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Making friends as an adult is hard. These five tips from an expert can help.

Friendships never stop being important.

friendship, making friends
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Making friends is hard. But maybe it doens't have to be THAT hard.

Making friends as an adult is definitely not like making friends as a kid.

Remember how easy it was to make a new friend when you were young? Five minutes sharing a slide and suddenly you're bonded for life.

But as we grow older, making friends can become much harder. So hard, in fact, that some people equate having a large group of close friends to a miracle.


Friendships are an important part of life at any age.

Most everyone wants and needs friends, and research shows that friendships can have a huge effect on our physical and mental health. There's not much we can do about friendships that diminish and change as we age — people move, start families and new careers, and shift to new social circles — but it's important to keep forming meaningful, long-lasting connections with people throughout life, whether you're 25 or 80.

It's something that affects us all.

"Making friends is hard for everyone," says Ellen Hendriksen, clinical psychologist and author of "How to Be Yourself," a guide on learning to tame social anxiety. "It's not just you." But knowing you're not alone isn't going to get you the friend circle you want.

Here are five tips to getting into the mindset of making friends — and then going out and doing it.

1. Relax (aka the hardest step).

In college, my abnormal psychology professor told us about a guy who wanted to make friends — five friends (because we all seem have an arbitrary number of pals we think is appropriate). He went to a party and met five people he liked and got their numbers. This guy was so excited that he started calling his new friends immediately, asking them to do things and inviting them for coffee nearly every day.

Of course, his overexcitement became clingy, his new acquaintances suddenly started making excuses, and he ended up being a negative example for a group of undergrads learning about problems in human behavior.

"You can't make friends like a poacher," Hendriksen says. "Focus on being open and curious and thoughtful. Ask questions, listen when others respond, be friendly, and when you slowly inch into the mix, be intentional."

Allow yourself to be in the moment and ask questions that come up naturally. If someone says they're having a hard week at work, ask them about it. If someone tells you they've recently been on a trip, commit to asking something more than just "how was it?" Be interested.

shared interest, making friends, dog park, group involvement

Make friends through shared interests like a dog park.

Photo by Carol Magalhães on Unsplash

2. Repetition is key.

Most articles about how to make friends suggest that people find a hobby, join a group, or volunteer. But Hendriksen says that's not a fail-safe solution.

Ultimately, it's not the activity that matters — although it should be something you enjoy — it's the fact that you're finding a place where other people can get to know you over time. In fact, since more and more research shows that making friends takes longer than previously thought, it's important to give it some time; Hendriksen suggests giving it a season.

You don't have to join an official group or club. Hendriksen once turned an acquaintance into a good friend when the two bonded over their mission to try every Mexican restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The key is to engage in something that allows you to get to know other people and lets them to get to know you.

"You can go to the same dog park every morning," Hendriksen says. "You can join an Ultimate Frisbee team. You can walk your kids to the bus stop every day and chat with the other parents. Or you can start something with repetition. Have a weekly viewing party for your favorite TV show, start a writer's group, start a new mom's playgroup or a boozy book club."

Really, whatever works for you as long as other people are involved.

3. Disclose, but don’t confess.

Imagine you're meeting someone for the first time. You ask them how they're doing, and they say "fine." There's not much to work with because the other person hasn't disclosed anything. What else is there to say?

Now imagine a different person. You ask them how they're doing and their response is one of sheer distress: "Nothing is going right in my life. Parking was hell, my job kills me, and I'm still not over my ex." I imagine your response to this diatribe wouldn't be particularly positive.

And why should it be? These are things you'd tell to a very close friend, not just someone you've met at your new book club.

This doesn't mean we can never say anything negative — after all, we all have bad days. But your goal is to keep the connection on even footing. Sharing a little bit about yourself is fine, but the goal is to lead to further conversation rather than a deep emotional connection right off the bat.

Why doesn't confession work? Because it's too much, too soon. The goal of confession can be to foster a sense of kinship, but when that strong emotional connection has new acquaintances wondering whether you're looking for a friend or a therapist, the relationship is already off balance. You can get closer, but give it time first.

"Don't let them see all of the mess right away," Hendriksen says, "but let them see a little peek at the mess. What do you do? How do you spend your time? What do you think about? What are you like? Where are you from? What's your story?"

She notes that disclosing things about yourself may feel weird and even "selfish" at first, but it's just because you’re not used to it. Keep trying.

movies, specific day, concrete timeline, new friends

Suggesting a specific activity is better than 'let's hang out sometime.'

Photo by Simon Ray on Unsplash

4. Don’t fear the follow-through.

All of this meeting new people and sharing interests is leading somewhere, right? You also want to make more lasting connections with some of your new acquaintances.

To do that, you must initiate a plan and then follow through.

Sometimes, you'll be lucky and someone will ask you to do something first. But most people are a little bit terrified about stepping outside their comfort zone. And that means making the plans and following through can be tricky — for everyone.

The key is to be specific. "Do you want to hang out sometime?" seems like a nice, safe question that gets to whether someone wants to spend more time together, but it doesn't work. Even if the person says yes, you have no concrete timeline in place. You've thrown the ball into their court and are now at the whim of their schedule.

"Do you want to go see a movie on Saturday?" for instance, or "do you want to take a hike with me on Sunday?" are both great options to feel out if someone's interested in a specific activity on a specific day. If they say yes, then you're good to go.

If they say no? Well, they might come up with an alternative activity.

