Welcome to this week’s episode. I’m going to be talking about making new friends as an adult.
I talk about:
- Why there’s nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to wanting more friends
- My favourite strategy for talking to anyone
- How to deal with ‘rejection’ or worrying that you’re ‘boring’
- Plus – I share experiences from friends on how they made friends as an adult
Chloe Brotheridge: Hello and welcome to the Calmer You podcast. This is your host, Chloe Brotheridge. I’m a coach, a hypnotherapist, and I’m the author of The Anxiety Solution and Brave New Girl. And this podcast is all about helping you to become your calmest, happiest and most confident self.
Let’s talk about making new friends
Welcome to this week’s episode, I’m going to be talking about making new friends as an adult. I was pretty surprised I have to be honest by the response that I got a few episodes back. It was on an episode about procrastination where I asked you guys whether you’d be interested in a podcast about making new friends as an adult.
Lot’s of interest in this
I had a lot of DMS a lot of emails with people saying they were interested in this, which kind of surprised me. It’s so easy to think, and I’m sure you guys can relate to this, that everyone else has their friendships sorted. Everyone else has their best friend and they’re not really looking for new friends. This is something that affects the tonnes of people. So you are definitely not alone in this.
This episode includes
I just want to start off by saying that so over the course of this episode, I’m going to talk about some of the reasons why we might be wanting to make more friends. I’m going to talk about my own experiences in this area. I also spoke to some friends and people that I know online for their advice and tips. I’m going to be weaving those in as well. And of course, I’m gonna be sharing different practical steps that you can take and ideas on shifting your mindset around making new friends. So hope you enjoy this episode.
How I can help
If this is something that you are looking to work on, for example, if you experience social anxiety, if you’d like to be more confident in social situations, for example, it is something I work with people on one on one. So please do get in touch over at Calmer-you.com if you feel like you want to take this further. If you head on over to my website, you can also find loads of freebies on there for helping you to be calmer and happier.
It’s not like making friends as a kid
So making friends as an adult is a different thing to making friends as a kid. When you’re a child, we can just point at someone’s toy dinosaur in the school playground. Or maybe we’re friends with kids of our parent’s friends. It’s all so easy and we might even just come out and say, do you want to be friends. There’s nothing wrong with saying that.
Reasons we may be looking for friends
It’s a very different thing it seems when we’re in adulthood. In adulthood, it might be that you are out of touch with people that you grew up with. It might be that you’ve had a change in your life, for example. In my own experience, stopping drinking. Or either you’ve had children or you’re one of the people in your old friendship group that hasn’t had children and you feel as if your lifestyles are so different now that you’ve drifted apart. Maybe after a breakup, you lost friends after that. The friends were friends of your partner, for example. Or you’re working for yourself.
There can be so many reasons why you might be looking for more friends as an adult. One thing I really wanted to say was that there can be shame around this. And I know from my own experience that I’ve had shame about this in the past.
I’ll just share a bit of a personal story about my experiences of making friends and having friends and social anxiety. I grew up in a very tight-knit community, everyone knew each other. My friends from childhood are almost like family to me. They’re almost like cousins or sisters, in some cases. We grew up very close. We were always round at each other’s houses, and we went to college together.
I went with a group of these friends from primary school, basically, to university and so in some ways, I never really had the chance to go out and make new friends for myself. I’d always had this very secure small group of friends growing up. For me that in combination with anxiety and social anxiety meant that at university I kind of struggled to make friends and meet people.
I did make friends, but a lot of them were whilst drinking or, you know, I needed to have a lot of alcohol in me in order to feel confident and comfortable with new people. And I tended to stick with this group of friends that I’d grown up with.
Struggling to speak to people
In 2009. I quit my job, I kind of got fired, that’s a story for another time. I decided to go travelling on my own. Only problem was that I really did struggle to speak to people and was quite lonely on that trip. I spent a lot of time on my own and feeling ashamed that I couldn’t just strike up a conversation with someone. It seemed like a lot of other travellers were able to do it. I had a lot of shame and this sense that there was something wrong with me.
Am I somehow deficient or not good enough and that’s why I can’t make friends. Are people are not gonna like me. Maybe I’m boring. All those sorts of things I would tell myself.
There is nothing to be ashamed of
I just want to say that there’s nothing to be ashamed about in wanting more friends. Wanting to make new friends and have social interaction is a human need. We are social creatures. It is intrinsic to our survival to be in community and to be with other people.
So please don’t ever make yourself wrong for wanting friends or think that it’s something to be ashamed of. And I can guarantee that it is not the case that you are not good enough. We are all good enough, have something to offer another person and have unique things about us that make us special. You absolutely have something to offer.
Breaking up with friends
Another aspect of this is around needing to break up with a friend. Or a friendship group. Now something that I’ve seen quite often is that when people start to work on their self-esteem and they start to feel more confident or work on their anxiety, your boundaries start to change. Maybe you’ve leveled up or you realise that they are not treating you the way that you want to be treated. Are really into gossiping or going clubbing and actually, that’s something that you are wanting to leave behind.
