I don’t want to be lonely! Making friends as an adult
We can spend large parts of our lives surrounded by people who might become our friends - at school, college, or uni - but what do you do when you're an adult and finding yourself feeling isolated? You might move to another part of the country, for work or because of a relationship, and leave behind your friendship network, or your friends might have done this, leaving you feeling lonely, so how do we start anew? Maybe you feel you have never had the friendship group you crave. You know or suspect that you feel better when you have friends close by, but it can be hard to find this or recreate this in a new place or in new circumstances, after a split for example.
Eight great ways to make friends as an adult
1. Get out there
If you want to make friends, you have to get out and find them. Potential friends won’t know that you’re interested if you spend your evenings and weekends in front of the TV. Be open to new experiences, or go to a talk or exhibition that you know about, for example, and use these opportunities to strike up conversations. It might not lead to friendship, but it will increase your confidence and help you expand your horizons further.
2. Be interested in other people
Ask people about themselves and really listen to the answers. Pay attention to what they are saying rather than thinking about what you are going to say next. People tend to warm to those who show a genuine interest in them and are more likely to be interested in you as a result.
3. Do something you love
The classic advice for adults to find friends (or a relationship) is to join a club, or take up a hobby. Whether you make friends or not through this, it will help develop your knowledge and skills so your time isn’t being wasted, and again it’s a chance to interact with others.
If you can’t find a club for your favourite pastime, you could always set one up. This helps to increase the number of people you come into contact with, as well as enabling you to do something you enjoy.
4. Do something for someone else
If you’re feeling down about your lack of friends, doing some voluntary work might be the answer. Not only are you helping others, but you might also come into contact with people who have the same views on life as you, and therefore have more potential friends.
5. Take a measured risk
Do something that is outside of your normal comfort zone, but nothing dangerous. This is likely to improve your self-esteem, make you see yourself differently, and make it easier for you to engage with other people. You also have a new experience to talk about and will, hopefully, have fun.
6. Friendships come in different shapes
See all people as potential friends: it doesn’t matter that they might be a very different age, have a different background, or different life experience - they could still offer friendship. It might be that you’d really like a group of friends to hang out with at weekends, but don’t turn your back on an older person who might only be interested in coffee every now and again; we can have all sorts of different friendships in our lives that fill different needs.
7. Build your self-confidence
If you don’t like yourself then it can be hard to understand why anyone else would like you or want to be your friend. Focus on what you like about yourself, talk nicely to yourself, and identify what makes you a good friend. If you start off conversations with that attitude, then the other person is more likely to see you that way.
8. Deal with setbacks
If you reach out to potential friends and it doesn’t work out, then don’t take it personally. You won’t like everyone you come into contact with, and the reverse is true too. This doesn’t make you a bad person, a person destined to remain friendless - it just wasn’t a good fit this time. Similarly, the other person might be in a different headspace at the time you meet, which has nothing to do with you, if they are not interested in pursuing a friendship. Don’t dwell on setbacks, just appreciate the experience, see what you have learned, and move on. There are other people out there who might make better friends for you. Don’t let it put you off.
The main point is to keep trying, have fun, and see what happens. You might feel anxious, but if you want to make changes, you have to take a first step. Good luck!
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.
About Charlotte Feeny
Why have counselling?
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