How To Actually Make Friends When You're An Adult And Out Of College
Love at first sight isn't just for lovers, and making new best friends isn't just for the first day of school or your summer trip to Europe.
If you've ever wondered why it's gotten harder to make new best friends as an adult, you're not alone.
We've all had experiences of instant, deep connection or as my friend recently called it, “insta-besties,” and many of us wonder why those moments seem few and far between as we get older.
I've experienced what seems like “instant connection” throughout my life, but it's usually not on a normal, routine day.
So what's actually going on here?
Why is it that we form instant, intimate and lasting connections at certain points in our life and then go years without anything happening?
Have we lost the ability to make new friends as adults?
Not quite. It's not a coincidence that we form intense connections in times of transition.
“Quickset intimacy” occurs in times of transition as a result of the shift in your psychology that occurs with extreme environmental change.
It's the state of mind and the accompanying behaviors which allow you to open up, connect, relate and bond.
The good news is if you take the time to understand how you approach connections and relationships, you can take contextual behaviors and apply them to your life.
Here are five steps to create new connections in your everyday life:
1. Be present and in the moment.
Being present and in the moment is necessary to create a real connection with anyone.
Presence, or lack thereof, is why a first date where everyone talks about their job is boring, but one where you're people watching is fun. One has to do with routines, and the other with the present moment.
When you're in a new place — country, school, job — or even on a first date, you're so overwhelmed about the current situation you find yourself talking about what's going on in front of you, instead of complaining or thinking of something else.
You're much more present than you usually are and this presence creates the conditions necessary to form intense connections.
You can start to create magical moments by simply communicating what's going on in front of you.
Take notice of your environment and what emotions you and your conversation partner are experiencing, and talk about them.
2. Create experiences of shared adversity or novelty.
Not only does adversity bring you into the present moment, but it also creates a “shared struggle” with whoever you're sharing the experience with.
If you've ever seen the movie “Speed,” you know Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock got it on after their terrifying ordeal.
The shared struggle and the adrenaline from tackling a problem together can do wonders to bring you closer to people.
If you want to build a deeper relationship with someone, work toward a common goal. Choose one that will challenge you and test what you're made of.
3. Spend more time with people.
In the age of Tinder, it's easy to write someone off after meeting them once. But how much do you really know about someone after only one meeting?
Psychologists have repeatedly found one of the biggest indicators of a relationship is how much time we spend in the physical proximity of the other person.
It's why in past times, we often found our mates through school, work or church, and why our adult friends are often people we live with, work with or generally spend time with.
Give people a chance, and if you meet a new friend make an effort to repeatedly spend time with them in new environments before judging the relationship.
Sometimes it really does take more than one date to feel a connection.
4. Seek out commonalities and shared values.
One of the strongest indicators of who we'll like is our shared values. As humans, we tend to like people who are like us or who are how we want to be.
You like pizza? Me too, let's be friends. Donald Trump's popularity scares you? Me too, let's hangout. You want to take over the world? We're going to get along just fine.
But according to the book “Click” by Ori and Ram Brafman (which draws on the research of Donn Byrne, PhD) it doesn't matter which topics underlay the similarity — it's the degree of similarity that's important.
This means you might disagree with your new friend on the existence of God, or a woman's right to choose, but still enjoy the same TV shows, eat the same food and read the same books. And you get along just fine.
One thing we can agree on is this: The more shared values, the more likely you are to bond.
So ask your conversation partner questions to uncover what you have in common, even if it's similar taste in food, movies or weird sexual fetishes.
The more the better.
5. Let yourself be vulnerable.
When it comes down to it, deep connections are built on intimacy.
Intimacy is sharing your reality with someone else and knowing you're safe, and them being able to share their reality with you and also be safe.
In order to be intimate, you have to be vulnerable, which means exposing yourself emotionally.
Once you're vulnerable with someone, and they react in a way that makes you feel safe, the conditions necessary for trust and intimacy form.
If you're open and honest with someone first, they're much more likely to be open and honest with you.
Volunteer less than flattering information about yourself. Ask risky questions. Be painfully honest about yourself, your thoughts, your fears and your flaws. It's likely your conversation partner will feel inspired by your openness.
Maintain awareness of social cues, and give the relationship time to progress, but break the intimacy ice and the relationship will progress a lot faster in whatever direction it's heading.
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