I had a conversation with a friend the other day about making new friends as an adult. We both arrived at the same conclusion, the junk is hard! The constructs of making friends changes dramatically as you grow older. Personally, I’m starting anew in friendships because for whatever reason, my friendships from grade-school and college didn’t withstand the test of time.
Of course, I still check in on college buddies via Facebook or text, but it’s not the same as having a friend you can call up and shoot the breeze with or call and randomly have brunch or dinner. I’ve thought about why my friendships didn’t last and what I’d do differently to maintain new friendships.
Here are a few of my tips to gain new friends as an adult and make sure these friendships last:
As an adult, I’ve learned that I have to put in the work if I want to develop and maintain friendships. This means that sometimes I have to initiate conversations, hangouts, etc. A friend of mine revealed that she’s terrible at initiating conversation outside of her already established friendships, which was really difficult for me to believe because she’s super outgoing. Nonetheless, this is definitely a roadblock when you’re trying to meet new friends.
Lately, I’ve been sliding into DM’s. I’ve literally made two friends via social media and we actually keep in touch with one another. I accomplished this by following people that I genuinely admire and have common interests with. One of these friends I met through blogging. I’m an avid reader of her blog and one day I decided to reach out and ask questions. From that point, we discovered a few common interests, and decided to grab some brunch one day. We talked as if we had known each other forever and although we live in different states, we make it a point to catch up with each other here and there.
So, don’t be afraid to initiate conversation and put yourself out there, you never know what will develop when you do this.
2. Look for Common Interests and Values
It’s much easier to connect with someone when you have common interests and values. I connect with many people who have similar hobbies, so bloggers and writers are people I connect with frequently. I met another friend through social media because we both love to write; we usually connect weekly with each other and talk about our writing goals and discuss the highs and lows of our week.
Think about your hobbies and interests and consider how and where you can connect with people who have similar interests. You can join a Meetup group, Facebook group, or go to locations where your hobbies are prevalent. Remember that you may have to initiate conversation in some of these spaces. You can do it!
3. Offer Your Support
This is a major one! Support within friendships is a necessity. I provide support to the dreams and aspirations of friends by reading their blogs, commenting on their social media posts, posting their writing material on my platform, etc. I check in with them on a personal level, just to see how they’re holding up.
Developing and maintaining friendships became much easier when I learned that it wasn’t just about me. It takes work to maintain friendships and let others know that you care about what they’re aspiring towards and what they’re going through in life.
If your friend owns a business, buy something. If they write a blog, read their posts. If they’re struggling in parenthood, invite them to breakfast on you, or be their babysitter for the day. Just show up for them. Think about the ways you would want them to show up for you, and then reciprocate.
4. Be Transparent/Open
Being transparent in friendship is so important. It’s imperative that you share your story with your friends. I’m not saying you have to put all of your business out there, but let your friends know that you trust them with your inner thoughts and feelings. Holding back can keep you from truly connecting with a friend, so practice transparency as much as possible.
I can’t tell you how many friends I’ve lost and shut out of my life because I lacked the ability to be transparent. At times, I was offended by a friend, and instead of speaking my truth, I would cut them off. Communication is key. If you have a problem within the friendship, speak up about it. Harboring feelings that you never express can be detrimental to your friendship. If you’re really friends, you should be able to talk about anything.
5. Show Up
Step outside of your box because your comfort zone might be keeping you stuck. I remember being in my mid-twenties, this was a time where I was making lots of friends, but I didn’t have an open mind. I wasn’t willing to step out of my comfort zone to support my friends in what made them happy. I was always the friend who cancelled on plans and flaked out. I wasn’t much of a supportive friend.
Now, as an adult, I realize how important it is to have a tribe. It’s important to support your friends in their hobbies, endeavors, and life experiences. Being open to new experiences allows you to exist comfortably in a friend’s life without thinking about your own comfortability. It allows you to support and show up for friends in a way that means everything to them. Be that friend that always shows up, no matter what.
I hope these tips helped you understand how to navigate friendships in adulthood. Friendship is more than just shopping and gossip, it has potential to birth some of the best moments in your life. Don’t miss out on that. Start connecting today!