I noticed that after many years of working, child-rearing and so on, that my precious friendships from my earlier years had severely suffered. I still have a few friends from my university years, but many had deteriorated, much to my chagrin. It’s not easy to maintain adult friendships when you are all living and working in different cities. Add child rearing into the mix, and it can become even more difficult.
For that reason, it’s often easier to maintain friendships with adults that are in your own town or city. However, it’s not always easy to approach complete strangers and try to strike up a conversation. As I age, I find that my awkwardness is just as problematic as when I was a kid! It takes real persistence to make friends with other adults, but it’s not impossible!
Here are some tips to help make it easier to find and maintain friendships with other people you know in your community!
- Age ain’t nothing but a number! Don’t discount the possibility of becoming friends with people who are a bit older or younger than you. In my workplace, I have developed real friendships with other women who are both older and younger than me. It wouldn’t seem an obvious choice at first, but these friendships have been a really valuable part of my social life.
- Get out of your head! When I go to a social event where I don’t know a lot of people, I tend to get really nervous. My instinct is always to grab a drink and sit in the corner, hiding from social interaction. An idea that I have used that works….is to adopt an altered version of myself….and pretend that I am a slightly different, more outgoing person. It doesn’t feel quite genuine, but it helps me when I am approaching a person who I have not met before. If the conversation doesn’t work out, I don’t feel quite as rejected, because I haven’t really employed my ‘natural’ personality in the conversation. It sounds weird, but for some reason, it often works.
- Online forums/chat groups Find an online forum that aligns with your interests. Obviously, there are groups of people online that are interested in EVERYTHING….no matter how trivial! Find a group, start a profile, and begin chatting with people who are interested in the same thing. It’s easy to start a conversation in this way. Now, it’s not in person, but there is a great chance of finding an like-minded individual. A long term pen pal friendship may be the result!
- Ask questions! Even when you are feeling nervous in a new social situation, the best way to break the ice is to approach someone and ask them about themselves. People almost always LOVE talking about themselves. As long as you don’t get TOO personal and stalker-ish, it’s a great way to draw a person from out of their shell. In return, they might reciprocate by asking you some questions, and ta-da, you have a conversation!
- Get to School! If you have children, then volunteering at their school is a great way to meet people. There are dozens of ways to volunteer in your kids’ school, any of which will put you in touch with other parents like yourself. It’s a great way to meet people with similar interests. If you don’t have children, then try taking a course at a local community college. You are likely to meet other adults with interests similar to yours.
- Community organizations Find an organization in your community that is near and dear to your heart, and find out if they have some volunteer opportunities. These types of activities are often the most enriching, and as a side benefit, put you in contact with others whose values are similar.
- Bulletin Boards Check out community bulletin boards in your local grocery store, public library, health clinic or coffee shop for activities that allow you to meet other people. You may find events that you never know existed, and very often these things are free, and allow you meet other like-minded people in your community
- Facebook Group If you are on Facebook, look around for local groups of people with interests similar to yours. For example, if you are a mom, look for local mom-swap groups where women exchange gently used clothing and toys. If you don’t find the group you want, start one of your own. I am an avid cross-stitcher, and haven’t found a local Facebook group with this interest of mine, so starting one up is on the to-do list. I am hoping to meet up with other cross-stitchers in my community.
- Faith Based Communities If you are a member of a church, synagogue or mosque, then you are always in close proximity to people with a similar faith-based values. There are always volunteer opportunities or group-based activities within each faith community. This is one of the easiest way to make friends with like-minded adults.
- Look for the Quiet One If you are a shy, quiet and introverted person like me, then social situations can often be a source of real anxiety. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, try looking for the quiet one. By that I mean, look for the one who most looks like you are feeling. Odds are, they ARE feeling just as awkward as you, and would love to strike up a laid-back conversation with someone like you!
It is not always easy making real lasting friendships when you are all grown up, but hopefully these tips make it just that little bit easier. Feel free to comment and let me know of any tips that have worked for you! Until next time…