It’s not always easy to connect with others or make new friends as an adult, so we’ve put together our top tips to help you connect with people and then develop, nurture and maintain those friendships.
So, read our top tips on how to meet new people and turn acquaintances into friends.
- Don’t be afraid to make the first move
Developing a new relationship or friendship can be nerve-wrecking but someone has to make the first move, or it just won’t happen.
Like asking someone out on a date, asking a new acquaintance to meet up socially can be daunting, but as with romantic relationships, someone needs to ask the question!
When you’re talking to someone you would like to get to know better, listen for openings such as things you’re both interested in. This could be a great opportunity 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 cuppa 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.
- Practice active listening
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.
It’s important to be yourself, be as authentic as possible and share things which are important to you so that you find people who you really connect with and have things in common with. Listening and being open about yourself is a good way to connect with someone.
- 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.
When it comes to making more time with friends then, like most things, plan ahead – coordinate dates in the diary in advance – and quite simply make it happen!
- 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, as well as 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 an 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.