Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In The Pursuit of Happiness: 4 ways to make friends

I've shared my all-star BFF dream team before, and we've even debated whether you'd rather have a large group of friends or a tight-knit clan, and I've since realized something: Making friends is sort of like dating. I have a small, close group of friends, but once I make a friend, we're friends for life. I friend with all my heart. It's sort of like falling in love. I fall hard. We're talking smack-dab on the pavement hard.

But there's no denying that making that special friend connection as an adult is far from easy. In fact, it can be downright difficult. It's easy to make friends when you're young. You hardly to have do any work to make it happen. Sometimes, all it takes is a play date set up by your parents, and before you know it, you're running in the grass and laughing with the girl from down the street. Or sometimes, you meet your new friend as you both sip apple juice during art class. You both reach for the green crayon and figure you must have everything in common. By the end of the first day of school, you have a new best friend.

Maybe it's so easy then because, as kids, we aren't self-conscious and aren't so concerned with social norms yet. Our world is open, and we're ready to jump in, head-first. Wouldn't it be great if making friends was as easy once we are adults? But in the rush of work and life in general, we sometimes find ourselves feeling like an island. It's not intentional; it just sort of happens. If we put on our "child hats," we'll probably see areas of our life that are ripe with potential friends.

The neighborhood
Take advantage of a holiday like the Fourth of July or Memorial Day and invite some neighbors over for a barbecue. The great thing about this one is that the commute is merely a few feet or blocks away - a big plus with me. And when food is involved, it seems everyone comes out of the woodwork. And is it just me, or are pets a great conversation starter?

The gym
You might not want to see people when you're sweating on the treadmill - there's that adult self-consciousness creeping in again - but exercising can be the great equalizer. You're all there for the same reason, so why not break up the monotony of the treadmill with some conversation. In fact, my mother has some "swimming friends" as she calls them that she met while doing her afternoon laps at the Y.

The family
I'm not talking about the Mafia; you should probably avoid befriending members of that group. But your family, in essence, is a built-in buddy system. They're there for you, and they love you. Through good times and not-so-good times. And, I've found, your family gets you in a way that your other friends don't. Maybe it's that biological link, and that is something to be very thankful for, every day - even when you wonder whether you were placed on your family's doorstep by mistake.

The work water cooler
This one might sound a bit obvious, and maybe you've even tried it without success. Work can be stressful, so the key here is to bond with your co-workers over non-work things. And, of course, you can never go wrong with a simple "Hi," and asking someone one simple question: "How are you?" These three words can be the perfect icebreaker.
Consider these the adult equivalent of that green crayon. What tips would you add, friends? How do you make friends as an adult? Has it been harder to make friends than when you were younger? xoxo

P.S. How do you pursue happiness? I'd love to have you share your tips and tricks. Details here.

[Photos via We Heart It]


  1. I'd say joining workshops and courses. That way one common interest will always be guaranteed:D

  2. I just moved to a new city recently, so thanks for the tips!

  3. I have friends but they seem to fall into different categories and they never became "true" or "best" friends. There are the Neighbor Friends...we live close to one another, easy. There are the Mothers Friends, you meet them when you go to your kids activities. There are the Wives Friends...the spouses of your husband's friends and I guess there are Childhood've gone your own ways a loooong time ago.

    My friendships have never had staying power. Of course, I take a lot of the blame, I'm a little shy and don't really initiate friendships, conversations or throw parties. I get lonely but just can't pick up that phone and invite someone I know out to lunch or something to forge a better relationship. People just seem to come and go in my life. I'm not sure what to do but I'm open. When I went to a gym, no one talked to one another. I don't work. The kids are young adults. I shy away from groups. I think I am a lost cause! Any tips?


  4. I love the idea of having a neighborhood party! I live in a neighborhood with a ton of graduate students like myself, but I don't know any of them. Maybe I should put up flyers...hmm...

    I also recommend I've met some pretty cool people by going to book clubs and young people events through that site.

  5. Good idea, Blue Eyed -- I still keep in touch with some of the people I went to college with. It's great to be able to keep up with their lives.

  6. Blondie -- I'm with you. I've never been a huge fan of groups. When I get in a group setting, I tend to get really shy for some reaon. I find it easier to connect with someone one-on-one.

    Even though I work from home now, I still get together with people I used to work with.

    I'd say start small and do whatever you're comfortable with. Go at your own pace. :)

  7. I definitely have my gym friends! :) I'm naturally outgoing, so talk with people in all kinds of places. That's what truly makes me happy - when complete strangers return my friendliness and partake in a little chat with me! Even if for a minute or so.

  8. Totally agree, Jessi -- the South is great for little chitchats like that! :)

  9. I so agree that it's like dating. There's always that honeymoon phase when you meet someone that you just click with. And you can tell that it's felt on both parts. You all get excited to see each other, you talk all the time, make plans to get together as often as possible.

    I just made a group of great new friends this summer on Fire Island where we have our beach house and I was so relieved to finally click with people again. In the past 3 years I lost my two lifelong best friends to cancer so I've been reluctant to get close to people honestly out of fear of losing them. I've finally opened up to it again and I think part of the reason is because I really truly clicked with these people.

    Wonderful post, Melissa! xoxo

  10. Loved the post. I know that its easy to make friends at church. Also talking about pets is a good idea. My dog Max has a friend named Max that lives close to us and they play with each other and that is how me and Max's owner met.

  11. This is so interesting. In our case, blogging can certainly be a major source to meet great people and become friends, no? :) I like meeting people, but I'm not a social butterfly and I tend to indulge in to so much alone time. That being said, I don't usually change my routine to just meet new people. I certainly welcome new people in my life, and they usually are friends of friends. XOXO


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