If you have a hard time making friends as an adult, there is nothing wrong with you.
Most people have opportunities to make friends in school or through extracurriculars. We are often working, navigating romantic relationships, and dealing with life, which can take up a lot of our time.
Making a friend as an adult may take more initiative and intention, but it can be done.
Both people with different styles of engaging with people desire friends. Some people need to be more intentional in forging new friendship bonds.
“It is important to understand that making a friend takes time and energy, like finding a partner. New friends don’t usually show up suddenly. You have to try and connect with them.”
One of the easiest transitions you can make is from a work friend to an outside friend. You have a group of friendly colleagues at work.
If you are in a industry where you want your work colleagues to remain just work colleagues, it is important to evaluate.
In certain industries, such as medicine, the focus on intense and serious medical procedures may require a level of attention that makes small talk and friendly banter distract.
If you want to connect with a work friend on a deeper level, you can ask if they want to grab coffee or dinner. If they are into walking, you might want to ask them if they want to go for a walk together on your lunch break.
It’s absolutely possible to maintain the friendship, but you may have to be a little more creative than when your friend was closer.
Technology and social media make it easier to maintain long-distance friends. It is a great way to stay connected after a move.
Another fun way to stay connected is to use streaming services, like Teleparty, that allow you to watch shows or movies remotely with friends. This type of activity has low emotional stakes but can feel quite positive.
There is less pressure to be vulnerable when someone is watching a show and talking about characters and plots. Some find this a good way to build familiarity before going deeper.
A friendship can be nourished by finding common ground. If you and your friend both have small children, you can take a walk together in a stroller. People with common interests can connect through book clubs.
Make contact with new friends, or text, if you have time. It can be a priority if you put it on your schedule, which will help you reach out to more people.
If you put a reminder in your phone, you can schedule a friend date just like you would schedule other activities.
New babies can change the dynamics of a friendship. You want to maintain a connection and value the person, but also recognize that something has changed in their life.
“If you don’t have children and don’t have a soft spot for them, you may be the adult person who your friend goes out for a drink or talks about.”
“It is important to shift your expectations and talk about how to support one another to make sure feelings don’t get hurt. New parents and caregivers are often stressed out. They may not know how to reach out.”
Being flexible and available is important.
“Dealing with friendship rejection can sting. Don’t let it get to you too long. It is possible that the friendship is not meant to be.”
Some work friends want to keep their professional life separate. Some people need fewer connections. It may be an instance of poor timing, which could mean you have the chance to reach out again.
“If the connection doesn’t happen, try to tell yourself that you are on your way and keep moving forward. This may not be the right friend for you. Not everyone will like you, but that is okay.”
Not everyone will be a good friend for you. Some people have different values, and that can cause a problem.
“If you find yourself doing most of the inviting and your new friend doesn’t reciprocate, you may want to look for a new job.”
The other person may be hogging the conversation and not caring about your needs. It is a good idea to approach romantic partners like friends, because you only have so much of them to go around and want to surround yourself with those who nourish you, elevate you, and bring you joy.
The Hawaii Center for Sexual and Relationship Health is where Dr. Lawrenz works. She has been a licensed psychologist for 20 years. She is passionate about helping her clients to live more productive and happy lives.