The older I get, the more I hear people say that it is hard to make friends as an adult. Gone are the days when you can just go over to the neighbor-kid’s house to see if they can come out to play. Having adult friends is more complicated because we want to do more than just play.
When looking for a friend as an adult, we filter our expectations through so many lenses. Can this person be a confidant? Can we hang out together? Do they get me? Will they judge me? Do we have a lot in common? These questions are important, and they are limiting. Not every friend will like the things you like and not every friend is fit for every season of life.
The older we get, the more it seems we lose sight of why it was so easy to make friends as children. Friendship has more to do with goals and personal development, and when the seasons of our life change (like the kids who left for the summer or moved away), our friendships must also evolve.
Here are 3 ways to make friends as an adult:
- Realize it’s not all about you.
We see things and people as we are and not how they truly are. What this means is that we must learn how to separate ourselves from our circumstances and expectations when considering a friendship.
Sure it’s nice to always see the kinds of movies you like.
You feel important when you do most of the talking.
It’s a relief to always have a shoulder to cry on.
When you are in a friendship, you’re in a relationship with another person who is not always going to do, be, and want the same things as you. And that’s ok. Not everyone is meant to carry your weight and not everyone wants to be the therapist/tour guide/workout partner. The easiest ways to destroy a great friendship is to use that person as an emotional dumping ground and to insist upon always having your way.
Talk and listen. Lead and follow. Teach and learn. Give and take…it’s that easy.
- Don’t play dirty.
With back-biting, jealousy and gossip, who needs friends for these things when enemies can do these things?
If a friend is always talking to you about everyone else’s problems and shortcomings, it is likely that this person is also talking to everyone else about your problems and shortcomings. Everyone loves a good story, or juicy details about some tragic circumstance…but unfortunately, unless you’re speaking to the person experiencing the tragedy, it’s hard to trust whether the gossip being shared is actual truth.
If someone always has something critical, judgmental or demeaning to say about others, they aren’t healthy. When you walk and talk with integrity, you will draw people to you who do the same. If a friend is playing dirty by gossiping or demeaning others, remind them of their own humanity and give them a chance to restore their integrity.
If someone insists upon being messy and playing dirty, find a new friend.
3. Set the bar as high as you’re willing to go.
People will act from and are products of their conditioning. Each thought and action we perpetuate, and everything we learn throughout life shows up in who we are and what we attract to ourselves. If you’re a spiritually grounded person, you will attract spiritually grounded people. If you have clear personal boundaries, you won’t have any trouble ending a friendship with someone who has little or no personal boundaries.
Be the kind of friend you want to attract. If you want a friend who is an exercise fanatic, spend more time at the gym. If you want a friend who is compassionate about justice, volunteer with a political campaign. If you want a friend who is even-tempered, remember that the next time someone cuts you off while driving on the highway.
When you value maturity and mutuality, and you cultivate a manner of being that communicates your truest intentions, you inspire those around you to do the same.
Being unequally yoked encompasses more than just religious beliefs -it’s a foundational understanding about life. When you understand the purpose for your friends, when you have clear and mature boundaries, and when you commit yourself to being the kind of person that you want to attract, you will never be without a friend.
The people you attract are a reflection of where you are. If you desire new or different friends, spend some time articulating the qualities you want them to have. Write a list if need be. Then determine which of those qualities you also reflect. If the qualities you desire in a friend don’t match your own personal qualities, you’ve got some work to do.
Position yourself to be the kind of friend you want to have in your life.