Making friends as a child can be as easy as lending a classmate your pencil. Who doesn’t remember walking into the classroom on the first day as a shy youngster and slipping into the first empty seat available, only to become instant best friends with the girl in the next row?
When we become adults, it gets a little trickier to initiate a new friendship. Our attempts can be misconstrued in what seems like a hundred different ways. You might try making eye contact with a friendly-looking face on the subway, until she frowns and moves to the next car. You try to start a conversation in the clothing store, and discover the woman doesn’t even speak English and has no clue what you said. Your friendly invitation to go for drinks after the league soccer game is interpreted as a pass or a sign that you’re a closet alcoholic. The women in the snack shack at your kid’s Little League game have their own clique, and they aren’t letting anyone—including you—in. Have adults forgotten how to make new friends? It sure seems that way sometimes.
Why Making Friends as an Adult is Hard
There are many reasons why making friends as an adult is much harder than earlier in life. One common reason is that we all have many more demands on our time than we did as children. Our time resource is limited, so our social life is necessarily limited, too. When you take into account immediate and extended family obligations, a full-time job, religious obligations, home maintenance projects, and possibly the pursuit of higher-level education; there isn’t much time left over for friends.
Of course, everybody needs friends, but when it comes to making new ones, many adults feel that they don’t have room for anyone new in their life.
A second reason why it’s harder to make friends as an adult is fear. It comes down to trust issues. The older we get, the more likelihood that we’ve gotten “burned” at least once, but often a few times. The stories we hear in the news make us feel that strangers can’t be trusted. We may feel that either people are after our money, our children, our spouses, or something else. There’s no telling what nefarious reasons a person may have for supposedly wanting to be our friend, right?
However, there is fault in both of these reasons. The issue of a lack of time is one that is largely in our heads. Most of us have more time than we think we do. Also, many quality friendships don’t require as much time as we might imagine. Spending an hour with a friend a couple times a month playing tennis or having lunch can be hugely rewarding and doesn’t take a big time commitment. Chatting for a half hour on the phone to share life anecdotes is easy, too, and you don’t even have to leave the house to do it. Basically, friendships don’t detract from your life—they add to it.
Don’t let false reasoning or fear get in the way of making new friends. Friends help us grow, enjoy life more, and help to make a better world for everyone, including you and your loved ones.