A recent survey indicates that American adults have far fewer friends now than they did in past decades.
Why Is It Hard to Make Friends?
When we’re young, it seems easy to make friends. This is because, according to the American Psychological Association, friendships develop naturally through frequent interaction and shared vulnerability. While we’re in school, we have several opportunities to develop friendships. We’re around the same people every weekday, sharing classrooms and participating in extracurricular activities with people who share our common interests. In this environment, it’s easy to build our social network and feel close and connected to others.
However, after high school or after college, we are no longer in that socially active environment, and it can be hard to find new ways to meet new people and make friends.
The Importance of Friendship
People who have a network of friends are more likely to live longer, happier lives. Strong social connections have also been linked to faster disease recovery.
On the flip side, research suggests that isolation and loneliness can potentially weaken the immune system and increase mortality rates.
How to Make Friends as an Adult
Luckily, there are some things you can do to make new friends as an adult, which may start with getting out of your comfort zone by joining clubs or attending networking events to meet potential friends. For example, if you like to read, join a book club, or if you like to work out, attend group classes.
Once you meet someone you think is a potential friend, try these three tips to make a connection:
- Initiate. As adults, it typically takes more effort to make and keep friends than it did when we were kids. At your new club, event or group class, introduce yourself to people. If you meet someone you think you’d like to be friends with, take the initiative to reach out to them and invite them to join you for a cup of coffee.
- Be vulnerable. Trying to make new friends can be scary because we risk rejection. However, vulnerability can be a good thing. The more vulnerable you are with someone, the closer your new friend will likely feel with you. However, this doesn’t mean you should disclose your deepest, darkest secrets to someone you just met. Start slowly and work up to deeper topics.
- Persist. If your new connection doesn’t flourish, don’t be disheartened. Keep showing up to your new activities and introducing yourself to people. Also remember that some friendships may take longer than others to develop, so keep putting in the effort if your new friend seems open to spending time with you.
Volunteering is a great way to meet more potential friends. Check out the volunteer opportunities available at St. Elizabeth in Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana.