Words by Caitriona Potter
Making friends as an adult is a universally difficult quest. Outside the confines of a classroom, lecture hall, or sports field, it is very common to feel like you are passing through life without any meaningful connections. In addition, struggling with mental health issues such as anxiety or past experiences of social exclusion can make it very frightening to show up in spaces where friendships can blossom. It is important to remember when trying to make friends as an adult to be patient and compassionate to yourself, as no one else knows the strength it is taking you to do so. With that being said, here are 5 ways to make friends as an adult.
- Utilize social media
It may seem contradictory to suggest using the internet to form real life connections, but in the age of social media, this is a tool you can use to your advantage. If there is someone who you often interact with online, reach out to them. Nine times out of ten, they will be genuinely touched that you have messaged them, and it very well could turn into a real-life friendship.
- Work Friends
If you have a colleague who you get on very well with, make plans to hang out with them outside of work. It is difficult to be the person who initiates this for the first time, but the chances are strong that they would also like to spend more time with you. Casual connections are a great place to start, as you will already have a strong foundation of communication and shared interests.
- Befriend yourself
Getting to know yourself, your own interests, passions and hobbies is not only a worthy pursuit for your own wellbeing, but it will also benefit your relationships. By learning who you are, you develop the patience and empathy required to get to know other people. Also, by expressing yourself freely and authentically, you allow like-minded people to find you.
- Develop your existing friendships
Before turning the leaf on a current or past friendship that you think has run its course, consider first reaching out and communicating. It can be even more uncomfortable to rekindle stale relationships than to build new ones, but it can also be a great opportunity to grow. Resist the introverted inclination to let these relationships slip away when life gets stressful or challenging. Challenge yourself to make and or keep plans with friends, even if you would rather be alone. Solitude is safe, but connection is what we all need.
- Be willing to try new things
As great as it is to find people with similar interests to you, it can be equally rewarding to expand your comfort zone, try new things, and meet people on the other side. Perhaps there is something you’ve always wanted to try but you’ve never had anyone to do it with, or even something you would never think of doing if it weren’t for your desire to build new connections. Examples include picking up a new sport, trying a local class or even going to a café and speaking to the barista. Even a micro-shift out of your comfort zone is a step forward. What you put out to the world is always what you will receive back. People are naturally drawn to good energy in others, such as smiling, open body language, and kindness. There are a lot of people who will appreciate you and enjoy your company, and any thoughts suggesting otherwise are lying to you.