Loneliness isn’t good for our health
It’s really important to have people in our lives. Loneliness is actually bad for your health. They have shown this scientifically that it compares to obesity and smoking in terms of being a risk factor for your physical and mental health.
Quality over quantity
It is super important to work on this area of our lives. It can make a massive difference to our mental health and our happiness. It’s not to say that you need to have dozens and dozens of different friends in order to feel happy and satisfied and fulfilled and have your social needs met. It really is much more about the quality of those friendships rather than the quantity.
One question that came in around this was, how can we get over the limiting belief that people don’t like you or that you’re boring. This is something that I hear so much. It’s definitely something that I have worried about in the past.
It’s really important to remember is that no one is judging you as harshly as you judge yourself. We are always our own worst judge. People are not thinking about you. Having thoughts like this, people don’t like me, or I’m boring. We really need to just question these thoughts because they’re very sweeping statements.
If anyone has looked into CBT Cognitive Behavioural Therapy you might have learned about this. Saying people don’t like me – which people, every person you’ve ever met hasn’t liked you? Is it impossible for a person to like you really? Question those sorts of limiting beliefs that you might find yourself having. Because once we question then we realise that saying something like people might not like me is just not a valid statement.
Human beings are not boring
It’s just a numbers game. It’s impossible that everyone is going to think that you’re boring. And also, boring is a label that just does not apply to a human being. Human beings are infinitely fascinating. We are all interesting or interesting parts of us. That doesn’t mean that you’re going to be able to be good friends with everyone. Of course, you need to have things in common and you need to have a personality that somehow gels together with, but to label yourself as boring is just very unfair on yourself.
We need to remember that there’s always going to be people we can connect with. I’m going to share some practical tips and some tips and advice from some of my friends and people that I have asked about this topic.
Socialising around our interests
So the first one comes from Poorna Bell. You might remember her from a podcast that we did about six months ago. She’s an author, and a journalist. In order to make friends, she says, it’s about connecting with your own interests. Very often we can be passive about it. We do what our other mates want to do, which is fine, but that might be catching up in a restaurant or a bar. We don’t tend to socialise around our particular interests. She says it’s about tapping into new hobbies and activities and connecting with different communities.
Poorna has met a lot of people through her interest in powerlifting. If we’re constantly doing the same things that we’ve always done with our old friends, so whether that is going to the pub or a restaurant, or going to Farmers Markets together, we’re not going to necessarily expose ourselves to other communities.
Find a hobby buddy
I also asked my friend Shahroo, the author of the Last Diet and the Kindness Method and she said, find a common interest and become hobby buddies. It can make it feel less awkward early on, if you’re experiencing or learning about something that interests you. It can be a perfect opportunity to take a friendship to the next level or to meet new people by really engaging with something that interests you. Whether that is fitness, whether that is some kind of event that you’re interested in, whether that is connecting in the comment section of someone on Instagram or on social media that you follow, whether that’s connecting with someone in a Facebook group that you’re in.
I found when it comes to making friends as an adult you need to be the one to make the first move and ask someone out on a date, ask someone out on a friendship date. It can seem awkward or forward at first, but being passive probably isn’t going to cut it. We have to be the one that is taking action and asking someone out and making that first move. Yes, it can feel scary and risky. There is a chance that they will say no, that they will ignore your request, or that you’ll go along and you won’t click as much as you had hoped. But if we can be brave, and if we can feel the fear and still take action anyway, take a bit of a risk, then it can pay off big time.
I also wanted to share some insights from my friend tole Shah who is a nutritional and functional medicine specialist. She’s also a friend of mine, and she sent me a voicemail note on this topic. I think you’ll like her tips too.
We do need to make new friends as we go through life, particularly when we’re going through life’s big transitions and our old friends maybe don’t understand what we’re going through. Two of those pressure points for me have been when I’ve had breast cancer. Some of my closest friends didn’t really understand what it’s like and be there for me. I think other people have had some sort of health concerns have been better, but my really close friends just couldn’t, particularly some of the ones who are going through their own transitions at the same time, like getting married or having a baby. My friendships with those people have actually grown apart in that time.
For me, interests are really, really important. Having something that you’re really passionate about together and sharing that. So for me, one of those things is self-development. I’ve made quite a lot of friends through doing some self-development courses. Some have been quite intense and you’re together for quite a long period of time and some of those friendships have stayed forever, and others go by the wayside.
Sharing common values is also really important. So sometimes it’s not always about having the same interest but having similar values. Other times, it’s about having similar interests or doing the same thing at the same time. One of those examples could be when I’ve had breast cancer, and I’ve been going through treatment, or I’ve made friends through Instagram having a similar experience. That’s been really supportive. That doesn’t mean they’re there for all parts of my life. And vice versa. I’m probably not there for all parts of their life. But it is something that we can identify, that maybe our other friends can’t.
