How To Make Friends As An Adult
Close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives. This is according to one of the world’s longest studies by the Harvard Study of Adult Development.
Making new friends is scary. I do not believe there is a specific type of human being that feels differently. In first grade it made me feel like an awkward wet washcloth and the anxiety didn’t get easier as I got older. But… research is crystal clear that we are wired for connection. The quality of those bonds determines the quality of our HAPPINESS.
So, what exactly are we to do???
There are many benefits to getting older and wiser (they are not always linked but let’s pretend for the sake of the blog) and using our experiences to stuff friendship hacks in our fanny packs, is one of them. Below are some tips I’ve learned and some others from friendship experts and science-backed studies.
Make the First Friendship Move
While at work, in line at Starbucks, or at a party, simply smiling is a good icebreaker. Ask how they’re enjoying said place, how do they know the host, have they tried the new pumpkin Chai latte? Intentionally striking up a conversation or a word like hi is also a low-stakes option and a great first step. This has the benefit of a) getting you out of your comfort zone and b) helps to non-verbally express your openness to having a conversation. Remember. More than half the US adult population feels lonely, a study from Cigna health insurers found. This means THEY TOO would love to make a new friend. So initiate the friend date. MAKE THE FIRST MOVE! This could be with someone you met at a good friend’s birthday dinner and you both realize you have an interest in spirituality and astrology. This just recently happened to me, and I plan on reaching out to this woman for a coffee date. Weve already connected on Instagram. Small steps forward. You may end up meeting your future sister-in-law or traveling partner to you dream destination.
Know Your Friendship Qualities.
There exist friendship superpowers only you possess! Maybe you aren’t even fully aware of them, but others most likely are and here are some ways to be conscious of them as well. Knowing this allows you to develop these awesome characteristics, and gift them to others more assuredly. When you’re sure of what you have to offer, you will be more confident to approach them with a sense of ease. Go ahead, ask the cute girl with the delicious-looking grilled branzino if she would recommend it. Here are some questions to ask yourself in case you can’t come up with your friendship qualities.
What advice do people come to you for?
What do you often get thank you’s for?
What qualities would your closest sister, friend, co-worker say you possess?
My Answers: I think I offer empathy, a calm space where friends can be exactly who they are, and a compassionate ear.
People ask me for advice on their love journeys.
I get thank yous for being there when a friend truly needs me. I’m still learning to be a better in-real-life friend.
Assume People Like You.
The biggest barrier to making new friends in adulthood? Fear of rejection. Turns out, that’s pretty common, and there’s even a name for this phenomenon: “the liking gap.” But research has found that after strangers interact, people generally underestimate how much they were liked. An Individual who has mastered the friend-making game, walks into new situations with the assumption that they’ll be accepted and liked. That’s what really facilitates them reaching out to others.
So, the next time you cross paths with a potential pal–whether virtual or IRL—believe in the power of your own likability. After all, wouldn’t you want to be friends with you?
Get Out There.
I hesitate even typing this since it’s a phrase that makes the hairs on my entire body stand up. But this is still the #1 way to potentially make new friends. It doesn’t mean you need to go to bars alone. Here are some ways I’ve found getting out there has led me to form new friendships. I met up with a friend at a restaurant for a girls’ night out and ended up building an acquaintanceship with the jewelry designer who happened to be sitting next to me. Intentionally saying hello to the blonde woman with the playful German Shepard on my daily walks. I accepted a pool party invite from an acquaintance and met Babs who later became a hiking and book-lover friend. Once I joined my hubby at a business garden gathering where the partner’s daughter channeled people’s energy on canvas, and I connected with an adorable heavy accented Spanish couple. I didn’t form a friendship there but in hindsight, I see this could have been an opportunity to get their contact and possibly meet up when I visited Newport Beach. In conclusion, accepting the uncomfortable feeling and getting out beyond your comfy place, may very well be the catalyst to meeting your next bestie!
Ahhhhh…..TRUE INTIMATE FRIENDSHIPS STAND ON EMOTIONAL SAFETY
Keep sharing your time.
As Oprah always says “time is our most valuable asset” so everyone knows that utilizing that precious time with another is one of the most precious gifts we have to offer.
Once you get to the acquaintance stage, keeping in touch regularly is key. For the soon-to-be friends, become their cheerleaders when they share something positive. Encourage them to smell the roses with you. Remind them they are worth the playtime with a friend. Come up with fun activities. If all the time you have is a 15 min chat at the corner bakery shop, do that! Remember an activity they mentioned they wanted to try and get tickets for it?
I absolutely need to adhere to my own advice. In recent months I’ve prioritized friend-time with people I love but never see. The same thought permeates my mind the entire time…why do I not organize these friend dates more religiously?
Staying in consistent contact allows us to get to know each other on a deeper level. It increases the likelihood of being vulnerable, which is one of the three principal legs of a real friendship according to Shasta Nelson author of Frientimacy. The second leg is a 5:1 positive to negative interaction. This is great info. What it means is that the best friendships have 5 x’s more positive exchanges than negative ones. People want to be around you more when you are uplifting. The third is the amount of time you spend together. There is research that says the more we see people the more likable we find them. This is called the Mere-exposure effect.
Interact with your potential new friends doing things that you both enjoy. Think about your friend’s super-power and make a point to compliment them on what is most valuable to them. EX: If your friend takes pride in her work, you can say something like “wow I have never seen anyone with this much dedication. You are going to be an even bigger success than you already are.” The idea is reflecting to someone in words or behavior the best in them. This goes the extra mile when they have forgotten how wonderful they are.
Rejection is terrifying. It results in never having the courage to risk it by showing anyone we like them. Monica Moore, Professor, and psychologist at Webster University found that even if we think we are showing people we like them, we really aren’t. She found it takes 13 glances for a woman to signal to a man that it’s ok for him to approach her.
How to signal well:
-Light touch on shoulder when speaking with them
-Use their name
-Comment on their posts
-Ask them if they want a coffee when you’re going to get one
Find your Kindred Spirit.
weve all been told « join activities you’re passionate about lalalala… « And that is still top-notch advice BUT if going to a class alone makes you feel queasy, you can find your groups on social media. Love yoga? Follow yoga instructors that resonate with you in your city. Positively interact with their posts. The more you engage with them the more both of you feel like you have become friends. When you feel a sort of kinship, it will encourage action like joining one of their online zoom classes or iRL classes.
Support Groups & Group Coaching
We all have our vices, sometimes it’s hard to get the support we need. Fortunately, you can learn how to meet new people in your crisis via a support group OR group coaching. For example, if you suffer from an eating disorder, you can research then spend time with people discussing how to cope with eating disorders. Sharing our struggles in groups with others is therapeutic. We no longer feel alone.
I hope these suggestions were helpful!
If you would like more support on creating new or getting over the loss of a close friend or social anxiety, feel free to click on SCHEDULE TAB above and book a complimentary Soul Session with me.
The Relationship Cure by John Gottman- This book focuses on relationships in mid-life with all the important people in your life. This is focused on emotional availability which is a pillar of all healthy relationships. The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your …https://www.barnesandnoble.com › Books
Here to Make Friends by Hope Kelaher, LCSW. This is a great book on how to move past small talk and strategies on how to build a meaningful community.