Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of people commenting that it’s hard to make new friends. Have you found this? For sure the current environment is not making it easy to make new friends, OR to keep the current friends you do have. A true “relationship” requires some kind of emotional and/or time investment or else, like any other living entity, it will die.
Ever wonder why it’s hard to make new friends as an adult? If you have, you are not alone – and I did too so I did a show on it!
Episode #68 of Awakening Aphrodite is a particularly heartfelt one.
Although as a society we’re more digitally connected than ever before, we are also less emotionally connected. Many adults feel chronically lonely and lacking in real connection, intimacy, support and bonding which are all things that are necessary for a healthy mind, body and spirit. We all need friends and people in our lives we can count on, share intimacy and trust with and be our true selves around.💕
You probably have one or two good friends. You probably know a lot of people. And then certainly social media is a whole other thing, but you know, you don’t really know any of those people on social media. Yet as we get older, it’s just hard to meet new people. In addition, now with lockdowns and the mandates and the people working from home and not commuting into an office/work, health club, church or simply just the hole social distancing thing, everybody’s even just afraid of other human beings! I’m sure, regardless of what you believe the truth is, or the “right thing to do”, we are living in a different time that’s not conducive to our emotional, physical or spiritual health.
It’s harder than ever to make new friends. What is going on with that? You’ve probably heard on my show that it is super important, in fact, it’s a mandated ingredient for our health and well being to have social connections and preferably deep, meaningful, trusting ones at that, in order to be a hundred percent healthy, fit, and vital. So we must have friends as adults. We must have confidants. We must have people we can talk to and be ourselves with. Do you know anyone that you feel you can be 100% authentic and vulnerable? You don’t always have to be on and polite and thinking of their feelings and all that stuff all the time. Well, if you don’t, you need to find those people because it’s essential for your wellbeing and for your nervous system to just relax, turn it off.
We must feel like we have a safe place where we don’t need to be “on”. We can just be. Where you’re allowed to just let it all hang out, warts and all, and just let yourself be. Now I’m all for trying and growth mindset and us owning responsibility for our own stuff – we all have our own stuff and giving people their own stuff to carry when it’s their thing that they’re bringing to the table. But at the same time, it’s important to also just be around people who give you a pass sometimes, like, okay, you had a bad day or, or whatever, that was a moment, but you don’t need to be perfect around me all the time and accept that you’re human – where we are loved and accepted as just human too.
I mean, for example, on my show, I’m constantly misspeaking and saying the wrong word or stuttering or mispronouncing something or forgetting what I’m saying midway through a sentence or whatever, constantly making mistakes and I appreciate your sticking with me and allowing me to just continue flaws and all, otherwise, we wouldn’t do anything, right? If we had to be perfect all the time, we would just be frozen in paralysis of analysis and we would be afraid to take any kind of growth step because we’re not certain it’s going to be perfect. What a disaster way to have to live. No, thanks. So thanks for letting me be imperfect, by the way. 🙂
So anyway, I came across this really cool article in Psychology Today Magazine. Now I’m probably going to completely massacre this poor woman’s name, but I believe her name is a Ahona Guha. Okay. Ahona Guha. She is a doctor of psychology.
Dr. Guha wrote an article on the art of making adult friends, how to find and keep friends in adulthood. I thought it was real timely with what’s going on right now and was actually really glad to see like, wow, it’s true. It’s not just me. I know a lot of people, that’s for sure. There’s only a very small group that’s really close to my inner network, but I found that it’s getting harder and harder to make new friends. And I definitely am always wanting to make new friends because you know, we change, right? You might have some friends that you’ve had ever since childhood, which is beautiful, but we change, we evolve, we grow. Our interests change, evolve, and grow. And sometimes we need new friends to kind of walk alongside us in that path.
The article talks about that, that the difficulties of forming friendships as adults and how it’s so common that people say, oh, it was so much easier when I was a kid. Because kids are placed in settings with peers on a daily basis and friendships are stage managed or created, not by choice, but by necessity. For example, finding someone to sit with it in school, for example.
