Maintaining close friendships is an important part of life, no matter what stage you are in. As children we make friends almost instantaneously and with everyone around us. That uninhibited drive to meet our peers often wanes as we get older and life gets busier.

While children are free to devote their weekends and summers to play dates, adults have more pressing matters – work, spouses, kids, pets, aging parents, and a seemingly endless array of tasks to complete. Often, maintaining friendships does not top our list of priorities, and untended relationships fall by the wayside.

The motivation to reach out and create new friendships as an adult may stem from several areas. You may be new to a city, have recently ended a long-term relationship, or have been so focused on your long-term love relationship that you have neglected and lost friendships. Whatever your motivation, here are several suggestions to get you started:

Be consistent in your efforts.

Keep in mind, perseverance is paramount when it comes to meeting new people. So don’t get discouraged when your first or second attempt does not produce desired results.

Get through the resistance.

All your concerns about being lovable or likeable are bound to come up. It’s shocking how strongly those old high school social fears arise once we put yourselves in the position of being vulnerable to new people. Pushing through the resistance is important, and if it feels unbearable, seek professional support to help you get through it.

Be vulnerable and transparent.
If you watch young kids play, you will see just how vulnerable they allow themselves to be. Showing how you feel and saying what you want and don’t want are very important. It allows others to get to know you, and by doing so, it puts you on the path to deep and meaningful connections.

Join a club or volunteer.
I’ve heard people say, “Where else can I meet people other than work, bars, or churches?” Immersing yourself in a group activity you enjoy is an ideal way to meet like-minded people. What is an interest of yours that you have always wanted to pursue but haven’t yet? You could join your neighborhood walking club, volunteer at a local animal shelter, or take part in a workshop. Here is a place to start looking: www.meetup.com.

Make seeing your friends a priority.
Times goes by very quickly when you don’t stop and make time for your friends. Set up a weekly time when you and your friends can meet for coffee, walk your dogs, or take in a movie together. Maintaining friendships, after all, is just as important as making new ones.

Video Transcription

Hello, my name is Sevin Phillips. I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist and I’m here to talk about making friends as an adult. It’s an art. It’s not as easy as it used to be, I know. I watched kids at park sometimes where two kids were complete strangers, meet each other, and they’re best friends within minutes. It’s really neat and fun to watch.

As adults, we’ve been working, we get busy, we’re traveling a lot, we’re not as available as we used to be among other things and we find sometimes friendships are lacking in our lives and also sometimes we need to make friends. Maybe you ended a relationship and you find that at the other end of that that you need to have more people around. Maybe in a relationship you haven’t given enough energy to the friendships you’ve had and they’re dwindling. Maybe you’ve moved or got a new job. Whatever it is, here are some great tips.
The first thing is wherever you go to make friends, go there consistently. Go every week. Go four or more times to the place that you’re going because when people see you on a regular basis, it develops a certain amount of trust and you’re more likely to approach somebody after seeing them four times than you would the first time that you met them. Be consistent.

Another thing is you need to be vulnerable. Let people know who you are. There’s something about when you let somebody know who you are and issues you have in your life or fears you might have or things that are happening in your life that are actually important to you, people feel drawn to you and closer to you because they themselves have those same things going on. All human beings do. When we put on a mask or our best foot forward and don’t let people know who we are, we tend to not be close and we don’t get to know somebody. So take that risk.
Speaking of risks, many of us are afraid of rejection just like dating. What if they don’t like me? Many of us don’t want to put ourselves out there for that same reason. It’s really important that we do take those risks and put ourselves out there.

Sometimes I laugh about this in therapy with people when we talk about making new friends because it’s kind of like dating. You need to put yourself out there and take risks. You should follow up after your first friendship date – your man date, whatever it is – and let the person know you had a good time. Do the same kind of things you would do when you’re dating and you’re probably going to be better off than if you had not.

There’s a website called www.MeetUp.com or organizations like this where people online figure out cool things to do together in your local city. It’s a great thing to do because if you go out and do something with somebody, an activity you both like, you’re more likely to meet somebody that you probably get along with. If you randomly go to a bar, you’re going to meet just about anybody, and you’ll have drinking involved which you don’t get to know somebody as much when you’re drinking.

I recommend doing something like that where you go to www.MeetUp.com, do something fun that you would enjoy doing. And don’t take a friend if it’s possible. You can take a friend if you want, but go alone because when you’re alone you tend to meet people and people come up to you a little bit more often.

Just have fun with it. I think a lot of times we’re really scared and we just need to open up and say yes to things. It’s a very important thing. And make friendships a priority. Whether it’s your current friends or the new friends that you’re going to make, go on a regular basis. If you’ve met somebody and you like somebody, make sure you don’t wait too long to see that person. There’s something about putting energy into something on a consistent basis that keeps it going and makes it grow and really deepens our relationships in general.
I hope this was helpful. Thanks. Bye.