Remember when you were a kid and you could walk up to someone and ask if they wanted to play and that’s it. From that point on, you were friends for life. Have you ever tried that as an adult? How to make friends as an adult often involves more strategy. There are a few more things to consider besides whether or not your potential friend likes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And sometimes, making friends as an adult is tough.
Add to this the transitions we go through as we age. We go from being singled to married, then we might have children, and perhaps divorce. Different jobs. Different houses. Different countries for some. In each one of those situations the group of friends you have around you may or may not be able to relate. And sometimes you might find yourself struggling, wishing you had another adult like you around to connect with. If you’ve been challenges with how to make friends as an adult this article contains tangible tips you can take immediately to increase your social circle.
Why having great friends is critical
Having a core group of friends around you is essential to your survival and your fulfillment levels in life. It’s been scientifically proven (from multiple studies) that having positive friendships is linked to more joy and, it extends your longevity.
It’s important to consider the types of people you bring into your life. You need people who understand you, who you have fun with, who remind you of what is great about life or help you let go of what is not. You also need friends who challenge you, who will help you grow. It’s critical to have friends that help you consider a different way of thinking about the circumstances you find yourself in.
We all need different people at different times and we need to be those friends for other people too. This might be the perfect moment for you to take stock of the friendships you have in your life? Do you have people around that you have fun with or that make you think or that challenge you?
How to make friends as an adult – The process of friend hunting
Have you considered what is most important in a social circle at this moment in your life? It may seem an odd thing to think about but it’s important to consider. Proximity equals power and who you spend your time will either have you excel, feel fulfilled and get closer to achieving your dreams or stagnate.
Making friends as an adult can be a little bit like looking for a new job. I say this not just because it can be time consuming and we may have to push ourselves out of our comfort zones but also because most of us no longer want just a job. We want to work for an organization that values us, treats us well, has a positive environment, shares similar interests and core values. You might feel the same for the friends that you surround yourself with.
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. We are greatly influenced by people around us. Our friends have the ability to affect our thinking, our self esteem, our decisions. They can either be positive, supportive influences who help us to be more successful in our life. Or, they can be a negative influence that holds us back from seeking or achieving our true potential.
If you are reading this you’re likely looking to surround yourself with extraordinary people. You’re looking for people who will help you be more, do more and achieve more in your life.
So just as if you were searching for your dream job, take a moment now to consider: What’s most important to you right now? Are you looking to have more fun in life? Are you looking for others who are business minded? Do you want friends who are more active? How much time are you willing to invest? Do you want an occasional friend? Maybe they don’t need to live in the same country or city as you.
Take the time to think through the type of friends you are looking for. Write it down the qualities and criteria. This will help give you clarity.
Strategize and prep
When you look for a job, naturally you’ll narrow down the industry and the type of company you want to work for as you begin applying and preparing for interviews. You’ll want to do the same with the people you meet. Consider where you should go to meet the types of people you want to be friends with. Then go there and connect with people. It’s okay to secretly “prospect” in your mind. It’s kind of like the interview process during the job hunt.
If you are a curious person, there is nothing better than an entire hour of time dedicated to asking as many questions as you want. If you hate this phase then you need to prepare for it. Do your research and have a game plan so you can make the best possible first impressions with people when you’re out socially.
This may be completely out of your comfort zone but the more often you try to put yourself out there the more competent you will become. The more comfortable and competent you are doing it the more confident you will be in continuing to do it. The first time is always the hardest.
If this is a major struggle for you, picture what your life will be like if you don’t bother trying. Will you feel better or worse about yourself? Amplify your current situation into the future. What does it look like? Will you be lonely if you don’t make a change? Step up, push yourself, and remind yourself of what life will look like without interesting relationships when you feel uncomfortable.
First round, second round…maybe more?
When you know the type of friend you want to find, it’s time to get into action. Let’s use an example of wanting to surround yourself with friends who are more physically fit.
You may choose to look up “meetup groups” in your area, searching specifically on the activity you enjoy most. This is an easy way to find a large group of people doing something you like. You may choose to join a sports team, or maybe you want to volunteer with a big event in your community. Maybe you have a neighbor who is fit that you can connect with? Search out the group, event or situation. It should be something that you are comfortable with and committed to attending.
What tends to be the most challenging part of making new friends is the initial connect. When you arrive at the event or find yourself in a new social situation, remind yourself of your intentions. Make an effort to meet each person, be genuinely interested in his or her current pursuits, come prepared with general questions in case you can’t think of anything to say. Be curious and open to each person. You may meet one or two people that you really connect with. See if they are open to hanging out again whether it is another similar event or something different.
Just like an interview when you meet them the second and 3rd time they may not be as good a fit as they seemed the first time. It’s important to give the relationship some time and energy.Just like interviews the first couple times may not work out.
Recently, I moved to a new city I went to skiing meet ups, wine nights, running events, I volunteered, it took me quite a while to find genuine friends I really enjoyed being around. Persistence and patience with the process is important. Keep putting yourself out there you might be surprised where and when you meet a great friend along the way.
Proximity is power – Taking it to the next level
Now if you are like Kay and I, you don’t want any old friend you want a friend who is going to elevate your game. Both of us were eager to meet a tribe of people who were similar to us in our interests to pursue our dreams. Which meant in order to meet people who were like us we had to put ourselves in a position where we ourselves were leveling up.
We put ourselves out there, taking as many courses as we could, programs, events. You name it, both of us have been there! So initiative and find events, online courses, webinars anything that is interesting to you. Go to events, network, connect with people. Get on to facebook pages and see whose thought process really aligns with your own. Follow up with people when you say you will, show up as your true and authentic self. When you are completely genuine in your approach, you reach out with kindness and sincerity you will meet people who are also the same.
Making new friends can take time, persistence and patience. Finding the right group of people to surround yourself with is well worth the time invested.