Making new friends should be simple. Why not approach the mother you always see at the playground and offer your undying friendship? Because you don’t want to get shot down, that’s why.
Today, we’ll unearth the Adult Friendship Problem. We’ll also check out an old school book and a newer release to help you find the friends you deserve.
The Adult Friendship Problem
Friendship is important. Good friends make you laugh, bring out the best in you, and lend support in times of trouble. Having supportive friendships as we age was found to be a stronger predictor of wellbeing than having strong family connections, according to new research in the Personal Relationships journal.
If you find yourself lacking in the friends department, your first step is to stomp out any sense of shame about your need for friendship.
There are plenty of legitimate, respectable reasons for a friendship deficit. Here are a few:
- Moved to a new place
- Family Dynamics (e.g., parenthood, marital change, caring for elders)
- Maturity (sometimes we just grow out of people)
- Health Issues (including mental health)
Whatever the reason for your friendship needs, even if it’s that your poor attitude ran everyone off, you can rebound from it.
Get Your Mind Right for New Friends
What kind of friend are you? Are you the cheerleader in the bunch? Are you the one who always tells it like it is? Might you be the friend who gives the hugs that make everything alright?
Grab a sheet of paper and write down at least 5 positive characteristics that you bring to the friendship table. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Loyal, trustworthy, honest
- Kind, thoughtful, enthusiastic
- Intelligent, humorous, interesting
- Resourceful, helpful, generous
Write it all down. But don’t put that piece of paper away just yet. Take a moment to inventory what you want and need in a friend.
What kind of friend are you looking for?
We want to make new friends, but not any old earthling will do. You’ve already written down all of your friendship qualities, flip the page and write down what you are looking for in a friend.
Reflect on relationships in your past. What was good? What was bad? Remember that the type of a friend you desired a decade ago, may be vastly different from what you need now.
Are you envisioning impromptu coffee meetups and playdates for the kids? Then you might want a friend who lives close by.
Are you balancing a busy work schedule and home life? Do not. I repeat, do not make friends with someone who expects a daily phone call. You’ll both be disappointed.
No friend or friendship is perfect. But if you don’t know what kind of friend you’re looking for, you’ll fall for the first person who compliments your new shoes.
For some awesome ideas on how How to Make New Friends, check out Jess Metcalf’s article on CultivateWhatMatters.com.
Books to Read if You Want to Make Friends as a Adult
You know I can’t leave you without a good book to lean on. I’ve included an old school read and new release for your reading pleasure.
How to Win Friends & Influence People
Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends & Influence People” was published in 1936, which makes it a bonafide old school read. It’s one of those books that keeps making the rounds. I suspect it’s longevity lies in the fact that the advice is timeless, and you can put into action immediately.
In a section titled “Six Ways to Make People Like You,” Carnegie shares six principles that you can put into action today.
Principle 1: Become genuinely interested in other people.
Principle 2: Smile.
Principle 3: Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
Principle 4: Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
Principle 5: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
Principle 6: Make the other person feel important–and do it sincerely.
For more tips on how to make friends, check out Dale Carnegie’s classic, “How to Win Friends & Influence People“.
Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People
Book number two is a newer release by Vanessa Van Edwards titled “Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People“.
Let’s hear from Amazon.com: “As a human behavior hacker, Vanessa Van Edwards created a research lab to study the hidden forces that drive us. And she’s cracked the code. In Captivate, she shares shortcuts, systems, and secrets for taking charge of your interactions at work, at home, and in any social situation. These aren’t the people skills you learned in school. This is the first comprehensive, science backed, real life manual on how to captivate anyone—and a completely new approach to building connections.”
Put Friendship on Your Calendar
What gets scheduled is what gets done. That’s true of friendship and anything else you want in life. Set a calendar reminder to show yourself friendly twice a day. Vow to set aside a couple of hours a month to an organization or project where you can do some good, and meet likeminded people.
Whatever you do, make time for friendship. It’s vital.
Make Friends as an Adult
If you want a good life, you should put friendship on the menu. This friendship recipe will empower you to make new friends as an adult.
- 1 tbsp Smiles
- 2 cups Courage
- 1 set Pen & Paper
- 1 copy Win Friends & Influence People
- 1 copy Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People
Write down all the positive attributes that you bring to the friendship table. Also write down what you need in a friend. This could take up to or exceed 30 minutes.
Read Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends & Influence People" and/or Vanessa Van Edwards "Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People." Remember to write your key insights down. This step varies depending on your reading speed.
Set aside time to cultivate friendship. This might be:
- 15 minutes per week to phone a friend
- actively showing yourself friendly twice a day
- volunteering 4 hours a month to an organization where you can do good (and meet cool people)