Making friends as an adult IRL.

So, a mention. This post is v unprofessional looking, but I am not a professional. Shocker. I didn’t take any of these but if any of my pals want to sue me for copyright, maybe I need better friends and am in no position to be writing posts about friendship.

Enjoy some low quality pics of HIGH quality times.

Maybe this post should’ve had a more click-baity title, like 5 Reasons You Aren’t Making Friends – And The Secret Of How To Change That Now! The issue with that is I’d have to think of five universal reasons you might be struggling to make friends, whereas in reality I can think of a LOT more.

(Oh, and this is all about making friends in ‘real life’ – as in, non-online friends. That is a whole other issue, for another day!)

I don’t think it’s outlandish to say that you make friends easier as a child and teenager than you do an adult. You tend spend a lot of time with the same people every day as you’re growing up, so often you grow together. Shared experiences are a great way to build relationships, after all. These people have your back through the ‘first’ stages – first period, first scary exam, first time getting drunk, first heartbreak, first time having sex – you know, those moment of pain and stress? They help you make good friends.

Friends in a bar
Some of my cutest and oldest friends on hols in Bruges.

Obviously not everyone experiences these things as a teen, and they wait til their early 20s to do most of it. And from my layman’s perspective, the same happens. The people who do those things a bit later tend to form stronger bonds with the people around them at that time. It’s not really a surprise that the quiet one at school is now going to Glasto with her partner from her year abroad, followed by interrailing with her uni pals.

New experiences are scary, and the people who help you through them/know where the skeletons are buried, are the ones that tend to stick around.

In my mid-20s though, I am posed with a question. I no longer spend a lot of non-negotiable time with a select group of people (school/uni halls), and I no longer an in a position of ‘doing things for the first time’, at least not regularly. There is lesser chance of me making friends in that way – the ‘spend a lot of time with people until you like them’ method, AKA What I Learnt From Playing Sims.

Now, I hear you cry, ‘but what about work friends? Surely there’s a whole group of people there just waiting to be your friend, and you gotta see them every day!’. Well gentle reader, I have an answer for that. They can indeed become your friends! The difference here is, you are being paid to be friendly, or at least civil, with these people for x amount of hours a week. Especially if you’re in any sort of management position, which can mean giving difficult feedback or delegating work tasks, that can be difficult. And the issues of making them into friends are the same – how do you go from being ‘my friend at work’ to ‘my friends from work’?

I’m here to tell you the secret, but not really because it’s not a secret and it’s what your mum would tell you to do, only without the swearing.

JUST BLOODY ASK THEM.

Yep, haha, pull the other one Holly – no one just asks to be friends any more. There are apps for that instead. I hear you, I really do. And they can be so great for meeting people, but assuming you’ve already met some people you’d like to be friends with, this is the next step. I personally haven’t cracked the ‘meeting new people’ thing, I’ll let you know when I do though.

A month ago, one of my favourite people from work was leaving to go and do other things. On her last day, I just said to her ‘hey I think we should be friends, want to hang out some time?’ and she said ‘yeah, of course! Want to go for a drink later?’ and WE DID. It was so easy, simple, and absolutely terrifying.

Because rejection is scary, isn’t it? Of course, there’s no way to tell if someone you get on with wants to actually be your real life friend. Maybe they’re just super polite. If you meet someone while they’re doing their own job, for example serving you at a bar or in a shop, chances are they’re just really good at customer service and don’t want to be your pal. They’re working, that’s fine, they are under no obligation to pretend to like you outside of their working hours.

So give them the power! Give them your number, name, email (like it’s 2007 again), whatever. If they think you’re cool, they’ll get back to you. There’s always a chance you’ll be a story in the staff room though, so do tread with EXTREME caution, especially men approaching women. There’s a whole sexist power at play there, but you don’t want to read about that right now.

So, it basically boils down to four easy steps. Kinda.

  1. Decide if you actually want to be friends with this person. Decide to see them outside of your regular time together, share some experiences, play mini-golf, whatever really.
  2. ASK THEM to do something. I don’t mean just ‘going for coffee’, I mean like an actual activity. Doing a ‘thing’ gives you something else to focus on rather than just ‘oh my god what non-work related thing do we talk about now we’re here’.
  3. Actually do the damn thing. Step two only works if you work with it. Sorry!
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until going for coffee and just being able to chat on and on is totally normal and nice. Hooray! You have made a friend!

I don’t really have any recommendations other than reaching out. I know it’s an oversimplification, and it’s anxiety-inducing for a lot of people and it can feel like the worst idea in the world. But really, what’s the worst that could happen?

Sometimes you might do steps 2 and 3 and then decide that, actually, you’re never going to be great friends. That’s ok too. You didn’t fail, no one needs to be awkward about it, that’s just life. Not everyone you like will make a great friend. You (shocker) might not even be a very good friend. I know! The mind truly boggles. We are imperfect, often incompatible, and sometimes just damn annoying people. I know I am. You’ve just got to find people that will put up with it.

Best friends
This photo was taken in 2016, despite the self-timer, resting-on-a-car angle. I love it.

 

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