Ask Jennifer: How to Make Friends as an Adult
How do you make friends as an adult? How do you get beyond a quick “hi” in the school lot and take a mom friendship to “the next level”?
One of my favorite episodes of the Big Bang Theory was when Sheldon decided he needed to make new friends. He went to the bookstore to buy a book to learn how to make friends. The clerk gave him a strange look and told him to check the children’s section, which is hilarious because we all know that making friends as an adult is way harder than it was as a kid.
A few years ago (before all of the controversy), David and I took the kids on a behind the scenes tour at Sea World in San Antonio. Another family taking the tour had a daughter the same age as Cady. After about five minutes, Cady and the little girl knew all they needed to know about one another and walked hand in hand the rest of the morning. The mother and I danced around one another with hesitant questions. “Where are you from?” “Is this your first time here?” By the end of the tour, Cady and the little girl were best friends. I’m not even sure I asked the mother for her first name.
Making friends as a grown up is hard. If you are anything like me, your hands get a little sweaty. You feel a little sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. You question yourself. “What if she doesn’t like me? What if she already has enough friends? Why would she want to be friends with me?” Before you know it you have talked yourself out of a coffee date with your future bestie and are sitting dejectedly in your car thinking about an ice cream run while coming up with all the witty things you should have said.
Stop that! You are awesome and any girl would be lucky to have a friend like you. Sorry, I’m a mom. I can’t help it. But it is true. The first thing you have to do is put aside the negative self-talk and be brave. An article on HelpGuide.org stated the following:
[R]esearch shows that friends are more important to psychological well-being than even our love and family relationships. Friends bring more happiness into our lives than virtually anything else. Not only that, our friendships (or lack thereof) have a powerful impact on our physical health. Studies show that a lack of social connection can be as damaging as smoking, drinking too much, or leading a sedentary lifestyle. The quality of our friendships is even tied to longevity.
We all need friends. So how do we make them?
1. Find your people – Finding people is not a challenge. They are everywhere. The problem is that most of those are people you have no interest in being friends with. That is why it is important to find YOUR people. The ones with who you share a common interest (e.g., reading) or lifestyle (e.g, being a mom). You can find potential new friends at your kid’s school, church, your neighborhood, the library, the gym, work, etc. If you have exhausted all of those places, try finding a local group that interests you through Meetup.com or Facebook. With Meetup.com, you can enter your interests and geographical area and it will match you with groups in your area that may appeal to you. On Facebook, search for your groups in your local area.
2. Regular, unplanned contact – This can happen at your daughter’s karate lesson or your son’s baseball game, your yoga class or PTA meeting. Find someone you gravitate to and build off of what you have in common. Ask her questions and gauge her interest. Is she responsive? Does she ask you questions in return? If so, it is time to be brave and move to number three.
3. Privacy – True friendships are based on intimacy, and that is not something that can be accomplished while you are doing downward dog at the gym. Find an activity that you are both interested in and invite her to join you. This could be a movie you both want to see or talking over a cup of coffee. When in doubt, invite your friend-to-be for a meal. Food is a great equalizer. Lunch or dinner out will give you a chance to talk and learn more about one another.
4. Work on it – Relationships take work. To forge your new friendship, you will need to put in the time to make it grow. Here are some ways to do that:
- Exchange confidences. It doesn’t have to be your deepest, darkest secret, but you need to share some of yourself with your new friend.
- Make her feel important by asking for advice or guidance. This will help you form a bond.
- Be genuine. Most people can smell a faker and no one wants to be friends with one of those.
- Pay attention to your new friends needs. The relationship can not be one-sided.
Now, go out there and make yourself some new friends!
Have you found that it is hard to make new friends as an adult?
For more information about making friends as a grownup, check out these books (affiliate links):
The Friendship Crisis: Finding, Making, and Keeping Friends When You’re Not a Kid Anymore
Friendships Don’t Just Happen!: The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of Girlfriends
Friendship for Grown-Ups: What I Missed and Learned Along the Way
It’s YOUR turn!
Have you got a question, problem, or situation where you’d like a little guidance or an independent opinion? The questions/problems can be about anything: parenting, relationships, marriage (25 years of experience, yo!), work, home improvement, craft projects, sewing, living with ADD… whatever. They can be serious or silly or outofthisworldyoubettercallapsychiatrist. The only thing is that you have to remember that I am NOT a professional, and none of my advice should be considered that of a professional. I’m just a girl who’s been through a lot and likes to share what she has learned.
Ask your questions here and you just might see the answer next week!
This content was written by Jennifer Williams exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC