Adulthood will shock and imbalance your social ecosystem in the sneakiest way. You’re used to your circle’s weekend hangouts and weekly happy hour rituals. And then you graduate college and look up to realize you haven’t talked to so-and-so in two whole months.
You are both so busy. With responsibility. And then you realize your circle of friends has miserably become you, Netflix and a glass of wine. You receive invites from your cool friends who are still somehow full of youth and energy and you would rather trade fun for a nap. The strangest part? You are kinda okay with your new social life taking a hard turn towards antisocial.
Whether it’s strenuous work schedules or a budding Brady bunch, your schedule can never seem to line up with your besties.’
Throw in those of us who are embarking on a chapter in a new town. Now you have to infiltrate a new circle of people who are already in social drift mode and force organic social interaction with strangers.
Gone are the days of simply ending up with a friend or two because they were conveniently located in the desk next to yours in algebra. Coworkers are convenient personas to substitute this role, but unless you’re super lucky to work in an industry where your coworkers naturally match your interests and vibes, odds are you may encounter the difficult terrain navigating from “what time is that meeting” to “what time are we meeting for drinks on Saturday?”
10 ways to be successful in your adulthood friendships, new or old:
Enforce a yes quota:
A yes quota may sound a bit ingenuine, but many times we skip plans simply because our response is set in a default no position. To shake your autopilot answers up a bit, employ method This would require 1 or more non-negotiable invitation acceptances per week, month, or whatever suits you.
If spontaneity is not your thing, it can be tough facing sudden commitment. Are you one of those people who can’t wrap your head around short notice? If I am invited somewhere that requires my attendance in less than 24 hours, I seem to hit a mental shutdown that almost always results in an “I can’t make it, sorry!” I am likely not otherwise engaged when my excuse comes hurdling out without a thought. It is just my nature to prefer mental preparation, setting up my mood, for social engagement. I have to actively go out of my way to muster up a yes, so I have found that if I mandate a quota to reach, my mental routine is awoken and my disposition changes.
Find common ground:
Finding common ground as soon as possible will save you and your potential friend from those awkward pauses that inevitably occur in conversations about the weather. It is also one of the best passages into friendship. Common ground can only be found in profound conversation so ditch the small talk as soon as you find the opportunity. Talk about your own experiences, whether from your life or just the weekend. Then uncover theirs.
Try the 80/20 rule
In order to drive home your interest in their life and interests, stick to an 80/20 rule of engagement. Spend 80% inquiring or listening to them about their life and 20% talking about your own.
Do not be passive:
Put yourself in the situation. You can’t make friends in a vacuum. Sometimes you need to go out and actively engage with people and in situations that set the scene for relationship building. And when you do engage, make a point to make your intent clear before you part ways to perhaps never see each other again.
Make people feel good:
This does not entail launching empty compliments at whoever you come across. If you find the opportunity to award someone a genuine compliment or sincere interest, you are nearly always going to be well-received. A bit of flattery always makes for a great conversation starter.
Be sincere with your intent—people are not toys lying around waiting for you to come into their life so they can entertain you. Relationships can not be founded on shallow desires to combat your boredom or delusions of FOMO. If you want a friend, be a friend.
Don’t be afraid of public alone time
I know the whole point we’ve been making seems counter to this step, but if you are a person who has a distaste for venturing into public scenarios solo, it will make it difficult to find friends anywhere besides the environments we are obligated to, like work. Venturing into the world without company welcomes other soloists to engage with you. So
So allow your alone time to exist outside of your home. Riding the train to and from work don’t count, as most people are not socially engaged. I’m one of those people who, without plans with people I already know, would never come out of my house. But there is so much to enjoy in your own company. Volunteering in the community, working at a coffee shop rather than your desk, sitting on a bench in a park or grabbing a bite to eat at a restaurant, are all easygoing situations to embark on in your own company.
Actively seek out your interests, not people.
Partaking in events and activities that pertain to your interests acts as a social filter, presenting you with an assortment of people with whom you will already have common ground with. If you seek out activities that already interest you, the people you meet will probably be likeminded.
One of our biggest deterrents in meeting people is that we feel as if we could potentially be judged or rejected.
But if I can not convince you to be confident in your own interpersonal strengths, you can be confident that most people are at least generically nice and receiving. Most of us have far passed the popularity contests of high school and are socially on the same playing field.
If you are not naturally outgoing, I am not trying to overhaul your personality in a paragraph —(introversion has its merits!) But I am trying to encourage you to identify and react to opportunities that allow you to naturally, comfortably and confidently socialize. This may or may not look like inviting yourself to sit at an already full table of preexisting friendships, (if it does, awesome), or injecting yourself into a conversation at a dinner party. It may be a simple but deliberate smile to someone at the grocery store or initiating a dialogue in line at the coffee shop you frequent. There are subtle and inviting opportunities for interaction every day.
Set a reminder to get in touch with people.
If you’re bad at keeping in touch, a reminder may help. This may seem a bit over-professional in the context of organic friendship, but how often have you found yourself thinking about checking up on someone only to forget to actually check up on them? I personally am terrible at doing this. I will wonder how so-and-so has been only to get distracted with life, thus allowing the thought to dissipate until it entirely escapes me for another two months.
Lauren is based in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to writing here on Pursuit of Daydreams, Lauren’s daydreams consist of all forms of design: Graphic, Fashion, Web, Interior, Art. On any given day, she can be found preoccupied with at least one of the above. She is happiest with a bowl of ice cream in hand.