Social anxietyforgetting to act normal thanks to the pandemic, wondering if they’re as tired as you are — do I need to keep listing why it’s hard to make friends as an adult?
A 2021 survey found that close friendships have declined over time — 49% of Americans report having no more than three close friends. I’ll pause while you count how many friends you have. Okay, the number doesn’t really matter – it’s the connections and relationships you have with friends that matter most.
Friends can be significant benefits for your health. If you don’t know where to start, use these fool-proof tricks to put yourself out there and meet new people.
Why is friendship important?
We are social creatures. We require human connection to be happy. But it is more than that; friendship is not only important because being alone is the worst. Friends promote better overall health. They give you someone to talk to andprovide emotional support to help you cope with what you are experiencing. Whether it’s financial stress or mental health difficulties, having friends to talk to can validate your feelings and even empower you to make changes.
Friendship offers tangible short- and long-term benefits to your mental and physical health that you can’t get on your own. The benefits of friendship include, but are not limited to:
- Improving your physical health: Research suggests that having friends may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and compromised immune function.
- Reduce loneliness and feelings of social isolation: Close friendships will keep you from being isolated and reduce the impact of loneliness.
- Boosting your self-esteem: Just like not having enough friends can destroy your confidence, making new friends boosts your self-worth. Why? Because you have new people to support and celebrate your talents.
- Helping you cope with stress: Studies have shown that people with more social capital or close friends tend to cope better with stress. You may experience fewer stress spikes in the first place.
Making friends as an adult can be difficult
You know how your mom stops making doctor’s appointments when you grow up? She also stops at making sure you keep up with your relationships. As an adult, you have to try. With things like social media to passively keep up with people, sometimes it’s hard to find good and reliable friends. Liking and commenting on “friends” pictures can be deceptive in how close you feel, leaving you frustrated.
Making friends is worth it, but it’s not always a walk in the park. Everyone knows the fear that goes along with trying to make friends as an adult — fear of being misunderstood or rejected. It’s understandable, but giving in to those feelings may be what’s sabotaging you in the first place. Research has found that people who accept rejection come off as cold and withdrawn, which puts people off.
7 techniques to help you make friends as an adult
1. Make sure you know what you want
What you need to define is where everyone needs to start. Before you do anything else, think about what you want out of the relationships you are trying to make. How much time and effort are you willing to spend to find and keep a friendship? What kind of friend are you looking for?
Remember, friendship is a two-way street. Once you know what you expect and want from a friend, make sure you reciprocate that with others.
2. Put yourself out there
There’s no sugar coating this: Making friends will take a lot of effort on your part. You can’t click your heels and expect friends to show up. Putting yourself out there means pushing outside your comfort zone. A great place to start is your community. Attend events at your local brewery or networking events. It helps you put down roots and connect with the people around you.
If you are someone (like me) who loves the comfort zone and struggles to get out of it, don’t forget to set boundaries for yourself. You don’t want to push yourself so hard that you fail out of necessity. It takes a lot of time to build relationships and it can be draining and waiting for positive reinforcement from others.
Try to mark your calendar with the days you will make your social outings. On those days, you can go to new places, introduce yourself and put yourself out there. On the other days, you can commit to recharging and taking time to take care of yourself.
3. Try online groups
I mentioned how social media can sometimes backfire on friendships — it gives you the image but not the real thing. That’s not to say you can’t create meaningful friendships online without ever meeting your friends in real life. Many people prefer online connections because there is no pressure to go out and meet in person. It is a great choice for people who are concerned or are introverted.
Using online interest groups such as gaming servers or support groups gives you the greatest opportunity to meet different types of people. Doing it from the comfort of your own home isn’t half bad either.
4. Throw a party
This one isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a social butterfly looking for like-minded people, consider throwing a party. It doesn’t have to be a fancy soiree; It’s worth watching a sporting event or hosting a trivia night. Whatever it is, the idea is to host a social event on your terms – you choose when it is, order the hours and choose your guest list.
If you’ve been tempted to invite a group of strangers in the name of friendship, don’t worry. You can use your social gathering as a networking event. Invite your existing friends and tell them to bring one new person with them when they come. That way, you feel comfortable with the people you know and meet new people who have already been vetted. It’s like an establishment, but with friendship.
5. Get on the apps (but in a friend way)
Picking friends is hard. Sometimes, you need an algorithm to help you find them. Like dating apps, apps are specifically designed to meet and befriend people. All you have to do is create a profile by adding a few pictures and a bio, and then you’re ready to start swiping. On many apps, you can filter by age, gender and interests.
Popular options are Bumble BFF, WINK, Nextdoor and Meetup.
6. Start volunteering or join a club
Let’s talk about the concept of situational friends. Basically, it refers to the friends you make simply because you are in the same place, such as work or the gym. Often, situational friends remain just that – the person you chat with when you see each other, and then go your separate ways when you leave.
There is a lot of value in this kind of friendship. However, if you want something that lasts longer, you can take advantage of site friendships by volunteering or joining a club. Introduce yourself, and establish a continuous line of communication with them. Ask them if they will be at your next event, or follow them on social media.
7. Stay with it
Making friends as an adult is a process. You should expect peaks and valleys of feedback. Take time to keep your self worth from getting attached to your search for friendship. Enjoy it self care by treating yourself with things you enjoy — like bubble baths or small items.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Go for a walk if you’re feeling overwhelmed, or try it thoughts get in touch with your feelings.