I get a lot of questions about how to make friends, and I understand why. I moved away from Detroit in 2009 after spending my entire life there. Moving required that I figure out how to meet new people and also hang on to the relationships I’d built back home. It’s been a little over a decade since that move and I’ve managed to maintain a fair amount of the friendships I built in Detroit. It can be challenging to make friends and also nurture the friendships we already have amidst the hustle of daily life.
When I first opened my therapy practice in 2011, I looked on Psychology Today and started cold calling therapists. I told each of them that I was new to private practice, needed advice and asked them to breakfast. One person responded. We went out to eat and our relationship took off from there. We are actually still friends to this day.
Some of the challenges we face when we are trying to make friends and keep old friends are:
We have a limited amount of time.
We don’t have as much time as we used to when we were children. I remember in middle school I had a friend who basically lived with me, that’s how much time we spent together. Once you’re out in the adult world and life happens it can become harder to find the time to devote to catching up with friends. Our time is divided between work, being in long term relationships, having to cut our grass, and so many other things.
We are afraid.
With old friends we worry that too much time has passed for us to reach out. We are afraid our old friends won’t want to hear from us, or that we’ll be too different after all the weeks, months, and years apart. Making new friends requires a different kind of vulnerability but it can be just as scary. We worry someone will think we’re weird or won’t want to be our friend. These obstacles can feel insurmountable, but they’re not. Just putting ourselves out there every now and again and setting aside a few hours a week for our friendships, can make all the difference.
Sometimes the problem is not that we don’t have friends, but that we’ve allowed our connections to dwindle. If you are looking for ways to stay rekindle old friendships:
Remember what’s important to them. Make a point of reaching out to them on their birthdays, and other days of special significance.
Don’t be deterred by how much time you have spent apart, or how long it’s been since you’ve spoken.
I remember when Drake’s “No New Friends” came out. I liked it. The song was catchy, and I got what he was saying, but I didn’t agree with it. I was joking with someone and told them I think I need to make one new friend every year just in case any of the friendships I have don’t work out. But seriously, it’s important to constantly build friendships. So here are some ideas on how to do that:
Consider cross-generational friendships. When we’re growing up, a great deal of the friends we make are through school, so our friends are always around our age. As adults, whether it’s in the workplace or at the gym, we can explore the possibility of having friends of a variety of ages.
Don’t be deterred by differences in lifestyle. Sometimes we let things like having or not having kids stop us from starting a friendship before we’ve really even tried. There are so many things that you could potentially have in common with a person. Don’t let a lifestyle difference act as a barrier to you building a friendship.
Be open to making friends in a variety of ways. You can meet a friend anywhere. At work, in a class, even at the grocery store. Maybe you have a friend who wants to set you up with someone they think you’ll really hit it off with. It might not work out, but it could be a match made in friendship heaven. Don’t limit yourself.
Bring your online connections offline. If you find yourself exchanging messages with someone on social media consistently, try building on that relationship. Exchange phone numbers, and see how your dynamic evolves in the real world.
If you find yourself chronically unable to make or keep friends, it may be time to do some inner work. What are you projecting to other people? Are you a good friend?
Making and keeping friends can be challenging, but it’s worth it. Studies have shown time and time again that close relationships help us to live longer. Relationships are good for us mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Friendship keeps us alive.
The Way Down. This docuseries follows Gwen Shamblin Lara, the founder of the diet program, Weigh Down Workshop, the Christian Cult, and The Remnant Fellowship. It’s a very interesting documentary about greed. You can watch it on HBO Max.
The Morning Show is an amazing drama. The series is about the scandals of a morning TV show. You can watch it on AppleTV.
Make a List: How a Simple Practice Can Open Our Hearts and Change Our Lives, by Marilyn McEntyre. This book is about the benefits of list making and gives you so many ideas for different types of lists. You can use lists for journaling, as a tool for productivity and so much more. You can find the book on Amazon and Bookshop.
“Beyoncé’s Evolution” in Harper’s Bazaar is a really good interview with Beyoncé. In the article she talks about boundaries, being a celebrity, and how she’s able to maintain her peace by staying out of the limelight.
What does it mean to be a friend?
What holds you back from making friends?
Are you a good friend?
How do you nurture your relationships?
Did something in this newsletter speak to you? Leave a comment and let me know. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Disclaimer: I receive commissions for purchases made through links for Amazon and Bookshop.