After we ran a story about the benefits of alone time, a reader tweeted, “Too many people spend an unhealthy amount of time alone, can you write an article on how to actually make friends as an adult and build a personal community?” Which got us thinking about how difficult it can be, once you're out of college—maybe married, with kids or having moved to a new city—to make new friends or maintain the bond with your pals. After all, in an age of “likes” and “followers,” it's easy to see all this interconnectedness as maintaining relationships. But it's not the same. Especially for men.
Geoffrey L. Greif, a University of Maryland professor and author of Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships, famously categorized women's friendships as “face-to-face” and men's friendships as “shoulder-to-shoulder.” The idea being that women can get together, and be more than happy simply sitting across from one another and just talking. But guys typically need to perform an activity to reach the same level of intimacy.
Of course, no matter how outgoing you are, making friends as adults is a challenge. But if you don't try, you'll be missing out. And possibly impacting your health. According to an AARP study, roughly 48 million adults over 45 suffer from chronic loneliness. And a decades-long study by Brigham Young University found that loneliness actually increases your risk of premature death by 26 to 32 percent. Ready to make some new friends? Let's break it down.
Why is making friends
Ask anyone why they don't spend more time with friends, and they'll more than likely give you the old, "I just don't have time." And there's some truth to that. There are 168 hours in a week. Most of us spend around 40 of those working and another 40 to 50 hours sleeping. Throw in the time we spend commuting, tackling chores or other family obligations, and we're not left with a lot of extra hours.
But if you take an inventory of what you're really spending your time on, you can likely find some extra moments to make new connections from the hours spent mindlessly watching TV or scrolling social media. The key is finding a structure. By organizing your schedule more efficiently and cutting down on unnecessary time-sucks, anyone can have a few more hours to themselves.
What are real ways
to meet new people?
The easiest ways to make new friends are through mutual connections. Friends of your significant other or your co-workers—they know you, your personality and interests, plus you can trust that they're a good judge of character. You could go the old fashioned route and ask your neighbor if he wants a beer and start up a conversation.
When it comes to meeting new people on your own, joining a local organization is a safer bet. There are business networking groups, book clubs, church groups, sports leagues and hobby groups. The key is finding somewhere that will have likeminded people you can connect with. If you're into craft beer, find a local brewery in your area and see if they have a class or host events. Chances are, you will start to see some familiar faces.
How do you maintain
These new friendships don't just, you know, "blossom" on their own. It takes effort to grow them. Not a lot of effort, mind you. But you've got to be intentional with your time and socializing. So that thing you were talking about? Meeting at that bar for trivia night, going to the game or seeing that one band coming to town? Get it scheduled and hammer out the details.
Or make a standing date. You and some buddies could meet to go hiking or hit the gym Saturday mornings. You can set a common goal and work towards something together. What that communicates to someone is that you want to continue hanging out. That you're fun and maybe more importantly, that you're the type of guy who follows through. These are all attributes of a man with whom people want to be friends.
Don't be afraid to show a little gratitude
The thing about making a new friend? It's awesome. So let your new buddy know. Oftentimes, guys feel a bit awkward expressing their gratitude, but it's an easy way to communicate to the other person that you value their time and friendship. Don't be afraid to give your buddy a hug when you leave—pull him in deliberately and pat him on the back. Or send a text after you hang and mention something funny that happened or follow-up on a conversation you were having. These types of exchanges commemorate a good time and that gratitude will be felt on the other side—likely by a guy who's just as happy to have made a new friend as well.
Dale Carnegie's rock-solid, time-tested advice has helped countless people both professionally and personally. One of the most groundbreaking and timeless bestsellers of all time, How to Win Friends & Influence People has solid advice on how to get people to like you and connect with others.
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