Making friends was far easier when you were presented with a new set of 30 age-appropriate ready-made mates every September. But just because you’re hundreds of miles from the BFF you met in your year nine maths class doesn’t mean that you’re now doomed to spend your Friday nights alone. Here are some tips for navigating the tricky world of adult friendship.
1. Treat friendship like dating
Sending your prospective mates nudes and asking them if they’re ‘DTF’ isn’t going to win you any friends but treating your mission to beef up the squad like a courtship can help you make the right moves.
“Making new friends is like dating,” says sex and relationships therapist Lorraine McGinlay. “You need to put yourself out there and take risks. You should follow up after your first friendship date – let the person know you had a good time.”
There’s certainly no need to treat anyone mean or play it coy.
“Allow yourself to be vulnerable,” McGinlay adds. “There’s something about sharing who you are and the issues you have in your life or fears you might have that makes people feel drawn to you and closer to you.”
2. Don’t be afraid to take your search online
As we know from developments in the dating world, it’s no longer a cringe move to use the internet to form relationships with people.
Dating app Bumble now has a ‘BFF’ function that allows you to search for prospective friends in the same way as you’d search for a date. Lorraine McGinlay also recommends looking for groups and social activities on Meetup.com.
3. Use hobbies to bond
Moving to a new town alone? Now’s the time to channel your student self and join every club or society going.
“When moving to a new city it is important to engage in activities that you enjoy for your own well-being which may be football, dancing or joining a book club,” says Naomi Cooper, Occupational Therapist at The Blue Tree Clinic. “Quite often community activities have social aspects to them i.e. meeting for a drink afterwards which is the perfect environment for making new friendships.”
4. Use the right body language
You might be thinking ‘sure, let’s go for a G and T’ but your body might actually be saying ‘sorry, I have a date with my jar of Nutella and spoon tonight!’.
Cooper says: “If your posture is hunched over and your arms folded then people will feel that you don’t want to form a friendship or relationship and they aren’t likely to feel relaxed with you.”
She adds: “Look in to a person’s eyes long enough to notice their eye colour. This gives you something else to focus on if you’re anxious and meeting new people but also helps you to engage in conversation.”
5. Don’t write off your work mates
Office chat might be limited to commentary on the shade of your tea at first, but don’t write off your colleagues as potential pizza and rosé companions.
Naomi Cooper suggests that spending time in the communal areas of your workplace (e.g. eating lunch in the canteen instead of at your desk) can help ingratiate you with your new work mates.
“This helps people to become familiar with you and gives you an opportunity to talk and engage socially – even if initially you’re discussing work related topics,” she says. “When speaking with someone aim to be listening to understand as opposed to listening to respond!”
Before you know it you’ll be holding each other’s hair back after one too many post-work tequilas and bitching about your measly wages over lunchtime sushi. Ahhhh friendship.