You may have noticed that over the years, our friendships change. The people who were once our best friends may drop out of our inner circle and that circle itself may be dwindling sharply.
But why is this? And should you be alarmed?
Shared interests breed friendship
The truth is, when we are younger – say, in high school or college – we are surrounded by people of about the same age who share similar interests. Whether these friends are people we go to school with or participate in activities with, many of them drop off the canvas eventually because our focus is changing. As we mature, we dive into career and family and, often, the activities we once shared with these people will fall by the wayside.
Think about it. In your early twenties, you liked to go out dancing on the weekends and you had a group of friends who hung out at the same clubs and shared your passion for dancing. Once your career or a serious relationship took center stage, there was little time for clubbing and, eventually, the friends you associated with through dancing also moved on.
At this point, you needed to decide if you were going to continue to be friends with these people. Do you share enough interests other than dancing to make a friendship possible? Where do they fit into your life today?
Changing priorities and how they affect your friendships
As we get older, there is a need to prioritize the types of people we want around us. We tend to focus more on holding onto really good friends rather than maintaining our extended group of acquaintances. After all, there are only so many hours in the day.
And let’s be clear – we’re talking about real friends, here – not online “friends” who may not be friends at all.
Some of the reasons we may notice our circle of friends getting tighter:
- You’re in a relationship now or they are in a relationship.
Those “free and easy” days of youth may not be gone completely, but coupledom does require some adjustments. You may introduce each other to new activities or new friends that become a bigger part of your lifestyle. It is perfectly normal to refocus your attention on a significant other and allow superficial friendships to fall away.
When you move away, it is common for some friends to fade into the background. You could say that moving away will tell you who your “real” friends are: who comes to visit? Who makes the effort to stay in touch? It’s often very telling, but don’t take it personally if certain people don’t live up to your expectations. Focus on making new friends and staying in touch with the ones that really matter.
- You have a more mature outlook
With a larger circle of friends, it’s easy to overlook certain personality traits that just don’t fly in adulthood. One-sided or self-serving friendships won’t feed your soul and you certainly shouldn’t allow them to zap your emotional energy. If you are expending more effort on a friendship than the other person and you don’t think you are getting what you deserve in return, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate. You are worth it!
How to connect with new friends, as an adult
As an adult, it’s not as easy to make new friends. You may not enjoy the bar scene and, to be honest, a bar is not a great place to meet good friends (or partners). So, where do you go?
If you are feeling a little scant in the social department and you want to do something about it, here are a few tips to get you started:
Choose social spaces to hang out in
Your local coffee shop, book store, or even a coworking space is a great place to meet like-minded people. Don’t try too hard – but you will likely recognize, after a while, some of the same faces and be inspired to share a coffee or a conversation.
Take part in organized activities
Seek out organized activities in your area that you think might be fun to get involved in. Yoga might be great, but it’s not very social. Try joining a walking or running group instead or try out for a community sports team.
Choose activities that make you feel confident
Choose activities that you can bring some of your experience to. For instance, if you can skate, why not try taking some figure skating or ice dancing lessons? If you are already rather good at something, it will allow you to put more effort into meeting people with whom you already share at least one interest.
As tough as it may be to accept that your friendships are changing, it is simply a matter of course and something that we all experience. Just know that isolating yourself isn’t good for you, either, so get out there and make some new, amazing adult friends to enjoy life with.
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