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How to Make Friends as an Adult

By Aly Semigran
Contributor: Deborah Olson, M.A. LPC

Girls laughing at the streetAs a youngster, making friends was as easy as having the same class or loving the same band. As an adult, things are a little more complicated. Between jobs, significant others, kids, bills, and every responsibility under the sun, figuring out how to make friends may feel like an impossible feat. The good news is, not only is it possible to learn how to make friends as an adult, it’s really, really good for you.

“It’s healthy to have other relationships outside of your significant other and family,” says Nicole Sbordone, LCSW. “Friendships are a great way to relieve stress and/or do activities that your SO may not enjoy doing. It’s helpful to have people to lean on and have support throughout your life.”

Deborah Olson, M.A., LPC—whose upcoming book is called The Healing Power of Girlfriends: How to Create Your Best Life Through Female Connection—adds, “Our friends actually helps us live healthier, happier, and longer lives.”

Olson says that since our friends are the “family we chose,” maintaining and creating connections with friends throughout the years is essential.

How Do I Make Friends as An Adult?

While we may not have the simplicity of living on the same block or having the quad to meet up in anymore, friendships can be attained as an adult, it just takes a little bit of work on both parties.

Let’s say you meet someone at a work happy hour that you totally hit it off with, or you get along with one of the other parents at your kids’ baseball practice. How do you take it to the next friendship level, so to speak?

You can start with friendly icebreakers, Olson says, like asking where they went on their last vacation or the last movie they saw in theaters. (To be safe, when getting to know someone, Olson says to avoid hot-button topics like politics and religion.)

If you sense a connection and feel like they enjoy chatting with you, when you’re ready, Sbordone says to just be direct: “Tell the person you’d love to hang out sometime and ask for his/her contact info. Set something up if you can”

Both Olson and Sbordone say that finding common ground between you is key to getting the wheels of friendship in motion. If you both like hiking or going to art gallery openings, you can turn these activities into a chance to hang out. But, Sbordone says to “avoid being too pushy or aggressive” and let the friendship take its natural steps.

How to Maintain a New Friendship

You and your newfound pal had a blast taking a hot yoga class together and, as it turned out, you both love going to the same place for brunch.

Having a friend you get along with can feel effortless, but maintaining the relationship, especially as an adult, requires real devotion.

“Maintaining a friendship is like maintaining our cars, homes, or anything else, it requires time, energy, and focus,” says Olson, adding, “Friendships thrive if they are cared for and looked after, and this happens with effort.”

Effort, Sbordone says, can be as simple as sending your friend a text wishing them a good week or making a quick call to see how they are doing. “Check-ins can be a great way to stay in touch, especially when you both are extremely busy.”

In addition to calls, texts, and DMs, Sbordone says you should always make sure to schedule an event or activity on your calendars to make sure you see each other face-to-face.

Whether it’s grabbing a cup of coffee, starting a book club, or getting together to watch This is Us, Sbordone says that by making these “dates” you are “sending the message that the person is important to you.”

Yes, we all have crazy lives, but our friends—whether new or old—make us better people and make our lives richer, so it’s important to give them the time and attention they deserve. As Olson aptly puts it: “Friendships are good for the soul, but we must keep them well nourished.”

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