How To Make New Friends As An Adult? (The Right Way)

by - April 25, 2022



Today, you’re going to learn how to make new friends as an adult, nurture these friendships the right way and let go of toxic ones.

Most people feel like friendships should come easy and naturally.

However, the reality can be very different.

Family obligations and work can leave you little time for yourself, let alone for meeting new people or maintaining your friendships.

Moreover, deciding who you spend your precious free time with can feel complicated.

Friends fall into two categories: those who radiate warmth and love and those who suck you of energy and emotion.

Why Friendship Is Important?

Friendships can be a lifesaver.

Several studies revealed that the more friends we have, the less likely we are to have physical impairments as we aged and the more likely we are to lead a joyful life.

People with good friends are happier and less stressed than those without.

A study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry revealed that increasing your level of social connection can protect your future mental health.

How Do Friendships Form?

Some estimate that we meet more than 10,000 people through our lives, most of these people you don’t end up friends with.

For a friendship to form the following elements need to be present:

1. Shared History

History and time shared with others can end up being the solid foundation of a good friendship, such as the case with our friends from school, university, or work.

2. Shared Interests

A shared interest or passion can be a great way to kick-start a friendship, as they offer a lot to discuss.

These interests might include music, books, movies, politics, religion, etc.

3. Common Values

Shared values and a moral code are the basis for any friendship. It’s what establishes mutual respect.

4. Commitment

Both people need to make a commitment to invest an equal amount of time and energy into the friendship.

There will ebb and flow, but if you only hear from someone when they need something, they are not a true friend.

5. Honesty and Kindness

Your friend should be honest enough to tell you when your new haircut doesn’t suit you, but with kindness.

6. Being a Good Influence

Good friends support your decisions, inspire you and encourage you to fulfill your potential - They are your best cheerleader.

Being Alone Is Not Being Lonely

There’s a huge difference between choosing to be alone and feeling lonely.

You can have a cell phone full of numbers or find yourself in the middle of a party and still feel lonely.

Loneliness can exist in the company of others.

Most of the time we feel lonely because we don’t reach out to people and let them know when we need company or help, and they simply assume that we’re busy.

A report called ‘You’re Not Alone’ released by charities Relate and Relationships Scotland revealed that almost 7 million adults in the UK say they have no close friends.

Professor Stephen Houghton of the University of Western Australia says: ‘Loneliness is a major social, educational, economic and health issue that will reach epidemic proportions by 2030.’

This is why we need to find the courage to admit that we feel lonely and take action.

Modern life and technology have contributed to the loneliness problem we face today.

So what can you do about it if you’re feeling lonely?

1. Learn to enjoy your own company – Do the things you love. Meditate, go for a walk, read a book, listen to a podcast, write, etc.

2. Reach out to those you know and find new people to share your time with

How To Make New Friends As An Adult?

#1. Be The Person You’d Like To Be Friends With

When we were younger, making friends seemed easy. As long as the other person is willing to share, we can easily become friends. As we become adults, making new friends can be more complicated, as the requirements for a meaningful connection increase.

Pursue your interest, be the best version of yourself, and you’ll attract the people who share the traits you find the most appealing.

Related: Building Mental Strength: 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

#2. Keep An Open Mind And An Open Heart

Most people stick labels to those they meet.

We can be quick to judge others and make assumptions based on their appearance, accent, gender, race, etc.

But you might be surprised at how much you actually have in common once you get to know the person.

So keep an open mind and an open heart.

Related: How to Become More Empathetic? The 6 Habits of Highly Empathetic People

#3. Friendhsip Apps: Meet New People Online

Dating apps aren’t the only platform to meet new people.

Apps and websites such as Bumble BFF, Peanut (for mothers) and Mush (for mothers) allow you to connect with like-minded people in your area.

From Online To Real Life

When meeting a friend online, try to keep your expectations realistic.

Social media is a great way to connect with like-minded people with whom you have plenty in common.

However, just because they’re your type on the screen, doesn’t mean that you’re going to get alone in real life.

Related: How To Make Anyone Like You In 90 Minutes Or Less

#4. Make Friends At Work

Having a close friend at work can support your career and save your sanity, especially when work gets stressful.

But how do you move a work friend into ‘real life’?

Just because you get on well with someone, doesn’t automatically make them a friend.

1. Make sure that you both want to move from professional to personal and not just keep your friendship to office hours only.

