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Navigating Adult Friendships: Insights and Tips

Jul 10, 2024 | Relationships

Making and maintaining friends can be difficult for adults. Unlike the effortless connections we make as kids, adult friendships require more deliberate effort and understanding to cultivate and maintain.

While adult friendships can present challenges, they are incredibly rewarding and essential for emotional well-being. This article explores the evolving nature of friendships as we age, provides practical advice on building and sustaining these connections, and offers guidance on making new friends as an adult.

The Changing Nature of Friendships in Adulthood

During childhood, friendships are often based on proximity and shared activities, usually made at school or in extracurricular activities. As adults, we seek deeper, more meaningful connections. The friends we make as adults are often those who respect our growing individuality and share interests developed over time. This shift is driven by the desire for emotional support, intellectual stimulation, and shared experiences that resonate with our life goals.

Because of this shift, adult friends are often fewer in number but richer in depth. They require more effort to maintain, as busy schedules and responsibilities limit the time spent on regular interactions. Unlike childhood friendships, which are often spontaneous, adult friendships require planning and intentionality. Adult friendships may have been initiated during an earlier point in one’s life when physical proximity was not an issue. As people’s lives progress, adults may have good friendships with people across the country or halfway around the world. Adult friendships demand more emotional support as adults navigate complex life challenges such as careers, family dynamics, and personal growth.

However, these friendships are crucial for our well-being and happiness. They provide essential emotional support, contribute to our well-being, and offer a sense of belonging and connection. Strong adult friendships help us navigate the ups and downs of life, offering a reliable source of comfort and encouragement and enriching our lives.

Building and Maintaining Friendships as an Adult

Finding and making new friends as an adult can be challenging, and it requires intentionality and openness to new experiences. Unlike the spontaneous friendships of childhood, adult friendships often form through shared interests and consistent interaction. Joining clubs, attending community events, or participating in hobby groups or classes can provide opportunities to meet like-minded individuals. The key is to be proactive and create regular opportunities for interaction, which can help foster genuine interactions over time.

Maintaining these relationships involves a continuous effort of communication and mutual support. However, because adults often have busy schedules, keeping in touch and planning ahead is essential to these friendships. Setting time aside may be a new experience for some adults who regularly saw their friends in school or university and did not need to plan anything. If you feel like you’re getting out of touch with a friend, simple gestures like checking in with a text, scheduling regular meet-ups, and being emotionally available during challenging times strengthen your bonds. Additionally, investing time and effort in maintaining friendships not only deepens the connection but also enriches our lives by providing a reliable support network and a sense of belonging.

Balancing friendships with other responsibilities, such as work and family, requires mindful prioritization and time management. It’s important to set boundaries and manage expectations with friends, ensuring that the relationship remains supportive and that each other’s commitments are understood.

The Role of Technology in Modern Friendships

Technology has significantly broadened our social connections, allowing us to interact with many individuals worldwide. Platforms like social media, messaging apps, and online communities make finding friends and reconnecting with past relationships more accessible than ever. Digital communication has expanded our social circles, enabling us to create and maintain friendships despite geographical distances and busy schedules.

However, technology can also limit the depth of our interactions. The lack of face-to-face communication can sometimes strain relationships and lead to misunderstandings, as it is easier to misinterpret messages or say things we don’t mean. This separation can create barriers to forming deep, meaningful connections.

Striking a healthy middle ground with technology is essential to ensure we keep our social circles without missing out on direct interaction with those we love most. While technology offers numerous opportunities to stay connected and meet new people, it should not directly replace direct interaction. Face-to-face communication and shared experiences are crucial for emotional bonding and mutual understanding. By mindfully using technology, we can enhance our friendships while ensuring that we foster deep, meaningful connections in all relationships.

Overcoming Common Obstacles in Adult Friendships

Adult friendships often face challenges, such as busy schedules, new families, and a general lack of time. Balancing work, family responsibilities, and personal commitments can make it difficult to prioritize friendships.

A common misconception is that adult friendships are naturally spontaneous and effortless, like they were as kids. While this can be true in some cases, most often, maintaining communication requires intentional effort, such as scheduling regular catch-ups, making time for meaningful conversations, and staying in touch.

