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  • Writer's pictureSarah Tian

How to Cultivate Quality Friendships as Adults

Updated: Jul 15, 2022

Having quality friends is key to our day-to-day happiness (Demir, 2010). Good friends can help you celebrate good times and provide support during challenging times in life. Healthy friendships can also increase your sense of belonging and reduce your stress (Mayo Clinic).

Back in our school years, our daily life was a breeding ground for blossoming friendships: we grew up with a group of same-aged buddies, cherished the moments spent in classes and activities, and even had designated break times to hang out!

However, beyond the most carefree time of our lives, it seems much more difficult to build new friendships. As adults, we have so many more obligations: having to work (sometimes even after-hours and on the weekends) and taking care of children, etc.

Unsurprisingly, the voluntary nature of making friends naturally falls to the bottom of our to-do-list (if it even makes it there in the first place!). Thus, making friends as adults, especially building high quality friendships will naturally require more effort.

I have compiled some tips from personal experiences and psychological research that will hopefully help you best leverage friendships to boost your well-being!

How to Find The Right Friend

💡Define your ideal friendship

We all have different types of needs at different stages of our lives, so it is important to define what you are personally looking for in friendships. Then you can spot them right away when you meet them!

At the fundamental level, we tend to seek companionship, emotional and instrumental support and joy from friendships. But depending on what we are going through, we may emphasize each of these to different extent.

For example, you may be experiencing an especially difficult time and simply want a good listener who can understand what you are going through and provide you emotional support; you may be very stressed out from work recently and just want to relax with friends over some drinks or video-games or you just want to look for a tennis buddy to play with on a regular basis.

Once you have a clear idea of what you are looking for in a friend and what you want to get out of a friendship, it will be much easier to spot the right friend for you next time you meet new people!

💡Be genuine and open up yourself

It's natural that we often want to appear perfect in-front of new people we meet. However, this will not only make us feel anxious but will also act as a road-blocker for connecting with others.

Instead, try to relax and be yourself as much as possible. Importantly, don't be afraid to be vulnerable, to share some of your concerns, weaknesses, and anything you need help with in life. Once you have opened up a little about yourself, this will serve as a natural invitation for the other person to also share a little more about themselves.

You will soon find that they have very similar problems as you! This kind of interaction will quickly establish trust between you two, which is the foundation for great friendships.

💡Offer to help others

Keep in mind that friendships need to be reciprocal and mutually beneficial for it to last. So don't forget to offer to help others in any way you can!

For example, if your friend is recently looking for a new job, you could connect them with someone you know who may be hiring for a relevant role or share some of your own experiences looking for a job that may be helpful for them or simply offer some words of support and encouragement!

💡See the good in others

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. To make friends, you need to focus on what people are good at and accept their flaws. If you look carefully, everyone you meet has something uniquely about them that you could learn from!

Once you have identified their strengths, don't hesitate to let them know that you admire XYZ about them. This will make them feel valued and increase the likelihood that they will like you! After all, the law of attraction says people like people who like them!

Quality over Quantity

💡Don't be pressured to have lots of friends!

Research has shown that number of friends you have is very weakly related to your happiness, so don't be pressured to make more friends just to have more friends! In fact, your partner or family member could be already your "best friend".

💡Invest in Your Best Relationships!

Research suggests the quality of your relationship with your best friend is the most important in determining your happiness. So if you are lucky to already have very high quality friendships, you should invest more energy in nurturing those high quality relationships rather than making new friends!

Interestingly, a study found for individuals who have a romantic partner, friends' importance on their happiness become less pronounced. This means for those of you with a significant other, then it is even more important for you to focus on nourishing your relationship with them for your happiness rather than making new friends!

True friends are diamonds in a rough! They are around. You just need to try hard find them!


Take Action!

1. Try out one of the tips mentioned next time you meet someone new!

2. Leave your comment and share your tips for how to find friends as adults!


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