Making Friends in Adulthood - Is It As Awkward As You Think?
Why does it feel so strange to admit you’d like to make new friends as an adult?
Is it that you should have made all the friends you need already? Perhaps it’s the paranoia that there must be something wrong if you’ve not figured out your friendships yet.
It can make you feel incredibly vulnerable putting yourself out there trying to make friends as a grown adult. But I’m here to tell you, it’s worth it.
Friendships are good for us
Making friends is harder than it used to be. We had it so easy as kids, being thrust together with our peers on a daily basis.
Forming friendships just seemed to happen naturally. Now, it feels like something we have to work at, especially with everything that’s happened this past year.
Putting the work into meaningful friendships is worthwhile though. Research has shown that friendships really do help you cope far better with stress and difficult times. One study even suggests people live longer if they have a close friendship network.
Feeling the lockdown loneliness
It’s not that I don’t have friends. I’m very lucky that I have some amazing girlfriends and family, who are all mostly within half an hour’s drive. I’m more fortunate than many.
But during lockdown, with the orders to stick to your immediate local area, I did feel a little lonely. I don’t have very many close friends on my doorstep. Those I do have, had children and different schedules to me.
It turns out I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. Last year, a study found 46% of UK workers had experienced loneliness as a result of working from home. People have seriously been missing out on building relationships with colleagues.
What’s more, with almost everything closed during lockdowns, there have been so few opportunities to connect. As if making friends as an adult wasn’t hard enough, we’ve all been denied the chance to bond over simple things like an after work drink or a regular exercise class.
Scrolling through social media during lockdown, I wondered if I could make friends close to home.
I started to really pay attention to how many interesting people there were living in the same city as me. I started to engage more with people I thought could become friends. I’d always fancied going wild swimming in winter. So, when I came across some local women who were regularly doing this, I took it as a sign and decided to reach out.
Taking the plunge
Despite the difficulties, I succeeded in making some new friends. I commented keenly on people’s posts and it wasn’t long before someone offered me an invite to join them swimming.
I eagerly followed up via DM and we soon had a Whatsapp group in place. Yes, it was a little scary being so bold, but it also felt right. I began to realise that they were in a similar boat to me. We joked it was like a first date when we met for the first time. We’d been chatting so much via Whatsapp beforehand that it also felt incredibly natural.
While at first we’d bonded over wild swimming, conversations soon evolved and as restrictions eased, we were meeting for drinks and sharing plenty of laughs. Forming these friendships has made such a positive difference to my life.
How to find new friends
Here is everything I’ve learnt along the way about making friends as an adult.
Focus on the fresh start
Find people who complement who you are right now, where you’re at in life and the things you like to do.
Use Instagram to your advantage
While Instagram can make us feel lonely, it doesn’t have to.
Search hashtags and accounts local to you. Check the location tag of places you want to visit, see who’s checked in there. Follow potential friends, like and comment on their posts. They may be feeling the same way as you.
Find friends in Facebook groups
Local Facebook groups are a great resource. Join them and see what people are posting about. From there you may discover mum’s groups, running clubs, book groups, classes and more.
Post about your interests.
Maybe you’re looking for runners at your level or to get to know some local freelancers? You can post in Facebook groups, tweet with hashtags or send an Instagram story. It can feel daunting but I promise no-one will judge you for it.
Most people like spending time with others who share their interests.
Try friendship apps
Apps are not just for dating.
Get involved in volunteering
Volunteering is fulfilling and rewarding in its own right, but it’s also a great way to meet people.
A little research will usually reveal plenty of opportunities in your area and could lead to genuine connections with people who share your values.
Prioritise quality, not quantity
It only takes one or two new friends to make a huge difference.
You don’t need to create a whole new friendships circle, just sharing some laughs with one other person can be a much-needed mood booster.
Nothing to lose and everything to gain
I won’t lie, putting yourself out there is scary.
It’s not unlike being single and looking for a partner. Admitting you want to meet new people takes guts and can be nerve-wracking – but it is so worth getting past those feelings. If you’re unsure or feeling awkward, ask yourself what have you really got to lose and what could you potentially gain?
For me, finding new friendships close to home has meant so much. Without them, I’d never have experienced the thrill of my first winter wild swim. More than that, I’d have missed out on some seriously beneficial fun and laughter throughout lockdown and beyond.
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