by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJune 24, 2021 adult therapy, friendship, mindfulness, relationship, relationship resolutions0 comments
It is widely acknowledged that making friends as an adult can be a huge challenge for many and there are real reasons why this occurs. There is something very special about the connections we nurture in our childhood and teen years and if you are one of the lucky people who remains near and close with your childhood friends you will easily note how irreplaceable those special connections are. In childhood and even more so in our teen years school places us in a school environment where we are forced to interact with our peers and in that stage of development, connecting to a community of peers is paramount. The developmental object is to pull away slightly from the primary family and develop close connections with friends, creating a safe sense of belonging. Teens and kids approach the domain of friends with less inhibition and fear of what could go wrong, the younger the child is the more that this is true.
As the years go on, our needs for socializing get side stepped for practical matters such as managing professional life and raising a family. Time really does present barriers as well as our fears and anxieties that prevent us from reaching out and walking up to strangers to start a conversation. If you are reading this article because making friends as an adult has been a challenge for you, then you are likely already familiar with your own list of reasons why you haven’t been able to nurture as many connections as you like. The goal becomes to focus on what can be done to overcome this and with that in mind we can look at the 5 best steps to making more adult friends.
- Get your interests in order, don’t have a hobby yet? Well get one, common interests are a great connecting factor, think about where and how you spend your time, are you a stay at home mom, are you clocking 60 hour work weeks? Do you work out? Do you love puzzles? Think about your unique interests and life and start to think about building community with people who are similar to you.
- Find meet up events, the great blessing to social media and other groups is that they allow us to connect with many others. Meetup is a big favorite, there are also singles groups, friend finders, facebook groups and more.
- Don’t stop with the virtual world, no matter how much facetime and zoom we are doing, there is no replacement for in person connection, create at least one monthly opportunity to attend an in person groups.
- When you are at the event, it is easy to become anxious and psych yourself out before approaching a new person. You might wonder what you can say or fear how you can handle pauses in the conversation, the underlying fear is often that the person will think you are strange or reject you. The most helpful mental reframe you can use is ‘every person there is feeling the same nervousness.’ In fact you can further coax yourself by remembering that you can help someone else to feel less nervous by approaching them first.
- Be the first to follow up! Often we wait for the people we meet to follow up and say how nice it was to meet, we miss connections that way. Always be the first to reach out and bring people together by offering an invitation, that is the secret of super connectors!
Stephanie Wijkstrom, MS, LPC, NCC is a nationally certified counselor and founder of Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh. Stephanie specializes in providing therapy that emphasizes whole person wellness often including mindfulness and other evidence-based practices. She has been featured on local television, radio, and countless articles where she acts as a thought leader on mental health and wellness. Stephanie is a loving wife, an ardent yogi, and a dog mom of two. Stephanie enjoys her daily meditation practice, trying new wellness tips, prancing through the world with belly laughs on her breath.Learn More