Creating new friendships as an adult can be very challenging. By the time someone reaches adulthood, they are often fairly stuck in their ways with set routines, beliefs, and other friendships, and it’s difficult for them to deviate from them.
What may be most important is a general lack of opportunities. During childhood, you would go to school with literally hundreds of other children your same age. While they may come from different backgrounds, you would still have a lot in common. This is often why childhood friendships last long into adulthood.
Another issue that may hold someone back is having dealt with painful experiences from previous friendships. Being in a friendship with someone means being vulnerable and if someone you love and trust takes advantage of that then it could be a long time before you are ready to open up again. However, there are a few upsides to making friends as an adult. While it may be harder to form a new bond, you will be able to have a clean slate and a chance to learn from previous mistakes in order to form a healthier and stronger bond than previous friendships may have had.
Why Are Friends So Important?
Friendships are worth taking the time to create and build as they enrich our lives in so many ways. A good friend can teach you about yourself and challenge you to be better. They can encourage you when times are tough and be there to celebrate your success with you. They can do a lot more than provide emotional support, though.
They can have a positive effect on your health as well, with some research indicating that friendships are just as important to a person’s well-being as eating right and exercising.
There are plenty of great benefits to having friendships, and some of them include:
- Good for your physical health. Maintaining healthy relationships will contribute to your overall physical health. Having a close circle of friends can actually decrease your risk of several health issues such as diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. By having strong social ties you will decrease your feelings of loneliness, which take a serious toll on longevity. According to one study, people with strong relationships in their lives have half of the risk of premature death from all causes. Social isolation and loneliness are also strongly linked to several health issues, including high blood pressure, substance abuse, heart disease, and cancer.
- Reduce stress. While having friends to support you during tough times is helpful, spending time with friends, in general, will help to reduce your levels of stress. Social connections help to relieve stress which harms the heart’s arteries, gut functions, insulin regulation, and the immune system. One study showed that when children hang out with their friends during stressful situations, they produce less cortisol which is a hormone that the body releases when it experiences stress.
- Encourage healthy behavior. Friends can help you to make lifestyle changes that will have a direct impact on your well-being. For example, friends can be helpful in set and maintaining goals relating to eating better and exercising more. The journey of getting healthier and in better shape is much easier when it’s shared. Friends will also watch out for you and point out unhealthy behaviors, such as drinking too much, when they start to become a problem. You are just as important to your friends as they are to you, and so they will want what’s best for you and will be happy to help you to find ways to improve yourself.
- Provide emotional support. When life hits you hard, and you find yourself dealing with hard times, having a friend to help get you through it will make the transition much easier. Happiness is contagious among friends, and so if one of you is happy, then the other will almost certainly cheer up at least a little bit. A study involving high school students found that those experiencing depression were twice as likely to recover if they had happy friends. In addition, these high school kids were half as likely to develop depression if they had friends with healthy and positive moods.
- Build your confidence. Everyone will experience self-doubt and insecurity from time to time, but having friends who support you will play a big role in building your self-esteem and how much you love and appreciate yourself. Supportive friends can help you to feel more confident by offering praise and reassurance.
Tips To Making Friends As an Adult
The first thing to do is to make sure that you have the right mindset. You can’t go into the process thinking that you will never be able to make new friends. Believe in yourself and know that you are a valuable friend to have. Maintaining positivity is important because first impressions mean a lot. Here are some other things to keep in mind:
- Be open. Don’t overthink the process of making friends. Instead of being worried about rejection, focus on being the type of friend that you would want to have. Also, don’t assume that your future friends should be the same gender. Platonic relationships are possible and have just as many rewards as traditional friendships. Be open and inviting to making friends that you would never have considered before, across all genders, races, sexual orientations, and religions.
- Mark it on the calendar. Finding time to do anything in life can be difficult, let alone finding time to hang out with someone you hardly know. Set aside time and schedule appointments with people because if you don’t, you will probably just continue to keep putting it off.
- Say yes. When you get an invitation to something, say yes to it, even if it’s something you are unfamiliar with or have never tried before. It may be tough to be in a foreign environment, but if you were invited, then you are wanted. Don’t be afraid to open new doors and expand your friendship opportunities. In the event that you are sick or legitimately cannot make it, immediately reschedule to do something with the person that invited you.
- Try new things. Expand your horizons and try new experiences that you would never have thought of trying before. Even if you don’t like something or fail to make any friends, you will know yourself better and have a story to tell. Step out of your comfort zone and meet new and interesting people.
One of the hardest parts about making new friends is not having easy opportunities. In school, your best friend was probably someone in your grade that sat near you in class. It doesn’t work that way in adulthood. Knowing where to look can be a huge challenge, but here are some options:
- Social media. Although it may seem like it does the opposite, social media was designed to help people to connect. There are many opportunities to easily reach out and attempt to make friends or reconnect with old ones. Many apps exist designed to help strangers to meet and there are lots of available networking events created daily. Finding a group that shares a common interest and meeting up with them is a great way to have a leg up on making new friends.
- Co-workers. You spend a large percentage of your life with people that you work with, but do you really even know them? Try talking to a coworker about things unrelated to work and get to know them a little better. You may have more in common than just working at the same place. Consider spending time with them away from work and getting to know them better that way.
- Neighbors. There are so many different people with so many different and unique qualities that live so close to you. Maybe you politely wave or smile in passing, but why not strike up a conversation and see if you have any common interests? Worst case it goes back to politely avoiding interactions, and you will have lost nothing.
- Join a gym or sports league. Working out can be a grind and get pretty boring, but if you have a friend with you then it’s much more fun. While not everyone that goes to a gym is looking to talk, there are plenty of people there that you’ll see routinely. Even if you don’t make any friends, going to a gym is great for physical fitness in general. Also, consider joining a sports league. Playing basketball, volleyball, tennis, golf, or softball with others are great choices. You will be getting plenty of exercise and will be a part of a team, so talking to and spending time with others will be a frequent occurrence. You’ll share a common interest and game experiences to easily branch off into more personal stories and information necessary to build a lasting friendship.
Trying to make friends when you are an adult can be very challenging, but it’s not impossible. Maintaining the right attitude and knowing where to look can be hugely beneficial and provide ample opportunities to create meaningful and important relationships.
It’s important to remember that if you are unable to find new friends, don’t lose hope. If you stop trying, then you will never succeed. As long as you keep a positive attitude and try new things, then the worst-case scenario is you feel happier while trying new experiences.
Friendships are important and provide a lot of great benefits, but don’t be afraid to be alone and do your own thing. If you are afraid of being alone and can’t handle the idea, it may be the sign of bigger issues. Remember that it’s better to be who you are and by yourself than be surrounded by people you don’t like.