Why is it so difficult to make friends as an adult (how to fix it)
Why is it so difficult to make friends as an adult? I love this question because a lot of people tend to underestimate the value of friendship as adults.
Of course you can stay busy with your partner in families, but a lack of friendships can still create a void within you. But getting to the meet of the question, why is it difficult to make friends?
And the reason for that is that the right ingredients to build friendships organically are just not there as often, at least not until we make an effort to make room for that in our adult lives. Studies have shown that there are four core building blocks for friendships to blossom.
First is meeting people organically feels more natural to our minds. It helps us trust that there is no planning or strategizing happening behind the scenes. After all, you weren't meant to meet, but it just happened naturally. And yes, this means that you are more likely to become friends with someone you run into while hiking than someone you meet on the networking app.
The second is having unplanned interactions, because it requires both people to spontaneously make room into their day and life for the other person. To your subconscious mind, this shows that you matter to the other person. So normalized unplanned and spontaneous phone calls in your friend circle.
Third is investing time with one another. Research shows that the time you spend with one another, especially physical proximity, is directly related to how close of our friendship you develop, with a minimum of 50 hours on average for a casual friendship and upwards of a 100 and 80 hours for a close friendship to blossom.
And the fourth building block is shared vulnerability. Real friendships aren't just good time hang out deep emotional bonds develop when you're able to be vulnerable within one another, because it shows that you trust the other person enough to be vulnerable with them, and you believe that they will be able to hold and comfort your emotions.
Friends are relatives you make for yourself.
- Eustache Deschamps
I was recently working with a young woman in her late twenties who had graduated from a top business school about a year ago, but felt like she had no social circle outside of her fiance and a couple of friends from her college days. And when I asked her about her routine, she described starting her day with breakfast, going to work, making dinner and then watching TV with her fiance during the work week.
Other than her work, she had almost no way of meeting new people. She realized that she needed to have an outlet to meet and spend time with new people in an organic manner, because that's how friendships develop. In school or college, you have plenty of such opportunities, with ever-changing classes, cafeterias, dorms and all. As adults, those opportunities aren't available as readily, but they do still exist.
All you need to do is to build some opportunities in your schedule where you can run into some new people organically. Connecting with others who enjoy the same things as you is going to be your best shot. So find a hiking group that meets every other week, or a book club that meets weekly. Anything that merges your interests and hobbies with the opportunity to meet other people.
But keep in mind there's sometimes our desires to have more friends and feel connected can take us in the wrong direction. Friendships too can be unhealthy or toxic, which can make you even more guarded. And when you are emotionally guarded, then you might feel safe, but you also feel lonely.
Which is why, in order for you to stay open to new people and friendships, you need to know how to spot unhealthy friendships before you invest too much time or emotions in them. And in this video, I share exactly how to identify toxic friendships early on.