Let me begin with a personal experience. In 2013, I made the conscious decision to prioritize generating value for my readers over maintaining most of my connections. I also left my homeland, which immediately isolated me.
Certain buddies and I would go months without seeing each other. I was distracted when I did socialize with some people because I felt guilty for not working. I rarely extended to my pals and frequently required them to contact me before we met up.
After several years of using this method, I had a monthly readership of over a million people and just a few close friends. As this pattern continued, I began to feel increasingly lonely and alone.
And the saddest part was that I knew it was my choices that had led me to this point. I had built an ivory tower of seclusion. I had a thriving business, but it seemed empty since I lacked close confidantes with whom I could share my achievements.
In 2016, I hit a breaking point with my loneliness and decided to prioritize investing in friendships and communities. Now, I can honestly say that I am surrounded by the most wonderful sense of community I’ve ever experienced.
Every day, I get offers to do various things, and I know that at least a dozen people are rooting for me and seeing the beauty in my heart. And I reciprocate my feelings for them. My tribe’s interconnectedness keeps me afloat during difficult times, and they bring joy and buoyancy to my daily existence.
However, getting here did not happen overnight.
Happiness Is Predicted Mostly By Social Ties
We are becoming increasingly lonely as a culture. According to a 1985 survey, the average person has three close confidantes (people that they felt knew their lives intimately). In 2004, the same research was conducted, and the most common response to the identical question was zero. So, if you’re feeling lonely, know that you’re not alone.
We are more superficially connected these days, yet deeper ties are lacking. And it’s mostly via these deeper bonds that we reap the health and pleasure benefits of our social ties.
Every week, I get a query along the lines of “I’m XX years old… and I have no friends.” “How do I make friends now that I’m an adult?” If you’ve ever struggled with this issue or are currently dealing with it, the following seven suggestions could literally add years to your life.
According to one study, not having friends is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day in terms of health. In fact, our social relationships are the most important predictor of our overall happiness (70%) and financial success.
Without further ado, here’s how to make adult friends without being weird. It used to be so simple when you were still in school and had a pre-built social group. But how can you make friends as an adult if you’re out of school and don’t particularly like your coworkers?
Re-establish or strengthen existing friendships.
Most likely, you have some old buddies who still live in the same city as you. Rekindle these friendships by inviting a handful of your closest friends. Call them and tell them how much you miss them. Invite them out for a walk or dinner. Allow your relationship to bloom once more by doing whatever you used to do together.
Obviously, you should only do this if you enjoy their company and not only to feel socially connected. If your previous pals used to bring you down, there’s no guilt in letting your relationships be what they are and seeking new social connections elsewhere.
Include play in your daily routine.
Making a conscious decision to fill your life with play is one of the quickest ways to learn how to make friends as an adult. The more you value play in your life, the happier you’ll be, the more possibilities you’ll have to meet new people, and the more appealing you’ll be as a friend to those you meet.
Let’s assume you enjoy chess, badminton, dance, and painting as a fast example. Assume you join a chess club, a rackets club, a two-month progressive dance program, and begin attending a weekly art night. Is it safe to assume that the number of opportunities for you to meet new people will considerably increase? It would, of course.
Will it take bravery to step outside of your comfort zone and pursue these enjoyable activities? Yes, once more. But you’ll have a good time along the way. Worst case scenario: you go out, have a great time, but don’t meet someone with whom you truly connect. Even if you’re shy around new people, the best case scenario is that you have a great time and meet several people who will become lifetime friends.
Take an interest in other people.
Make sure you start conversations with new potential pals by expressing an interest in them. Everyone has an inherent need to be seen and heard (including you). You’ll have a harder time creating friends if you focus your interactions on wanting other people to be interested in you.
First, be interested, then be fascinating. Being vulnerable is even better than being intriguing. So begin by inquiring about people’s personal lives. Find out what their world is like. Find out what they’re interested in. Allow yourself to be receptive to their anxieties, pleasures, and concerns.
Then give your vision of reality as a response. Tell them what you care about. Allow yourself to be raw and unrefined. Allow yourself to be seen for who you are. This is what brings people together to form strong friendship relationships.
When you meet someone you like, be upfront about your plans.
When you do encounter an apparently rare person with whom you feel a connection, express your intentions to them immediately. Humans cannot read other people’s minds. And directness is a desirable personality feature. Do you like what you see? Name it. Do you admire something about them? Make a direct statement. Do you want to be friends with this individual? Inform them.
It can simply be as simple as saying to someone, “I’ve really liked this chat.” I’m drawn to you and think you’re fascinating. I’m now seeking for a few new pals in my life, and one of them would be you. Do you want to meet for lunch later this week? My treat.”
The likelihood is that they will be charmed by the gesture and accept it. That’s great, too, if they don’t. There are plenty of individuals to meet and become friends with. These things don’t need to be rushed or forced. When you’re in tune and honest with yourself, the proper individuals will come into your life.
Participate in groups.
This relates to the goal of incorporating play into your daily routine. If all of the activities with which you devote your time are extremely isolating, you should make a serious effort to join a few social groups. Book groups, sports clubs, cooking workshops, and fan clubs are just a few of the possibilities.
Find a few things that interest you at your local community center, bulletin boards, or MeetUp.com, and mark them in your schedule as non-negotiable. Remember that your health and lifespan are at stake.
Form a team.
If you’ve been looking for a group for weeks and haven’t found anything that interests you, it might be time to establish your own. Start a book club or a particular interest group of your own. Create your very own ultimate frisbee squad. Create a weekly men’s or women’s group. Start it. Make an announcement (again, through your local community center, neighborhood bulletin boards, or MeetUp.com) and fill a room with folks you’d like to meet, support, and befriend.
I currently participate in a weekly men’s group, a weekly book club, a weekly dance class, and a weekly dinner get-together. While I did not initiate any of these, I attend them on a weekly basis because folks who have become dear friends of mine took the initiative to initiate them. You only need to get started. That’s all there is to it.
Host get-togethers with your new acquaintances.
You’ll have more pals than you know what to do with due to your life being jam-packed with play and your many groups that you’re a member of.
If keeping track of 10-20 good friends is too much for you, another alternative is to start throwing dinner parties (or other group meetings) with your newly expanded social circle. Your friends will profit from meeting one another, and you will gain the added benefit of being viewed as the connection who adds value to the lives of your likeminded pals.