Navigating differences and conflicts is another significant challenge in adult friendships. As we grow, our interests, beliefs, and life circumstances may change, leading to potential misunderstandings or disagreements. Handling these situations with honest and open communication is crucial.

Additionally, if you find that a friendship no longer aligns with your values or interests, it is okay to move away from it. Setting clear boundaries and allowing for closure can help both parties understand the situation better. Be prepared for a range of reactions, as the other person may feel hurt or confused. In these situations, respectful and empathetic communication can help ease the transition and maintain mutual respect.

Tips for Making New Friends as an Adult

Making friends as an adult can be challenging, particularly if you feel like you are starting over or are anxious about meeting new people. The process requires intentional effort and may be daunting, but making new friends is a skill that can be practiced and improved with dedication.

Intentional effort, proximity to like-minded people, and consistency are essential for making new friends. Engaging in activities that bring you close to others, such as hobbies, community events, and classes, provides consistent opportunities to form connections. Joining a gym, signing up for a cooking class, and participating in a professional network group regularly are examples of ways to ensure intention, proximity, and consistency, which provides a basis for making connections.

When you are with like-minded individuals, positivity, interest, and enthusiasm are key strategies for making new friends. People are naturally drawn to others who show genuine interest in them and are enthusiastic. These qualities make others feel valued and appreciated, in turn letting them become interested in you. While these traits require effort to maintain, they are skills anyone can practice to help foster new friendships.

Strategies for making new friends as an adult include:

  • Join Interest Groups, Classes, or Clubs: Participate in activities that interest you and surround you with like-minded individuals.
  • Volunteer: Offer your time to causes you care about and meet others who share your values.
  • Use Social Media: Connect with people who have similar interests and hobbies, while being mindful of being too dependent on social media for connections.
  • Befriend Coworkers: Try spending time outside of work with colleagues who share like-minded interests.
  • Be Open to Rejection: Don’t let fear of rejection hold you back. Putting yourself out there increases your chances of making genuine connections.
  • Be Approachable: Practice smiling, making eye contact, and initiating conversation with those around you. If these practices seem unnatural or daunting, consider them skills to improve through conscious effort.
  • Lead With Curiosity: Ask questions about others and show interest in what they are saying. Follow-up questions that clarify what they said and add to it allow others to build on the conversation and show you are listening to them.
  • Show Appreciation: Let people know you value their friendship through small gestures of gratitude.
  • Follow Up: Keep in touch with new friends and suggest plans to meet up again.
  • Be Patient: Building friendships takes time, so stay persistent and give relationships time to grow.
  • Seek Professional Support: Consider talking to a licensed counselor to learn more about strategies to meet new people and start new friendships as an adult. A licensed counselor can provide you with the tools to form lasting relationships and workshop strategies to give you the experience to meet new people and make lasting connections.

Strengthen Your Friendships With Start My Wellness

Social isolation is a known risk factor in depression and other mental health conditions. Making and maintaining friendships as an adult can be helpful in counteracting these symptoms. However, making friends requires intentional effort and a proactive approach. Unlike the effortless connections we make as kids, adult friendships need deliberate effort to thrive.

At Start My Wellness, we understand the importance and complexity of adult friendships in helping relieve symptoms of depression and other mental health conditions. Our services are equipped to support you as you develop tools to relieve symptoms of depression and other conditions, including nurturing adult friendships.

Contact Start My Wellness today at (248)-514-4955 and meet our therapists to begin your journey to stronger, more fulfilling relationships.


  1. Frontiers in Psychology: Adult Friendship and Wellbeing
  2. Start My Wellness: Communication is Key: But You Have to Know What You’re Asking For
  3. Start My Wellness: What Can Social Media Teach Us About Ourselves?
  4. Start My Wellness: The Do’s and Don’ts of Saying No
Dr. Anton Babushkin

Author: Anton Babushkin, PhD

Looking for a Therapist? Start My Wellness has highly experienced Licensed Therapists that are currently accepting new patients.


Blog Posts Tags: Relationships
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