So it may seem as if making friends as an adult should be easier because adults have greater freedom, we have greater agency, we have greater sovereignty over what we’re doing with our life and our time. I mean, remember the first time you got your driver’s license and you were like, yeah, I could go anywhere I want. Remember if you went to college, what it was like to be on your own for the first time, you’re like, yeah, I could stay up all night and do whatever I want. So it’s amazing to think when of adulthood as just this tremendous freedom that you have over sovereignty over your own life. So you would think you have so much more ability to make friends and connections, but it’s not that way in reality. Because with self knowledge also growing over time, what should lead us to forming higher quality friendships with people better suited to us rather than falling into friendships by chance, or just staying out of habit, which people often do. What happens is the trajectories of adult life may seem limit our opportunities to make new friends.
Yet, self-defeating thoughts such as “no one ever wants to be friends with me”, or “it’s hard to make new friends” and behaviors like never putting ourselves out there don’t reflect reality. There are plenty of adults who actually do want to make friends. Yay. That’s the good news. So here are some tips that she gives.
Okay. So first of all, we talk about proximity, similarity, and repetition. So these are three factors that will help determine the likelihood that you’ll make new friends.
Proximity is number one. Now proximity can otherwise be thought of as being close to someone, geographically. Research shows that proximity is associated with the formation and maintenance of friendships. This is why we easily make friends with neighbors, whether in the same resident hall at college or on the street where we live, et cetera, proximity makes it easy to access and spend time with people. Now, this is definitely true. I mean, you might find, even if you are still working in an environment with other people where you’re going into an office or a club or a situation, or even maybe your health club or your dance class or whatever it may be, or your kids, dropping off kids at school or they’re taking kids to their extracurricular activities or sports or whatever, you see the same parents all the time or in church or wherever it is, you’ll you start to get a friendship going with people that you see regularly.
Okay. So that is a very legitimate way to make friends. And we get familiar with people.
Repetition involves seeing people over and over again, usually across a range of settings. This happens with neighbors and coworkers, for example. The exposure effect, liking the things more with greater familiarity is something that we all do. So the more familiar we are with something, the more likelihood that we will actually like it because the more we’re exposed to it and people develop a trust and enjoyment of each other, the more they spend time together. So trust is definitely something that’s earned over time. And there’s no replacement for time and longevity for people to either prove or not prove their trustworthiness to you. So pragmatically, it’s also helpful to know how someone behaves over time across multiple settings and multiple situations before deciding to befriend them or not.
And that is true. It’s like, you need to walk along with someone for a while to see how they react in both good and bad situations. It’s often said that anybody can be a fair weather friend, right. But you really see what people are made of when the chips are down and how they react under stress in a bad situation or a crisis. That’s what separates the women from the girls and the men from the boys, in my opinion. So it’s really good to take your time in any relationship, certainly before really developing a deep trust with somebody, to let them show you their colors over time, because you’re only going to keep that honeymoon period for a while, right? You’re only going to be on your best behavior for a certain period of time. And eventually given multiple chances in different situations, your true colors will come out either good or bad.
And hopefully, certainly they are good, but you can only fool some of the people some of the time for so long, right?
Research shows that we tend to like people who we think are similar to us. And that is definitely true. I’ve read a lot about that in researching discrimination and stereotyping and everything that we tend to fear people that we think are not like us. We tend to make fun of people that we think are not like us. They’re in the out club, we’re in the in club. And we tend to demonize people who we think are different than us. But at the end of the day, we’re all human beings, we put our pants on one leg at a time, or at least most of us do. And there’s more that unites us than divides us.
We all want to be seen and loved and heard and valued and accepted for exactly who we are. We share that similarity regardless of race, gender, or religious belief or any belief for that matter.
Research shows that we also like people that we think are like us. So if we tend to look for similarities among other humans, we might find that we give people a pass a little bit more and we have a little more compassion for other people. And Lord knows don’t we all need more compassion for each other right now. We’re more likely to encounter people in settings where people with similar interests to us and educational backgrounds congregate such as work, clubs, or religious institutions. So get out there and you most likely will find people like you when you’re doing things that you like to do.
4 STEPS TO MAKE NEW ADULT FRIENDS
For those looking to branch out well in your adulthood, here are four steps that can help you make and keep new friends – because it’s one thing to make them, it’s another thing to keep them. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’m sad to say I’ve lost touch with some friends of mine. And one thing I’ve learned is that, well, I’ll tell you relationships have got to be reciprocal. I am all done being the one rowing the boat because you know what happens when one person is rowing the boat, right? Visualize two people in a row boat, sitting side by side, each with an or in their hand, if one of them’s rowing, what does the boat do? It makes circle. It’s going in circles. Okay. It’s not going forward. So you need both people rowing the boat. And that’s what I call a reciprocal relationship. If you’re the only one calling, texting, reaching out, making the effort, then that’s a one and way relationship and that might work for you, but I got to tell you it’s not working for me anymore.
