Dear Therapist,
I’m struggling to make new friends at college. It’s hard to because of the coronavirus restrictions. I’m trying to enjoy time by myself but I get quite an intense fear of missing out. How should I try get more involved?

Dear Friend Seeker,

I love your wish to make new friends. It’s both vulnerable and confident, and the fact that you’re up for new friendships already makes you appealing.

In many ways, the world feels so unsafe, and the best we can do in unsafe situations is connect. I suggest you use your vulnerability as a strength, and begin to put yourself out there in forming new connections. It’s a good time to admit that things are weird and challenging. You might not be able to physically meet for a while, but are there online groups or WhatsApp groups where you could initiate conversation? Find an excuse. Any excuse! Ask a question, or make a comment. When it comes to forming friendships, sometimes it’s helpful to throw a lot at the wall and see what sticks. 

Not every conversation will lead to a relationship, and that’s perfectly fine, because there’s nothing lost from engaging. As a general rule, I find that curiosity + vulnerability = connection. Truly, I became friends with someone at a lecture once when she admitted an embarrassing childhood memory. And she wanted to know if I related. I did! It started with that. And went onto joyous topics soon after – it’s not just that misery loves company – but there is something about shared struggles that really do bond. And I promise you, other people are feeling lonely and longing for closeness. You’re at college at such a strange world moment, so well done, and in the meantime, be an extra loving friend to yourself. We all need to keep ourselves better company.


Do you have a question for Charlotte? Send it to [email protected] with Dear Therapist in the subject line

Further reading

How to be vulnerable

6 ways to nurture your friendships

How to carry yourself with confidence

Are friends even more important than partners?

Students: don't ignore your basic needs