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How to make friends - when you are an adult

Updated on January 4, 2015

When did it become so hard?

I have heard this complaint over and over again. I have even made this complaint regularly. But what I have realized is that we just don’t remember how easy it is. Friendship doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be deep or even for a lifetime. Friendship can be simple and fun for the time you have. You just have to stretch out of your comfort zone and connect.

I watch my children especially my daughter, age 9. She will meet a girl at the playground, join in whatever activity she is doing or ask her new friend to play tag and like magic, for the next two hours, they are the best of friends. Meanwhile, the girl’s mother and I will make eye contact from across the benches smile a half smile that doesn’t quite reach the eyes and nod to one another. Granted there are occasions when I meet the super out-going mom who will pick up a real conversation with me. But it is super rare. And when it does happen I always want to ask for her number so we can chat again, but I don’t because that seems odd…

I accept my part in this sad phenomenon. I have even mustered up all my courage, shed my usual wall of polite decorum, crossed the playground and attempted to strike up conversation. It usually ends in awkward agreement about the weather we have been having no matter what the weather has been like.

Even my son, who is twelve, will make a quick pal with a kid he meets, if the conditions are right. Say we are at the Y and he meets a kid in the teen room and they both have a common interest. Any video game or sport will do. If there is a common denominator they will get along great for the next couple of hours.

My oldest is seventeen. He will make a connection with someone if the setting is right as well. I do notice that he usually leads the connection but I wouldn’t consider him a super outgoing kid. Well mannered, yes, friendly too. But not outgoing. This makes me proud because I feel that I have raised him to be well mannered and welcoming, even if I am losing the skill myself.

So it begs the question, when exactly do we lose the ability to make a genuine connection? When do we decide the people we currently have in our life is enough? When has a good book replaced actual connectivity and conversation? At what point do we lose the magic that makes building new relationships easy?

The more the merrier

I haven’t figured out an answer as to when it happens, maybe it is different for everyone. But for me, it is happening now. It is harder than it should be to build relationships with people. But I want to. From what I have read and seen, I am not alone. But it seems the bridge has gotten harder for many to cross. We are caught up with our busy lives and with our children’s lives and connectivity with others has slowed down. It is normal but I don’t think it is natural.

My children come first, your do too, I am sure. But I am afraid that we have forgotten what exactly that means. I want my children to have as many people to love and care about them as possible. I want that for myself too. I want friends who will show up for my daughter’s dance recital or my twelve year olds big game. I want friends who will support my son as he graduates high school. I want people in our lives. Not just our family. I think the more people who love my kids, the better.

You don’t have to be secrete sharing soul mates with every person you invite to your home. You just have to be friendly. Make the effort. Tolerate a few flaws or the occasional disagreement and enjoy the company.

It is important to God

Even God craved connectivity - that is why he created man. He wanted someone, in his image, to talk with and communicate with. He realized that man needed that too – “It is not good for man to be alone.” Then he further instructed us to assemble together and commune daily. It is in the book friends… Read on. As a matter of fact, it is in the beginning of it. Easy to find.

So how do you make new friends?

1. Show up

It is hard to get out of your shell and meet new people. If you have been asked and have said no or made excuses (even if they are legitimate) people will stop asking you. Get rejected enough and you’ll stop asking. Take it from me, it is hard to be the one who does the inviting too. They do not want to be rejected either. Give it another shot. And if you are the one being asked – show up. Even if you don’t want to, especially if you don’t want to, push through it. Connectivity is what makes life valuable. So give it your best shot and the next invitation you get, just go. It can be like the gym, you may not feel like going but you’ll love the results.

2. Make time

Having friends takes time. It is an investment. We are all busy. Our lives have so many things we can fill our time with. But people are the most valuable resource there is. We are designed to need others. Prioritize, make a commitment and dedicate the time to building relationships. People are valuable. For you, for your marriage, for your family. People matter.

*Suggestion? Pick a day on the calendar this month and make a plan - right now. Pick a Friday or a Tuesday or even Sunday afternoon. Choose an activity, make a Facebook event, send out a group text or even ask someone face to face to show up. The slogan of my life, “You have time for, what you make time for.”

You have time for what you make time for.

— - Nicole Woltz

3. Invest

Time, money and your house may get messy. Having friends is not free. You are not a kid. You know everything comes with a price. Relationships can be costly. Not only is it costing you time, which is precious and valuable but there is actually other costs too. Time, effort, risk of rejection or betrayal but namely, money. It costs money to go out to dinner or to host people to your home. You have to spend time getting ready or cleaning and you have to spend money on food and drinks. It may be costly, but it is worth the price. Having people in your life will give you a purpose and a joy that you just can’t get from anything else. Knowing that there are people out there who you enjoy and enjoy being around you is worth the investment. Invest in the things that will matter.

4. Make the effort

Don’t always wait for an invitation somewhere or to something. Invite a friend or their family for lunch, dinner at your house or a restaurant. Be specific choose a date and time or give 2 options. Don’t say, “Let’s get together sometime.” Sometime never comes, and then things get awkward.

