Melissa Blake

Melissa Blake

Disabled and Thriving

The Art of Making Friends

How do you make new friends as an adult?

Posted Sep 07, 2010

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 whom you met 20 minutes earlier.

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. And you are very, very serious about this fact.

After all, you both love the color green. It's as simple as that.

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? Sure, if we're lucky, some of those school chums are still our best friends; that, in itself, is something to be thankful for.

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. Eventually, we may find ourselves looking to expand our social circle, wanting off that island for good. It can be hard, but incredibly rewarding.

And 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.

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 it the adult equivalent of that green crayon.