2. Explore shared interests beyond your boss and pursue activities related to these shared interests.

3. Leave office issues where they belong. And use your time together after work to decompress.

Related: Wellbeing In The Workplace: 6 Ways to Improve Your Mental Health and Reduce Stress at Work

How To Nurture Your Friendships?

There are many factors that draw people together as friends and keep them close – time and communication being the main factors, but there are more:

1. Proximity

While you may be able to maintain a long-distance friendship, it’s hard to deepen your bond with someone you don’t have regular face-to-face time with.

This is why most of our friends are those we meet at school, work, on the same sports team, and those who live close by.

2. Shared Activities

Pursuing your interests allows you to form friendships with like-minded people, but it also helps you maintain these friendships.

Common interests make you commit to spending that time together.

How to Use Love Languages to Improve Your Friendships?

There are more single adults in the United States than ever before in history.

In 2017, the U.S. census reported 110.6 million single people over the age of 18—that's 45.2 percent of the American adult population.

Even though these people are unmarried, they still need to give and receive emotional love.

In fact, love is the fundamental building block of all human relationships. It is also the most important ingredient in the single’s search for meaning.

If you’re single, or know someone who is single, you’re going to learn how to give and receive love more effectively, and build wholesome, supportive relationships by learning to speak other people’s primary love language and better understand your own primary love language.

Love Is To Be Learned

We’re all social creatures. We live in a community, and most people seek social interaction.  So it’s safe to assume that everyone has relationships.

The question is: What is the quality of your relationships?

While positive and affirming relationships can bring great pleasure, poor and toxic relationships can cause so much pain.

If you feel loved by your parents, your parental relationship brings you a feeling of comfort and encouragement.

However, if your relationship with your parents is fractured, you might suffer feelings of abandonment, hurt, and maybe even hatred.

The nature of your relationship with your parents has a positive – or negative – influence on all other relationships in your life.

Those who felt unloved by one or both parents, will try to compensate for the emptiness. They might pour themselves into positive pursuits and accomplish their goals, but still are unsuccessful in building positive relationships with other adults.  

This is why learning about love will help you build successful positive relationships.

In fact, much of the pain in broken relationships stems from the fact that many of us have never been serious students of love.

Love is something that needs to be studied and learned, as Professor Leo Buscaglia once said:

“Psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists, anthropologists and educators have suggested in countless studies and numerous research papers that love is a “learned response, a learned emotion.”… Most of us continue to behave as though love is not learned but lies dormant in each human being and simply awaits some mystical age of awareness to emerge in full bloom. Many wait for this age forever. We seem to refuse to face the obvious fact that most of us spend our lives trying to find love, trying to live in it, and dying without ever truly discovering it.

By learning the five love languages and using them in your relationships, you’ll discover that love has the potential to change, not only individual relationships but also the world.

Five Languages For All Types Of Relationships

Love languages aren’t just for male-female relationships. they apply in all human relationships.

Some single adults never felt loved by their parents, not because their parents did not love them, but because their parents never learned to speak their children’s primary love language.

Other have felt frustrated by long-term friendship in which they or their friends never felt loved or appreciated.

By learning the following five love languages, you’ll be able to speak love and appreciation in a language the other person understands.

Love Language #1: WORDS OF AFFIRMATION

Words have a great influence on personality. Single adults who grew up in a positive linguistic environment have heard words that emphasized the pleasant aspects of life. Others who grew up in a more negative linguistic environment have heard words that pointed out the unpleasant aspects of life. These different vocabularies result in vastly different personalities and behavior patterns.

Having such influence, words of affirmation is one of the five fundamental love languages.

Easy as it may sound, single adults who grew up in a negative linguistic environment might find it hard to learn to speak words of affirmations. For some, this means learning a whole new vocabulary to replace the negative words that flow freely from their mouths.

It’s important to learn words of affirmations, even if it’s not the primary love language of your loved ones. We all enjoy hearing it and lack of verbal affirmation is interpreted as a lack of love.

So, how can we best develop this language?

Even if you didn’t grow up in an affirming environment, you still can learn to love and change your relationships.

Here are some steps to take in order to learn words of affirmation.

1. Start Where You Are

It’s important to acknowledge your present situation.

You are now an adult who might not remember ever hearing his parents say affirming words such as ‘I love you’, or ‘I’m proud of you’, and have few memories of one of his parents making positive comments.

2. Be Active, Not Passive

Until now your approach has been passive.

For years you’ve been telling yourself that it didn’t matter. You’ve been trying to push the hurt out of your heart, while you’ve suffered in silence.

By choosing love, you choose to take initiative and start saying words of affirmation to those you’ve always wanted to receive it from.

The best way to learn love is to practice it.

3. Affirm Your Parents

Start small. The next time you call or visit home, end the conversation - or your visit - by saying ‘I love you, Mom’ or ‘I love you, Dad.’

Repeat this a few times, and then add the words ‘I appreciate what you have done for me through the years.’

Their response doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you’re taking initiative to express and learn words of affirmation.

4. Affirm People In Your Job

Including affirming words in your interactions with other people. From time to time, try telling your coworkers the following:

‘Thank you for taking that phone call. You handled it well.’

‘You did a great job with this. Thank you.’

‘The boss told me what you did. Thanks for making me look good.’

Whether they were words of encouragement, words of praise, or simply kind words, everyone enjoys hearing affirming words even if it’s not their primary love language.

This is why you need to start practicing saying words of affirmations every day with everyone you meet.

Related: How To Communicate More Effectively

Love Language #2: GIFTS

Gifts are one of the best ways to communicate love and care. This is why giving gifts is one of the fundamental love languages.

The gifts might only last for a few hours. Other gifts like a rocking chair given by a husband to his wife to nurse their children, can outlive both; the giver, and the receiver.

The important thing isn’t the gift itself, but the emotional love communicated through it.

The Wrong Meaning of Gift

A gift is given as a genuine expression of love, without strings attached.

A gift that is given to cover past failures, ceases to be a gift and simply becomes a deal.

Develop The Language of Gift Giving

The gift can be any size, shape, color, or price. It doesn’t matter if it’s purchased, found, or made. Gifts don’t have to be expensive to have meaning.

“I’m not a gift giver. It doesn’t come naturally for me.”

Acknowledging that you’re not a gift-giver is the first step in learning this love language.

 Fortunately, gift giving is an easy love language to learn.

1. Learn Their Interests

Listen to your loved ones. It takes time and conscious choice to listen.

Pick up on their interests or the interests of their children. A gift given to their children can mean as much to them as if they were the receivers.

Find out if they’re collectors. Write down a list of the ideas you hear from them.

2. Be Sensitive to The Nature of Some Gifts

Because of their cost or perceived meaning, some gifts may not be readily accepted by the one you love.

For example, your loved one might not accept an expensive gift that communicates how deeply you feel for them if they have a different idea about the current level of your relationship.

This isn’t to say that they have no interest in you. Obviously they wouldn’t date you if they weren’t interested. But they might not be as far along as you are. They might believe that it’s too early in the relationship to be receiving expensive gifts.

3. Change Your Money Attitude

Every one of us has an individualized perception of the purposes of money.

Some people have a spending orientation. They feel good when they spend money. This group of people usually doesn’t find it hard to speak the love language of gift-giving.

On the other hand, some people have a saving and investing orientation. They feel good about themselves when they’re saving and wisely investing their money. This group of people might resist the idea of spending money as an expression of love.

After all, they’re not purchasing things for themselves, so why should they purchase things for others?

What they fail to understand is that by saving and wisely investing their money, they’re purchasing things for themselves – they’re purchasing self-worth and emotional security.

When you change your attitude towards money, you become able to understand that gifts can be a primary love language for someone you love and that giving gifts to them is the best investment you can make. You’re investing in your relationship.

Love Language #3: ACTS OF SERVICE

In every vocation, those who truly accomplish great things have a genuine desire to serve others. Great political leaders view themselves as “public servants”. The greatest of all physicians see their vocation as a calling to serve the sick. Despite living among the “Me generation”, service to others is still one of the greatest aspirations people have.

Service VS Slavery

People who serve others because they’re forced to do so, lose their freedom to serve and become slaves.

Slavery hardens the heart, creates anger and resentment. And when you treat another person as a slave, you preclude the possibility of love.

Manipulating by guilt (“If you loved me, you would do this for me”) and coercion by fear (“You will do this or you will be sorry”) are forms of slavery.

Service, on the other hand, is given out of choice, not out of fear. It’s an expression of love.

Speaking The Language

For some, this love language comes easily. They grew up in homes where their family often served others in their community, and they themselves were praised when they did acts of service.

 As a result, they are more alert to the opportunities to serve others around them.

However, others find this language extremely difficult to speak. Their families might have emphasized everyone fending for himself. They were constantly asked to take care of themselves and figure things out on their own.

Consequently, they are more focused on their own needs and they expect everyone else to do the same.

Even if acts of service don’t come naturally for you, it is still a language worth learning. Helping others is an expression of love and often, “actions speak louder than words.”

