Growing Pains: How To Make Friends As An Adult

It’s probably not something you thought you would have to do because you assumed that your BFF’s from high school and elementary school years would be the only friends you would ever need. You made plans for the future and swore that your kids would one day play together or maybe you would live in the same town on the same street. That these friendships would stand the test of time. For some, this will hold true. For others, the dream of BFF’s forever may not be a reality. Friendships, like relationships, can be heart breaking. In some cases, it’s just as devastating losing a friend as it is losing a loved one. Your friends become your family, therefore, it’s understandable that you feel the need to hold on to them tightly.

I can say I am lucky that I still have friends from elementary school and high school but I know quite a few people who don’t. I have had friends tell me how it saddens them that when it comes to friendships they haven’t been quite successful in making them last. As you get older, you start to realize that having good friends is essential to your well-being. It’s nice to have people to share life moments with. It’s nice to have people to walk with you through life’s up and downs.

You will notice as your life changes, your friend’s lives will change as well. With this change, you will notice that what brought you together in friendship when you first met is no longer the glue that keeps this bond together. I know a few people, who jump from friend to friend. They look for friends that suit their current interests. For them, friendship is a game of chess where the game will always be in their favour and calling check-mate is just another day. This strategy will not last for so long and people like this, in the long run, will find themselves by themselves. I am sure this isn’t you, if you are reading this I assume you are in search of new friends and you are finding it difficult. It’s not easy to put yourself out there as you get older, particularly when it comes to making new friends. High school wasn’t easy but adult life is a serious bitch! I feel for you, it sucks, but I want you to know that it’s possible and there are many people like you who are in search of building new and lasting friendships.


 

No New Friends

I think this whole concept is ridiculous. It’s not something I would ever subscribe to, nor should you. There’s nothing wrong with working on the friendships you have and doing your best to make sure they last but you can’t expect to grow as a person if you don’t expand your circle of friends. Meeting new people allows you to challenge yourself, learn new things about yourself and see different ways of seeing the world. This doesn’t mean you need to get rid of old friends or jump around from friend to friend (please stop being this person if you are). In fact, you will appreciate the friends who have stood by your side throughout the years more as you make new friends in adulthood. You will probably realize for the first time that it takes a lot of work to maintain a good friendship. You will also realize that your forever friends don’t necessarily see life the way you do or have the same aspirations as you do but you love them anyway. That the differences don’t matter if there is love and respect. You will also notice that making new friends allows you to be around people who are where you currently are in life or aspire to be.

I always welcome new friends and I truly believe the more the merrier. I can’t imagine my life with just the same friend circle from elementary school or high school, to be honest. I don’t think I would be who I am today if this was the case. My interests have changed greatly over the years and the same can be said for my friends as well. Allowing ourselves to grow as people and make new friendships have, in fact, strengthened our bond. The most important thing about friendship is growth, therefore, it’s important to let each other grow. It’s important to recognize that change is inevitable in people. Some things may stay the same but a lot of things will change and it’s important to have acceptance. Just know that strong friendships will survive anything. You don’t need to feel jealous if your best friend has expanded their circle of friends. Nor should you take it personally if they choose to maintain these new relationships without you. At first, it may seem hurtful, but remember it’s not about you, don’t make it about you. If your friendship is solid you have nothing to worry about.

We can’t be all things to our friends and it’s not fair to expect them to be our everything. It’s a recipe for disaster and breeds a lot of resentment. Friendships require balance, healthy relationships require balance. This can be a hard concept when you rely on your friends for everything, even the things that you should really rely on yourself for. You need to be your own champion. You need to understand that while your friends are there for you they are not solely there for weekly/daily therapy sessions. Your friends are there to remind you that life is so much better with great people in it. When the going gets rough, they will walk with you until it gets better, because it will. Your friends are a beautiful support system, but remember balance is everything.

There will be times because life is life and people have their own lives, that your core group of friends will go off into the world on their purpose. As a result, they may not be able to talk to you every day or provide you with what you need. It’s important that you go out there and find what you need and this includes making new friends. New friends who will teach you something new, new friends who will inspire you and new friends can become apart of your journey through life.

 

How To Make New Friends

I remember when I was in university, I went to a school where I didn’t know anyone. The campus was huge and some classes were over 1000 people. It was a little scary at first but I knew that I couldn’t rely on the friends I had that were at other schools and isolate myself from everyone else because I already had friends. This is unrealistic. Instead, I opened myself up to new people. People who were in the same program as me, people who had a new way of looking at life and people who taught me things I didn’t know. These new friendships enriched my life profoundly.

So where do you start?

I would say start with what interests you. Are you into yoga or fitness? Do you love to read a lot? What inspires you? Do you want to travel abroad? What aspects of your life would you like to cultivate? The next time you attend a yoga class say hi to a familiar face that you see all the time. Acknowledge their presence and you will find that they may be looking for new friends as well. Join a book club. Book clubs are great because you meet up once a month and this is a good place to build a new friendship. Offer to host the book club at your house or simply invite everyone over during the holidays. You have to put yourself out there. There are a lot of great Facebook groups that you can join. Groups for entrepreneurs, cooking, crafting, outdoors enthusiasts, you name it. Join the group and get in on the conversation. Attend group socials whenever you can and make a point to talk to someone new and arrange another time where you can meet for coffee or something the interests the two of you.

I have met people who I consider great friends at social gatherings and I don’t think these new bonds would be possible if I was closed-off. There are apps for making new friends or like-minded indviduals such as Skout, MeetUp, Peoplehunt, Foursquare, Meet My Dog, Atleto (for athletes), Squad, Bumble BFF and Cliq. I think there are actually more apps but as you can see you have access to new friendships even if you have a super busy life or you’re not a social butterfly or have a hard time making new friends when in group settings. Atleto is great because if you are looking for a workout buddy or someone to play tennis with you can find someone here. Each app caters to different needs so find the one that best suits you. Remember, as with online dating always proceed with caution and get to know your new friend. Meet in public spaces, trust your gut and use your discernment. Don’t invite people you just met to your home or go to their home. As much as I like to think everyone is fantastic, we both know that there are people who simply want to take advantage of people. So take your time getting to know your new friends and meet up in public spaces.

I know a lot of people who have met great friends via app. If you have moved to a new town, new city or country, connecting with people on an app makes things a lot easier. Just think of different things you like to do and you will find that a great friendship exists in the spaces and places you have visited many times. The most important thing is that you are open.

Never forget…

That you create the life you want. So if having a busy social life full of friends is something you desire, go out and make it happen. In addition, don’t allow the ebbs and flows of friendships to discourage you from nourishing the relationships your currently have or starting new ones. I remember my senior pen pal telling me that it’s important to remain open in life. It’s important to meet new people and grow your community, make it as big as possible.

So stop making excuses or feeling sorry for yourself, it’s time to create your own community and fill it with unique and inspiring people.

 

Author Description

Hanifa Sekandi

Founder & Editor-in-Chief Follow Me on Instagram @thethingsiwishiknew

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