In part one of our making friends as an adult blog, we shared our top tips for meeting new people, but that’s just the start of the path to friendship. Now that you’ve made all of these great acquaintances how do you turn them into full-blown friends?
How to build and maintain a friendship:
1. Don’t be afraid to make the first move
Like asking someone out on a date, asking a new acquaintance to meet up socially can be nerve-wracking, but as with romantic relationships, someone has to make the first move or you’re never going to make it to friendship.
When you’re talking to someone you want to get to know better listen for openings to invite them to hang out. For example, if they say they’ve been dying to try out the new restaurant in town, suggest you go together. If you’ve both always wanted to try out an art class, find one you can join. If they’re having a bad day why not invite them over for a cup of tea or a pint to cheer them up? Look for any excuse you can find to spend time together. Once you’ve met up outside your normal context it will get easier to meet up again and before you know it, you’ve made a new friend.
2. Two ears, one mouth
When you’re trying to get to know someone it’s important to listen. Studies show that talking about ourselves triggers the same pleasure areas of the brain as sex and good food, so if you actively listen to a new acquaintance and show interest by asking questions they will enjoy spending time with you.
Don’t let the conversation get too one sided though, it’s important to contribute information about yourself as well, but in general try to listen more than you speak. If you want some ideas to get the conversation flowing check out our blog and read an FBI behaviour expert’s tips on getting people to like you.
3. Make time for your friends
Making a new friend is just the beginning. Like plants that wither if you don’t water them, it’s important to maintain a friendship or you’ll drift apart. Put it in your diary to phone or meet up with your new friend at least once every two weeks and aim to keep in touch with messages in between. It could be simple things like a message about what’s happening in a TV programme you both watch or the football results. The more time you spend with someone and the more you share random parts of your day, e.g. by sending them a photo of something funny you spotted on the way to work, the closer you’ll become.
4. Don’t be afraid to open up
Finally, in order to build a truly close friendship you need to make an emotional as well as a time investment. Having a laugh together is great but to get to know someone on a deeper level it’s important to be able to share with them your hopes, dreams, and fears, and support them with theirs.
Getting too personal too quickly can be off putting but once you’ve been friendly with someone for a while try to open up a bit. You could ask for their advice on a problem you’re having, or share something a bit more personal you wouldn’t tell a mere acquaintance. If they’re a friend for keeps they’ll be pleased that you can trust them and they might start to share more themselves.
If you want to see what can happen when you start actively trying to make new friends as an adult check out this BBC blog.
If you’re feeling lonely and are struggling to make new friends, then Ben is here to help. We support those who work (or have worked) in the automotive industry, or are dependent on someone who is. You can ring our free and confidential helpline on 08081 311 333 or use our online chat.