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Stronger Bonds

5 Helpful tips for making friends as an adult

Three women laugh over a shared joke.
Martine Foreman
Martine Foreman June, 26, 2019

Book-lover, mom, kickboxer, motivator, dreamer 

Do you know what's better than being able to relax with a cold drink in your hand after a long, stressful day? Having someone there to dish the dirt on everything that made it so terrible!

Friendships are wonderful and empowering, but sometimes, making friends as an adult can feel complicated. Don't worry, everyone experiences this. After all, when you were younger, play dates were never canceled because your classmate had to go on a last-minute business trip or care for their family.

Although it takes some work to find (and nurture) them, adult friendships are totally worth it. They can bring you closer to someone who will celebrate your wins, pick you up when you're down and actually laugh at that terrible joke you love to tell over and over.

Strategies for finding quality friendships

It's easy to make acquaintances, but the clever back-and-forth you have with your barista every morning can only do so much to make you feel connected to a larger community. Being able to develop and navigate friendships as an adult helps you become the best version of yourself!

Here are five ways you can form and navigate making friends as an adult.

1. Open your mind to a new way of thinking

You may be inclined to look for friends that you think you have things in common with, but it can be helpful to look for new connections in unexpected places. Try to think beyond age, profession, parental status or their opinion on the age-old "are hot dogs considered sandwiches" debate.

Sometimes a good friend can be found in the people you least expect. It's important to open yourself up to new experiences and different types of people — you may be surprised by the friendships you discover. For instance, you could attend an open mic night and strike up a conversation with a musician who plays the instrument you'd like to learn, or join an interest group that discusses a topic you'd like to know more about, like mid-century modern architecture.

Business women handshake with boss after her show work report that good performance.2. Set reasonable expectations

One of the great things about growing your community is that you can have it all — the confidante, the museum buddy, the saint that doesn't say anything when you steal their fries. If someone has too much on their plate to be a reliable shoulder to cry on, that doesn't mean they won't lend a hand when you think you saw a mouse in your bedroom and need someone to calm you down.

Everyone has their own challenges and levels of emotional availability, so don't worry if you don't immediately find your next BFF. Keep your expectations low and allow opportunities to present themselves. Just be ready to say "yes" to things you might not have previously considered!

3. Branch out and expand your circle of friends

There's no time for self-care when you're trying to get out there and meet people, right? Wrong. Opening yourself up emotionally — especially as you try to develop new friendships — can be overwhelming at times, so taking some time to get back in the zone is crucial.

Plus, who said self-care has to be a solo activity? Consider planning a fun girls' night at your place, complete with moisturizing masks and makeovers. You could even encourage your best friends to bring one of their other friends! This can simultaneously strengthen and expand your social circle.

4. Tap into the power of apps

Technology gets a bad rap sometimes, but social media really can provide a great opportunity to reconnect with old friends and stay connected with current ones. Just don't overlook its ability to connect you with new friendships — that funny mutual friend in the comments section could become your new partner in crime. You might even discover an exciting new hobby!

Take a chance and download a new app, and feel free to "follow" a few acquaintances you're interested in meeting. They'll likely appreciate the attention, and might even return the favor! If you both share a common interest, you could suggest hanging out IRL.

5. Practice being a good friend

This one's obvious, right? Well, not always. When you're caught up in the day-to-day details of your hectic life, it's easy to forget to check in on your friends. It happens! But the better you are at being a good friend — and showing it — the better you become at maintaining meaningful friendships.

To practice being a better friend, you can focus on being a better sister, daughter, aunt or cousin. Try to keep in touch with a family member by regularly sending them texts and occasionally catching up with phone calls. This can help you get into the groove of routinely communicating and make it a habit. Newfound friendships could be just a few keystrokes away!

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