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How to Get Closer With New Friends: A Guide for Adults | Tips and Strategies
A Comprehensive Guide on Building Stronger Friendships as an Adult
As we grow older, it becomes increasingly challenging to develop new friendships and build them into meaningful relationships. Unlike adolescence or young adulthood, where opportunities to make new friends were abundant, meeting new people and establishing deeper connections can feel like an uphill task.
Mahzad Hojjat, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, explains that geographical closeness plays a significant role in building intimate relationships. Physical proximity offers more opportunities for bonding and discovering mutual interests. According to her, opening up to others about shared interests and desires strengthens the foundation of mutual trust and takes friendships to the next level.
The pandemic has made the process of making new friends and maintaining existing relationships even more challenging. A recent report by Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education found that 36% of Americans reported serious loneliness during the pandemic, with young people and mothers with young children being the most affected. Social distancing guidelines have limited the opportunities to bond with others, making it harder to develop and nurture friendships.
However, there are still practical ways to overcome these challenges and build stronger connections with new friends. In her upcoming book, Platonic: The Surprising New Science of Making – and Keeping – Friends as an Adult, psychologist Marisa G. Franco, PhD, explains how shared experiences can strengthen friendships. Participating in activities and hobbies that align with your interests allows for bonding over a shared passion.
With the right strategies and mindset, building lasting friendships as an adult is possible. This guide will provide you with tips and advice on how to take new friendships from the surface level to more profound, meaningful relationships.
Relationships are an important part of life, but it’s not always easy to maintain and grow them. Whether you’re looking to deepen existing friendships or make new ones, here are some expert tips to help you build stronger, more meaningful relationships at any stage of life.
Share Experiences, Not Just Beverages
While there’s nothing wrong with meeting over a drink or a cup of coffee, conversations can often remain superficial. To deepen your relationships, try sharing experiences with your friends. These shared memories become conversation points and can lead to inside jokes, shared interests, and a better understanding of what makes each other tick.
Invite your friend on a hike, to play a board game, or to try a new activity like a cooking class or yoga retreat. Doing something together that you both enjoy can help strengthen your bond and create lasting memories.
Bond Over Giving Back
Volunteering is not only a great way to give back, but it can also be an opportunity to bond with others. Choose a cause or organization that you and your friend care about and spend some time volunteering together. This can be a meaningful way to create shared experiences and memories that will bring you closer.
Try something fun and out of the ordinary that feels playful and even zany. Doing something together that you both enjoy can help strengthen your bond and create lasting memories.
Ask for Help
Asking for help can be a powerful way to build trust and strengthen a relationship. Most people feel good about being able to contribute and help others. This can be as simple as asking a friend to help you assemble a bookshelf or cook a meal.
You can also ask your friend for advice or input on something that’s important to you. This shows them that you value their opinion and trust them with your thoughts and feelings.
Go Out of Your Way to Be There
Being a good friend means being there for someone, even when it’s not convenient. Don’t be afraid to drop everything to be there for your friend when they need you. This sends the message that you value your friendship and are willing to make an effort to maintain it.
If you’re strict about only seeing your friend or talking once a week, it can feel like you’re not making them a priority. Be open to spontaneous hangouts and phone calls, and show your friend that you’re there for them no matter what.
Be a Good Listener
Being a good listener is an essential part of building meaningful relationships. Sometimes people just need someone to talk to and don’t necessarily want advice or solutions. Learn to listen actively, without interrupting or judging, and show your friend that you respect their feelings and opinions.
If you’re not sure what your friend needs from you, ask them directly. You can say something like, “Do you want advice on the situation, or do you just need me to listen?”
Embrace New Friendships for What They Are
As we grow and change, so do our friendships. Don’t compare new connections to past ones, and avoid putting pressure on your current friendships by expecting them to be the same as your old ones. Embrace new friendships for what they are and enjoy the opportunity to get to know new people.
Remember, building strong, meaningful relationships takes time and effort, but the rewards are worth it. By sharing experiences, bonding over giving back, asking for help, being there for your friends, being a good listener, and embracing new friendships, you can deepen your connections and build lasting relationships that enrich your life.