The reality is making friendships as an adult can be difficult.
I popped a DVD into the player, opened the lid to a takeout meal, and pulled up the covers; this quickly became my Friday night routine. It was the third weekend in a row I was spending alone. I moved to Montreal shortly after college, hoping to make new friends. We would fill our weekends with late-night dinners, excursions to nearby towns, and experiencing everything the big city offers. Yet, there I was, on another Friday night, the only friend being a cashier at the local Chinese takeout. The subway system overwhelmed me, so I didn’t do much traveling. The few times I did venture out alone, I couldn’t shake the intense feeling of loneliness. So eventually, I stopped trying and settled into a routine with me, myself and I.
As a social butterfly, I’d never had problems making friends. I prided myself on having multi-friend groups, choosing to surround myself with people of different races, cultures, and backgrounds. Being easy to talk to and open to new experiences, I thought I was good company. So why was I finding it such a challenge to make adult friends?! If you are in a similar situation or a new set of circumstances, try one or many tips to help you make and keep adult friendships.
1. Get out of your head.
It always amazes my husband that my girls can play effortlessly within minutes of meeting another child as if they have known them all their lives. Whether it’s the local playground, beach, or a bus ride a thousand miles from our home, they can make instant friends. Yes, my girls have a natural outgoing disposition, but they don’t overthink before they act. They aren’t riddled with “what-ifs” or “what will they think?” Instead, another child is an opportunity to make a new friend!
- How often have you typed an e-mail to a colleague asking to grab a bite only to delete it because you were worried they might think you were weird?
- Have you ever walked across the playground to introduce yourself to another mom, only to stop mid-way, convincing yourself she probably has too many friends already and doesn’t need another one?
- Was there an empty chair on the bus, a spot at the table in the teacher’s lounge, or free space at the end of the pew that you wanted desperately to take but you told yourself it would be too forward?
If you want to make friendships as an adult, you must start thinking like a kid! Don’t think about what could happen or even think past the introductions. Start with, “Hi, my name is,” or “Is this seat taken?” or maybe, “I just wanted to introduce myself.” And let the conversation flow from there.
2. Make an effort to be involved in your community.
I would be remiss if I didn’t strongly encourage you to join a local church. Church is one of the best ways to make friendships. There’s a good chance most people are Christians and, therefore, have a common interest: faith. This is a bonus as the hope would be with a shared faith, your priorities and extracurricular activities will focus on “good, clean fun.” While this doesn’t mean being members of the same church guarantees the same stance on engaging in certain activities, it’s an excellent place to start.
If you are already involved in a local church, consider joining a sports league, taking an art class, getting back into dancing, or reigniting your passion for another childhood pastime. There are numerous adult clubs, groups, and meetups; Facebook, Meetup.com, or a simple internet search will tell you how to get plugged in. Are you passionate about helping underprivileged youth? Do you feel a strong desire to help those less fortunate? Sign up to volunteer at a local charity or non-profit organization. Many big cities have festivals and events requiring staff and volunteers; consider helping. Not only will you meet other volunteers, but who knows who you might connect with in passing.
3. Reconnect with old friends and create new connections.
One great thing social media offers is an easy way to connect with old friends. With the ability to search by location, groups, and events, one can quickly see if a long-lost friend is in the area. A great way to meet new people in your community is through mutual connections with friends or acquaintances. There are also online book clubs, political forums, and interest groups through social media, and when meeting in person isn’t an option, these provide social outlets, support, and connection.
4. Reach out to parents of your children’s friends.
Listen, I know it is impossible to form relationships with every kid’s parent your child talks to, especially if you have social kids like me. I am not advocating you form bonds with every parent out there, but pick a few of your child’s closest friends and invite them over as a family. Like making friends at church, you already know that you have at least one thing in common: your children. Chances are, even if you are opposites, the deep desire to see your children happy and form friendships will help to foster friendships among the adults. At the very least, it will allow you to get to know your child’s friends better.
5. Don’t forget your neighbors.
In a world where it is becoming increasingly common to live years next to someone and never meet your neighbor, break the cycle, and knock on some doors. If cold calling your neighbors gives you hives, say hello at the mailbox, wave when they pull in their driveway, or pause the mower and introduce yourself next time they are outside. Neighborhood friends make some of the best relationships for multiple reasons. You have a built-in walking buddy, an impromptu game night companion, and, if you are lucky, a house sitter when you go on vacation. Only having to walk a few steps makes friendship rather effortless once you get past the initial pleasantries.
The reality is making friendships as an adult can be difficult. We are trying to balance our careers, marriages, families, and other responsibilities, all while working not wholly to lose ourselves in the middle of it all. It may take a few tries, but I suggest you get off your couch and make some friends; even if they don’t become bosom buddies, you’ll make some good memories in the meantime, which is well worth it!
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Rido Franz
Laura Bailey is a Bible teacher who challenges and encourages women to dive deep in the Scriptures, shift from an earthly to an eternal mindset, and filter life through the lens of God’s Word. She is the author of Beyond the Noise, and loves any opportunity to speak and teach women of all ages. She is a wife and momma to three young girls. Connect with her on her website, www.LauraRBailey.com