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3 Things Nobody Told You About Making Friends in Adulthood

It’s likely that you were never given plenty of advice when you were growing up. Budgeting, for example. What to look for in a romantic partner. Breaking bad habits.

The best way to make friends as an adult is definitely on that list as well.

There’s no school curriculum for it, and it’s probably not something your parents gave you guidance or example of, since they probably didn’t have any real friends themselves.

Consequently, if you are having trouble making friends as an adult, here are three lessons we discovered through our own trial and error. It is never too late to make friends. Hope they’ll keep you from wandering around blindly as much.

You will Have to Be Proactive

When you graduated from college and plopped out into the real world, you probably never even gave a thought to how to make friends. What was the point? It’s already second nature to make friends when you’re in school. For six or more hours a day, you are interacting with peers who probably share your background and age. In addition to segmenting this peer group by extracurricular activities, you can further subdivide it into segments of even more similar people. Friendship is an important part of growing up.

Following college, you can scratch that record. Despite the fact that you may see people at work, your friend pool — people in your age group, sharing your interests, and possessing a similar personality — may still be quite small. You can go days without seeing another human being, of any kind, if you work from home, as more and more people do today.

There is little structure in adulthood that automatically encourages friendship. As a result, most newly-minted adults have little experience in unfamiliar environments. They continue to make friends by doing nothing, and then wonder why their social circle is so small.

Making friends in adulthood requires real, proactive effort, which is the greatest lesson to take away from this. The results won’t happen on their own; you’ll have to work for them.

It means making intentional efforts to interact with others, i.e., to make friends. It is possible to accomplish that by attending a church, joining a gym or dojo, finding a meet-up group in your area centring on a particular interest of yours, etc.

In addition to inviting someone to hang out outside of such situations, being proactive means deepening the superficial bonds you’ll form there. As an example, you might invite someone you chat with every Sunday to dinner if you find yourself chatting with them each week at church.

Starting a weekly or monthly group — such as a men’s fraternity or a discussion circle — is a good way to turn acquaintances into real friends. Setting a day/time for yourself and your friends to hang out will help automatize your relationships, and prevent the back and forth of deciding when you will meet. With a group, you have to spend more time getting it started, but then less time maintaining it.

It is Going to take a lot of time

To determine how much time it takes to make friends and develop closer bonds, a research study surveyed both college students and adults.

Students must spend about 40 hours together in order to become casual friends, and adults must spend about 90 hours together.

Student friends become regular friends after 60 hours and adult friends after 160 hours.

It takes 120 hours for students to become good, close friends; 100 hours for adults.

Overall, the stages/levels of friendship take college students about 220 hours of time together, while adults need about 350 hours.

Adults thus have two big disadvantages in the friendship-making department:

  1. Developing a relationship nowadays takes a lot more hours than when you were young.
  2. Adults have fewer free hours and more responsibilities, making it harder to get together.

A typical high school day might have involved two hours of classes, coupled with two hours of extracurricular activities with a friend. During the weekend, you spent eight hours with them. Just two months after meeting someone, you could consider them the best friend of your life. This is probably true for you as well.

On the other hand, you may spend two hours at the gym with a friend every week, and spend two hours with him outside the gym once a month. An acquaintance would have to wait three years before they became good friends, based on that rate. It does indeed take awhile before you feel as close to an adult friend as you are to a childhood friend.

As an adult, if you go into making new friends with the same expectation that you had in your youth — that you will become bosom buddies with folks in a few months — then you will become frustrated when you don’t see things happening as quickly as you had hoped. It is; however, you have to acknowledge that progress in your relationship will take much, much longer than it did during your school days. Be patient and keep consistently investing in the friendship.

Some People Are Initiators and While Others Are Not

You just sort of make hang-out plans when you’re young. It’s always your friends who give you ideas for things to do, and you just sort of come up with your good times as you go.

It takes some real intentionality to make plans in adulthood, as previously discussed. We live busy lives, juggling obligations at home and at work, so we have to think, “So-and-so and I should hang out,” and then make that notion concrete.

As an adult, you realize that everyone isn’t equally inclined to do this: it’s a fact you never recognized growing up.

We can instead divide people roughly into two categories: hosts and guests.

A host, as the name implies, specializes in hosting events, whether it is literally hosting a dinner party or more metaphorically, arranging social activities, energizing friends, and enlisting participants. It’s likely you are the host type if, in high school, your friends gathered at your house frequently.

The guests enjoy attending events and hanging out, but they don’t enjoy hosting themselves, whether that is literally or metaphorically.

The hosts of the world can experience confusion and conflict if they do not understand this difference.

When a couple is a host, they invite another couple to dinner. Unfortunately, the other couple is not reciprocating. This leads the host couple to extend another invitation. But, still, the other couple has not responded. It then becomes obvious that the host couple doesn’t like the guest couple.

Hosts don’t have to regard reciprocating their invitations as an indication that they want to become friends. There is no direct correlation between the two. When people freely accept your invitations, that usually means they like you; if they refuse, or don’t volunteer another time to get together, that usually means they don’t like you (the Brad Pitt Rule does not only apply to romantic relationships, but also platonic ones). Your initiative will likely be appreciated by others. Unfortunately, they won’t reciprocate.

You might feel annoyed with yourself if you’re a host. “Why do I have to be the one who initiates everything?” “I don’t care what anyone else thinks!””thinks!””thinks!”” It’s useful to realize that the difference between a host and a guest isn’t a matter of character but of personality. Although some people aren’t inclined to be party-throwing types, they tend to be the life of the party as opposed to guest types who don’t typically throw parties.

As part of your vocation, you may wish to take into account your hosting proclivities. Making people’s lives fun, meaningful, and memorable is something you can do as a leader. Take it up as your mission.

Whether you’re the guest or the host, express your appreciation for the ways your hosts initiate good times to help ease their uncertainty about your feelings. You can communicate your regrets and suggest another time to reschedule if you are unable to accept their invitation due to circumstance and not desire. Moreover, even if most guests aren’t interested in hosting parties at their home, they’ll likely seek out opportunities to go out with their friends for dinner, concerts or other outings, so don’t be afraid to initiate the conversation when this turns up in your mind.



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