“Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer” - Ed Cunningham
Elementary school comes and goes, middle school is a difficult time and then it fades into the background. High school passes by in a flash and then we are off to college and out into the real world. Sometimes we look around and realize that we don't have as many friends as we used to have in grade school or are no longer the cool jock from high school. After high school and or college making or maintaining friendships can be difficult. There are many factors that affect being able to maintain or make friends as an adult. Sometimes life simply gets in the way. Careers, families, spouses, children, and outgrowing our friendships can all be factors for fading friendships. If this blog resonates directly with you, know you are not alone.
According to the New York Times through a study conducted in 2019, 45% of adults reported difficulty making new friends. It was also reported that the average American adult has been unsuccessful in making a new friend in 5 years or longer. It can be difficult to make friends due to being introverted or shy, feeling comfortable in settings where it would be easier to make friends, or because friendship groups have already been formed.
Even with the difficulties of making new friends, creating friendships can be beneficial for overall mental and physical health. Friendships can be beneficial for mental and physical health because it reduces the risk of loneliness and isolation which are factors for depression, anxiety, heart attacks, and strokes, according to the New York Times. Friendships, according to the Mayo Clinic, are proven to foster feelings of belonging and happiness which greatly impacts feelings of happiness and reduces stress through companionship. Emotional support is another key factor for improving overall mental and physical health from companionship. Having a support system allows you to experience feeling listened to, and validated, receiving help and assistance, and being able to distract you from experiencing difficult feelings, emotions, or experiences. Establishing friendships as adults can be difficult but it's not impossible. It's not too late to expand your social circle with these tips.
Tips for Making Friends as Adults
Schedule Outings Weekly: it can be helpful to include different social outings in your routine to become more comfortable meeting new people.
Find/Join a New Hobby: Finding new hobbies can be another way of meeting new people with similar interests.
Initiate Conversation: Initiating conversation can help break the ice with other individuals who may be too shy or introverted to make small talk with you.
When engaging with people, create small talk: small talk can be beneficial in finding a common topic to discuss. Creating small talk fosters deeper conversation and connection through experiencing feeling welcome to share. Small talk also helps with keeping the conversation light so that others do not feel uncomfortable sharing.
Examples of small talk:
Are you reading any good books or watching some good television shows? I would love recommendations.
What are your hobbies?
What’s your go-to comfort food?
What are your favorite restaurants in the area
If you could travel anywhere right now for free, where would you go?
What is the next trip that you have planned
What's the best piece of advice you ever received
Do you have any animals or pets?
What’s your favorite genre of music?
Do you listen to any podcasts, and if so which ones?
5. Stay in Touch: After making connections, stay in contact through social media, texting, or other social platforms to establish a longer and deeper connection with others.
All in all, making friendships is difficult as an adult. Remember, you are not alone and there are ways of helping with establishing connections. You got this, be brave and put yourself out there to improve your mental and physical health.