A common conversation that takes place with clients is about friendships. More specifically, how challenging it can be to make friends as an adult.
I wanted to share a resource and point you in the direction of a researcher, Marisa Franco, who has a number of take-aways regarding - making friends as an adult. I've shared a few to read, listen, and watch as you find the time. I've also shared a few takeaways, tidbits, and interpretations below.
Tidbits, Take-Aways, and Interpretations:
- Initiative (Need to try, put in the effort, and put yourself out there...)
- Persistence (Need to be patient, keep at it...)
- Effort (Reaching out, reciprocating, creating opportunities...)
- Affirmations (Clarify the enjoyment being with others, validate...)
- Express praise (Genuinely and authentically...)
- Share more of self (Be vulnerable, be authentic, be you...)
- Being open offers the opportunity for others to reciprocate back
- Mutual vulnerability
- Cultivate consistent informal meetings (Ex. bus stop, coffee shop, etc.)
- Join together day-to-day tasks (Ex.Let's carpool, etc.)
- "Repot" connections by moving the typical place of interaction to other contexts. (Ex. Instead of at the kids games, try a park, or an activity..)
- The new contexts can offer different topics/conversations to occur.
- Unplanned repetitive interactions (Exposure effect)
- Exposure Effect can assist in developing connection by making it a habit and routine to see/interact with others in a neutral environment, therefore, after time others see us as "familiar" and conversations may begin to occur.
- Practice assuming others "want to" interact and be with you vs. repeating the negative assumptions that "they don't."
At different stages of life it may be important to take inventory of friendships and connections and reallocate the limited resource of "time" to ensure we are investing in the people and friendships that fill our tank vs. deplete it.
Think of it as "pruning." When a plant has too many branches or vines it can become a challenge to meet the needs of all the branches, buds, and flowers. Therefore, when we "prune" our connections we are looking to allocate our own resources more efficiently and effectively.
Pruning may look like a series of questions. Such as...
- Is this person cheering for my success?
- Am I my authentic self with them?
- Do I like the "me" that shows up with them?
- Do I feel energized or depleted being with them?
- How often do they reciprocate back?
- Are they interested in me? Curious?
- Do we both find time to connect?
Being intentional and discerning about where we invest our time can help cultivate and foster meaningful connections.
The sandbox is still a tough space to navigate. As kids, there were many more opportunities to play in the sandbox and connect with others. As an adult, the sandbox still exists, although we have to throw less sand, give more toys than take them, and try abit harder then we had to before.
Making friends as an adult takes intentional effort, courage & vulnerability, as well as patience. It takes time to cultivate connections. Therefore, practice grace with yourself when it feels like "nothing is working." Take some risks by putting your self in new and different situations. aka - Play in some new sandboxes..
Ultimately, when you do "feel" that connection with others - explicitly share with others:
"I want to be friends."