Have you ever wanted to have just one or two adult friends who can do life with you? Finding those friends can be somewhat of a challenge given our busy lives. In fact, when people are asked, many will say they have no serious friendships (but lots of superficial friends). Loneliness is a real problem in our culture.
A Dutch sociologist tracked friendships and found that in seven years, your close friends won’t be close anymore. Every seven years, half of our friends fade out of our lives.
We all need friends. Researchers bear this out when they tell us that friends are critical to a happy life. In fact, very happy people have five friends. So what can you do to make and keep adult friends? Here are a few tips:
- Try reconnecting with old friends. Maybe you’ve lost touch, but you have some history together with old friends. And because of social media, it is easy to reach out and connect again. As you reconnect over coffee or a quick lunch, ask about their network of friends as well. This takes a little assertiveness, but isn’t that difficult.
- Be interested in other people. To be a good friend, don’t always talk about yourself. Listen and look for similarities and commonalities with others. Commonalities bring people together. A friend also celebrates positive events in a person’s life. Be responsive to your friend’s good news.
- Get beyond superficial. You don’t have to have conversations that sound like a therapy session, but you do need to open up a bit. The more you know someone beyond a superficial level, the more invested you are in their life. So, open up your heart. Risk being vulnerable with a friend you can trust. It will lead to a deeper friendship.
- Make time for others. There is no shortcut here. You have to spend time with someone to get to know them. Force yourself out of your apartment or bed. Accept an invite. Spending time with someone means you value that person. Get off of your phone and do something active with a real person.
- Become a member of a social group. Maybe it is a small group at church, a sailing club, a painting group, a reading club—something of interest that will get you connected to other people. In fact, you might start a group based on an interest you have. A group that is organized around a common interest can expand your friendship network.
- Tell your friends that you value them. Don’t keep score as to who is more assertive about the relationship. Just keep in touch, be positive, get to know the person and tell them they are important in your life. Again, positive feedback in a relationship helps build it.
Now get out there and do it! The benefits will be worth the effort.