Being an avid gym-goer, I see many faces at the gym. For the most part, everyone keeps to themselves, but you start to recognize more faces than others after a while. Naturally, it is only a matter of time before other gym “regulars” become acquaintances and those acquaintances slowly move towards friendships.
Recently, I achieved something incredible: I actually made a new friend at the gym!
Now, while I recognize that describing this seemingly trivial event as “incredible” seems a tad lame, I stick by what I said. Making friends as an adult is NO small feat. In fact, loneliness and lack of meaningful friendships is something that many adults are struggling with. As kids, it felt a lot more effortless to build those strong bonds – mostly because we saw the same people every day in school, had the same classes, and essentially grew up together. But as we get older, life shifts: we begin our career, travel, fall in love, move away, start companies, start a family, etc. Life gets busy, and when that’s the case, making solid friendships with new people no longer comes easy.
Here’s the good news: it is possible to make friends as an adult. It takes courage, vulnerability, and initiative, but being brave and putting yourself out there will draw people to you and present opportunities to create new bonds. The tips below have personally helped me, and it’s something I constantly have to keep reminding and pushing myself to do. Keep these tips in mind, and hopefully it will make the whole process feel a little less intimidating and more enjoyable.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: Making new friends is not going to be 100% comfortable all the time. There may be fated moments when you meet someone, you immediately click, and it feels like you’ve known each other forever. But unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that most of the time. Rather, most of the time, it’s slightly awkward and uncomfortable. Without school, classes, and the other similarities that naturally brought us together while growing up, we’re forced to engage in dreaded small talk and learn about each other slowly during those first few interactions. We each have our own idiosyncrasies and ways we interact with the world around us, and sometimes, those idiosyncrasies make for an uncomfortable exchange. But that’s okay, it’s what makes us each so unique and special. It’s important to keep in mind that the other person you’re meeting probably feels a little uncomfortable too. They’re most likely also trying to search for the right words to say and wondering if you find them interesting. So lighten up a little and get out of your head! The sooner you decide to embrace the fact that you’ll probably be uncomfortable, the sooner you can ditch the worrying about the discomfort and move past it. Once you’ve done this, it’s easier to just be yourself. Remember, when you’re acting out of authenticity, the right people will naturally gravitate towards you.
Give it time.
Deciding you want to make new friends takes an investment of your time that reaches beyond initially meeting someone. You can meet a new person every day, but moving from that “acquaintance” stage to a “friendship” stage takes follow up, asking questions, listening, and showing you care. Most importantly, this transition takes patience and allowing yourself to trust in the process. Think back to the last time you really tried to make new friends. Did you become besties with your besties right away? Most likely, your friendship evolved as you interacted with each other more and more in different settings. Learning about new people and building trust in a new relationship is not something that happens overnight, so give it time.
Give it effort.
Developing a friendship takes time, but it also takes effort. This means showing up: proactively ask someone out for coffee, introduce yourself at a party, smile and be welcoming at events, remember birthdays and other important tidbits of information that people share with you, text someone to let them know you’re thinking of them, etc. If you want to make new friends, show that you are invested in becoming friends. Don’t say “let’s grab drinks sometime” and leave it at that. If you genuinely want to grab drinks, ask the person if they are available on a specific day. Worst case: they’re not available and you find a different day. People want to feel like you care about them if they are going to invest their time and energy in you. If you want to be friends, show that you’re willing to do the same. Understand that sometimes that means being the person who initiates hanging out more than the other person. Over time, it shouldn’t feel so one-sided, but to get a relationship going, someone needs to take the initiative.
Accept that not everyone is going to like you, and that’s OK!
Be honest: Do you immediately like and “click” with everyone that you meet? Still, that person you don’t like probably has a bunch of friends who think they are amazing. So it’s bound to happen that some people are going to have the same reaction to you, but that’s okay. It may sting to know that you’re not someone’s cup of tea, but it surely doesn’t mean that no one will ever like you. The sooner you accept that not everyone is going to like you, the sooner you can stop trying to make certain people like you and start opening up your energy to the other people in the world. As I mentioned before – as long as you’re being your true self, the right people will naturally be drawn to you.
Making friends as an adult doesn’t have to be as difficult or intimidating of a process as people often make it out to be. The more you can let go of putting pressure on forming these new friendships and let them evolve over time, the more fun you can have while doing it. Put yourself out there, be yourself, and see where it goes. You might be surprised at the amazing people you attract into your life who have been waiting to meet you.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment at AWCC, please contact us at 832-421-8714.