The Art of Adulting: Cultivating New Friendships in Your Prime

January 17, 2024
The Art of Adulting: Cultivating New Friendships in Your Prime

All it takes is one look around a park or playground to witness the ease with which children go about making new friends. It takes them approximately 2 minutes to size up their fellow play pals and decide to join in one a game of hide and seek. So, why is it (seemingly) so much harder one we’re adults? 

Friendship, a vital aspect of our human connection, contributes significantly to our mental and emotional well-being. But for many of us, when we hit peak adult-hood, the prospect of making new friends can be a bit more daunting. Various factors contribute to the challenges we encounter when trying to form new connections. So let's delve into "why" and also how to overcome these challenges....

  1. We're all Busy Adult-ing.

Research consistently highlights the time constraints faced by adults (and more specifically, women) as a significant obstacle to making new friends. Dr. Jeffrey Hall, a professor of communication studies, emphasises that as we  juggle career, family, and other commitments, finding time for socialising becomes increasingly challenging. The solution? They say “what you focus on grows”. So prioritising social activities & scheduling regular meetups will help you create a social routine that you can stick to, to deepen new friendships.

  1. Fear of Rejection:

We can often fear rejection when making new friends due to a combination of past experiences, societal expectations, and a heightened awareness in social situations. As we mature, we often also become more sensitive to judgement. Overcoming the fear of rejection involves cultivating a mindset and understanding that not every connection will be (or needs to be) a perfect match. Taking gradual steps to reach out to new people, setting realistic expectations, and focusing on shared interests when you first meet can also make the process enjoyable and take the pressure off.

  1. Evolving Social Circles:

Established social circles can be both a comfort and a challenge for adults seeking new friends. Dr. William Rawlins, a professor of interpersonal communication at Ohio University, suggests that adults may be more selective in adding new members to their social circles, potentially limiting opportunities for new friendships. To counteract this, you can actively seek out diverse social environments, join clubs or groups aligned with your interests, and attend events that facilitate the expansion of your social network. We happen to know a fantastic community where you can do all of that, and more.

  1. Digital Age Paradox:

While technology has made it easier to connect, it has also introduced unique challenges to forming deep, meaningful friendships. Research by Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology and neuroscience, suggests that excessive screen time can only ever give superficial, short lived dopamine bursts. To counteract this, prioritise in-person interactions, use technology as a tool for facilitating offline connections and engage in activities that promote genuine, authentic communication. Those offline interactions are the foundation for sustained dopamine (aka the good kind). 

In summary, building a supportive community in adulthood requires effort and a little courage at times, but the rewards are well worth it! Step out of your comfort zone, prioritise in-person interactions and focus on one connection at a time. And you might just pave the way for a new fulfilling, lasting friendship (or two or three!) to walk right into your life.

Written by Alice Abba