There is much advice that you probably did not hear from when growing up. Making a budget, knowing if the person you are dating is worth marrying, and making or breaking a habit are some of the things you probably never heard from anybody.
How to make friends in your adulthood also surely must be on that list.
It is not a part of the curriculum at any school, but probably your parents did not give you any guidance verbally or by example. Maybe it is because they also did not have any real friends.
The lack of guidance in early life might be why you still struggle to find pals as an adult. Below are three lessons about making friends in adulthood that we developed through our trial and error process. It is better to learn late than never, and hopefully, they will save you from groping about blindly.
1. Become proactive
Likely, you never gave a thought to the idea of making general friends until after your college graduation and plopping out to the broader world. You may wonder why you should have. The reason is that it is natural as breathing to make and have friends during school years. You are interacting with peers of similar ages and backgrounds for six and even more hours in a day. You further narrow the peer group into even more like-minded segments by sorting them into different extracurricular activities. It is hard not to make friends during school years.Cue that record scratch post-college. You might meet fellow humans at work, but the pool of potential candidates to fit into your friends’ department may be very shallow. The reason is that fewer peers share your interests, are in a similar stage in life, or possess a personality that connects with you.
Many days can pass without meeting human beings of any stripe if you are working from home as many people are doing in recent times.
Adulthood brings a few built-in structures that can push you to the automatic formation of friendships. Most young grow-ups possess little experience in environments without a foundation of those built-in structures. They attempt to continue the same old friendship-making methods of the past, meaning they do nothing and end up puzzled at a weak social circle.
The biggest lesson about making friends in adulthood is that it takes real and proactive effort. It will not just happen without any effort to cause its occurrence. The effort means intentionally increasing contact with other human beings as they are possible future friends.
Many activities create opportunities to interact with people. Some examples are going to church, joining a dojo, a gym, or finding meet-groups in your area.
Being proactive also means deepening the superficial bond you form in situations like those above by inviting people to hang out away from their activities. For example, you can invite someone you chat with every Sunday at your church for dinner.
Starting a kind of group is one of the best ways to turn acquaintances into real friends. It can be something such as discussion circles. For instance, a book club or an informal fraternity that meets weekly/monthly. It requires more upfront effort to get a group going initially, but it becomes less demanding to sustain when established. Set days and times for meeting with friends to help “automate” relationships. A schedule of meetings also prevents an endless need to keep planning dates to hang out every time you meet.
2. Making Friends Takes More Time Than You Think
• Students require spending 40 hours together to turn an acquaintance into a casual friend. Adults need about 90 hours together to achieve the same thing.• It took students about 60 hours to turn a casual friend into a regular one, while adults took 160 hours.• Turning a regular friend into a good and close friend took college students 120 hours while adults took 100.
• College students took 220 cumulative hours of spending time together to move from acquaintance stage/level to best friends.
• It takes 350 hours for adults.
The study reveals that adults have two significant disadvantages in their friendship-making department.
A. Progressing a relationship takes them more hours than when they were younger.
The head researcher thinks that college students progress faster in relationships because they see each other in more intimate settings and sometimes live together. The frequency shows more sides of students. On the other hand, adults interact in more structured situations. They meet and retreat. For instance, you can show yourself in a particular way when you go for lunch with someone, and maybe you will not see the person for another week.
B. Adults have more responsibilities and shorter free time. It is harder for them to accumulate hang out hours.
The high school environment allows you to spend about two hours in class with friends and two more in extracurricular activities every day. In addition, you hang out with them on weekends for eight hours. That means you can meet someone and spend a lot of time together that in two months you feel like best friends. (That probably matches your lived experience).
You may only have two hours a week to spend with friends as a grown-up at a place like a gym.
The time you hang out outside the gym can be once a month for two hours a time. At this rate, a friend will progress from an acquaintance to a good friend in three years.
The period is about how long in lived experience that it takes to feel like you are close to a friend made in adulthood.
It will be frustrating if your expectations in adulthood are to make friends that will become bosom buddies in a few months, similar to your youthful times. The frustration comes from wondering why friendship is not progressing. It is, but you must accept that the timeline for relational progress will be much longer than it was during school days. Invest patiently and consistently in a relationship.
3. Not all people are initiators
Plans in adulthood, as you read previously, require some intentionality to happen. Amid busy lives, professional and family responsibilities compel you to turn an abstract thought that “I should hang out with so and so” into a concrete invitation.A lesson that not everyone is ready to invite emerges when you are an adult because you could not glimpse it when growing up.You can roughly break people into two groups that we will call “hosts” and “guests.”
Hosts like their name like hosting things like parties. Metaphorically, they are the persons who initiate activities among friends, make social plans, and round up others to do stuff. You are likely the host type if you were the person providing the house for friends to gather during high school time.Many enjoy hanging out and going to events as guests but do not like to host in the literal and metaphorical sense.
Hosts can end up in confusion and conflict if they do not understand this difference. For instance, a host-type couple may invite another for dinner. The hosted couple will not reciprocate if it is the guest-type. The host couple will make another invitation but wonder why the other pair does not like them when they fail to reciprocate a second time.
Do not equate reciprocation of invitations with interest in friendship if you are the type that enjoys hosting. Hosting and friendships do not always correlate.
People probably like you if they keep accepting your invites. Do not suggest hanging out another time if they fail to reciprocate because they may not like you. (This Brad Pitt Rule of friendship does not just apply to romantic relationships but also platonic relations). People can appreciate that you initiate things, but they do not feel inclined to do the same.
The host-type persons can be tempted to fall into a spiteful dejection. You can wonder why “you always have to be the person initiating things” and conclude, “I will not care if nobody else cares!” It helps if you realize that the distinction between the host and guest is not about a difference in character. It is a difference in personality. Some people are not inclined to be social initiators, and as guest types, they may be reluctant to throw parties, but their strength is becoming the life of one.
You will have a simpler time by considering your hosting character as a part of your vocation in life. You can be playing a vital role in creating fun, memories, and meaning in people’s lives by bringing them together. Embrace the activity as a calling.
Are you the guest type? Alleviate your host-friends’ uncertainty concerning how you feel about them by declaring your appreciation for their initiation of good times. Make an early communication if you will be unable to accept their invitation. Convey your regret, explain the decline is not your desire but a matter of circumstance, and suggest rescheduling to another time.
In the literal sense, the guest types might be disinclined to host a bash in their houses but usually are more ready to go out for fun activities like concerts, dinners, movies, etc. Initiate reciprocation for the guest types by proposing hangouts when the idea for such outings crosses your mind.