Have you ever looked around and suddenly felt like everyone else has their established friend group while you're left wondering where your people went? If this resonates with you, you're not alone. Research tells us that the age of 25 is when our social network begins to shrink, making it harder to make new friends as an adult.
Here are 4 reasons why becoming an adult and having to make friends is so anxiety-inducing:
1. Changing priorities.
Suddenly we’re giving increased focus to career advancement and family responsibilities, which makes it challenging to dedicate time to making new friends. Friendship itself almost becomes a luxury of sorts, a nice-to-have, not a “need” to have – pushing it into the margins of our lives. If finding time to be intentional about friends feels impossible, here's a tip:
Intentionally dedicate time for friend making on your calendar. Whether you join a social group or tag along with your extroverted friend who doesn’t mind bringing a plus one, we have to prioritize making new friends just as we prioritize work and family.
2. Fixed mindsets.
A lot of us subscribe to limiting beliefs about ourselves that aren’t permanent, such as "I'm just chronically shy" or "I get too awkward". And we’ve told ourselves that these things make it impossible for us to make friends, rather than challenging these beliefs or finding ways to work with them.
Another common mindset we hear is that it's too late to make new friends, which is simply not true. There are people at 30 and at 60 years old finding new friends every day, which means it’s equally as possible for you. We challenge you to consider the ways in which these mindsets are working against you.
3. Absence of social structures.
The absence of dedicated social spaces, like childhood recess or college dormitories, can leave us feeling lost in figuring out where and how to find new friends. As a child, time was carved out for you to socialize, and your job was to make new friends. Shared spaces in college gave you an environment saturated with your peers. It was easy to look at someone next to you who wasgoing through the same life stages as you at the same time and find camaraderie. But suddenly, we exit these spaces and there are no college events, and we’re tasked with the responsibility of figuring it out on our own. It leaves a lot of us confused on where to start: how to find people and then how to develop the friendship. If you find you’re in this space, unsure of how to get started or how to move forward, you’re not alone.
4. Lack of resources and cultural support.
The public dialogue around making friends seems to be, “You either have friends – or you don’t”. It doesn’t leave space to explore the nuances behind making friends as a grown adult. When it comes to making friends and creating friendships of depth, there is very little support and a scarcity of resources.
If you find yourself nodding along to these challenges, know that there are ways to navigate and overcome them. From prioritizing friend-making on your calendar to challenging fixed mindsets, we want to remind you that it's never too late to make new friends.
And if this is something you're still looking for support with, we're here to talk it through. You can learn more at betterfemalefriendships.com or hit us up on Instagram anytime at @friendforward.
Here's to thriving in your ongoing journey toward better female friendships.