Be a BFF: 3 ways to get and keep friends

Sometimes life as an adult seems lonely. Companionship and relationships with others are important at any age.

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  • You may have lost touch with your grade school best friend, but you still need friends in your life. Like children, adults benefit from having healthy friendships. Relationships with friends can make life more fun and easier during hard times. If you're interested in getting more friends and being a better friend, practice these three habits.

  • Be genuine

  • High school is over, and so is the drama. As an adult, you get to be your true self. You might also realize you don't need to have friends who are just like you. As you look for friends, find people who are interesting to you and help you want to be a better person. Friends should lift you up and make life more meaningful.

  • As you work to maintain friendships, don't feel you have to compromise your true self. My close friends love me for who I am, weaknesses and all. I genuinely love them too, and try to help them in their lives. I make time for my friends and expect them to have time for me. If I encounter an adult who stirs up drama and passes along gossip, I'm wary of making that person my friend.

  • Be friendly

  • To get friends, you have to be friendly. Kids naturally gravitate toward each other. Children make instant "friends" on the playground. With adults, it's a little more complicated. Not every interaction will result in a friendship, but you will need to be extroverted to make friends. Smiling, saying hi, striking up a conversation and making invitations are all ways to begin making friends.

  • There are many way to initiate friendships. After having a few conversations, try inviting someone from your child's preschool over for a playdate with her daughter or son. Ask a neighbor to go out to lunch. Talk to people who attend your class at the gym. Find a running buddy through a local running store. Sit by someone new at church and introduce yourself. Invite a colleague's family over for dinner and games. I have done several of these things as I’ve worked to expand my circle of friends. It takes courage to make the initial invitation, but the resulting friendship makes any awkwardness worth the risk.

  • With established friends, you still need to make an effort to keep in touch. My days are busy and are often absorbed in my own life. I try to text and call friends throughout the week to check in. I stop and talk to my neighbors if I see them outside. Monthly lunch dates with my closest friends lift my spirits and give me a chance to have some adult time. I have many long distance friends. Social media helps us keep in touch, but long phone calls, and visits when schedules allow, help our friendships endure.

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  • Be loyal

  • Friends should be trustworthy. Adults often have difficult and serious situations to work through in life. Never compromise the trust of a friend by gossiping or sharing private information with others. A loyal friend is there through the good times and bad, offering support during trials and celebrating right alongside you. When I lost a baby several years ago, my family was far away. My friends saved me during that time, watching my other children, bringing in meals and listening to me when I needed to talk. Be a loyal friend and you will always have friends.

  • I enjoy being friends with my husband and family members, but having other friends is also important to me. Even if you don’t have a best friend, making and keeping friends as an adult will help you to live a happy, full life.

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Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.

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