Pretty much all of us still have friends that we made in school. And we’re told that the friends you make at uni will be the ones to stay with you forever. But what happens then? Do we stop making friends? At the age of 21? What about all the people we meet after this? We’ve all met people that we would love to have some kind of relationship with, but feel too embarrassed to do anything about it. How do you make friends as an adult?
As a young child, it’s easy to make friends. Your parents arrange play dates for you, so they’re the ones you’re given. Then you move on to primary school and begin choosing to be friends with people you like. High school is where you hone the skill. Hormones allow you to be flaky and drop the ones you’ve grown out of and move into a new group with interests similar to your own. But still, your choice is coming from a pretty small pool of people to choose from.
If you go to uni or college next you’ll be thrown together with a bunch of people in classes or accommodation. You’ll have similar interests with these people as you’ve chosen the same subjects or similar paths in life so that’s easy too. Plus there’s always loads of activities to just turn up to together.
When you’re in further education your lives follow each others. You go from your house to your lessons together. From lessons to the canteen together. Then you’ll go from campus back home together. You’ll meet at the same pubs and go to the same clubs and after-parties together. You are always together. This helps to form your bonds.
But as an adult, you’re then out on your own. You’ll be the new person and everyone else will have their routine already, which doesn’t involve you. You may be in a new area where you don’t even know where to go and get coffee from. For the first time, you’ll have to actively seek people you want to spend time with. You have to make an effort.
Unfortunately, a lot of adults don’t bother, and just have colleagues. Then if they move jobs they lose touch with the people they got on with. In some circumstances, this is just life and you lose touch with people for a reason. Sometimes it was only the job holding you together. But sometimes friends aren’t made because there’s no protocol as an adult for making a new friend.
We all feel that we make friends easily these days due to social media. But adding someone as a contact doesn’t actually give you any extra interaction with them. Reading about someone and liking it is not the same as a conversation over coffee.
Children are very frank with each other and have no problem wondering up to another child and asking “Are you my friend?” or even telling “You are my friend”. But as an adult, it would feel mortifying to ask someone to be your friend. Lots of connections and great friendships are missed because of this.
I say we should treat friendship the same as dating. We should always be open to connections with new people. You should search for a new friend the same as you search for a new partner. And don’t stick with the same people just because you’ve known them for a long time. If they drain your energy, don’t treat you right, or just get on your nerves then faze them out the same as you would a relationship that’s run its course.
People teach us things and let us grow through their differing opinions and experiences. Don’t stagnate talking to the same three people your whole life. See what’s out there. Your best friend is quite possibly someone you haven’t even met yet. Don’t let them pass you by. Be brave. Make friends as an adult.