Throw a home demo party like Pampered chief, Scentsy, 31 bags anything!

One sided effort does not a friendship make. (I seem to know a lot of people who are confused by this.) Your phone dials out too. Make the effort to connect. Make the invitation.

PS – you do not have to wait for the perfect conditions. In fact STOP waiting for the right time. Don’t worry about the carpet that needs replaced or when you have a larger dining area. Use what you have. The conditions will never be right if that is what you are waiting for. Just make the effort and make it more than once. Make at least three attempts to connect with someone this week. It is time to make new friends.

Be a Super friend, host a dinner party

5. Act like it matters

People matter. We need one another. When something awesome happens, you’ll want people to celebrate with. When something bad happens, you’ll want people to lean on. When life happens, you’ll need the memories to keep you going. People matter and the connections you make along the way are what make life worth it. No, not everyone you reach out to will connect. And just like dating, not everyone is a good fit. That is okay. Not everyone will be with you for the long haul but they are still worth it, for now. I have had more people walk away from me than I can count. But each person has given me some great memories, and has lent something that has made me, me. The people in your life will help you grow as a human being. So even if they are not to be a forever friend, that is okay. Enjoy the company of those who are in your life, for now. People matter – every single one.

Ideas to get together

What do you love to do? You likely want to make friends with similar interests. So plan to do something you enjoy, hopefully your new hopeful friends will enjoy or at least make the effort to try something new in hopes of connecting.

**Sharing this article with everyone can only help ;)

Scrapbook – Just 2or 3 pages or a specific goal to help the evening serve a purpose and to be less overwhelming to your friends who don’t quite get scrapping but are willing to show up and try.

Board games – How old are we? Some of us are that old. Games are fun for group activities and icebreakers. It is a great way to get people talking to one another. Be sure to have some chips and pretzels and other snacks and drinks – maybe even a few bottles of wine (know your crowd).

Party Time- Home demo parties used to be the way to get people together. The truth is there are many that are too expensive. I was at one recently where the least expensive jewelry in the book was a $40 pair of earnings. Be sure to choose something you like. Anything with food usually goes over well.

*Be sure to tell your “demonstrator” that this is a social gathering not a two hour lecture and tasting. They can get carried away with their demonstrating and it can take the fun out of it.

Dinner party – just some friends for dinner is a great idea. Especially if you add some fun to it. If you have a TV in or near your dining room you can play You Tube clips from a comedian you like. Get everyone laughing and lighten the mood makes connecting easier.


Comedy Bit - laugh together :)

Bake and take – Everyone gets together, makes a dish and trades. This can be done several ways. There are clubs that form for this kind of thing. Everyone makes ten casserole type dishes then they all meet up and swap so that everyone trades and goes home with ten different dishes – dinner for two weeks – done! Some trade up dessert. In some cases, everyone makes just one, then they meet up and trade so everyone can try something new. Food is always a great reason to get together.

Bible study – Pick a book of the bible or a book that you can base your study off. For best results pick a certain topic with a goal, for example, I love the God Chicks book. So pick a God chicks book and take the next 6 weeks to get together and talk about it or work through it. Most books come as workbooks now too. So everyone can order their book online and get started right away. This is great for people to grow in their relationship with one another as well as gain a deeper understanding of who they are and what they believe.

Book club – Pick a book or author you love. Ask some friends who wants to ready the book with you and get together in a month to talk about it. This makes for pretty great conversation and you will all have something in common.*Karen Kingsbury is my FAV - just saying ;)

Summer parties: Grilling out, late night fire pit with marshmellows and hot dogs, a horseshoe tournament, a pool party (if you have a pool) or a sprinkler party if you don’t. Summer is way easier.

*Winter is a great time, people have less commitments in the winter months.

Away from your house:

Bowling: Let’s meet up for a few games of bowling. *If you are older (like me) you’ll want to go earlier when the music is not so loud. If you are looking to connect with new people, you will want to talk and if the music is too loud that is not an option. Yes, I can’t believe I am the lady complaining that the music is too loud :/

Dinner: This is easier without the kids. But families gotta eat too. So ask away. Have patience for one another’s children and try to connect with the kids too. Connecting over food always seems to work the best.

Head to a concert or event: There are lots of things going on. Look around. Find an event you want to go to and invite some friends. Not everyone may be able to attend, but even one or two friends will be fun to share the experience with. There are sports games, even head to a local high school game or comedy club. There are always church events going on within a 50 mile radius. Even a fun night of Bingo would be a great place to enjoy an evening with friends.

Take a class: Many communities are offering cooking classes, painting classes and dance classes for adults. This makes for a fun activity to do with your spouse as well as with friends. Get out and learn something new.

It is harder than it should be. But, like anything else, it will be worth it.

Give it a shot

Good luck!

Please share your experiences, good, bad and funny below.

Friends into adulthood

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Share your best tips

Please comment below and share where you meet new people and your best tip for building connections.

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