Making friends as an adult
Posted on 26 January 2022
Many people feel uneasy about admitting to loneliness – even though it’s something we all feel at times and to varying degrees. As we get older and our circumstances change, friendship groups shift and sometimes we find ourselves without as many close friends as we’d like.
But making new friends as an adult can be daunting! It takes time and effort, and it can feel vulnerable putting yourself out there and running the risk of rejection.
However, having close relationships is linked to better health, happiness and wellbeing in adulthood. So it’s worth a little discomfort to forge those new connections.
Have something in common
Usually the basis of making a friend is a shared experience. We take these for granted in our early years at school, but as adults a good initial basis for a friendship is to have a similar passion or interest.
One option is joining a club or class based on your interests – eg. crafts, cooking, learning a new language, or sport and fitness clubs/classes.
You’ll immediately have something in common with others there and having an activity to focus on takes the pressure off you. What’s more, you get to practise something you enjoy but also have the opportunity to meet new people.
Making friends at work
In many cases, we spend more time at work than with our friends and family. So it makes life a lot easier if you get along with the people you work with. And as well as making work more enjoyable, having friends at work is good for your career, your mental health and your job performance.
So here are some simple ways to build friendships at work.
Do someone a favour
If you think you can be of service, offer a helping hand to your colleagues before they ask. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness and are more likely to return the favour should you need a hand one day.
Ask about their life
This can be as simple as asking something like if they have plans for the weekend. If they’re happy to chat, this can lead into a conversation about their family, friends, hobbies, or interests and gives you an idea of their personality beyond work.
Following up afterwards shows that you paid attention to the conversation and you’re interested in their opinion.
Be aware of your body language
Crossing your arms, texting on your phone, or putting on your headphones will make you seem closed-off and unapproachable. The more welcoming you appear physically, the more likely people are to approach you or initiate conversations.
Having an interest in common is a good basis for a casual friendship, so try chatting with your co-workers about what they’re into. Maybe you both like reality TV, support the same football team, or have kids of a similar age.
It’s no fun being around someone who complains constantly about their work or other co-workers. We all grumble occasionally, but looking on the sunny side of life makes it more likely that people want to be your friend.
Last but not least, be yourself. There’s no use in trying to make friends if they don’t know the real you. While you don’t need to (and shouldn’t) share everything, don’t feel like you need to put on a ‘work persona’. The best friendships start from a place of honesty.