So some of my friendships have fallen by the wayside because I figured out I’m the only one reaching out over and over and over and over again. And if I stop reaching out, this relationship would probably stop, wouldn’t it? Well, you know what it did. So well, I guess that’s not really a relationship in my book. So here are some tips to not only make new friends, but keep new friends.
STEP #1: VALUES
Know what you value. Before trying to make new friends it’s helpful to reflect on your values. Yes, yes, yes. Before trying to do anything, I would inject, it’s helpful to reflect on your values. How you like to spend your time, what you need from a friend. These are things that are important to think about. Think about the people you have enjoyed spending time with in your life thus far. Where did you meet them? What qualities do they have in common? Which of those qualities do you admire? Then you can try to find a good match by placing yourself in situations where you might meet people you’re likely to get along with.
For example, an introverted librarian is unlikely to make friends on a rowdy pub crawl or a neighborhood book club would be better bet most likely. Repetition is key. So it’s recommended that you find an activity you like such as a weekly class, like maybe Zumba or even just, I know like my mom took up crochet, she’s taken a crochet class or you could register for a mahjong class or maybe a blackjack club or whatever. Maybe it’s a biking club or a running club or a book club and attend regularly. That’s the other thing you got to show up, right? You got to make the effort. You got to do your part, rowing your side of the boat and show up regularly instead of bouncing from one new activity to the next and wondering why nothing’s sticking. So, know what you value, know what you like to do and get out there and find the people that are doing it. Those will be nice, easy, natural connections, because you have things in common.
STEP 2: CONNECT
Once you have found people who appear suitable, be friendly and approachable and initiate conversations regularly, right? You can’t just sit there and be like, “Ooh, if they liked me, they’d talk to me.” Just strike up some small talked. What if you have to talk about the weather or whatever, but you know, just try to be open and approachable, make sure your body language isn’t closed off. And you don’t have a scowl on your face or whatever. Just keep yourself open both energetically, physically and emotionally. Conversations may revolve around small talk, but being genuine and curious about the other person is key. Asking questions like, “So, what do you do?” or “What did you think of that class?” or things like that. Just simple, basic, real down to earth, appropriate questions for the moment will enable the relationship to become deeper over time.
So just be real, be genuine. You might even say something like “This is really uncomfortable, but I’m really glad I joined this club, have you’ve been a member long?” Or you know…”How long have you been coming here?” Or whatever, just be real or you can… And like I said, whenever in doubt, just say “I feel really uncomfortable. I’m trying to meet new people, but my name’s Amy and I”… Bah bah bah. And this boom just you can never go wrong with just being honest and vulnerable and gosh who wouldn’t engage in that. Right? And if they don’t, oh my gosh, you probably don’t want to be friends because they’re a meanie! 🙂
STEP #3: DECONTEXTUALIZE THE RELATIONSHIP
To form long term friendships you may usually need to take them out of the context within which they were formed. For instance, ask your gym buddy to grab a cup of coffee with you. So you’re taking it outside the context of where you met. There’s always a chance of rejection, but the worst that can happen is that someone just says no and you look elsewhere. Oh well. And it’s also recommended that you chain activities together naturally such as asking a work colleague, if they want to go for a walk to buy lunch rather than just suggesting a weekend gathering or something. So it’s nice to do that. I know my favorite thing to do is definitely taking a walk with people because to me it’s two birds with one stone, it gets us away from technology. It gets us into nature. It gets us moving our bodies and is a free flow of conversation with the energy that’s physically moving emotionally and energetically. Something about the fresh air and sunshine and just being alive, outside together.
It just has such a natural flow to it rather than the stagnation of sitting, I think either at a dinner or in a bus or whatever it may be where you’re just kind of stationary. There’s something about walking and talking that maybe just something in our DNA as humans that goes way back and I find it very, very powerful and cathartic.
STEP #4: BE THE FRIEND YOU WANT
We’ve heard this before, right? Be the change you want to see in the world. We spend a lot of time think about finding new friends or partners and can forget that the importance of examining of what we bring to the relationship, right? Like we often hear that when people are trying to really manifest their dream partner or their soulmate and they make their list of all the perfect things this person’s going to have.
