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Let’s be friends! Cultivating Safe Friendships in Adulthood


Staff member
Dec 14, 2023
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If one of your new year goals is to develop new friendships, you are in the right place! Are you having trouble making connections as an adult? It can feel more like a chore as we approach our late 20s and beyond and we find ourselves outside of the natural settings (i.e., high school, college) to meet people. Nonetheless, having friends can help counteract negative mental health outcomes such as loneliness, anxiety, or depression. It’s normal to want friends and not know how to make them. Let’s talk about how to create meaningful connections as an adult.

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My first recommendation would be to you put yourself in settings where other people are looking for friends too. This means engaging in activities you naturally enjoy, while also pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. You may find pleasure in going on trips, trying new restaurants and cafes, but have you tried joining a mixed gender class, or even getting on an app like Bumble Friends? I know this might sound like a lot of work, but don’t count it out before you try it. Take for an example a friend of mine, who is a new mother. She signed up for a gym class, and after the first class, she ended up exchanging numbers with someone she took a chance and approached. Later, she found out that this person was also a new mother looking for friends! Be willing to be vulnerable enough to put yourself out there (without focusing on rejection) because you never know who is waiting to meet you.

One of the biggest things I discovered in my experience with forming friendships is that it takes an ongoing effort to find the ones who you can call “my people”. Remaining connected even if communication shifts for a season, and reaching out again to see if interest is still there can go a long way. In the Therapy for Black Girls (TBG) podcast interview with Jasmine Belvin, “Navigating friendships in adulthood” she suggests accepting the different seasons of friendship and extending grace to others as time goes on. However, sometimes new seasons require new friends and letting go of old ones.

Dr. Joy Harden’s TBG podcast interview with bestselling author Dr. Marisa G. Franco encouraged individuals to have healthy conflict and approach friendship breakups in ways that are helpful vs. hurtful when considering attachment. Attachment styles (secure vs. insecure) are characterized by various ways of interacting and behaving in relationships. During early childhood, these attachment styles are formed based on a caregiver’s proximity and emotional availability. In later adulthood, attachment can impact how you show up in adult friendships. For instance, if someone has formed an avoidant insecure attachment style, they are more than likely to avoid conflict and engage in difficult conversations. In Dr. Marisa’s new book “How the science of attachment can help you make and keep friends” she mentions how to face conflict by being willing to be honest and open without oversharing amongst several other strategies. Research has shown that people feel more connected when people are vulnerable with them.

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Lastly, be open to the different forms that friendships can take on in adulthood. It may be an intergenerational friendship, in which you find yourself connecting with a coworker who is younger and could use some mentorship, or maybe a church member who needs companionship. Make the most out of every setting! Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation and follow-up with the new people you meet. Of course, you will need to be clear about your intentions, and usually you will find that with shared interests and goals, connections are made.

I hope this article inspires hope and empowers you in your journey to making friends. Take some time to review the resources cited above to gain insight on creative ways to engage new connections. Safe friendships in adulthood don’t usually form overnight so be patience and gracious with yourself and others. We are all on a journey of deepening our own self-awareness so keep learning about the type of friend you are/want, set goals, and consistently challenge yourself. You can do this.

The post Let’s be friends! Cultivating Safe Friendships in Adulthood appeared first on Therapy For Black Girls.
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