Learn more about career with this collection
How to find common interests
How to be a good listener
How to overcome social anxiety
Friends provide a comforting sense of stability and bonding. A defining feature of friendship is that it's voluntary - it's a relationship of great freedom that we hold on to only because we want to.
The downside of this freedom is that the lack of formal commitment and the pressure of other commitments can cause a friendship to fall by the wayside.
The busyness of many people's adult lives can cause them to quickly lose contact with friends.
One study found that people had lost touch with about half of their closest friends over a period of seven years. What's more is that we are often losing friends faster than we can replace them. If we are not careful, we risk living out our adulthood without friends.
Making more friends in adulthood will take some deliberate effort. One challenge may be to put yourself out there, as it can trigger fear of rejection.
You may engage in two types of avoidance to prevent you from making new friends.
One study found that volunteers who thought they were liked shared more about themselves, disagreed less, and had a more positive attitude. Other research found that, on average, strangers like us more than we realise.
These studies remind us to go into new social events assuming people will like us.
Friendships don't just happen. We have to set aside time to regularly reach out to people, reconnect with old friendships, awaken new ones, check-in, and find time to hang out.
Don't just show up. Say 'hello when you get there. Let go of the myth that friendship happens organically. Regularly introduce yourself to other people and ask them for their phone numbers, rather than waiting passively. Then follow up and ask them to hang out.
Once you've initiated some new contact, the next challenge is turning them into regular friendships.
It is easier to sign up for activities where you have multiple opportunities to connect with the same people continually. If you want to make friends, you should commit to showing up regularly. Even if you feel uncomfortable at first, don't sell yourself short. If you persist, you'll feel more comfortable and get to know people better.
To deepen a friendship, it pays to get vulnerable. To make true friends, you have to share things about yourself. Ask people questions too so that they share about themselves.
Tell people what your passions are, how you spend your free time, what you're looking forward to, and ask them for the same. Studies found that the more people share about themselves, the more they end up liking each other.
If music is your love language, find someone who understands your undying need to spend your weekends hula-hooping in neon lights.
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