5. Allow yourself to be anxious. And then go for it anyway.

We've all been there: Someone invites you to an event, and you get excited, but when the day of the event comes, you'd rather be doing anything else. After all, comfort zones are ... well, comfortable.

Although the urge to cancel may be strong, recognizing that these feelings are normal is the first step to overcoming them.

Your brain, Hendriksen says, comes up with worst-case scenarios — What if you say something foolish? What if the other person is only doing it to be nice? What if you have nothing in common? — to keep you safe. "But really, it's a false alarm."

Remember when you were terrified about that presentation in class or that important meeting you were leading at work? Did it end up going OK, even if it was hard? Then why shouldn't this? After all, if you don't try, you'll never be ready.

Though most of us would rather, as Hendriksen says, cocoon ourselves away and hope that we'll emerge as beautiful social butterflies, the truth is that experience is the only way we can get there. So keep moving forward. You just have to take the first step.

This article originally appeared on 07.05.18

True

Making new friends as an adult is challenging. While people crave meaningful IRL connections, it can be hard to know where to find them. But thanks to one Facebook Group, meeting your new best friends is easier than ever.

Founded in 2018, NYC Brunch Squad brings together hundreds of people who come as strangers and leave as friends through its in-person events.

“Witnessing the transformative impact our community has on the lives of our members is truly remarkable. We provide the essential support and connections needed to thrive amid the city's chaos,” shares Liza Rubin, the group’s founder.

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Members also bond over their passion for giving back to their community. The group has hosted many impact-driven events, including a “Picnic with Purpose” to create self-care packages for homeless shelters and recently participated in the #SquadSpreadsJoy challenge. Each day, the 100 members participating receive random acts of kindness to complete. They can also share their stories on the group page to earn extra points. The member with the most points at the end wins a free seat at the group's Friendsgiving event.

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It's not just an exhibit; it's an immersive journey through the heart of winter's magic. Whether you're a fan of the whimsical, the nostalgic, or just looking for a unique holiday experience, the ICE event at Gaylord Hotels promises a dazzling fusion of art and festivity, genuinely making it a standout holiday destination.

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Each stroke, carve, and chisel is a testament to their unparalleled skill. They transform colossal 300-pound ice blocks into delicate scenes, capturing the essence of holiday classics with astonishing precision. This intricate art form is more than just sculpting; it’s a way of storytelling that these artisans have perfected, turning ice into a canvas for holiday wonder.

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At Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, the beloved holiday tale "The Polar Express™" springs to life in a frozen panorama. Imagine wandering through a world where the storybook train, the North Pole, and the enchanting characters are all intricately carved from ice. This isn't just viewing art; it's like stepping into the book.

The artisans' mastery shines in every detailed sculpture, capturing the warmth and wonder of the story in a paradoxically cool setting. Each scene, from the steam train's billowing smoke to the twinkling lights of the North Pole, is crafted to draw you deeper into the magical journey, making the Gaylord Opryland's ICE event a spellbinding experience that goes beyond mere spectacle.

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At Gaylord National in Maryland, the timeless charm of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer™" is brought to life in a whimsical winter wonderland. As you wander this icy marvel, you'll meet Rudolph, Clarice, and the entire gang, all beautifully carved from ice. It's a scene that ignites childhood memories and creates new ones for families.

Picture the joy of snapping photos next to a life-size ice sculpture of Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster or standing beside the glowing red nose of Rudolph himself. This Maryland extravaganza is more than just a visual feast; it's an interactive experience where every corner offers a new opportunity for families to bond and capture memories that will last long after the ice melts.

Dr. Seuss’s Classic at Gaylord Texan

At the heart of Texas, the Gaylord Texan transforms into a Dr. Seuss wonderland with "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" Each sculpture in this icy expanse brings the whimsy of Whoville and its quirky inhabitants to life. Visitors are invited to wander through scenes straight from the beloved book, encountering the Grinch, his loyal dog Max, and the cheerful Who-folk, all expertly captured in ice.

It's a place where Seuss's playful rhymes meet the magic of the holiday season, offering a delightfully unique spin on festive celebrations. From the Grinch's cave to the bustling streets of Whoville, these sculptures are not just impressive in scale but in the joy they bring, creating an unforgettable holiday adventure deep in the heart of Texas.

Holiday Nostalgia with “A Charlie Brown Christmas” at Gaylord Palms

In the sunny setting of Florida, Gaylord Palms takes a nostalgic turn with "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Here, ice transforms into a sentimental journey back to the simpler joys of the holidays, as seen through the eyes of Charlie Brown and his friends. As you stroll through the exhibit, the beloved Peanuts characters, from Snoopy's doghouse to the iconic sparse Christmas tree, are all vividly recreated in ice.

This Florida spectacle taps into the heartfelt essence of the season, reminding us of the warmth and joy that come with holiday traditions. It's a place where each frozen scene, from Charlie Brown's quiet contemplation to the jubilant group gathering, resonates with the timeless message of holiday spirit and togetherness.

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But the wonder at Gaylord Hotels extends beyond the ice. Each resort turns into a holiday hub, brimming with activities for all ages. Think dazzling light shows, snow tubing adventures, and even encounters with Santa himself! Culinary delights await at various dining venues, offering everything from festive treats to gourmet meals. And let's not forget the captivating live shows, ranging from acrobatic performances to heartwarming musicals.

Each Gaylord Hotel becomes a comprehensive holiday destination, offering an array of experiences to make your festive season truly unforgettable.

Experience The Magic

Don't just dream of a white Christmas; click here to learn more about the Gaylord Hotels' ICE event – your new holiday tradition awaits!

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