How to Make Friends as an Adult
Remember how easy it was to make friends in elementary school? Most of the time your best friends ended up being the kids in your class or in your neighborhood. Or maybe you were best friends with kids whose parents were friends with yours.
As a child, making friends wasn’t as complicated as it feels today. Not only were you less worried about being rejected; you also weren’t as picky about who you were hanging out with. But things have changed now that you are a grown-up. Aside from the fear of rejection, making new friends takes a lot of time—something we all are a little short on these days. So instead, you lament the fact that your circle of friends is shrinking. And, you are not alone.
Research shows that after the age of 25, most adult friendships start to dwindle. Some of this has to do with changing jobs, getting married, moving to another state, and even having children.
But having solid friendships as an adult is important. For instance, one study found that regardless of your marital status, people who reported having 10 or more friends at age 45 had significantly higher levels of well-being at age 50 than those with fewer friends.
What’s more, another study found that friendship quality often predicts health more so than the quality of any other relationship.
In fact, people with larger social circles had a 50% lower mortality risk than those who didn’t. As a result, if your social circles have started to dwindle, here’s what you can do to start adding more friends to your inner circle.
Have the Right Mindset
When it comes to making friends as an adult, you have to have the right mindset. For instance, you cannot go into the process thinking that you are never going to make friends. Because your perception will become your reality. Instead, follow these tips and you will be well on your way to making some lasting friendships.
Focus on Being Open
In other words, don’t overthink the process of making friends. Instead of worrying about being rejected, or dwelling on the fact that you might not be fun enough, channel your inner elementary school self. Likewise, don’t assume that all your future friends have to be the same gender as you. Platonic male-female relationships are absolutely possible. Be open and inviting and see what happens.
Make a List of Potential Friends
Almost every person has one or two people in their life that they would like to get to know better. As a result, make a list of people you might like to hang out with sometime. Remember, making friends takes work and someone needs to take the initiative. After you have your list, consider extending an invitation for coffee and see what happens.
Put It On the Calendar
Let’s face it, everyone is busy. And despite your best intentions, if you don’t schedule it, you likely won’t do anything about making more friends. As a result, decide when you are going to ask that friend from the office to join you for appetizers after work. Set aside time to call the woman from your book club that you really connect with. The key is to schedule these initial contacts because if you don’t, you will just keep putting it off.
Yes, you are tired, busy, and over-scheduled. But, if someone invites you to do something, try to make it happen! If you have social anxiety, do your best to remember that this person invited you to a get together because they like you and want to get to know you better. Of course, if you cannot afford something or you are sick, then definitely decline the invite. But, make an effort to do something else together instead. Accepting invitations, even if you don’t know the person very well, is a great opportunity to open doors and expand your friendship opportunities.
Try New Things
When you are looking to make friends, it’s important to expand your horizons and try new things. You never know, you might just enjoy these new adventures. Plus, it will open up the possibility of making friends in new and interesting places. Take an art class or a dance class, you might not be the only one stepping out of their comfort zone and that in and of itself can be something to bond over.
Know Where to Find Potential Friends
Part of the challenge of making new friends is knowing where to look. Too many times, people assume that there are just no potential friends out there. But the problem is not the lack of opportunities for friendships, but the inability to put forth the effort to find them.
Reach out to Neighbors
Some of the best friends people have are their neighbors. Yet, many people don’t recognize the potential friend who lives right next door. They simply give the courtesy wave across the street and then close their door. But there may be some really great friendships waiting to be made just down the street from where you live. So, the next time you are both out, do more than just wave.
Connect With Co-Workers
You spend a large portion of your life with the people you work with. And despite the fact that you are in a professional setting, you likely know a great deal about one another. If this is the case for you, consider inviting one of your co-workers to do something non-work related. For instance, suggest you attend a baseball game together or grab dinner after work. Or, if you share a passion for something like yoga or cooking, suggest you do it together.
Join a Gym
It seems kind of cliche to suggest meeting people at the gym. But people do it all the time. The next time you are in Zumba class or you’re walking on the treadmill, strike up a casual conversation with the person next to you. Then, chat and say hello each time you see each other at the gym. Who knows? You might have the beginnings of a great friendship in the making.
Maintain the Friendships You Make
After you have established a few connections, it’s important to stay in contact. Friendships are like plants. If you don’t water them regularly, they will die. Consequently, make sure you are regularly reaching out to your new friends. Call or text consistently just to see how they are doing. Ask about their life. Show an interest in the things that are important to them. A good friend doesn’t make the friendship all about their needs; but also takes an active interest in the other person.
By Sherri Gordon