And it’s like, hello, you want to flip that list around and put your name on the top of it and think honestly, how many of those qualities are you bringing to the relationship. That is key in manifesting anything. Because if a person like that exists, they’re going to want a person that’s their match, that’s they’re equal. Right? So you really got to take a hard look at all right what am I bringing to the table here? Not only what am I wanting? But what am I bringing? So what am I offering in exchange? Now, it doesn’t mean you have to be perfect and no, it doesn’t mean you have to be completely equals. It just means you need to be bringing something of equal value in that regard. So being the friend you want is a great tip. Be present, be kind, be consistent, balance the friendship.
Don’t withhold out a fear or monopolize every conversation. By making a conscious effort to be an emotionally healthy and caring person, you are more likely to form and sustain lasting friendships.
So one last thing that I will add, researchers recently explored why people find it difficult to forge friendships in adulthood. This research study showed that participants reported 40 different reasons , which the research organized into six categories that they found are the reasons why it’s so hard. The results were published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
Here are the six categories as to why it’s so hard to make adult friends.
WHY IT’S SO HARD TO MAKE ADULT FRIENDS
For example, You might expect others to take the first step. So if you’re consider yourself an introverted person, that’s going to make it harder for you to make friends. The new idea might be to not always expect the other person to speak first. I know that I’ve been guilty of that myself. A lot of people are surprised to know, but I’m actually very shy and trust me, I have my moments. In the right context and setting, but I basically am really shy and I’ve kind of gotten, I don’t know if the word is over that as I’ve gotten older, but I’ve kind of expanded more out of that I should say.
And I often find that now I’m the first one to say something to somebody, no matter how mundane it might be, just trying to be friendly. Because my goal is to just to try to share love and acceptance and friendship in the world. Letting other people be seen as human beings and appreciated. And we’re all walking this path together. So sometimes I just strike up a conversation with someone just trying to be friendly and nice. Because sometimes it’s the only time anybody’s ever nice to them all day long. And so introversion will make it very hard for you to make adult friends. Don’t always expect the other person to take the first step.
#2 FEAR OF REJECTION
Yeah. This is a big one. So for example, you might say, “I think about what others might think of me and I get anxious”. So you start judging yourself for taking that first step. That what you say might be dumb or what if they think I sound stupid or whatever it goes through your head, right? So you fear being judged or rejected. Well, that’s a good way to shut down the chances of making a new friend.
#3 PRAGMATIC CONCERNS
For example, saying something like “I have a health problem that prevents my socializing.” So having some kind of practicality reason why you can’t make friends is a third reason why it’s hard for people. Like maybe you have a physical handicap or something. I know I meet a lot of people walking, my little dog, Charlotte, or just having her anywhere, really. Even if I have her on a plane or a store or whatever, she’s always just a attention magnet. And people always come talk to me with her because she’s just so darn cute. But something like that helps make it easy for people to approach me. And maybe you have a situation where it’s not practical for you to be approached, so that might be an issue for you. Hopefully not, but okay.
#4 LOW TRUST
If you catch yourself thinking: “I feel that others approach me with a purpose other than friendship” you are not trusting their motives. Or your might suspect that they’re going to try to sell you something or, “Oh, they’re going to try to swipe my purse” or whatever. Right? Or “they just want something from me.” Oh gosh. That’s such a sad way to live. Boy. It just sounds terribly sad and lonely to me. So having a low trust will be a barrier.let me just clarify however, I’m all about having people verify that they’re trustworthy, but it’s another thing to just be kind of always suspicious of everybody is trying to pull one over on you. That’s not ideal.
#5 LACK OF TIME
Yep. Got it. This is a BIG one! So this would be like, “Oh God, I work long hours and I have no time for friendships”. I’ve actually had people close to me in my life say that to me throughout my workaholic life “Amy, you don’t have time for more friends” or “You don’t have time for a relationship!” Even if I say I wanted one. And there were definitely times where that was true in my life, even though I didn’t want to admit it. It’s true. I mean I barely had time to brush my teeth and do my laundry. Never mind spent quality time that was necessary to cultivate a nice relationship. So lack of time is a big deal. You definitely need to carve space in your life for relationship. It’s like that saying when you’re trying to call in a relationship, now I’m talking about a love relationship here.
