The New York Times ran a story on how hard it is to make new friends and keep them as an adult the past weekend.
Another story also published the same weekend, talked about finding friendship online.
As someone who had experiences with online dating and not succeeding it in, the articles resonated with me.
Why is making friends so hard as adults?
According to the article:
1) Amount of time spent with friends
2) Unable to maintain Proximity
3) We only meet people at work
4) Social status issues
5) Family issues (I don’t like your husband, your son fell out with my son)
6) We get more judgmental/picky when we grow older
7) Different values/ideas about what friendship should be
Wow…. that list looks a bit like the list I have for why I am not getting dates.
I too have many friends who after getting into a relationship, got married or have kids, disappeared from my life.
Friendships require almost as much attention, care and time as a boyfriend and husband requires.
But not everyone need or want a friend that is beyond the superficial and not everyone feels the need to especially if they are often accompanied by their family.
Fortunately, most of my friends are single.
Unfortunately, most of them are pretty much anti-social.
As someone who has been ticking the single status box for some time now, I want not only to widen my social circle, but to make friends whose relationship with me go beyond the superficial.
I do have one positive experience of making a friend (who later became one of my closest confidant) in my late 20’s.
Base on this experience I came up with a list of what you should do
How to make friends as an adult
- Location : One might say anywhere is a good place to meet friends. I disagree, I think it is easier and a lot more time efficient to do it at places or events where the purpose is either shared interest or to make friends. Eg. Meetups (www.meetup.com) . People are already open to friendships in these places and ready to make acquaintances with new people. That mentality is important.
- Give everyone a chance (unless they creep you out or you know for sure they just want to be fuck buddies) Just like dating, you can’t tell who another person is simply by their looks or first impressions. A person you find boring might have a lot in common with you, sometimes people don’t talk too much when you first meet them, could be nerves, could be they are not good talkers with strangers. But as long as they don’t trigger the “possible serial killer/stalker” bells, give them a chance
- Initiate the second contact : It’s difficult, no doubt about it. You’ve got to be the thick skin one here. Don’t just think that if the other person wants to be friends with you they should initiate the contact, if you think that you had a pretty good chat and chemistry (see not much different from dating) take a chance and initiate the second meeting. I usually initiate the next 2 gatherings myself, if the person is interested to maintain the friendship, they too will start to invite you out. But if they don’t it means they are not serious about becoming friends.
- Push through the ennui: When you are making friends, you always have those initial small talk that are the same. Where are you from? What do you do? what do you like etc and etc…It can get to you after a while, asking the same questions and answering similar ones, but push through, everyone is different and even if that person doesn’t become a friend, it is always interesting to meet new people. I had several interesting conversations with people I never met a second time.