When you were a kid, you simply walked up to another kid on the playground and asked if they wanted to play. Now that you’re an adult, that approach probably won’t win you any new friendships. It may even get you arrested.
You’ve gotten older and making friends is more difficult, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t want or need them. Friends are a key part of living a happy and healthy life. For Friendship Month, this September, let’s take a deep look at our friendships.
Why Friendships Are Important
You know that having good friends not only helps you have grand adventures filled with laughter, but they’re also the ones you turn to when times get difficult. But did you know those same good friendships can extend your life?
An evolutionary biologist looked into friendships and found that they literally help us survive. Being around your friends and in positive social relationships releases oxytocin in the brain. That’s the natural feel-good chemical that makes us happy and can even affect pain tolerance.
While these facts are important, you just want to have someone to hang out with. So how do you make new friends as an adult?
Tips for Making Friends
Not all of these tips are right for you, but if you find the ones you’re comfortable with, you should be able to make new friends and create those bonds that not only last a lifetime but extend your lifetime.
1. Say Yes
If you’re invited to do something, then do it. Stop worrying about not knowing people, not enjoying yourself, not having the time, etc. Give up all of your excuses and start doing things. These opportunities are the perfect way to meet new people and widen your social circle.
When we were kids, we had school to introduce us to people. Now, as an adult, you have work, but sometimes making deep friendships at work isn’t a smart idea.
It’s time to expand your reach, and volunteering is an excellent way to do that. It helps a cause you’re concerned about and introduces you to people who have similar beliefs and morals.
We all know the saying, “It can’t hurt to ask,” and we also know that it can hurt your feelings and your ego if you’re rejected. Let’s just accept that that’s a possibility, but on the other hand, we then have to accept that the answer might be yes.
Ask people if they want to grab a drink or a cup of coffee. Start a book club and ask the people you think you’d get along with if they want to join. Be proactive and take the initiative.
4. What Do You Like to Do?
The best friends are those that you share something in common with, so you need to seek out those people. The first step is figuring out what you like to do or even what you’d like to learn to do.
If you love paddleboarding, look for a group that has SUP events. If you’d like to learn to paddleboard, look for that same group, and ask if anyone will help you learn.
5. Be You
Speaking of things you like to do or would like to do, make sure these are actually interests of yours. Deciding to join a CrossFit group because they seem fun when you’re more a stay-inside-and-watch-Netflix person, is not going to do anyone any favors.
Be true to yourself, and you’ll come across as genuine and really create those lifelong friendships.
6. Old Friends Can Be New Ones
When is the last time you spoke to your friends from school? What about those people you knew but weren’t really in the same circle with? Reach out to the ones you find interesting and ask if they’d like to do something.
Social media is a great way to stay in touch, to reach out through messages, and to build a new old friendship.
7. Social Media Has Its Place
Too many people look to social media and count those people as friends. While social media is useful in maintaining and cultivating friendships, it doesn’t form a solid friendship base.
Real human contact is necessary to reap all the rewards. In fact, your social media time could be sabotaging your ability to make actual friends. Try cutting back and replacing that time with physical interactions with people. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your friendship circle opens up and strengthen.
8. Is It You?
Do you give people the wrong impression or put them off? It is possible that you’re the person standing in your own way when it comes to making friends. Try being more friendly, open, and positive when meeting people. A welcoming smile goes a long way.
9. Ask About Them
Everybody likes to talk about themselves, well almost everybody. You’re probably one of those people, too. While a great conversation goes back and forth, the first stages of friendship are tender and need care.
Nurture your new friendship by asking the other person about themselves, and refrain from talking about yourself too much. You want to contribute and share but never dominate the conversation with me, me, me’s.
To make friends as an adult, we need to seek other opportunities to connect with people. Try doing activities you like or would like to do with a new group of people, accept invitations, and throw a few invitations out there to see who bites.
When you’re out there and trying to make friends, try to be welcoming to all and genuinely interested in what they have to say. The way you present and carry yourself is just as important as the way you see your potential new #bestie.
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