Can We Hang Out?
The Etiquette of Making Friends In Adulthood

Although it can be a struggle to maintain healthy friendships as adults, we need them. Friends bring more joy and satisfaction into our lives and have a huge impact on overall happiness and mental health. Here are three tips for building new friendships in adulthood.

By Nicole Wallace, LCMHC

As I grow older, I find that it is more difficult to develop friendships. Way back in middle school or even high school days, friendships were fostered and nurtured by the structure of having to be in the same space together every day for an entire school year. The other important factors were shared interest or activities.

 

Sometimes, the proximity in which I lived near someone helped develop a relationship. Other times, the connections were made by organizations or activities my mom or other family members were involved in. I connected with new friends by going to church with my grandmother or hanging out at the basketball court with my older brothers.

 

As an adult, I find many of those factors which once fostered relationships have been removed. It can be much more challenging to go beyond meeting at work or in a college class to developing a lasting friendship. Transitions in work occur more frequently and you may not see a person again after one of you transitions away from a job.

 

Back in my college days, I worked at Kinkos copies. There were 2 other women there and we hit it off enough to go to the gym or out to dinner. They even attended my wedding. However, once I quit the copy shop we never spoke again. When I became a stay at home mom the struggle to obtain friends was REAL. Many of my former friends were not home during the day. My schedule suddenly seemed to revolve around meal time and bedtime. I lost a couple of friends during that season of life. I also lost the daily interaction of work friendships. It was a huge shift in my life and at times was very isolating.

As an adult, I find many of those factors which once fostered relationships have been removed. It can be much more challenging to go beyond meeting at work or in a college class to developing a lasting friendship.

- Nicole Wallace

Although it is a struggle to maintain healthy consistent friendships as adults, we need them. Friends bring more joy and satisfaction into our lives. Friendships have a huge impact on your overall happiness and mental health. Spending time with good friends relieves stress, is comforting, and prevents feelings of loneliness and isolation.

 

So here are 3 tips for building new friendships in adulthood: 

  1. Give Your Attention To Others: When you are out and about, try to show more interest in others around you. Put down the phone. Take off the earbuds every once in a while. Showing interest in others will let people know you are available for conversation and interaction.
  2. Connect Through Community: Join an organization or a club focused on an interest you have. You may find taking a course at the community college or joining a MeetUp group may open up an entire new social setting.
  3. Provide An Invitation: Lots of other adults feel just as uncomfortable about making new friends as you do. Be the one to break the ice. Take the first step and reach out to a neighbor or work colleague.

Learning the skill of being forgiving can be a useful skill in developing friendships. No one is perfect and every friend will make mistakes. Every relationship will experience difficulties and challenges. It helps if you try to find a way to overcome the problem and move on. Sometimes, those difficulties and challenges will even deepen the friendship between you.

 

Making new friends as an adult can be scary and intimidating. It means putting yourself out there in uncomfortable situations and risking rejection. It can be especially difficult if you’re someone who’s been betrayed, traumatized, or abused in the past, or someone with an insecure attachment bond. Working with a psychotherapist can help you explore ways to build trust in existing and future friendships, as well as other close relationships.

 

Nicole Wallace, LCMHC 

Owner/Therapist 

Transformation Counseling & Consulting, PLLC 

Email: nicolewallace@transformationcc10.com

Nicole is a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor with over 20 years experience helping adults and children with overcoming trauma, managing life transitions, and developing coping skills. She is specialized in working with anxiety, depression, trauma, life transitions, and developing effective parenting skills with women and children with trauma concerns, anxiety and depression. Nicole provides a caring, non-judgmental mental health service for children (5-12), adolescents (13-18), and adults (18+) where she draws techniques from a variety of therapy models depending on the client’s needs. Nicole most often uses Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Client Centered treatment the most. Nicole owns a private practice called Transformation Counseling and Consulting PLLC.

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