Will you be my friend? It sounds like a line straight off of Sesame Street. But research suggests adults could take a Kindergarten clue, when it comes to making friends.
Therapist Julie Hanks discusses how to form adult friendships.
Do I really need friends?
Friendships aren’t just for kids, though many adults minimize their own need for adult friendships outside of family.
We are wired to connect emotionally with other people. Feelings of social isolation are associated with negative health outcomes.
The desire to have more friends, and difficulty in making new friends, are common struggles for many adults.
Why do friends matter?
Friends provide health benefits: reduce stress, recovery from injury or illness, and are associated with longevity.
Research in 2009 found that people with fewest friendships were most likely dealing with depression, anxiety and heart disease (source).
Friends play a different role than family members. A 10 year study of older adults in Australia found that people with a greater networks of friends live longer (source).
How do I make new friends as an adult?
Let people know you need friends.
Reach out to a potential friend 3 times before giving up. Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t reciprocate. It just may not be a good fit.
Look for common interests and activities. You have to do the small talk to sort through and find deeper friendships.
How do I stay connected with old friends when so busy?
Let desire and longing motivate connecting, not guilt.
Build it into your schedule.
Use technology to connect with friends who don’t live in close proximity. Skype and social media are great ways to reconnect.
What if spouses or kids don’t mesh with friend’s families?
Create different groups of friends – personal friends, couple friends, family friends, kid’s friends, acquaintances, work friends, etc.
Similar to dating, developing couple or family friends may require a “courtship” phase. Not all potential friends will be compatible with family.