The Many Acts of Service

Life is filled with opportunities to express love through acts of service. An older adult might need a ride to the doctor’s office or to church. Another one might need a helping hand to carry groceries.

Here are some ideas to help you learn the love language of acts of service:

  • Volunteer at a charity or school.
  • Bring your neighbor a meal.
  • Clean an elderly’s house.
  • Go grocery shopping for someone.
  • Help with someone’s yard work.
  • Watch kids so the couple can have a date night.
  • Tutor someone’s kids.
  • Just spend time listening.

Love Language #4: QUALITY TIME

Quality time is about togetherness.

This doesn’t proximity. Two people can be sitting in the same room without being together.

Togetherness is about focused attention and connecting with others. Being in the presence of other people isn’t enough to feel connected. You need to give and receive undivided attention.

Quality time is a powerful expression of love.

But you don’t have to spend the whole time gazing into each other’s eyes. Sharing quality time can simply be in doing something together that you both enjoy.

The particular activity is secondary. It’s only a means to creating a sense of togetherness. What happens on the emotional level is what matters.

Dialects of Quality Time

1. Quality Conversation

One of the best ways to share quality time is to have quality conversation. This simply means sharing your experiences, thoughts, feelings and desires in a sympathetic, uninterrupted context.

Giving a few minutes of your time communicates love and care. It’s especially true when your primary love language is quality time.

Related: How to Have an Intimate Conversation with Your Spouse

2. Quality Listening

Although quality conversation includes listening as much as talking, sometimes all people need is a friendly ear – someone who’s going to listen sympathetically.

Here are some practical ideas to help you become a sympathetic listener:

  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Don’t engage in other activities while listening.
  • Listen for feelings. For example say to them, “It sounds like you are feeling disappointed because…” this communicates that you’re listening intently and make the other person feel understood.
  • Refuse to interrupt.
  • Express understanding. Ask reflective questions to confirm or correct your perception of what the person is saying (“What I hear you saying is … Is that correct?”)

Quality listening obviously will take some of your time, but the dividends are worth it. People especially feel loved and cared for when they’re heard and understood.

3. Quality Activities

Quality activities are about being together, doing things together, and giving each other undivided attention.

The emphasis is not on what you are doing, but why you are doing it – which is to be together.

Quality activities make some of the best memories of love, especially for those whose primary love language is quality time.

Love Language #5: PHYSICAL TOUCH

Numerous studies show that babies who are held, hugged, and touched tenderly develop a healthier emotional life than those who are left for long periods of time without physical contact.

And what is true for infants is also true for single adults of all ages.

Physical touch is a powerful communicator of love, and if the person’s primary love language is physical touch, it can speak much louder than the words “I love you.”

By the same token, withhold your touches and doubts will arise about your love. An emotional distance is being created.

Types of Touches

All touches are not created equal. There are many forms of loving touch, and you need to learn from the person whom you are touching what they perceive as a loving touch.

1. Implicit and explicit

A loving touch can be implicit and subtle such as putting your hand on someone's shoulder as you’re conversing. But it can also be explicit that demands your full attention such as a back rub or foot rub.

Explicit love touches require much more time than implicit ones, but they both communicate love. If the one you care about feels especially loved when given a back rub, then the time and energy you spend giving them a back rub will be well invested.

2. Sensitive Touches

In times of crisis, we tend to hug each other instinctively. This is because in such times, more than anything we need to feel loved.

If someone’s primary love language is physical touch, nothing is more important than holding them as they cry. It doesn’t matter what you say to comfort them. Your physical touch can communicate all the love they need.

Learn to Touch

For some single adults, giving and receiving love via physical touch doesn’t come naturally for them. They have been abused physically and sexually when they were younger. And others simply didn’t come from “touching” families.  

These singles need to learn speaking the love language of physical touch.

And the best way to learn is by doing. One touch at a time.

Try hugging your parents every time you see them and say goodbye to them. When you walk with a date, hold their hands. It might be difficult the first time, but it’ll get easier the second time.

The more you practice it, the more comfortable you become speaking the love language of physical touch.

Discover Your Primary Love Language

Out of the five fundamental love languages presented above, each one of us has a primary love language. It’s the language that speaks most deeply to us.

Some singles are able to immediately recognize their own primary love language. Others can find it hard to identify their own.

Two groups of people typically struggle to discover their primary love language.

The first group has always felt loved in their families and has been receiving all the five love languages. They speak these love languages rather fluently, but they are not sure which one communicates love to them the most.

