Sometimes I’m kind of shocked when I reflect back to high school and remember how many friends I had. While I always had just a couple of really close friends, I had a good 10 or so friends who I spent time with regularly. What? Who was I?
It was great for that time in my life, but that’s not really what would work for me now. Truthfully, I prefer to have very few very close friends than a lot of friends who I’m not quite as close to. And now that we’ve all gone to college, graduated, and settled, my friend group has become just that. Here’s the thing–even though I have a few absolutely fantastic close friends, none of them live in the same state as me. Bummer. We keep in contact regularly, but I don’t think any of them would argue if I were to say that it’s important for all of us to have friends where we are as well.
That’s something that I’ve struggled with. I love my friends from home so much that anyone I meet now just can’t compete. When you’re someone who prefers close, confidant-I-can-always-go-to kinds of friendships, how is someone I just met going to measure up to someone I’ve been friends with for a decade or more (shoutout to my oldest friends who have been there since fourth grade, SIXTEEN years).
Why It’s So Darn Hard to Make Friends as an Adult
Meeting new people can seem much more unnatural as an adult. When you’re a kid, you’ve got school. You’re put in a classroom with a whole lotta kids, and hopefully you can find at least one buddy in there. But what kinds of situations do adults have like that? Work? Ok, work is good. Being friends with people in your workplace is good. I really like all of my coworkers! We just don’t see each other much outside of working hours. I’m very grateful that they’re the people I spend my weekday hours with, though.
So if work isn’t where you’ll find your next friend, what else do you have? Maybe you have yoga class or a sport or some other structured activity. The older I get, the more I hate structured activities. I have learned in the past few years that regular commitments are just not something that jive with me. I try to avoid them. So yeah, I don’t have those things.
Alright, so if work isn’t going to, well, work, and you don’t have any clubs or activities, there’s always cafes and bars! Except I don’t drink coffee and I’m not a night life person.
Who am I kidding.
The reason it’s so hard to make friends as an adult is because I’m not trying.
Just like I talked about in my post about not having school breaks, you can’t wait for things to just land in your lap when you’re an adult. By now, hopefully you’ve developed a good sense of drive and you know that if you want something, you need to go after it.
When I was doing research on this topic to help with my brainstorming, I found blog post after blog post with tips to help you make great friends as an adult. They all had ideas like “choose what qualities you really value” or “say hi to strangers” (pfft ALRIGHT) and those are fine, but you know what the single most important thing to do is?
TRY. Just try to make them. Be friendly to people.
Think about that word. Friendly. Act like a friend. Act like a friend, and maybe you’ll make one. I’m not really suggesting you strike up a conversation with someone on the street, but pay special consideration to the people who are already around you. I wasn’t necessarily fast friends with even my oldest friends, and I was only 9 then. Just because you don’t automatically click with someone, it doesn’t mean that they couldn’t someday be your close friend.
With that comes the caveat that you (of course) should not ignore any glaring incompatibility. Perhaps you have people who you like well enough, but you don’t feel that spark of friend chemistry. Maybe you don’t have to. Maybe the longer you talk to them, you’ll find something that you didn’t know you have in common, or they’ll say or do something that gives you a better sense of who they are. If you want to be close friends with someone, don’t you have to get to know them fairly well first?
I think my biggest obstacle (aside from not genuinely putting myself out there) is that for some reason, I think that I’m going to find a new close friend quickly. I know myself, and I know that that’s just not how I make friends. And I think a lot of us are like that, especially when we’re working adults who have responsibilities that take up a lot of our time. I need to slow down, take a look around, and know that an instant friendship probably isn’t likely and that that is ok.
So, hopefully we learned something with this post. Or maybe it wasn’t helpful at all. But I knew I couldn’t write one of those Ultimate Guide to Making Friends posts because I’m just not qualified! If you’re like me and you’re putting your feelers out for a new friend, take the time to assess what you’ve been doing–or not doing.