Have you noticed that it can be tough to make new friends as an adult? You aren’t alone! Even though social media has connected us more than ever, many people feel isolated and alone. Problems like depression and anxiety can increase that sense of loneliness and make it harder to connect with others. Building positive relationships with other people can be a key task in recovery.
Being “close” to others is key
What do you think is the most important factor in predicting if two people will strike up a friendship? You might be surprised to know that simple being near someone on a regular basis is the best predictor. Mady Segal (a social psychologist) found that physical proximity or “propinquity” was the best predictor that students in her study would become friends. In other words, simply being around the same people on a regular basis gives you the best chance of making new friends.
Putting in the time
You might wonder how much time it takes to make a new friend. Psychologist Jeffrey Hall recently published a study that suggests that it takes about 40-60 hours to form a casual friendship with a new person. This probably explains why it is easier to make friends when we are in school. As adults, our busy lives can make it tougher to spend that much time getting to know others. So what can you do?
Schedule friendship building activities
Make building friendships a priority by putting social activities in your schedule. Remember, friendships are most likely to blossom when you are around the same people on a consistent basis. Consider joining a group on meetup.com, taking a class to learn a new skill, or even try talking to your neighbors on a more regular basis. The key is to do this consistently with the same people.
Be patient and persistent
Making friends takes time. It may feel awkward and uncomfortable in the short term, but don’t get discouraged! This is a marathon, not a sprint. Frequently remind yourself that short term discomfort is worth the long-term sense of connection that you are building.
If you’re struggling with loneliness and would like some help connecting with others, you aren’t alone. Click the “Contact Us” link, call (240) 883-6504, or email Dr. Santanello at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to help.