Trusted Contributor

Making "real life" friends online: have you? how did you? and more

I thought of this topic when I read a post by someone saying she wanted to make friends. I looked at her profile and there were 5 posts, all saying she wanted to make friends. She posted 2 or 3 in mid March, 2 or 3 in mid April. None were responses to people who responded to her. 


I wanted to pull my hair out and scream No.... That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works not how this works.jpg.


So how does it work? 


Have you made friends who you consider good friends online?

Have they "converted" to being "in the flesh" or "real time" friends?

How did it happen?

Do you have any tips or advice for people who want to use these forums for making friends?

Periodic Contributor

Hi all, I just joined The Girlfriend today and loving it already!  I love this post and the responses.  So sincere!  I have online girlfriends, mostly old friends I've reconnected with on Facebook, and mostly college friends, or previous co-workers from near and far.  It has been great to reconnect with them!

Social Butterfly

Welcome @JaneD902450  😁

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Trusted Contributor

> Have you made friends who you consider good friends online?


Why yes, Nina, I have. I'll start with the bestest one of all time - my husband. I met him on CompuServe which was a private online platform where we paid by the minute to discuss things on discussion areas like this or in real-time chat rooms. I met him first in about 1995 and we met in person in about 1996 but not so much as friends as acquaintances.  The group in which we met had a custom that if you were traveling you'd post "I'll be in X city" and locals would sometimes come out and we'd all meet. Remember, back then not many people were online. 


Then in late 1996 we had both broken up with people we had been dating and we already knew we had a lot in common so we arranged to meet even though he lived in New Jersey and I lived in California.  In May 1997 he moved to CA to live with me, and in 1998 we were married.

Have they "converted" to being "in the flesh" or "real time" friends?


During that period of time I also met other people who became my close in person friends.


> How did it happen?


We got to know each other because over time we noticed I was often saying "I agree with Ed" and he was saying "I agree with Nina." So we started to look out for each other's comments.


> Do you have any tips or advice for people who want to use these forums for making friends?


YES - don't go in and say "does anyone want to be my friend?" I mean doesn't that sound a  bit like kindergarten? Or Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, which is sort of Kindergarten.  So here's my advice


1. Participate - and do so regularly and consistently over a period of weeks at least. If you're not enjoying yourself after a few weeks, maybe join a club in person. 


2. Be a friend to make a friend. Answer questions. Sympathize with people. Make someone laugh. 




4. Don't expect instant friends. 


5. Don't worry if you don't get the technology completely. I find this interface really hard to grasp. But I can click reply and I can type into the big empty box. 


6. Don't be afraid to ask questions. 


But mostly remember what @DeahWA said "Commenting on others' posts is essential for making good friends online."



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Silver Conversationalist

@ninaTx  Informative and humorous.  The perfect mix!  Great advice.  Basically get out there and respond to post,  then, take a deep breath and post a topic. Successful, not successful, doesn't matter, what counts is getting out of your comfort zone, come out from behind the shadows and post.  Instant success in my book.  Christine

Bronze Conversationalist

This is a great thread, @ninaTx . I think it can be daunting for folks who haven't spent a lot of time on a computer to master just the technology, or haven't gotten into social media before joining the AARP community. The purpose of threads can seem mysterious, and commenting can feel like interrupting a private conversation.


In reality, those of us who post a lot or start threads are trying to stimulate conversation, hoping the silent observers will join in.


Think of the threads -- and right here, this is a thread -- as small rooms you've wandered into where a few people are talking to each other. Don't be shy. Add your two cents. It's never an intrusion. It's what we want to have happen.


Think of the forums -- right now we're in the Home & Family forum, which is maybe like a hotel ballroom, AND in the smaller break out room were in, the room has gathered people interested in a topic called The Girlfriend. This specific thread that @ninaTx has started for making real life friends is like a group of people gathered around the appetizer table. And look, in the same room over by the bar are some people talking about blind date deal breakers.


Get it? That's how the AARP forums are organized. we're free to roam between ballrooms and breakout rooms at will.


I have made good friends online, and it's a process. For me, it's been done on Facebook (FB), so I can speak to the process there, and generalize a bit.


It starts with responding to posts when someone else's comments prompt a thought for you. On FB you can click an icon as a response and not actually type in your thought. The icon choices indicate liking or loving the comment,  wanting to show you care, finding it funny, or sad, or making you mad. This really helps establish not just a familiarity with someone, but lets them see you are on their wavelength. It's very friendship-forming.


The mere "kudos" available in the AARP forums doesn't generate response in the same way, especially since "kudos" mean praise, and not ever comment is praise-worthy. Plus it's annoying that every kudo then sends notification to your email. I'm reluctant to kudo now because it's just too much email. This needs to stop except when something is truly meaningful and praise-worthy.


When you've clicked a lot of icons on posts from the same person, they start to notice your name, and look for your response. This starts a personal connection. Clicking FB icons is like waving to an acquaintance across the room at Starbucks -- a friendly hello without needing to really stop and chat, but still an appreciated acknowledgement of being seen. We could use that here on the AARP forums.


Commenting on others' posts is essential for making good friends online. It's like carrying on a conversation. There might be several rounds of comments on a single post between you and the post-originator. There is not much commenting going on here on AARP forums. I don't yet have a sense of why that is.


Comments on posts when you and someone else click tend to flow easily into private messaging where you can be more personal and deepen connection on shared perspectives and interests. 


Use your personality. Let people get to know you by your sense of humor, your gentle sarcasm, your posted photos, your bullet lists, etc.


Soon you want to have lunch with online and maybe we'd do that on Zoom, or hopefully in person.


Oh, and here's a good thing to know -- I can be verbose. LOL, duh. And a good way to shut me up is to make your own comments in a thread. 🤣🤣😎

Silver Conversationalist

@DeahWA , I'm going to kudo you, and yes it's going to result in an email. But what are friends for? 😜 Christine

Trusted Contributor

Thanks, and as usual you've given a huge amount of information, and you are not verbose, if there is good stuff in each bit of info.