How to Make Friends as an Adult
As you age, your social networks begin to change. Your opportunities for meeting new people are fewer now. Gone are the days of meeting others at the school and sports functions of your children. With them being on their own now, it has been up to you to make new connections, but it is not always so easy, so we are going to tell you how to make friends as an adult.
Along with fewer opportunities to make new friends, the number of friends you have may be on the decline. Whether it is due to people moving away, changing interests, conflicts or death, your support system could very well be shrinking.
The Importance of Friendships and Relationships
Relationships provide feelings of belonging and social connection that people depend on. Over time, relationships become supports that can soften blows and point you in a better direction. Connections are crucial. Here’s how to make friends as an adult.
Grieve Your Losses
During a lifetime, people will come and go. No relationships, not even the best ones, last forever. Thinking in these terms will assist you in processing your previous relationships. Your prior connections have a major impact on the current and future state of your relationships. Identifying and understanding how these connections influence your views on attachment will improve the chances of future, successful relationships.
For example, if many of your friends have moved away over the years, you may figure that there is no point in beginning new relationships because they will only leave you in the end. Or, you may have been let down and disappointed by the actions of friends in the past, so avoiding new relationships is your coping skill to keep pain away.
Most importantly, when people lose a spouse to divorce or death, this causes a drastic rethinking of how all relationships are viewed, especially romantic ones. If this applies to you, you might have uttered phrases like, “Never again,” or, “No one could ever compare.” Though you might feel this way at the time, these thoughts and feelings become major roadblocks on your path to new relationships. For better or worse, those people are gone from your life. To grieve and mourn the loss, spend time appreciating the good and the bad in the relationship. No relationship is completely bad, just as no relationship is completely good. Seeing both sides will give you a more accurate perception towards future connections.
Identify Your Needs
People who have few or no appropriate, rewarding relationships will begin finding ways to justify their state. They may say things like, “People aren’t worth the trouble,” or “There aren’t any good people around here.” Chances are good that these beliefs are faulty and lead to you being stuck in your current situation.
Many experts believe that, after basic needs like food, water and safety, the need for love and belonging is essential for creating a happy, well-rounded individual. Can you believe this truth? Hopefully, you can effectively move through the grieving process of your previous relationships to see the upside of having social and romantic relationships.
Benefits of Relationships in Adults
Having supports in your life is associated with:
- Better decision-making abilities. Having people to consult with and obtain opinions from allows you to weigh pros and cons of a situation more effectively than alone. Other people can expand your perceptions and plan for factors you would not account for on your own.
- Improved mental health. Typically people who report a strong support network comprised of social and romantic relationships have fewer issues with depression and anxiety than people with poor supports.
- Expanded interests. At this point, you already know what you like and do not like. You have probably developed a set routine for yourself. Routines are good, but ruts are bad. Adding supports to your life can challenge your established rituals and break you out of your habits.
Perhaps they have new ideas to share or new places to go. There is more to the world that you need to discover. Supports can aid in this.
Make Your Move
If you can reduce the negative, residual effects of past relationships and identify the positives of new relationships, it is time to move towards actively seeking out new connections. Luckily, this does not require a complete overhaul to the way that you have lived to this point. It only means that you take several small steps to achieve a big difference.
With fewer social supports over the years, your ability to effectively communicate with people in your life may have diminished. Realizing and accepting this fact is important to begin.
Communication is a skill that either improves or diminishes. It never stays static. Think about your recent communication styles. Have you been friendly and outgoing, quiet and reserved, or loud and aggressive? Entering situations with an awareness of your communication style will give you the information you need to shift in another direction.
Assertive communication gives you the best opportunity because if focuses on what benefits you as well as the other people in the conversation.
Before you arrive in a situation to make new connection, check in with your expectations. If your expectations are too high, you will not accurately gauge the results of your experience.
Think about making friends is a bit like fishing. If you expect to catch a fish on every cast, you are going to be fairly upset and frustrated before long. If you expect to get a bite once or twice during a fishing trip, you will be pleasantly surprised when you reel in the big one.
You cannot change your social network in one day, but you can take practical steps to make a difference.
Get Into the World
If people are what you seek, you must go where the people are. Staying indoors will not help your ability to make connections. Go to the supermarket, local festivals and social opportunities with the goal of meeting new people.
Introducing yourself to strangers is a good way to be assertive. Reconnecting with past relationships might yield desirable results as well. Either way, being active in pursuing relationships is the best way to achieve your aims.
Now You Know How to Make Friends as an Adult
Relationships are not easy. In fact, they are quite difficult, since they are full of risk. Push yourself past these negatives, though, to find the wide range of positives that come from relationships. It is never too late.