The difficulty of making friends as an adult
My article about my best friend from high-school has given me some food for thought and here I am.
I am a bit of a dreamer, I admit.
Sometimes I zone out and find myself looking through something. And I say “through” something not “at” something cause when I daydream I usually don’t see anything. You can be right in front of me talking and I’m not hearing a word. It’s not meant to be rude towards the person I’m speaking with, it’s just that there are millions of thoughts in my head simultaneously and they get me distracted.
I can stare at a piece of art for hours, creating scenarios in my head about what I see, about the setting, the colours and so on; but at the same time I can’t do small-talk.
I have a short attention span and get bored easily. Most people can’t keep up with the zillion thoughts in my head. I don’t know why but it was always like this. If things don’t happen in seconds I get impatient and bored and I usually annoy everyone around me with my lack of patience.
I’m always on fast-forward, wanting things to get real, wanting them now and quick. Too bad that’s not always possible.
Never thought of it, but maybe this is one of the reasons it’s so difficult for me making friends. It was difficult back when I was a teen and it’s even more difficult now, as an adult.
I only hope I’m not the only one struggling with this thing.
Because I am an introvert I have always been perceived as arrogant and fussy. Truth is, I am fussy and selective sometimes, but I usually get defensive and shut myself down when I feel anxious regarding something or someone. It’s like a mechanism that helps me navigate a certain situation.
I’ve been told I make to many parentheses while talking so you’ll have to forgive me, it’s a bad habit of mine.
Anyway, let’s get to the point of this article. Why is it so hard for many of us to make friends as adults?
Well, firstly there are a lot of reasons, some of which we can control, some of which we can’t. Let’s see some of the difficulties I came across and how you/I can break them in order to be more approachable.
1. The rules of the game change over the years and people evolve.
As we grow up we develop a series of habits and routines, our tastes in music, movies, books and other things don’t vary as much. We become creatures of habit and we pretty much don’t like change. We like our coffee in a certain way, we can’t sleep well if we’re in someones else’s house or we’re secretly neat freaks. Sounds familiar?
We are no longer children open to learn about everything and being friendly with everyone. We are pretty much set, with the constant circle of people around us and we don’t want to put yourself out there after a break up or loss because it’s scary to be vulnerable.
In this case, I would force myself to be more open towards the unknown and leave my comfort zone because friends don’t happen overnight. #justsaying
2. Give it time.
Developing a new bond or connection takes time. As stated above, as adults we feel more vulnerable because we have already experienced deception from loved ones and we are afraid of giving away our trust from the very first moment.
Genuine friendships can’t be rushed, so put yourself out there by doing new activities, going out more, volunteer, observe, take a hike, take some cooking or dance lessons, whatever you enjoy most. I am certain that casual friends and acquaintances will happen shortly.
3. Be more approachable and show interest in people.
Because I am anxious AF I tend to use my phone during a stressful situation, whether it’s meeting someone new or whatever. And let me tell you, this is starting off on the wrong foot.
I would, instead, brush off my conversational skills and put more effort into being present because else, it will look like my phone is more interesting that the actual conversation, which can happen sometimes, but when meeting someone new, this is plain rude behaviour.
So, just put down your smartphone for a few minutes, relax and try to get to actually know if the person next to you is worth your undivided attention by asking more about themselves. Friendships include a lot of work, sharing both spiritually and materially, listening and/or giving in if that’s the case.
Think about it, making friends is a lot like dating, you meet someone you like and then you schedule dates and stuff. So put your social skills to the work!
4. Don’t forget that your friends have friends of their own.
Four years ago, when I moved to Cluj I had to get a job, and with this new job came along new people. My first and best friend from Cluj was L. Cute, polite and kind, she won me on the spot.
We have been friends ever since when one evening she introduced me to another friend of hers. S was just as nice and friendly as L, and that was the moment I realised that I can meet new people through the ones I already know.
I was surprised about how many things we had in common and we repeatedly met afterwards for drinks.
So, if you don’t know where to start making friends just start with the people you already know and organise little get-togethers where everyone can bring someone from the outside of your circle.
5. Remember what you have to offer.
There are times when someone surprises me by saying “You look so cool doing this or that or whatever!”
Why? Because we are so used to being us that we no longer see our unique features. And when someone talks about them we tend to be amazed. Like hell yes, I look cool while driving!
As individuals we have so many awesome things to show and it’s a shame that we don’t always bring them to light when meeting someone new. Maybe it’s something social, like a good sense of humour or intelligence. You never know who might be attracted to your quirks.
I urge you to take a moment and think about what makes you special, write a list of your skills and next time you are in a new environment pull them out and let others see you shining. I am 100% certain that you will attract some nice compliments.
I know that it takes work to maintain friendships but that’s the fun of it, I guess. Because people are different we have to adjust to them and they have to adjust to us as well so that we can develop relationships of any kind. It will work with some but not with all of them. We won’t like everyone and that’s perfectly fine! We just have to be the best possible version of ourselves, be kind and polite and don’t forget that we’re under no obligation to invest time and energy getting to know someone if we don’t want to.
Maybe it’s because of my romantic ideals, but I believe that childhood friends that stick are the magical ones. They have that sparkle that you will scarcely find later in life, they have known you at your worst and at your best, they know your history and your family. So if you still have one of those little gems, keep it and appreciate it, because the bonds that develop during those years are, in my opinion, the authentic ones.
To conclude, next time you’re struggling with this remember that everyone has been in your position once or twice, me included, and don’t stress too much because you’re not as criticised by others as much as you think you are.
I miss having girl-to-girl conversations over a glass of wine. I really should get some new friends!