Also, I’m really passionate about food and travel, so finding people who really want to share those experiences. They may be friends that you don’t see all the time, but you share these amazing experiences and recently. I’ve definitely made a lot more new friends because so many of my friends got married and had children and therefore have less availability. I’ve had quite high expectations of those ventures, but they’re not able to. Particularly during lockdown its been about finding local friends I can do things with. And that’s been so important. Two of the girls I spend the most time with and probably talk to the most I only met last year at about age 41 And they have become really close to me because they live locally and we share a lot of the same passions.
So if you have someone through work, for example, or if you know someone on social media or a friend of a friend, who you know has a similar interest in something ask them to go on a friendship date with you. Go to a workshop or see that exhibition, whatever it is, can just help to take the friendship to the next level.
Our friendship circles or long-time friends may not share common interests. There is always someone looking for a hobby buddy.
It’s ok if it doesn’t materialise
I have definitely had experiences of wanting to connect with somebody and kind of thinking to myself, yeah, I’d like to be friends with that person. I can think of one person in particular. There was some back and forth and we spoke a lot about meeting up, but it never quite materialised in that situation.
You know, I can’t know exactly what was going on with this other person. It might be that they thought I was boring, it might be that they are just pretty flaky and not really good at replying to messages, it might be that they already have a really busy life and don’t have time for someone else in their lives. I can’t know what that person is thinking, I’m not gonna try and read their mind and read into it. I’m just going to accept that they are not into me and that is okay.
Did anyone read the book He’ Just Not That Into You. It really stuck with me as being quite a relief really that it is okay to say that person isn’t that into me. And we don’t need to really know all the details of why that is. We can just accept they’re not that into me and move on. That’s totally okay and not a reflection on you. It’s impossible for everyone to like you and for you to be every type of person.
You are a certain flavour person and some people are gonna like that flavour and other people are gonna be not so keen and that’s totally okay.
It’s scary but do it anyway
It’s okay to feel nervous, it’s okay to feel scared and it’s okay to feel shy at first. You’re a human being. These are normal human emotions. There is something a bit scary and vulnerable about going on friendship dates or any kind of date for that matter. Or asking someone if they want to hang out or reaching out to somebody or being vulnerable. It is kind of a scary thing sometimes. And it’s totally okay to feel whatever you feel is normal. Don’t let that feeling stop you because it’ll get easier the more that you do it.
My advice to you is to be brave, perhaps make a list of different things that you’re interested in and thinking about where people hang out and doing the things that you are interested in. Where are they hanging out. It might be that they go to events and they find them on Eventbrite or meetup.
You could try and find sharing circles, online or in-person all over the world. Women circles, men circles, mixed sharing circles. You can look at Facebook groups. There are millions of Facebook groups you get involved in about entrepreneurship, about different hobbies, fitness, ways of eating, you name it. There’s a Facebook group for it, or maybe Facebook groups about the area that you live.
Try social media
Think about the people that you really enjoy following on social media. Are there people that are hanging out in the comment section there that may have really similar interests as you that you could just send a DM to reach out to you get to know a little bit and take it from there.
You’ll be surprised about how many other people are really open to new friendships, new experiences, new hobbies, having a partner to go to different things with or to discuss interests with. If you get rejected, it’s totally okay. It’s normal, it’s not a reflection on you. Just keep trying. Keep putting yourself out there because you will find someone to connect with.
We aren’t mind readers
If you get quote unquote, rejected, it’s never really a rejection because underneath it all, I think we all love each other and we just have forgotten in this lifetime. But if you find yourself rejected, please don’t read into it too much. There could be so many reasons why they say no, why they don’t get your message, why they don’t see it, why they are too busy. Most of those reasons are not the fact that you are a bad person, that you’re boring or not good enough. There could be so many other reasons. Don’t try to be a mind reader. Just accept that
And so my final tip is something that I shared in my book, Brave New Girl, which is something that my partner Aiden taught me. He works in sales and is a coach.
Aiden worked in sales, and I was super anxious about the prospect of going to networking events and meeting new people. He said, well, you just walk up to someone, stick out your hand and say, hello, my name is Chloe. And that is the beginning of so many friendships. It has certainly been the beginning of a lot of friendships for me.
Once you have been brave enough, just make the first move to introduce yourself conversations can flow from there. If you can get over that initial hurdle of just being able to walk up to a person or a group of people and introduce yourself, the rest is so much easier.
I’d love to hear from you
I’d love to hear from you guys. What are you going to be trying to make new friends? Are you going to be implementing any of these tips or any of this advice? Come and let me know on Instagram? Find me at Chloe Brotheridge Tell me about it I’d love to hear.
Just a reminder that if you want to find out about one to one sessions with me or about my app and all the freebies I have it’s all over my website Calmer-you.com.
You have been listening to the Calmer You podcast with me Chloe Brotheridge. If you have enjoyed it or found it helpful, please leave me a review. It makes a massive difference to helping the podcast get discovered by other people
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