You want to make sure there’s space in your home. You want to make sure that maybe there’s a drawer in your dresser, a little space in your closet or your bed isn’t full of Teddy bears and pillows and stuff. There’s space in the bed for two. So you want to make energetic and psychological space for anything that you’re calling in. And really that goes with any kind of manifestation, not just for people in your life. So time is the same thing. You want to make sure there’s time.
You don’t want to fill every moment, every second of every darn day with stuff because the universe sees that as “this girl/this person is going to keel over if we put more on her plate so we’re not going to add to that now!” because a relationship needs time and attention or like anything else, it will die. So making sure you have time and for that new relationship to come in and you’re able to keep it right? You’re not always torn between my job, my kids, my this, my that, and then my relationship. Okay. Because then you’re going to feel like you’re being pulled apart.
All right. Last but not at least is the barrier would be pickiness. Pickiness. Too picky! So for example, “I don’t easily give others the opportunity to become my friend because I’m picky, picky, picky!” Sound familiar? Yet the thing is, if you’re always expecting everyone else to be perfect and since they’re not completely perfect, you just dismiss them and just don’t even give them a chance or whatever. So I’ll let you “pick” apart that one…buh dum bump! 😉
But seriously, being too picky is obviously not a great idea. I would suggest from what I’ve learned in my experience, you get very, very clear on what your non-negotiables are. For example, I need someone who has integrity. I need someone who is responsible. I need someone who is trustworthy. I need someone who is health conscious. I need someone who is growth minded. I’m just sharing it with you off the top of my head, some of my personal requirements.
Okay. So those are all non-negotiables, you’re not going to be with me if you don’t fill those… I probably, should not be saying this right now in a public setting, but well, you know what, you can only fake that for so long. It’ll be revealed eventually. But then I have other things on my list that I have on my list, but they’re not have to have, right. Like I would love it if my friends or my romantic partner would be a really good cook. That definitely is on my dream list because you know what, I’ve never ever been with someone who is a good cook. So just don’t tell anybody, but I feel kind of bad saying that, but it’s true. So I would really love to be with someone who’s a really good cook. And now, if I meet someone that’s everything that I really want, but not good cook am I going to dismiss that person?
So this is an example of me being too picky and then dismissing somebody. And I probably want to reconsider that because I could probably get over that. I’m actually not a bad cook myself. So it just would be nice to have someone cook me yummy meals. All right. So anyway, I hope that helps. So the six biggest roadblocks to making new friends are being too introverted, fear of rejection, too pragmatic, or you have pragmatic concerns or issues or barriers, you have low trust of others, so you’re kind of paranoid, you lack the time will allow them in your life, and you’re just too damn picky. Now don’t compromise though. I just want to reiterate on that last picky one, because it’s kind of like a slippery slope. You don’t want to compromise your values, your integrity, what’s really important to you to feel safe and to get your needs met. But there also comes a time when you’re just too picky because not anyone’s perfect. Right?
All right. I hope that helps. So think about your proximity to people, how much repetition, how much exposure you have to that person, regularity, what things you have in common, know what your values are, and then go and pursue the things that you’re interested in. Chances are you will meet other people who are interested in the same things. And that’s called compatibility, right? We want three things in relationship. We want compatibility. We want commitment. And we want chemistry. We want the “3 ‘C’s”. So compatibility is key. I’ve been in relationships that I’ve had two of the three and it really doesn’t matter which two of the three, lacking one of them was eventually a death sentence sooner or later. Now that’s just for me, Amy. Might not be for you might not need the commitment thing, you might not need the chemistry thing. I don’t know. Like we’re really best of friends and that’s enough for us or whatever. And then you just need to be able to really have connection, right? You just need to just reach out and connect heart to heart, when in doubt, speak from your heart, just speak what’s true to you. And people can feel that people can feel that truth, that vulnerability, that realness, that humanness and that’s what they connect with. That’s what we all want from each other. And that will make you extremely approachable and extremely attractive too.
So I hope that helps, the art of making adult friends. Let’s go out and make more friends, get our heart and soul filled with good nutrition that we need so desperately. And if this show helps you, thank you so much for supporting it by leaving a review, it means the world to me and sharing it with others. I can’t wait to be with you in next time.LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE HERE