Making Friends as an Adult? Yeah You Can!
Your relationships shape you. They open you up to new opportunities and adventures - and perhaps a lot of things you wouldn’t normally try on your own.
Yet, as we get older, we tend to let our relationships with old friends fizzle out. Life gets busy. You hold onto just the couple of people that really matter in your life. And before you know it, it’s been about 2 or so years since you caught up with those friends.
It’s not world-ending or abnormal. Relationships take work. And as we age, we also become pickier and more selective with whom we hang out with. But surprisingly, over 50% of Americans claim that they are lonely.
However, loneliness isn’t the end-all, be-all. It’s not inevitable. In fact, you should actively seek out new friends and new connections. Why? Because you never know what you’re missing out on. People can surprise you. And our interactions and relationships keep life interesting and make it meaningful.
That’s not to say you need to become an irresistible social butterfly or anything to the extreme. It just means getting out of your comfort zone a bit and putting yourself out there. It’s like dating for the first time after a divorce. It’s been a while. But you’ll get better at it! How? With practice!
And yes, it will be different than when you were a kid. But hey, that’s okay. Accept this part of your life and walk into it with confidence. You’ll find your tribe. Here’s how!
Ask Yourself: What Interests You?
It’s way easier to make friends doing the things you enjoy. But there’s a catch - it has to be in a social setting. If you love working out, try a few gym classes and start attending them regularly. If you’re into arts and crafts, look up a new painting or pottery class.
It’s a social setting intertwined with your interests. You’ll have at least one thing in common with most of these people - if not more. You’ll have something you can bond over. So, ask yourself: What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy doing? Is there something new you want to try?
The cool part about this is that once you figure out what you enjoy, you can find a ton of meet-ups in your local town or city. Download the Meetup app and discover new groups with similar interests or hobbies. Or look up local classes or clubs in your local area.
When in Doubt: Ask the Other Person Questions
Like we said, relationships take work. If you are unsure how to start talking with another person in the class or social setting, simply ask questions. Why did they join the class? Have they done anything like this before? Do they live close by? You can learn a lot by asking questions.
Here’s another hint for communicating: Show vulnerability. If you’ve recently divorced and needed to get out, just say it. We know it’s tough. But it breaks down barriers and encourages the other person to be open as well - Friendship made! Plus, no one is perfect. Just be the down-to-earth person that you are!
Go It Alone
It’s way easier to make friends solo. You won’t be leaning on another person to do all the talking. Instead, you are thrown into that position. If you absolutely feel uncomfortable with this, of course, bring someone along! But it’s definitely easier to be yourself without another person that you bounce your identity off of.
Like dating, you need to keep in touch with your friends or new friends regularly. Losing touch is the main relationship killer. You haven’t talked for a few weeks, then it turns into a few months. Suddenly, bam - a few years have gone by and that friendship has sailed.
Today, technology makes it so easy to stay in touch. Text your new acquaintances or friends every now and again. Make definite plans. Don’t use the cliche, “We should plan something!” and then never follow-through. Actually plan it. Set a date and an activity. Aim to touch base with most of your friends every 1-2 weeks - it’ll keep your social life chugging along.
Make Friends with Friends of a Friend
Huh? Say that 10 times fast.
In all seriousness though… friends of your friends are great people to get to know! They are likely similar to you. Also, it can solidify group events and plans. If you’re friends with them too, you’ll definitely receive an invite to the next hang-out.
How do you get to know them? At group gatherings. Show up by yourself and mingle. Get to know your friend’s friends. Find out what you have in common - it’s probably more than you think!
Don’t Get Wound Up By the Little Things
So, they can’t hang out. If they say they’re busy, give them the benefit of the doubt. Chances are that they are likely busy. If this continues for 3-4 times, consider this: If they can’t just say it to your face that they don’t want to hang out, they aren’t worth your time or energy. Move on. You don’t want that in your life anyway. Plus, friendships should be 2-sided. Don’t be the one always pulling all the weight.
And don’t start blaming yourself. No guilt games allowed. You’ll find your people! It just might take more time than you’d like.
The Best Ships are Friendships!
Truth. So, strengthen the relationships you already have and make new friends with others who have similar interests!
Friends get us through tough times. They are a shoulder to lean on and a friendly face to confide in. Friends make us laugh. They add joy to our lives. They make it better. Time Magazine even claims that friends make us happier than anything else. If you have happy friends, they can bump up your happiness by over 15%.
Get out there! Find those friends you might be missing out on. And put the time and work into nurturing those relationships. Remember, relationships take work. But the outcome? Totally worth it.