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9 Tips for Making Friends As An Adult

Vicky Peterkin, MSW, LISW-CP
Behavioral Health Counselor

Do you find it harder to make friends as an adult? If so, you’re definitely not alone. As children, it is easy to make friends on the playground or during activities like sports, clubs, and church. Research indicates after age 25, some friendships fade due to job and life changes like moves, marriage, and becoming parents.

Friendships declined during the COVID pandemic, and with the long period of isolation, rates of loneliness and depression increased. The good news is, this isolation increased the awareness of the loneliness epidemic in the U.S. and also helped relieve and reduce some of the stigma around mental health challenges. Even four years out from the onset of the pandemic, a recent poll indicates one in ten Americans feel lonely every day, with only 38% reaching out to family and friends. The bottom line: we all need friends and connections to call when feeling lonely, needing support, or having a bad day.

Adult friendships are vital to improving overall health and well-being. Having friends helps increase immune function and overall longevity, decreases stress levels, improves the ability to handle stress, helps us heal quicker, and lowers the risk of heart disease. Friendships also help us feel more connected to others and improve our overall mood. While we do need one or two friends to confide in, having casual friends to do things with is also a wonderful way to connect with others.

As adults, the lack of built-in social activities in our lives can make cultivating friendships more difficult and time-consuming. Studies reveal it takes around 50 hours spent together for an acquaintance to become a casual friend, and about 120 hours to make a good friend.

What is the best way to start making new friends? Here are nine tips to consider to begin exploring new friendships:

  1. Examine your mindset. It takes time to make friends, and some friendships will work, while others may not. It’s normal to feel awkward, nervous, deflated, or left out when starting a friendship, but how you respond makes the difference. Be genuine and authentic, stay positive, remember not to take things personally, and keep a growth mindset of getting out of your comfort zone to find and connect with new friends.
  2. Take action. Create a life you enjoy and make an effort to reach out to others. Text or call people you know, like acquaintances, family members, neighbors, or colleagues, to check in. Ask them to come over or go grab a coffee or meal, an acai bowl, or a smoothie, go for a walk, attend a social event, or just chat for a bit to catch up.
  3. Explore your interests. Bust out of your comfort zone and be curious and willing to try new things. Join a walking group, book club, or garden club, get a membership to a gym, sign up for a class like art, dancing, cooking, or a foreign language, or give a sport or recreational activity such as bowling, golf, tennis, or pickleball a try. It’s easier to make friends if you have a common interest!
  4. Revive old friendships. Old friendships can often be rekindled, even if they are long-distance. Look up friends on Facebook or other social media outlets and start a conversation to reminisce about old times and find out what is happening with them now.
  5. Join a church or other faith-based organization. Finding friends at a church or other faith-based organization is another way to connect and make friends on a spiritual level. Research also shows people live longer with a stronger sense of belonging in a faith-based community.
  6. Giving back increases overall happiness and is a great way to meet new friends who also have a giving heart. Hospitals, clinics, animal shelters, homeless shelters, nonprofit organizations, and churches, among others, are options for volunteering.
  7. Take initiative routinely. It’s important not to give up and keep reaching out if someone can’t make a date. Check on your friends daily or regularly. Strike up a conversation with strangers when you’re in a new environment, and build rapport by asking questions and actively listening. Keep looking for connections and find your people!
  8. Show up. If someone asks you to do something, avoid canceling and go if your schedule allows, even if you don’t feel like it. Often, we feel better when we make the effort, which can also strengthen the bond of friendship.
  9. Accept that friendships can change and evolve over time. Friendships can occur for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. People may move, get divorced, or there may be other issues that cause people to drift away from each other. While this can be sad, take time to grieve, be grateful for the time you spent with a friend, and cherish the good memories and experiences. Each friend is a special part of our lives, and friendships are some of the most beautiful, meaningful, and important relationships we have.

Cultivating friendships means being intentional with our time and effort. The payoff includes improvements in our mental and physical health, decreasing feelings of depression and loneliness, and enriching our lives – plus it’s fun! If you want to add more friends to your life, take a step today to make it happen.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Julia Derrick

Julia Derrick

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