Buddy System

Understanding men and their friendships.

Tips for Guys Making Friends At College

Dealing with new friends as a freshman guy

Going away to college for the first time can be difficult. New demands are placed on a guy to excel academically and socially. Whether you know some people at your new school or not, many new relationships will be coming your way. These include relationships with RAs, professors, local merchants, and other college students (male and female).

Five things to keep in mind as ways to handle your potential newfound friends:

1. Strike a balance between maintaining your current friends and making new friends - no one can tell you how much time to spend staying in touch with your high school buds. If you are lonely or have trepidations about making new friends, contact with your old support system is important. But don't let that stop you from attempting to make new friends. Texting old friends when out with a new group is not a good idea, though. It takes you away from the present. If you want to touch base or share your new experiences with your old friends, do it when you are alone.

2. Try new activities - this is what college is about. College is not a continuation of high school. You are living away from home, your parent(s), and home-based rules and routines. Eat at different places, join clubs, and get engaged in campus life. Pick something you think you will be good at and pick something you think will be more challenging. Stick with those activities for a semester or two and see what you want to continue doing. You will meet people and make friends through activities.

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3. Guys like shoulder-to shoulder friendships and gals like face-to-face friendships. I know this is an overgeneralization but men enjoy doing things with their friends (watching sports/playing sports, etc.). Women feel more comfortable than men sitting and talking with each other with fewer distractions. While these descriptions may or may not be true for you or your new acquaintances, as you meet new women and men friends, be aware that styles of comfort in interacting vary.

4. To maintain a new friendship, be a good friend. People like friends who are trustworthy and listen well. Men like guys who have their back and who they can count on.

5. Friendships that are lasting may take a while to grow. You have time to make friends so don't rush it by moving too fast. Meet a lot of people, say hi to everyone in the classroom halls and dorms, and maintain an optimistic attitude about the great things that can happen in the next few years both academically and socially.

Geoffrey Greif, Ph.D., is a Professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work and author of Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships.

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