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It's Hard Making Friends as an Adult, and Here's Why

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By Augustine Mbam - - 5 Mins Read

As a child, befriending anyone appeared effortless, as though you could approach anyone and become inseparable in a matter of minutes. However, as you traversed the convoluted path to maturity, forging new friendships became an insurmountable task.

Psychologist and professor at the University of Maryland, Marisa G. Franco explains that making friends naturally becomes more difficult as we age. 

Franco, who is currently writing a book on adult friendships, notes that sociologists have identified two key elements necessary for organic friendships: consistent unplanned interaction and shared vulnerability. However, as adults, we have fewer opportunities to encounter these ingredients in our daily lives.

If we cling to the belief that friendships will form effortlessly as they did in our childhood, we may be left waiting indefinitely. It is crucial to be purposeful in our approach, according to her. Studies indicate that individuals who attribute friendship to chance are more likely to experience loneliness in their later years, whereas those who recognize the importance of effort in cultivating connections are less lonely in the long run.

Living in Los Angeles, Juliana Clark is a 25-year-old audio producer who has managed to make a few friends. However, she is primarily seeking a community. Usually, spending a few minutes with someone new does not give her the impression that a new friendship is forming.

She expresses her desire to establish a lasting and sustainable community, stating, "I am particularly interested in creating a community that endures. This is because many of the friendships I have formed throughout my life have been based on shared experiences."

Franco believes that the crucial aspect of creating a group of friends is by arranging deliberate engagements, such as recurring collective gatherings or alternating potluck dinners.

According to the researchers, our friendships tend to be more enduring when we form groups rather than just individual connections. This is due to the increased number of interactions that occur within the group. As one member of the group can initiate contact with everyone, it facilitates ongoing communication and strengthens our bonds with each other.

Assuming that the idea scares you, Franco emphasizes the importance of believing that people already have a positive impression of you. According to her, assuming successful meet-ups will aid in boosting your self-assurance. She also noted that people tend to overestimate their chances of being rejected.

The Formation of Friendships is Influenced By Age and Gender.

A study published in the Journal of Early Adolescence suggests that boys and girls have varying expectations from their friendships. The research indicates that girls prioritize intimacy and support from their friends, whereas boys prioritize enjoyment and companionship. Interestingly, these gender disparities were more prominent among junior high school students than those in elementary school.

A group of friends holding hands and taking a walk.

As we journey through life, our challenges evolve. Those in their thirties and forties have expressed how starting a family or relocating to a different city has made it difficult for them to establish relationships.

Kate Hickcox, aged 42, relocated to Maine with her spouse in 2018, departing from New York City. The mother of two young kids revealed that they are yet to make any new acquaintances in their less urban lifestyle. The pandemic exacerbated the situation as planning social outings was no longer feasible.

According to Franco, society's perception of men often makes it harder for them to form friendships compared to women. Additionally, men tend to depend on their romantic relationships for social connections more frequently.

She explains that the fear of being seen as gay, known as homohysteria, can be incredibly damaging to male friendships. Over time, this fear can lead to isolation and ultimately, loneliness.

According to her, if you find yourself in a state of loneliness, research suggests that you may be inclined to anticipate rejection from others. Your mind becomes overly alert to potential social threats and you tend to view social situations in a negative light, expecting them to be unpleasant rather than enjoyable.

She emphasizes the crucial significance of individuals like Troxel continuing to present themselves to the world.

"You went through a negative, unpleasant experience. Someone commented that they had too many friends," she remarks. "However, that comment does not imply that everyone has an abundance of friends, nor does it mean that there aren't individuals who are eager to connect with you."

She also expressed that the world may be more welcoming to you than you realize, and there may be many individuals who would like to become your friend.

Also read: Helping your Furry friend Suffering From Anxiety.

Here Are Some Helpful Tips for Building New Friendships:

• Make a conscious effort to seek out new friends

• Schedule regular meetups or hangouts

• Approach new people with a positive attitude, assuming they already like you

• Ask for their contact information to stay in touch

• Don't be too critical of yourself

• Keep putting yourself in social situations to meet new people.