We all have felt at one time or another that making new friends, or even maintaining friendships, can be a bit overwhelming. But with just a little bit of effort, planning and by stepping out of our comfort zones, we can more easily make new friends and maintain the ones we have.
But how do we actually make friends?
It might seem like it is easier for kids to make new friends than it is for adults. I know I had no problem talking to kids I didn’t know when I grew up.
Somewhere along the line, we are taught that making friends as adults is difficult. That is simply not true. It can take more effort unless it’s a co-worker or a fellow student at the university that we meet every day, that’s true and those are the friendships that might be the easiest to maintain. Like we used to back in school when we met each other almost every weekday for several years, during a time when we evolved and did so together. But that doesn’t mean it’s hard to make friends as adults. Most of my closest friends I made after high school.
So, let me tell you that as adults, there are many paths to find new friends. We can join organizations, groups, go to parties or other gatherings to socialize.
Volunteering for a cause we believe in gives us the opportunity to do good while in the company of other kind-hearted humans.
Joining a group can help us connect with other like-minded ones. It can be about music, like a choir or a band, a sports team, or any other group of shared-interest. Perhaps you’re in to knitting, programming, painting or the stock market. There are groups for everyone out there and the examples could go on forever.
So, what do you enjoy doing? Find a group where you could meet like-minded people!
Now that you’ve connected with new ones, what’s the next step to maintain a friendship?
First of all, make sure you don’t neglect the precious ones you already have in your life. Don’t take anyone for granted. And if you have acquaintances you’d like to know better, start by reaching out to them. It’s perfectly fine to just send a message and ask if they would like to grab coffee/tea one day.
For this to work, to make new friends, we actually have to talk to people. Some find this easier than others. It’s okay. You don’t have to plan an entire monologue beforehand. Just think about a few topics you could bring up and remember, people always seem to love to talk about themselves. Especially if there’s genuine interest from the surroundings (your bunny doesn’t count at this point, my apologies).
So, go ahead and ask many questions, but make sure you also truly listen to what the other person says.
And be polite. This can go a long way in maintaining friendships and making new friends. Say thank you, acknowledge their kindness and ask how they’re doing.
Remember your body language as well. Maintain eye-contact and smile when appropriate. But please don’t smile when they’re talking about the loss of a job or loved one, that’s a sure way to end a friendship (although I’m certain you – my dear reader – would never do so).
What specific subjects should be brought up?
Well, that entirely depends on the person and situation. Here in Sweden, the safest topic is the weather. Yup, I’d even go so far to say that we Swedes are experts at weather-delving. I am proud to say that I could probably hold a conversation about weather for up to an hour.
But like I said, it depends on the person and situation. Genuine compliments are always a good idea, but make sure it’s not presented in a creepy way.
About long term commitment – when we want to maintain long term-friendships, we need to put our time and effort in to it. Reach out with a simple text asking how they’re doing, or that you were just thinking about them, listen when they want to vent or be the shoulder they need to cry on (but never let anyone treat you like a human garbage-can, remove those toxic “friendships” from your life that always leaves you feeling drained and exhausted).
Also, be reliable (as showing up on time, don’t forget them and keep their secrets).
One idea to make sure we stay in touch with our best humans is to always schedule the next meet-up before you leave each other. It’s so easy to let life get in the way, thinking that you’ll look at your calendar when you get home, only to let the weeks or even months pass by without any interaction.
Finally, friends should be chosen wisely. Acquaintances are something different and won’t require that much maintenance. Friendships do.
Make sure you keep the ones that makes your life better – and do your very best to make theirs better as well.
What’s important to you when making new friends? Please share in the comments below!
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