You’ve moved out of the dorms, all of your old friends are in different corners of the country, and you’re living in a new location. It can be lonely without friends, and making adult friends is harder than you expected. To have friends, you must first be a friend. Know yourself and know what kind of people you want to surround yourself with. Once you know that, keep in contact with them to keep a strong connection.
1. Quality over Quantity: As we grow older, we have less time to devote to friendships. You are working, Netflix binging, keeping up with family, and trying to maintain friendships. It’s that time in your life where you need to narrow your focus and spend your time with people who bring healthy and supportive love to your life. A group of shallow friends is not as valuable as one great friend who knows all of your ins and outs. Look for people who make you a priority and put others before themselves.
2. Put Yourself Out There: To have friends, you must first meet people. As adults, we are all in different phases of life, and different priorities can pull us in different directions. Hot places to meet new people are co-workers or at other activities that you do. If you don’t do anything else except work, then it’s a great time to start a hobby. Take a class and find a few like-minded people. If you notice a connection with someone, be the one who offers to get a coffee later. It can almost feel like a date, and in a way it is. You’re trying to figure out if you enjoy each other and have common ground to get along on. You’ll never make friends if you never start that connection.
3. Fight Through the Awkward: The first part of a new friendship can be uncomfortable. You might say something that sets them off, and they back away. Don’t let that dissuade you. Be the bigger person and talk it through to clear the air. The same thing can happen in old relationships. As you go through transitions, there are times where you won’t see eye to eye with old friends. Keep with it, be patient with each other, and work through it to save the friendship. It’s worth putting in the effort to fight through awkward situations. You’ll grow together through the hard times, or you’ll learn that this relationship has run its course.
4. Be Flexible in Transitions: In adulthood, you go through many new phases in life. People enter the workforce and have their first “big jobs” that demand a lot of time. People pair up and get married or are in committed relationships. Others have kids and start a new life as a parent. All of these things are excellent, but not all of your friends go through the same transitions at the same time. Be understanding of the new way of life for your friend. Make time to meet them where they are at and do your best to help them if they are struggling through their new situation.
5. Constantly Reach Out: Calendars get booked up fast. It’s hard finding time to get together with friends with so many different schedules. Even though they haven’t been available the past few weekends, keep asking and inviting them. It doesn’t mean that they don’t care about you. It’s only that life is different and spare time is limited. Be the one who keep the connection alive by attempting to see each other. Both parties should make time for each other. Even if you do a mundane task together like grocery shopping, it can be a time to talk and reconnect.
6. Always Be True to Yourself: Don’t let other people dictate your life. Yes, you should extend yourself and try to fit your schedule to others, but also notice who makes an effort to reach back. Friendship is a two-way street, and you want someone who is equally as invested in you as you are in them. Stick with healthy friendships who bring positive energy to your life and encourage you through the hard times.
Making friends doesn’t have to be difficult as we ease into adulthood. Life always pulls us in many different directions, but true friendships will always withstand life’s ups and downs. It does take time and effort on your part. Don’t give up on someone when things get difficult. If they bring joy to your life and put you first, then they are worth fighting for.