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How To Make Friends as an Adult

by Megan Sheckells


Humans are social creatures, we all need to have some kind of relationship and interactions with others. However, as we get older there seems to be less emphasis on ways to make friends. Maybe it seems as though we should have already made all the friends we were going to make. Or society says we should be more focused on creating and maintaining our own family. But adulthood doesn’t have to be the place where friendships and social life go to die. Friendships are vital relationships to have, so we’re going to explore how to make friends as an adult.


It could be that you just don’t feel like you have many friends due to any number of social reasons. Considerably, as adults, it’s easy to feel that friendships can come and go as one or both of you are busy with careers, family, or something else. Perhaps you just made a big move to a new city or town. Whatever the reason that you find yourself lacking in the friendship realm, there are plenty of ways to go about making new friends.


Ali Wenzke, author of “The Art of Happy Moving” (theartofhappymoving.com) offered some advice on what might help when you require some new social connections. Wenzke says, “We've all slipped into turning on Netflix and hanging out at home in our PJs. It's time to get back out there, and the first step is leaving your apartment.”


Unfortunately, new friends aren’t just going to appear in our lives without putting in some effort. So get out there! You might be wondering what it is you’re supposed to get out there and do to make friends, after all, it’s not like you can sign up for after-school activities.

Related articles: How to be Friends With Someone You're in Love With


Gina Handley offered some ideas about the scenarios in which you can make your best effort. Handley is a psychotherapist, friendship coach, adjunct professor of Psychology, and author of the book, Friending: Creating Meaningful, Lasting, Adult Friendships. She stated, “I think the best way to make connections, that could potentially lead to meaningful friendships, is to ensure that we are looking for and taking advantage of opportunities.


Whether that is starting up a conversation with someone at our yoga class, inviting a coworker to grab lunch, or reaching out to an old friend to catch up over drinks. Whatever action we take, making connections is really about being intentional.”

So beyond just getting out of the house more, we need to also make sure we’re keeping our eyes open for opportunities to connect when we are out and about. We also need to be looking out for ways we can help ourselves to make that great first impression. Wenzke has created a tool called the SNEAK attack, that works for this purpose.


Wenzke identifies each letter of SNEAK as: “Smile, Neatness, Eye contact, Arms open, and Kindness.” She goes on to elaborate, “Your smile shows how friendly you are. Be presentable in neat clothes [. . .] Make eye contact to show others you are listening. Avoid crossing your arms as this is a defensive posture. Keep your arms open and by your side, so your heart faces the other person's heart. Always be kind. Kindness matters. You will attract your tribe.”


If you’re having issues putting yourself out there, or are feeling intimidated by the process of making those first interactions there are some ways to ease that tension. According to Handley, “If you are having a difficult time getting out of your shell, I would recommend doing some daily affirmations and intention setting around your friendship goals.” Doing these two things can help you feel sure about what you want in a friendship. And can also help you feel confident that you can make those friendships as well.


Handley also mentions making sure you’re in a somewhat comfortable environment. “I think it is easier to emerge from your shell when you put yourself in an environment where you are more at ease.” So set yourself up for success. Even if it’s something new, go to an event or group activity that you’ll feel in your element or at least somewhat.


Don’t forget though that good things can come to those who wait. If all else fails, don’t panic. If you’re having a hard time, Wenzke suggests, “Stop focusing on making new friends. Forget making new friends. For one, people can smell the desperation when you are trying to make new friends. I know, because that used to be me. Instead, use your energy to do something you love outside of your home.”


Be yourself, and put in your best effort to make new friendships possible. The best thing you can do is get out into the world or be more open to striking up conversations with people you may not have given a chance just yet. Your new friends are out there looking for someone just like you. Don’t give up!


Sources:

Handley, Gina. Personal Interview, 30 Aug. 2021.

Wenzke, Ali. Personal Interview, 30 Aug. 2021.

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