As an adult, it can be difficult to develop new friendships. Whether you’re looking for a pal to just hang out with or a confidante with whom you can share your deepest feelings, here are some tips for adding new friends to your life:
Be flexible: If you are flexible in making plans, you increase your chances of developing good relationships. This might mean being as flexible as possible about times to meet or about what you do. For instance, your schedule might be so different from a friend’s schedule that you agree to grocery shop together as a way of connecting. Find creative ways to make time together, but stay within the bounds of what is reasonably comfortable for you.
Be a good friend: Trite as it may sound, to have a good friend, you must be a good friend. While speaking with others, truly listen and be respectful, supportive, and caring. In your interactions, choose to be reliable and trustworthy.
Share interests: It may seem obvious, but sharing common interests is an important way in which people develop friendships.
Adjust your expectations: You may have many roles that you would like friendship to fill, such as having fun, being a support, connecting around deep issues, and helping you out in practical ways. Keep in mind that you are unlikely to find one person to fill all those roles. So, pay attention to what a particular person can bring to you and your life, accepting their limitations. For instance, you might have a friend who only rarely reaches out to you, but is usually up for getting together and is always willing to be supportive during difficult times. By maintaining this friendship even though you’d prefer she call you sometimes, you can enjoy the positive she brings to your life.
Share time: When someone has other priorities, it doesn’t mean that you are not a priority, too. You may find that you sometimes need to accommodate a friend’s other commitments.
Commit to regularly scheduled activities: Developing friendships takes time and exposure. If you commit to regularly scheduled activities with others, you are creating an opportunity for friendships to develop. You might do this by planning to walk after work weekly with a friend, or you might go to a monthly book club.
Be persistent: Too often, people isolate themselves from feeling hurt by others. Instead of doing this, consider whether there is something you’ve learned about how you might approach friendships differently – such as paying attention to early signs of potential problems. Then allow yourself to mourn, but don’t let this shut you down to enjoying the closeness of people in your life.
There will, of course, be people who are not what you want in a friend – close or otherwise – but you may be surprised by how many people you’d be happy to have in your life to some extent. Close friendships are more rare, and take more effort and time, but are well worth it. Difficult as it can be, you can find and nurture the friendships that make life a happier, more meaningful journey.
Entries for the Relationships blog are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.