Adults want to make friends

Make new friends as an adult

Moving, changing jobs, offspring: In the life of an adult there are various stages that put friendships to the test. Often they fail because of the new circumstances, because the spatial distance has become too great, time is limited or interests have changed. The search for new friends begins.

Making friends doesn't seem to be a problem in childhood. As a child, you quickly get to know people of the same age. Be it in kindergarten, school, on the playground or with leisure activities. Often a question like "Do you want to play catch with me?", A nod in agreement from the other person, a smile, and a friendship is born. "Children are very straightforward when it comes to this, and they approach everyone with an open mind," says Therese de Liz, psychologist and psychological psychotherapist with her own practice in Munich. Adults have a harder time in this regard. "We often have wishful ideas about what a friendship should be like, and that makes it more difficult for us in adulthood to find someone who meets these requirements," says the psychologist. Not only the demands are an obstacle for adults. They often put themselves under pressure to have to perform perfectly in order to find the perfect friend. "Many are too busy with themselves. Instead of looking inwards, you should focus your attention outwards," says de Liz.

Consciously meeting strangers

Another difficulty is that adults are less likely to find themselves in situations where they can meet new people. "Adults are much more in social contexts with constant people. For example, they spend a lot of time with their families or work with a permanent group of colleagues," says Karl Lenz, Professor of Microsociology at the Technical University of Dresden. The opportunity to get to know new people is therefore low. Children and adolescents have the advantage over adults that they are in opportunity structures that show a lot of fluctuation. "At school or in leisure activities, for example, there is a lot of potential to get to know new people who could be potential friends," says Lenz.

As an adult, anyone who wants to make new friends must therefore take care of situations themselves in which they can meet strangers. According to Lenz, this also includes openness and the willingness to get involved with others: "The basis of friendship is getting to know each other and discovering similarities." Similarities - including hobbies, attitudes and interests - also make it easier to make initial contact. Psychotherapist Therese de Liz suggests that those looking for friends consider which hobbies they want to revive or whether there are social groups they could join. "Good places to find people who have similar interests are, for example, dance courses, group sports, language courses or further training of all kinds," says the psychologist.

Lose the fear of taking the first step

For some people, however, it is not easy to speak to strangers. There are many reasons for this: shyness, fearfulness, insecurity. It is important to take action, says de Liz: "You shouldn't avoid such situations because you are shy or insecure, otherwise the fear of rejection will only increase." Her tip for everyone who has a hard time taking the first step: "Simple topics such as the weather or you comment on things you like are suitable for starting a conversation." According to the psychologist, the social ability to approach others can be learned. One could practice in the immediate vicinity, for example, by starting small talk with the baker while fetching bread or inviting the neighbor over for a coffee. The more you practice, the easier it is to make contacts.

Expert Lenz is also of the opinion that an adult has to become active himself if he wants to make new friends: "You shouldn't expect others to approach you. You have to take the initiative yourself." For those who are not so sociable, Lenz recommends using the slipstream of someone who can quickly get into conversation with new people for the first contact. "Then you have to become visible yourself, otherwise you have the disadvantage that the potential new friend does not recognize your own individuality, what is special in you. And that is very important in a friendship."

Good places to make new friends:

  • in the job
  • on a training course
  • in sports clubs
  • in the dance class
  • in the language course
  • in the choir
  • when doing voluntary work
  • in a tour group
  • For parents: crawling group, baby swimming, nursing cafĂ©, playground

Consciously giving time to friends

Friendships often fail in adulthood because of the limited amount of time that is available in addition to family and work. What can you do so that a new friendship does not suffer as well? "The time problem will always exist," says sociologist Lenz. Friendships, like family and work, need a minimum of time to last. Psychologist de Liz recommends that you make fixed appointments with friends well in advance and note them down in your calendar. Loose agreements like "Let's meet soon" would be easy to get lost. "I have to plan with friends just as much as with family or at work," says de Liz. The most important thing is to also consciously give them time.

Friendships can get by with less time for short periods. "But then it is important to convey a signal that you are thinking of the other person and that they are important to you," says Lenz. He recommends picking up the phone if there is no time for a meeting, checking in regularly on important dates such as birthdays, New Years or Christmas, or sending a postcard from vacation. Maintaining relationships is an important issue, after all, friendships live on a balance: "As soon as friendships become one-sided, they won't last long," says Lenz.

Old friends - new friends?

Is it possible to revive a previous friendship that may have fallen asleep due to a lack of time? "Family phases are often so dominant in terms of time and topic that you lose sight of friends," says sociologist Lenz. If the life situation changes again, because the children have moved out, for example, the revival of a former friendship can work. However, one should always expect the possibility that one has moved too far apart and that there are no longer any similarities. Psychologist Therese de Liz advises trying it out: "The best thing to do is meet a former friend without great expectations and see whether it still fits."