Just in case you weren’t aware, International Friendship Day is on July 30. And I wanted to write a post to celebrate that. But, I’ll be honest, figuring out what to write about was a struggle. That’s because I, like so many women I know, feel like I have a hard time making friends.
For the longest time, that was a point of shame for me. But in reality, it’s an incredibly common feeling. So, I figured why not write about this shared experience? After all, not only is it relatable, it’s explainable.
5 Reasons Making Friends is So Hard
It’s not enough to know that making new friends is a challenge. To change that, we first need to understand why.
Here are 5 reasons it’s so hard to make new friends as an adult.
1. Lack of Opportunity
Think back to when you were a kid, or even a college student. Didn’t it seem like making friends was so much easier? Well, that’s because it was!
According to sociologists, friendships develop when there are two key factors at work:
- Unplanned interactions
- Shared vulnerability
In your younger years, it was easier to make friends because you were constantly in an environment that catered to both of these factors. In college, your interactions weren’t planned or scheduled—people were just there and you could mingle. Plus, it’s an exciting and scary time in your life, one that lends itself to natural vulnerability.
But, in adulthood, we don’t have as many of these opportunities. Situations where you are continuously and spontaneously spending time with people and opening up emotionally are few and far between.
2. Lack of Time
Not to say that being in school is “easy,” but for most people, it involved a lot less responsibility.
Once you get to adulthood, those carefree days are over. Now you have bills to pay, housework to manage, a job to juggle, and (possibly) kids to raise. All of that takes up a lot of time.
Simply put, as an adult, we don’t have as much time for friends. We’ve just got too many other things going on and friendships tend to get put on the back-burner.
On top of that, if you’re more introverted, chances are you need to use your free time for you. And there’s nothing wrong with needing a little solitude to decompress.
3. Making Friends Isn’t Taught
Alright, this one is going to sound a little weird, but hear me out.
We aren’t actually taught how to make friends. I know, I know! We weren’t taught as kids either but we managed to figure it out.
Again, though, in childhood, there are plenty of opportunities for friendships to develop naturally. But as an adult, that doesn’t exist. Meaning adults need to try and work on making friends. And how can they do that if they’re not taught?
Take a minute to look through any Woman’s Magazine. You’ll find countless articles like “How to Find a Guy,” “How to Keep Your Man Interested,” “How to Make Him Fall in Love.”
But where are all the articles about “How to Make Friends as a Grown-Ass Woman”?
4. Feeling Ashamed
One of the best ways to make new friends is to look at your existing friend group. After all, that’s what we do when we’re single, right? We ask our friends to set us up with someone.
But for most people, it’s shameful to admit to not having many friends. We don’t want to ask our friends to introduce us to new people because it’s embarrassing. Or we feel like we’ll be judged.
Hopefully, understanding that you’re not the only one who struggles will help in letting go of that shame.
5. Fear of Rejection
Honestly, being afraid of rejection is a real issue that can harm a number of relationships, platonic or otherwise. Putting yourself out there in any way leaves you at risk for being rejected. But, when you’re single, you understand that in order to ask someone out, you have to take that risk.
Again, this goes back to the whole “we aren’t taught how to make friends” thing. We’re socially conditioned to understand that it’s acceptable to ask for a date. If someone asks for your number and you’re not interested, you (hopefully) know how to let them down gently. But we’re not conditioned to ask someone for friendship. We’re also not of the mindset that it’s a normal thing to do.
As a society, that’s something we should change! There’s nothing wrong with asking someone to grab a cup of coffee or get together for lunch sometime.