For some people, making friends growing up was a breeze. For others, it wasn’t easy – either making friends, or keeping them. However, when we’re younger, the sole criterion for making friends was that there was another young person there who you could have a good time with – be it at school, sports or even a social gathering. As we age though, there is a general fear that surrounds the process of making friends. For almost all adults, it can be difficult to make friends, and making and keeping them is an active process.
At all stages of life, friends are important to alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness. Major life changes – including moves, new jobs or new relationships – cause friendships to evolve, and unfortunately at times, to drift apart. However, it feels strange to make new friends as an adult, because apart from the associated awkwardness of reaching out to new people, you don’t want to come across as pushy or needy.
On the other hand, there are those friends you see only occasionally, whom you may want to build deeper connections with. While building friendships, it’s important to acknowledge that there needs to be an exchange of value added to both your lives. Whether it’s joy or emotional support, it is crucial to keep the communication flowing at a constant, and being upfront about your feelings with each other. This will help build strong emotional bonds for potential lifelong friendships.
You need to have a circle of friends that includes close ones and casual acquaintances. Some ways to make friends and/or keep them as an adult include:
- Joining groups that meet on a regular basis over a common interest, such as craft, book clubs, classes and workshops.
- If you live in a remote area, try networking in online interest groups in a similar area, with people that might be willing to meet up.
- Ask old friends and new acquaintances to meet up over coffee. A casual invitation helps adjust expectations and reduces the vulnerability factor.
- Organise casual BBQs or picnics to expand your friends’ circle. This will also help your friends gain more friends, and there’s always more room for people that make life fun.
- Small talk is encouraged. However mundane, engaging in small talk, awkward moments and uncertainty is what helps to build strong, long-lasting relationships.