When you’re young, making friends is easy. Whether you make connections at school or during extra-curricular activities you were probably involved in a myriad of social activities that you either don’t have time for or have grown out of. Finding the time to socialize is hard enough without having to battle the temptation to stay in and snuggle up on your cozy couch with you’re a good book. Maintaining a solid social network may not be as simple as it once was, but it is as important as ever. The bottom line is, humans are social creatures. We evolved to rely on one-another for basic survival and thrive in groups. We may not be fighting off saber tooth tigers in teams anymore, but there’s no doubt that even the most independent of us needs a good friend sometimes. Studies have shown a strong correlation between the size and quality of individuals social support systems and mental health. People who keep a stable support network close by typically recover from major life changes faster, cope with stress more easily, and even manage disease better. If you are like many adults and are finding your social circle dwindling, you’re not alone. Making friends as an adult may seem daunting at first, but it can be simple once you set your mind to it. The first step is to have confidence in yourself and know that people want to be your friend! It is in our nature to seek out new connections and when in the company of like-minded individuals, that connection comes naturally. Once you have that down, here are some additional tips to help you in your search for new friends:
- Break a Sweat, Make a Bestie
Here’s a tip that can help you kill two birds with one stone. It’s a new year, so why not a new you? Gyms and fitness studios are great places to meet people who share a common goal. If you haven’t already, join a gym or fitness studio where you will work out with the same people regularly. Feeling fit is a great way to build confidence improving your ability to feel comfortable putting yourself out there. If you join a fitness studio where you will work out with the same people often, chances are you will begin to form bonds. A lot of tight knit groups that work out together, will socialize together as well. Whether it’s a holiday party or just a gathering of a few to celebrate completing a tough workout, there are lots of opportunities to get to know your fellow athletes.
- New Places/ New Faces
Often, we can fall into a routine of going to the same familiar coffee shops or bars. If you haven’t made friends as these places yet, chances are you are seeing some familiar faces at these places and you might just need a change of scenery. Attend events in your town or city that are centered around an interest of yours. Maybe you used to write poetry in high-school and would enjoy a monthly poetry reading. Or maybe it’s been a while since you’ve picked up your guitar and played an original at an open mic night. Whatever piques your interest, most cities and towns, even if they are small will have local events that occur on some schedule. After a few times of going, you will probably see some familiar faces. Don’t be shy about approaching people and starting a conversation. Everyone likes being noticed and your simple recognition of their existence could be fuel for the start of a friendship. Who knows, you might even have some things in common. Websites like meetup.com can ease the burden of trying out new places and meeting new potential friends. The website allows you to search and join groups by interest (e.g. hiking, wining and dining, board games) and attend pre-scheduled events made by group leaders.
- Lend a Hand, Gain a Friend
Altruism always feels good! Try volunteering at your local shelter and you might find that the time you spend giving to those in need is good time spent with other volunteers who could be potential friends. Some of the best friendships are formed from a positive bond over mutual effort towards the same goal. Think about when you were young. You may have made friends from sports, a musical group or in a dance class. These were all times that you spent regular time with your peers, working hard toward the same satisfying result. Volunteering with other adults can be a great way to spend quality time with good people, getting to know them while lending a helping hand.
However, you do it, making friends requires you to get off the couch, out of the house, and into the world. Be sure to choose activities that feel good to you and approach new people with a warm, friendly smile and you’re sure to form new bonds in no time!