Why It’s Hard to Make Friends as Adults (and How to Find a Few Anyway)

Kids have very low qualifications for the title of “friend.” If you live down the street and also like to play hopscotch, you’re in.  Kids also have established social networks through school, faith communities, and activities. Adults are often less connected and focused on career, marriage, and raising children. That limits their available pool of friends.

A study published in Psychological Bulletin found friend count peaks in a person’s 20’s and declines from there. Adults may meet lots of people, but usually there’s not enough in common for them to invest time to nurture the relationships. Other things get priority. Researchers say after our 20’s, we lose about half our friends every 7 years! Yikes! The turnover tends to link to changes in our lives. I had an extremely close friend in my 20’s and early 30’s who I’ve lost touch with because we went in different directions. I got married and had a baby, and made my career secondary. She decided she wanted to stay single and go the “no-kid” executive route. She & I had less in common and before long, without realizing it, we stopped pouring time and attention into the friendship. Like anything that is neglected, it withered.

If you want to turn the tide, you’re going to have to get outside of your comfort zone. Find a meet-up group and accept invitations, consider taking classes or joining an organization to meet like-minded people where a connection may be simpler. Also, change your expectations about friendship. You’ve grown up since you were in school, and so have your needs. The idea of a “BFF” is great, but friendship is not a one-stop-shopping event. Spreading your “bestie” needs across a small but diverse group of friends will help get your relational needs met and can also prevent the loss of friendship down the road.

Several people have come to me with the coaching goal of creating new and lasting friendships. It’s just one way I help coach people. Click here to explore how coaching can help you.

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