Romantic relationships get a lot of attention, but I would argue that friendships are just as important, if not more, to our health and well-being.
Just like any romantic relationship, it can be very difficult to build fulfilling and lasting friendships in adulthood.
There is certainly a logistical aspect. As we age, our lives become more complicated and full of responsibilities, making it harder to find the time and energy to make new connections.
We also get stuck in our own ways, making it difficult to let our guard down and open our minds to new people and experiences.
However, there is also a world of emotions that as adults we tend to forget or completely ignore because we believe that as adults we should no longer have these kinds of “emotional issues”.
I mean, even reading an article about “making friends” can feel a little strange. You already know how to “make friends”, right?
Well, like almost everything in life, it’s not that simple.
Why is it hard to make friends as an adult?
In fact, the emotional problems we have only become more complicated as we age. We are layering emotion upon emotion upon baggage of the past, upon all of the fucking programming society that has been forced onto our faces for decades up to this point.
From this perspective, it’s no wonder that it becomes harder to make friends as you get older.
From my experience, here are some of the deeper and more difficult challenges you face in making friends as an adult.
Perhaps the most significant emotional challenge of making friends (or indeed forming new relationships) in adulthood is the fear of rejection.
When we reach out to others or try to establish new relationships, we expose ourselves to the possibility of rejection, which can be very painful and discouraging.
It’s normal to feel anxious and nervous when trying to make new friends. No, you could even say it’s a sign of health. After all, if you really didn’t care what someone thought, it would make you a psychopath.
But the social pressures we face take a toll on us by the time we hit our 30s and beyond, whether we look ‘creepy’, ‘creepy’, or hopeless. . As we are taught early in life, peer rejection is to be avoided at all costs.
But it’s important to realize that rejection doesn’t reflect your worth or your worth as a person. It’s just a sign that you’re not compatible as friends.
This is good, even if the rejection is painful. It means you can move on and find friends who will accept you for who you are.
This is a painful but necessary part of the elimination process.
Forging deep connections with others requires a willingness to be vulnerable and to share your true self with others. That includes all your messed up parts too.
This can be scary. It means exposing yourself and risking the possibility of being rejected or judged. It takes courage to be vulnerable, but the rewards of deep and meaningful friendships are worth it.
I have a friend who is very bad at keeping secrets, but he’s completely open about it. If you start telling him something like a secret, he will warn you about this “shortcoming” of his.
He’s very open and honest, so I find him strangely endearing. Part of the reason is that I don’t really value “keeping secrets” and I don’t want to have a lot of secrets to keep.
In this way, we are self-selecting friendships without secrets from each other, and it is better.
If he meets a dear friend who is extremely secretive and tight-lipped, it will not go well and one or both of them will reject the friendship. And it would be better for both of them.
(Can you see how that works?)
As we age, our lives become busier and more complex. As a result, our time and attention are much more limited than before.
One of the simplest elements of building a friendship is spending time together. People who spend a lot of time together naturally tend to be friends.
When you’re young, it’s easy to spend a lot of time with someone. In fact, you should. At school, you have to spend hundreds of hours with the same group of children. In college, I live with my classmates.
But in middle age everyone lives alone with their own families, their own jobs, their own hobbies and their own vacations.
So, much later in life, you have to teach yourself to intentionally create time and space for friendships. That means scheduling and planning your social time. Create or join a social group that meets regularly. Do your best to ensure that you have consistent FaceTime with certain people.
98 made breakthroughs last week. Will you be one of them this week?
No spam or unexpected emails. ever.
4 Counterintuitive Principles for Making Friends as an Adult
In my experience, some of the most effective ways to make friends as an adult are a little counterintuitive and even paradoxical. But they really address the underlying issues many people face when trying to make new friends in their 30s, 40s, and beyond.
Without further ado, here are four ways you can actually build lasting friendships in adulthood.
1. Focus on yourself first
This may seem selfish, but in reality, investing time and energy in your passions and interests will make you more interested and liked by others. People are attracted to people who are confident, passionate, and positive about their lives.
Pursuing your own goals and interests will naturally attract others who share your values and passions.
Furthermore, in any relationship, there is nothing worse than someone who constantly needs to be “fixed.” Be there for others when they need you, and take care of yourself so that others do the same.
It may seem paradoxical at first, but by taking care of yourself first, you can attract supportive, loving friends who will help you become even better in the long run.
2. Ask for more rejections, not fewer rejections
When we expose ourselves and try to make new connections, rejection is inevitable.
Instead of fearing rejection, try to accept rejection.
Recognize that rejection does not reflect your worth or your worth as a person, and use it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
By taking risks and putting yourself in situations where you may be rejected, you become more resilient and are more likely to find the right ones while eliminating all the wrong ones.
3. Be more selective
If there’s one thing the traditional advice for making friends is completely missing, it’s how selective you should be.
I’m not saying that you should be a mean asshole who thinks you’re better than everyone else. What I’m saying is don’t try to connect with everyone, focus on building deep and meaningful connections with a few important people.
It’s better to have a small group of close friends who really understand and support you than a large network of superficial connections.
The more selective you are, the more likely you are to find the right person who shares your values and interests.
4. Drop expectations of others
There are no limits to any kind of healthy relationship.
Engaging in social interactions with the expectation of getting something in return can be seen as needy, dishonest, or manipulative.
Instead, focus on giving to others without expecting reciprocity. The more freely you give your time, resources, and expertise, the more likely you are to attract people who appreciate and value your generosity.