Making friends when you were a child was rather easy. You had a number of school classes, lunch breaks, extra-curricular sports activities and social clubs to meet other children and form new relationships. As you get older, with work and family commitments, meeting new people and forming new relationships gets harder and harder. Sometimes you have an evening to yourself and you just want to relax, rather than going out to meet new people or socialise with your current friends.
Shasta Nelson, author of Friendships Don’t Just Happen says “Professionals who accomplish amazing goals like starting companies often admit that they have a hard time making friends.”
According to a 2013 study by the Psychological Bulletin, social circles tend to increase through early adulthood, but friendship groups peak and then start to decrease as you transcend through your late twenties. The research suggested that the reason for this drop was often down to parenthood, marriage and a desire to focus on stronger relationships.
Consistency is key
As a child you had the consistency of the school day followed by playing with friends until it was time for dinner. As adults, we don’t have that consistency after work. Perhaps joining a group that meets up on a regular basis like a book club, a gym class or a workshop could give you that consistency to build new relationships.
Friendship is thought to be limited to its ‘container’. In the case of the working day, the ‘container’ will be your job. Your friendship with your work colleagues is fine throughout the day, but stops as soon as work ends. You need to initiate something outside of the ‘container’ to cement these relationships i.e. invite them round to watch the game, go out for lunch or a even few drinks after work.
It’s your turn to be vulnerable
To deepen relationships, vulnerability is the key. If you don’t open yourself up, friendships can become superficial and meaningless. Try leaving your comfort zone with a group of friends – take up salsa dancing or a skiing course. This will make both you and your potential friends feel vulnerable, needing each other to provide support.
While you’re building new relationships, try hard to maintain them and keep all communication positive and cheerful. This will reflect on you as a person and give you the biggest chance on cementing these new friendships.
If you would like advice on how to make more friends as an adult, you might want to consult a life coach. To find a life coach in your area, use our advanced search tool.
Read and comment on the original Fast Company article.