They say that “friends are the family we choose”. While some friendships may come and go, others can endure for decades (or possibly even a lifetime, if we’re lucky).
When we were younger, it was often easier to make friends because we were in school. Classmates, team sports, and extracurricular activities often connected us with new people, which frequently led to friendships developing. The challenge that most people find is learning how to make friends as an adult, after college.
How To Make Friends as an Adult
While it may be more difficult to make friends as an adult, the benefits far outweigh the downsides. More often than not, when we make friends as an adult, we’re more selective about who we choose to spend time with, and as a result, those friendships tend do be more meaningful and enduring.
As we get older, our time becomes more limited due to demanding careers, busy family lives, and growing responsibilities. That’s why it’s imperative that we choose our friendships wisely, and surround ourselves with people who improve our quality of life.
To start with, making friends as an adult is different than when we were younger. Because we don’t socially “need” friends (to “fit in” anymore, like we did in high school or college), we feel less pressure to just make friends out of sheer necessity. Instead, we can take our time to think about the types of people we’d enjoy being around, the activities we’d want to do with them, and even the personal qualities they’d have.
When you decide to make friends as an adult, it’s helpful to begin by thinking about yourself. What are you interested in? What types of activities or hobbies do you love? Is there something you want to learn? Do you prefer fun, outgoing people who just want to have a good time? Or would you feel more stimulated by an intellectual type who likes discussing big ideas or global matters?
The more you think about your own interests, personality, and deeper needs, the better of a chance you’ll have at finding friends who align with your core values and way of thinking.
When you feel ready to make friends as an adult, it’s time to go socialize.
While it’s possible to make friends at work, sometimes getting chummy with a co-worker isn’t the best idea. Getting too close to a colleague can affect your career and even create an impact on your work environment (especially if things get sticky). In that case, it’s advisable to be ‘friendly’ with co-workers, but don’t get too close.
Some of the best places to make friends as an adult is through organizations. Social clubs (like a young professionals organization), non-profit charities (such as Junior League), and athletic associations (like Team In Training or group sports, such as a tennis team or softball league) are all great outlets for meeting new people and developing friendships. Not only do you get exposed to a wide variety of people, you also can connect with them on a regular basis, which makes the progression from acquaintance to friend a more natural evolution.
In addition, joining a club or organization gives you the opportunity to see someone’s character and personality over an extended period of time. Do they show a genuine interest in connecting with others? Are they fun to be around and add value to the group? Do they enjoy getting involved with projects (and show the ability to follow-through on promises)? These are the types of things you’ll learn about people by joining clubs or organizations.
Adult friendships usually have a greater impact on our lives than even childhood friendships. As adults, we often feel that it’s our grown-up responsibility to handle life (and everything that gets thrown our way). But, it’s through the support and love of our friends that enables us to feel more capable of handling situations and moving through life much easier. Not to mention – our friends definitely make weekends way more fun!
That’s why it’s important to selectively find and cultivate friendships with people that empower you (when you need the support), embrace you (when you need a hug), and genuinely care about you.
For more helpful tips on relationships, check out the Personal Growth section on Inspirations & Celebrations.
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