In normal circumstances, making new friends as an adult can be a daunting task. Throw in a global pandemic and limited in-person options. The odds feel downright insurmountable.
Though many people feel disconnected and isolated as a result, it is still tempting to hide in anonymity behind a mask. So many factors make it feel too intimidating to change the status quo.
However, by taking the risk to make new connections, big payoffs of connectedness and plain old fun happen. Friends are worth the work!
As you aim to make new friends, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Be gentle with yourself. Making friends takes effort. You likely won’t feel the full benefit until you start to establish a rapport and comfort level. Recognize that this process won’t feel good right away. Care well for yourself in other ways until it does. If you’re making the effort to be with a new friend, take it easy in other areas that require your emotional energy that day.
- Friendships take time and effort. To settle into a friendship, take time to follow up. If this doesn’t come naturally, set reminders to check in. Make plans with your new friend then stick to them as much as possible! Make building a promising friendship a priority. Before long, it won’t feel like a task at all.
- Remember that there are different levels and types of friendships. Some friends are once-a-month coffee friends; others are daily-texting friends. Neither type is better or worse. Be clear on what you are hoping for in a friendship. If you expect a once-a-month friend to text daily, you will be disappointed repeatedly. Set your expectations according to what you want as well as according to what the other person is able to offer.
- Get out and explore your surroundings! Sitting on your couch binge-watching Netflix does not create new friendships. Find festivals, farmers’ markets, and events happening near you to explore. Walk around your neighborhood or your local dog park. Join an online book club or MeetUp. Follow up with people you click with as you venture beyond your four walls. The more you are out and about, the more chances you have of meeting new people.
- Get involved in things you care about and enjoy. Be active in your own interests and passions to meet people who share similar interests and passions. Is faith or spirituality important to you? Join a church or religious group. Like sports? Join your community’s dodgeball or softball league. Is a specific cause important to you? Join those marches or events.
- Be bold! Found a co-worker who you click with? Met a friend of a friend at a party? Invite them along as you explore the town or plan a lunch “friend-date.” If someone invites you to something new, take the chance and go. Forging a new friendship can be incredibly intimidating. Yet without risk, there is no reward. Worst case scenario: you don’t get along so you don’t set up another get together. Best case scenario: you enjoy yourself and you’ve begun building a new friendship.
Be patient with yourself as you explore this phase of your life. Someday, you’ll look back on this time in your life and find yourself amazed that you ever felt out of place or all alone.
Written by: Molly Halbrooks