Here’s a little life tip that no one tells you when you’re growing up/in high school/college/after you graduate college, making friends as an adult is kind of hard/awkward and maintaining friendships is nearly impossible. You see as you grow up you’re thrown together with people who you will immediately call a friend (even though they probably aren’t) because you simply have the same schedule/interests/mutual friends. Then once you get past high school and college these people will most likely be phased out of your life or if you’re incredibly lucky, become lifelong friends (after you discover that they’re kind of awesome, just like you!).
The problem arises when you leave college, high school, your hometown, or any other comfortable and familiar situation and are thrust into a new experience and new environment and have/want to make friends. You don’t have the convenience of living in a dorm or having the same schedule but you still want to make friends and you ask yourself, how do people do this!? So my friends, I’m here to provide you with a few tips!
Finding Friends = Dating
Making new friends at this age is a lot like dating. You are basically getting to know another person and deciding if you’re compatible. You can’t meet someone and immediately decide you’re going to get married and be in love forever (I mean you can but that’s a bit crazy), just like you can’t meet someone and immediately decide you’re going to be best friends. You need to get to know people, have a few dinners, have coffee a few times, just get together and talk and see if you really click with this person. At this point in my life I need more than just someone who likes to go out as a friend and when I meet new people I found that I kind of approach building a friendship with them the same way I would approach dating. And once I started doing this I started finding more people that I really click with on a deeper level.
Schedule and Plan, Schedule and Plan, SCHEDULE AND PLAN!!
Listen people we are adults! We have jobs (well most of us), some are married, some have kids, people have a life outside of work, we need to catch up on our shows, spend time with significant others, travel, etc… It isn’t as easy as seeing each other every day at school and because of that we’ve got to SCHEDULE AND PLAN!! The minute I started giving people at least 2 weeks’ notice to hangout was the minute I started seeing people I wanted to see more.
Of course random hangouts will still happen but when you want to do a brunch, event, or see more than 2 of your friends at once you need to plan! Let people know what’s going with plenty of time to plan for it.
Talk to Strangers…Just Don’t Be Creepy About It
I wouldn’t say go up to every stranger you meet and start up a convo but I’ve met some cool people that I’m still in touch with in the strangest situations. I’ve found that people at conferences, in waiting rooms, and in lines (think SXSW or waiting for a drink at the bar) are for the most part friendly and open to chatting. I met a few girls during a blogging conference while waiting in line to sign up for sessions. We ended up exchanging social media info and turns out I have a lot in common with a couple of them.
We’re afraid of strangers but once we are old enough to figure out who looks like a kidnapper/ax murderer we shouldn’t be so afraid to talk to a stranger. Just don’t be creepy about it and don’t be that person who starts trying to chat up a person with headphones on or who happens to be reading a book. I hate that person.
Cultivate the Friendships You Have
*Please ignore the blurry pic, do not let drunk guys take your picture!*
This is the best piece of advice I can give anyone when it comes to friendship and making friends, if you like someone, show them/tell them and cultivate the friendship. I think so many people find themselves with fewer friends or find it hard to keep friends because they aren’t taking the time to help the friendship grow and they aren’t acting like they appreciate it. Like I said above, adults are busy and we all have lives and things we’re doing but if you really like someone and want to maintain or build a friendship (don’t feel obligated though, again, it’s OK not to be friends) then you’ve got to put in some effort.
I get that you loveeeeeeeeeeeee your new boyfriend, I get that you have kids, I get that you’re in grad school, I get that you have a demanding job, I get that you have a serious workout routine and have to be in the gym 3 hours a day, I GET ALL OF IT BUT your friend is just as busy and if you want to spend time with them then you have to put in some damn effort…both of you do. So schedule and plan and then STICK TO THOSE plans (no one likes a flake) and when you are together get off your phone! And if you can’t see them every day at least make an effort to contact them regularly, ask about them and their life (even if that means asking about the kids), and try to understand where they’re coming from.
Growing up is hard so you might as well have a few people around to help you through it…or to enjoy the wine with when you’re having a bad day.