Let’s be honest: it was easier to make friends as a child. Your life was scheduled in a way that constantly encouraged you to meet and socialize with other children. Now, all that is gone and you’re left to find your own methods for making friends as an adult. A common question is How do I make friends as an adult? However, there are things that you should consider before you start to create a plan of action.
Before you begin to search for new friends, here are the questions that you should ask yourself:
- What types of friends should you avoid? Friends are supposed to add value to your life, not make your life worse. It’s Important to identify the types of people who won’t add value to your life or who may inhibit your ability to thrive. If you’ve experienced negative friendships in the past, it’s good to reflect on these relationships in order to avoid repeating those patterns. For example, if you’ve participated in codependent friendships, then you need to avoid people who gravitate towards codependency. If you are making healthy lifestyle changes, you need to seek friendships that will support these changes instead of inhibiting them. Consider this, if you are decreasing your use of alcohol, you should avoid friends that spend a majority of their time engaging in activities involving alcohol.
- What types of friends do you need? When you have identified what types of friends you should avoid, you might be better able to identify the types of friends that you need in your life. Which people will support your growth as opposed to inhibit it? For example, if you want to engage more with your religion, then you might look for people who are involved in your religion. If you want to increase your physical activity, you might look for people who are physically active. If you are a parent and need support from other parents, then it makes sense to seek out friends who have children.
- Who fits in with your lifestyle? As an adult, you cannot devote your entire life to your friends or make significant changes to accommodate them. So, you need to find friends who can fit into your lifestyle. Consider your schedule, responsibilities, and priorities. For example, if you rarely have nights and weekends available due to work obligations, then you’ll need friends who have similar availability. If you prefer to spend time at home, then you may look for friends who enjoy gathering at your home or another quiet location.
- Who do you feel comfortable being around? It’s great to make friends with people who are different from us, as this helps us to grow and adapt. But you won’t connect with everyone, and that’s ok. Consider this: You’re at a party and you don’t know anyone. What types of people would you gravitate towards? These are likely the kinds of people you should seek out as new friends. Consider your values, interests, and personality when deciding who you feel the most comfortable around.
- Are you willing to devote time and effort? Establishing and maintaining friendships is not easy. It takes commitment and follow-through. You can meet someone once who seems like they’d make a great friend, but it you don’t follow up with them the relationship won’t progress. Do you have the time and resources needed to meet new people and to grow these relationships?
- Can you end friendships when needed? Let’s say you meet someone who is a potential friend, but it doesn’t work out. You know that this isn’t a relationship that you want to invest in further. Can you say goodbye? If not, this might be an obstacle in your ability to make new friends. You may not be letting go of current unhealthy friendships, or you might feel fearful that you’ll be stuck in more unhealthy friendships. Ending a friendship that isn’t working is healthy as it opens up opportunities for new relationships that can add value to your life. So, it’s important to learn to let go of relationships that are not benefiting you.
Are you ready to seek out new friends? It won’t be as easy as it was when you were a child, but it’s not impossible.