It's not easy making friends as an adult. Here's how you can get better at it.
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A lot of things about being an adult are hard, but one of the hardest is making new friends.

It's not like back in school where you were practically forced into social situations every day. It was much easier to make a friend just by hanging out at recess or eating at the same lunch table complaining over last night's homework.

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Once you're out in the world, most of your time interacting with other people is limited to work. And if you work from home, those interactions are curtailed down to video conferences.

What's worse is that, thanks to the internet, we've gotten lax about forming relationships in real life because it seems like we already have a bunch of friends online. Those "friendships," however, can easily devolve into nothing more than peripheral acquaintances you only interact with by liking or commenting on their posts.

This isolated existence — where very few relationships are cultivated offline — seems to plague millennials most of all.  It's why they're often called "the loneliest generation," which is way more dangerous than it sounds. Studies have shown that loneliness has a mortality rate that's on par with smoking. It causes depression and anxiety to spike, taxing the body as much as the brain.

It's even worse if you're an extrovert, because extroverts feed off the energy of other people. When you don't get that regularly, you're left depleted.

Photo via iStock.

What can you do if you're feeling lonely but don't have a clue how to make new friends? Ask therapist and YouTuber Kati Morton.

Kati is a licensed therapist who's been creating mental health videos for YouTube with the help of her video producer husband since 2011.

She became interested in psychology because she's always been fascinated by human relationships and communication. In fact, that's why she started going to therapy herself as a teenager — to learn how to better communicate with her family. And her respect for sharing feelings only grew as she studied psychology in school.

"You realize people do have the power to change and control how they respond versus react to things," says Morton. "I think that’s really empowering."  

It's no surprise that several of her videos focus on how to connect with others and open up.

Image via Kati Morton/YouTube.

Morton says she's seeing more and more patients struggling with in-person connections because they don't know how to initiate them. She recalls one guy commenting, "I try to engage with people, but when I go out, I find it difficult because everyone’s on their phone."

Sound familiar? Smartphones enable us to put up walls without even realizing it — which, in turn, cuts us off from forming new, meaningful relationships, platonic or otherwise.

Morton's advice for how to break through all these barriers might sound counterintuitive, but it really does work: You have to turn your attention to yourself first.

"You need to figure out what’s important to you and who you are first, and what kinds of people you want in your life, before you go out looking for friends," explains Morton.

Say that, for work, you have to move to a new city where you know absolutely no one. You might feel compelled to go out and make friends with the first people you meet. However, if they're not people you truly resonate with, you could end up feeling even more lonely than before.

Once you feel like you have a clear idea of what's important to you, get out there and find a group that speaks to your interests.

Photo via iStock.

Morton suggests checking out the MeetUp app, which connects people via a number of different group activities. It's available in most cities and lists new events every day.

If you don't happen to live near a city that offers it, check and see if there are community activity boards (online or in-person) for your area and sign up for something that sounds fun. If you like to run and have a dog, you might sign up for a dog-walking group and meet someone in your neighborhood who loves to binge-watch the same TV shows you do. Boom — friendship!

Taking this first step might feel particularly daunting if you have social anxiety, but remember, there are other people joining these groups who are just as nervous. It's certainly not as easy as joining an online forum, but it can lead to friendships and experiences that are infinitely more rewarding.

"Make a commitment and go," urges Morton. "It’s hard, and I find that’s where people tend to drop off, but with a little effort, we can make change."

And that change can add up to a whole host of emotional and physical benefits. Several studies have shown that maintaining close friendships helps us be smarter, healthier, and less stressed, especially later in life.

For people who really struggle with socializing, Morton suggests therapy — but only as a temporary stepping stone.

Image via Kati Morton/YouTube.

Therapy is not a crutch to lean on when things get hard; it's about acquiring tools so you can learn better ways of coping and reacting to things. It's one of the reasons Morton has a 24/7 chat on her website where members of her online community can reach out and help each other instead of relying only on professional help.

And the tool really works: Members have formed meaningful friendships online and have even flown across the world for various get-togethers. While some go on elaborate vacations, others who've relocated to a different city might just meet up to solidify a new friend base.

Whatever their goal, they're stepping outside of their comfort zones and learning to savor moments with people in real life. It might take some effort — but life's most rewarding endeavors always do.

For a more comprehensive look at making friends as an adult, check out Morton's video:

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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Maybe that's what was on Edmund O'Leary's mind when he tweeted on Friday. Or maybe he had some personal issues or challenges he was dealing with. After all, it's not like people didn't struggle pre-COVID. Now, we just have the added stress of a pandemic on top of our normal mental and emotional upheavals.

Whatever it was, Edmund decided to reach out to Twitter and share what he was feeling.

"I am not ok," he wrote. "Feeling rock bottom. Please take a few seconds to say hello if you see this tweet. Thank you."

O'Leary didn't have a huge Twitter following, but somehow his tweet started getting around quickly. Response after response started flowing in from all over the world, even from some famous folks. Thousands of people seemed to resonate with Edmund's sweet and honest call for help and rallied to send him support and good cheer.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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So that's neat.

Witzke has also proposed a 10-year total halt on immigration to the U.S., which is absurd on its face, but makes sense when you see what she believes about immigrants. In a tweet this week, Witzke wrote, "Most third-world migrants can not assimilate into civil societies. Prove me wrong."

First, let's talk about how "civil societies" and developing nations are not different things, and to imply that they are is racist, xenophobic, and wrong. Not to mention, it has never been a thing to refer people using terms like "third-world." That's a somewhat outdated term for developing nations, and it was never an adjective to describe people from those nations even when it was in use.

Next, let's see how Twitter thwapped Lauren Witzke straight into the 21st century by proving her wrong in the most delicious way. Not only did people share how they or their relatives and friends have successfully "assimilated," but many showed that they went way, way beyond that.

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For example, have you ever wondered what's really behind the term Black Pride? Is it an uplifting phrase for the Black community or a divisive term? Most people instinctively put the term "White Pride" in a negative context. Is there such a thing as non-racist, racial pride for white people? And while we're at it, what about Asian people, Native Americans, and so on?

Yes, a lot of people raise these questions with bad intent. But if you've ever genuinely wanted an answer, either for yourself or so that you best know how to handle the question when talking to someone with racist views, writer/director Michael McWhorter put together a short, simple and irrefutable video clip explaining why "White Pride" isn't a real thing, why "Black Pride" is and all the little details in between.


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