The other group has never felt loved. They grew up in dysfunctional families. They don’t know which love language would make them feel loved because they simply don’t know what it means to feel loved.

The following are some ways to help you discover your own love language.

1. Observe Your Own Behavior

Ask yourself “How do I typically express love to other people?” If you regularly encourage people by giving them words of affirmation, then perhaps that is your primary love language. If you are constantly giving gifts to others, then gifts might be your primary love language and so on.

In other words, you are doing for others what you wish they would do for you. This is why observing how you express your love will help you discover your primary love language.

2. Observe What You Request of Others

Although the majority of people would speak their own primary love language when they express their love for others, some people would speak one love language but wish to receive another language.

This is why you need to observe what you request of others too.

If you find yourself asking a close friend for a hug, then physical touch might be your primary love language. If you regularly ask others to help you with projects, then acts of service might be your primary love language. And so on…

Your requests can reveal your primary love language.

3. Listen to Your Complaints

As with your requests, your complaints (whether expressed verbally or only in your head) can be an indication of which love language is your primary one.

If you complain that your close friend didn’t give you a birthday present, your love language can be gifts. If you complain that your friend no longer has time for you, then your primary love language is likely quality time. And so on…

4. Ask The Right Questions

If you are currently in a dating relationship, asking and answering the following questions will help you discover your primary love language.

“What does the person I’m dating do or say that makes me feel loved?”

Even if you’re not currently dating someone, ask yourself the following question: “What would be an ideal spouse to me?”

Answering these questions should give you some idea of your primary love language.

Which Love Language Is Theirs?

Discovering the primary love language of your loved one is as important as discovering your own. Only when you learn their love language, that you’ll be able to speak it and be an effective lover.

As with discovering your own primary love language, observing your loved ones’ expressions of love, requests, and complaints can give you some idea of their primary love language.

If your friend expresses acts of service to other people, then acts of service might be his primary love language. If your father welcomes you with a hug every time you go home, then his primary love language is probably physical touch. If your date complains that you never compliment them, then words of affirmation could be their primary love language. And so on…

Friendship Red Flags: Let Go Of Toxic Friendships

It’s important to take an inventory of your own friendships once in a while.

Ups and downs are present in any relationship.

However, conflict shouldn’t be central to any of these relationships.

Toxic friendships are unhealthy and you’re better off with them.

Friendship Red Flags: 7 Signs Of Toxic Friendships

The following are some signs to help you recognize a toxic relationship:

1. They spend the whole time talking about themselves and show no interest in you.

2. Their personal psychodrama leaves you drained and frustrated.

3. They Show little sympathy for your problems and might even overshadow it by bringing up an issue of their own and make it seem a million times worse.

4. Would only see you when it suits them and on their terms – making you feel like you revolve around them.

5. They embarrass you by making you the punchline of a joke - even when you don’t laugh or explain that you don’t find it funny.

6. They put you down and wear down your self-confidence by undermining your decision-making and choices when it comes to partners, interests, clothes, TV shows, etc.

7. They don’t give as much as you do causing you to suffer from ‘compassion fatigue’.

Related: 13 Traits to Help You Spot a Narcissist Early On — and How You Can Defend Yourself Against One

How to Let Go of Toxic Friendships?

#1. Having A Difficult Conversation

When a friend makes you feel belittled, used, or humiliated, you need to have a serious conversation with them about their toxic behavior and how it makes you feel.

People often aren’t aware of how hurtful their actions and words can be so pointing out that you felt hurt by something they said or did can be to stop the behavior and get your friendship back on track.

The rule is to give them one chance to explain themselves and change their behavior.

If the behavior doesn’t change, make a conscious decision to limit your time with them or stop seeing them altogether.

When expressing your hurt, avoid blaming by saying “you made me feel like…” and instead try “You know the other day when you said/did...? I actually found it hurtful.”

Related: How To Communicate More Effectively

#2. Limit Your Contact

If you still care for these people, limiting your contact can be the best way to limit the toxic effect of the friendship.

You can arrange to see them in a group situation, especially if you have any mutual friends.

#3. Let It Go

If the friend is still upsetting you despite having a conversation and/or tried to limit your time with them, consider walking away.

Don’t bring anyone else into this.

Explain yourself in a letter or message, or have a conversation with them.

Wish them well in the future but tell them that you need to take a break from the friendship for your personal well-being.

#4. Managing The Fallout

When letting go of a friendship affects a friendship group, explain how their behavior hurt you left you with no choice but to walk away.

Don’t ask friends to take sides and get into a bitching session.

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