, developing relationships is hard, even for the more outgoing. However, it all reverts back to “Am I serving myself or am I serving Jesus Christ?” when it comes to being welcoming and gracious to those around you. Being friendly and reaching out may be one of your weak points, and we all know that we must guard and sharpen up our weak places until we have mastered them. This may be a life-long struggle for some, but if getting over yourself to walk over and introduce yourself to the new girl is what it takes, then do it! You might have an opportunity to witness to the young woman you are about to meet.

      In short, it’s another battle over self. Some struggle with overeating, some struggle with their self image, some struggle to reach out to the needy. Hope that helps some! I know I’ve struggled fiercely myself, but the rewards have been amazing. Once, a couple of girls I welcomed and did my best to make at home ended up joining our church!

  17. Kendra says:

    How do you handle when you do initiate and nothing in return? I try to send messages to friends
    To see how they are and all that. People don’t answer back, makes me think something is wrong with me?
    Any suggestions?! I love this article, looking for advice please.

    • Elizabeth Rios says:

      I feel you girl. I’d like an answer to that myself.

      • Kendra Brown says:

        GirlDefined, what would you suggest when try to initiate and nothing back ? Gets very hard at times Any suggestions?! great piece here too Thanks !

  18. Elizabeth Rios says:

    What should I do if I already tried all of that yet that person still doesn’t reciprocate the effort? It’s annoying because I feel like I’m the only one who cares and I feel it wearing down on my self esteem. It’s almost like begging for attention which I don’t want to do.

    • Bianca says:

      I know the feeling well and as hard as it is we have to let people go if they don’t want to be friends with us. We should offer and initiate friendship, but we can’t force it.

      • Elizabeth Rios says:

        It just sucks because I feel like it happens to me a lot and I don’t understand why? Like I know I am a good and loyal friend and I like helping people out. I have my flaws of course like everyone. My mom thinks that it’s the era that I’m living in that people are very superficial.

    • Elisse Tirian says:

      Girl I was just about to say the same thing, I so relate to you. <3 It can be tough sometimes :/
      It makes me just so incredibly appreciate of people like my sister and boyfriend who I can always trust are my friends.

  19. Anni says:

    This blessed me! I was surprised that you, Kristen, as an extrovert person struggled with this! You really encouraged me with this article and I applied it this morning in church! I joined the church people for this first time this year in the cafeteria after the church service and I had a good time! Thanks 🙂 Your Sister in Christ!

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