If you’re feeling lonely and finding it difficult to form and sustain rich friendships, you’re not alone. I don’t say this because Coronavirus forced us all into isolation these past few months, although that didn’t help the issue. I say it because even before COVID-19 brought the words “social distancing” into our vocabulary, this is something I commonly heard: making friends can be hard.
Once we’re adults, it’s not like it was in grade school; we no longer spend the bulk of each weekday in a classroom with peers our same age where we can hopefully find someone we click with to befriend. It gets a little more complicated when we have work, responsibilities and parenting tossed on our shoulders. It’s easy to get isolated in the midst of #adulting. So today, I want to offer 5 tips that have helped me create & cultivate rich relationships in this season of my life.
1) Get involved.
This may seem self-explanatory, but when we get stuck in a routine of work – home – parenting – chores – netflix binge (am I the only one?), it’s no wonder we feel disconnected. If we want rich relationships, we have to put ourselves in situations where we can meet others we may click with. Just like back in grade school! So get a gym membership, start attending a local church, join a mom’s group, get involved in social groups at work, find a book club, there are so many ways to get involved in your community. If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, maybe be the one to start it! Get involved, and you’ll have more opportunities to meet what could become a friend for life.
2) Start conversations.
Or another way to put this, make the first move. Now I fully recognize this may be easier said than done if you consider yourself more shy or introverted, but I challenge you to do it anyway! Why? Because not everyone is comfortable starting a conversation, but most people are welcoming of it once it’s started. Most people want to feel seen, acknowledged & known. How do you feel when someone takes the time to start a conversation with you? If it’s good, then I encourage you to make a habit of starting small talk with strangers. You never know when a stranger could turn into a great friend!
3) Be vulnerable.
Vulnerability can be uncomfortable, but it can also create rich and authentic relationships. If you’re finding it hard to make real friendships, try to go deeper in conversation. Let’s be real, life isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, right? We all face challenges. So share about them! I’ve found that when others are vulnerable about the challenging situations they’re facing or have walked through, it helps me feel more comfortable being transparent about the unfiltered moments of my life. I always feel ten times more refreshed after an honest, vulnerable conversation than I do a surface level one!
4) The real you is not too much.
Here’s the hard truth about friendships: they’re not all going to click. And they’re not all going to last forever. But you know the positive spin on that? That’s okay. When you were back in grade school and surrounded by peers in your age group, were you best friends with all of them? Probably not. It’s the same now! You may not instantly jive with everyone you meet, but let me assure you that there will be people out there who appreciate the real you. There will be people who need the exact qualities that you bring into a friendship. So be the real you, and find the people who value you exactly as you are.
5) Be consistent.
Friendship, like everything else in life, takes work. It takes effort, consistency & attention, and that’s what makes rich relationships so incredibly rewarding. They don’t form overnight, and they don’t form with just anybody. So when you find a good fit, be consistent. Check in, put in the time, show up in the relationship, and you will reap the reward.
What are your tips for making & maintaining friendships? I’d love to hear them!