15 Ways to Make Friends & Keep Them

Nancy Barber | Aug 30, 2019 Healthy Living
15 Ways to Make Friends & Keep Them
Image: Twenty20

15 Ways to Make Friends and Keep Them
Twenty20

Making friends as an adult is so hard. Once we're no longer in school, it's harder to come into contact with people who share similar interests, and we don't have the same kinds of questions about our high school or college that can spark a conversation with a total stranger. Instead of just falling into friendships because there are tons of people our age in our proximity, we instead have to actually work to find people who could be new friends and develop a relationship with them ... kind of intentionally. And when it comes to maintaining our old friendships that still matter to us, that's not always easy, either. Sometimes one of us has moved away, so we have to maintain a friendship long-distance, and sometimes our lives and schedules just change dramatically, or we're no longer at the same points in our lives. 

But there are ways to do it! We've compiled a list of thoughtful ways to maintain existing friendships and develop new, meaningful ones. For a lot of new moms, one of the issues around friendship is that a lot of their friends don't have kids. They don't want to ditch their old friends just because their lifestyles are different, but that doesn't mean mom friends aren't also a good idea. Adding new friends who have similar issues, stresses, and joys in their lives doesn't mean we have to throw out the old friends whom we love and grew up with. For anyone who is struggling with making new mom friends, take at some secrets to making new mom friends. We love it when real women choose to share their hacks with us, whether it's about cleaning up after a kid or setting boundaries with in-laws, because we know these are truly tried-and-tested methods. Another great resource: This Woman's No-Bullsh*t Guide to Making Mom Friends Is the Real Talk We Needed. This is the kind of practical advice we genuinely crave. 

  • Stay in Touch

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    Stay In Touch
    Stay In Touch

    Maintaining friendships can be a challenge as we get older. With so many other commitments, it's hard to set aside time for friends, let alone make new ones. However, it's important to find a balance. Friends matter, and they should be treated accordingly. The first way to keep a friend is by simply staying in touch. Once a week or once a month can make all the difference in a friendship. It’s hard to keep track of their lives when we’re always on the go, but friendships require effort if we want to maintain them.

  • Join a Meetup That Relates to a Special Interest

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    Join A Meetup That Relates To A Special Interest
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    We absolutely love Meetup.com. It's a great way to find people in our area who have interests similar to our own, which can be a great basis for a lasting friendship -- there's always something in common to discuss. For instance, we can join a hiking Meetup, one where we get together to do figure drawing and drink wine, or one for trying new restaurants. And if there isn't a Meetup already on the site that relates to a special interest, why not start one? 

  • Pay Attention

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    Pay Attention
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    Keep an interest in what they do. Even if we aren't a fan of their hobby, ask them about it and encourage them in whatever ways we can. And who knows? Maybe someday we'll become a fan, too, and then we can have a new hobby to do together.

  • Encourage Them, Whenever Possible

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    Encourage Them, Whenever Possible
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    It's important to encourage our friends to take on a new hobby and pursue new challenges. If she's toying with the idea of learning to knit, really wants to start surfing, or is considering going back to school, let her know that it’s a great idea and that she's supported.

  • Host Cocktail Hours

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    Host Cocktail Hours
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    A cocktail party may seem kind of fancy and difficult to pull off, but the truth is, it's incredibly easy if we keep it simple. Just buy some inexpensive but yummy appetizers from Trader Joe's to put out, invite a small handful of people, and ask everyone who comes to bring a bottle of wine (and pick up one or two just to be safe). Now here's the smart part: also ask friends to bring someone they're friends with, but we don't know. This way, we can be organically introduced to a potential new friend in a very relaxed, small party atmosphere, and they'll be introduced to us as the relaxed-but-fun hostess. Perfect!

  • Times, They Are A-Changing

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    Times, They Are A-Changing
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    Accept that friends and friendships will change. We can’t expect someone's personality to be identical to the one she had the day we met her. People change, and we shouldn’t hold it against them. Allow them to grow and, in turn, our friendship will grow right along with them.

  • Avoid Resentments

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    Avoid Resentments
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    Forgive their absences. If they miss a party, don’t hold it against them and declare that the friendship is over. Realize that our friend might have many other commitments in their life that overwhelm them and can’t make it to all the scheduled events they might like to.

  • Join a Dog Walking Group

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    Join A Dog Walking Group
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    There's nothing that can bond us like a shared love of our favorite furry friends. Socialize that sweet furball while also getting some social time in -- and maybe making a new friend along the way. Dog walking groups are great for making friends because they meet regularly, so there's always an opportunity to get to know someone in a low-pressure environment over the course of weeks and months. 

  • Get Ready to Put Forth Some Effort

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    Get Ready To Put Forth Some Effort
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    Commit! Most likely, in a friendship, there is one friend who tries harder than the other. They attempt to make plans more often; they always initiate the conversation. Is that us? If not, then realize that it can be difficult to feel like the only friend making any effort. Commit and reciprocate in our friend’s efforts to maintain the relationship.

  • Remove Some Extra Weight

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    Remove Some Extra Weight From Your Life
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    Take a hard look at the friendships in our life with wide-open eyes. Don’t gloss over the details. Highlight them and think: Which friendships are draining? Which ones are exhausting? Which ones feel more like a chore than anything else? It might be time to say goodbye to those. It’s not that we can’t stay in touch, but if someone is only ever taking from us and we’re not receiving, then we need to do what is best for us and our needs. It's time to put our efforts elsewhere, when it comes to nurturing friendships.

  • Don't Plan Ahead

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    Don't Plan Ahead
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    Try for spontaneity. Send out a quick email asking some co-workers if they want to go to happy hour after work. Text a friend on the weekend asking if she has a free hour to see us. Not all of our plans need to be mapped out weeks in advance. If we try for spur-of-the-moment get-togethers from time to time, we might even have a better chance of seeing people. It will also let them know that we’re thinking of them and wishing we could see them. And who doesn’t love to know that?!

  • Make It a Routine

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    Make It A Routine
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    Create structure in the friendship. Try to have some kind of standing appointment, whether it’s a phone call every Sunday or dinner every Tuesday night (if we live close enough). If we can find a way to integrate our friendship so that it becomes part of our weekly routine, we won’t have to try so hard to plan and can just enjoy time together.

  • Volunteer -- & Gain a Friend

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    Volunteer Your Time -- And Gain A Friend
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    The great thing about volunteering is that everyone there should have a vested interest in what they’re volunteering to do. Right off the bat, that means we have something in common. Whether it’s working with animals or gardening at a community plot, there are plenty of ways to get involved. Talk to the people who are also there volunteering, and hopefully we'll find a friend along the way.

  • Establish Some History

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    Establish Some History
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    Be ready to dig deeper. It’s easy to stay surface-level with friends and only ever talk about work, pop culture, or current events, but a committed friendship needs more than that. If we really do trust our friend, then trust them with deep details about our life. Share personal facts, and chances are, we’ll feel better once we do.

  • Get Off the Phone

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    Get Off Your Phone
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    Tune out of the tech. When we’re spending time together, don’t just sit and stare at the phone. It’s rude, and it really isn’t doing anything to foster a friendship. Sure, we want to show them a cool photo on Instagram or a funny video we saw on YouTube. But then it becomes a rabbit hole of the internet and scrolling, and what is the point of doing that at that moment when we can do it at any other time? Stay focused on the friend, and put the phone away.

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