how do you make friends as an adult?
Looking back at your childhood with rose-tinted glasses can trick you into thinking it was easy to make friends as a kid. You shared a biscuit, a puzzle and maybe some germs, and you had a friend for life.
But the playground is a harsh environment. Can’t you just hear the refrains, in a five-year-old’s voice? “You’re not my friend any more,” or “You’re not invited to my birthday party.” Then think of the alliances built on gossip in high school, the savagery of a teenager’s rejection, the brittleness of adolescent identity. Human interaction was just as difficult before our frontal lobe was fully developed.
Dancing, alcohol and brain chemistry help us make friends as young adults with relative ease, if we’re lucky. This much is proven by evolutionary psychology: the Oxford professor Robin Dunbar, an authority on friendship, says that the performative synchronicity of dance and inebriation bonds us, and that’s why our most intense friendships are made in our 20s. Then people start getting married, pop out kids, move overseas and focus on their careers.
Dunbar’s research suggests we lose an average of two friendships when we get into a romantic relationship. The same is surely true of other life decisions, like moving across the globe or getting promoted. Whatever happens, we tend to shed friends and then, feeling that sting of fear as loneliness beckons, find ourselves wanting to make new friends as adults, with very little confidence in how to do it.
Since writing my book, The Friendship Cure, I’ve heard from countless people asking that urgent question: “How do you make friends as an adult?” Now, 365 days and 83,339 words of research into the topic later, here is my best advice on how to do it.
Read more at The Guardian.