Most of the oldest and rock solid friendships go back to your school or college days. By the time you start working and move around newer circles, you tend to make some long-lasting friendships, but it seems tougher and tougher to find good friends as you grow older. It also seems way more of a challenge to strike up a friendship (social media friends who ‘like’ all your posts don’t count). Is it because of an unwillingness to approach strangers and start from scratch, or are there truly fewer opportunities to bond as an adult?
“As you grow older, especially once you cross 30, you become more rigid in terms of your personality traits, and your behaviour reflects that. You may connect less with others, become more serious, and not appreciate small talk any more,” says clinical psychologist and psychotherapist Seema Hingorrany.
In contrast, when you are in your 20s, you are more willing to experiment as you are still figuring out what you want from life. In your 30s and 40s, you have a better idea and start to crave stability. “You tend to rely on fewer, really close friends insteading of having many friends. And you want to have more meaningful conversations,” says Hingorrany.
You may make some good friends at your workplace.
But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t even attempt to make friends as an adult, be it at your workplace or within your social circle. After all, good friendships are mentally good for you at any age, and can reduce your stress levels, make it easier to reach out to someone for help, and make you feel happier. Here are some tips to help you along:
* Be flexible. Your ego plays a huge role in determining which friendships you will choose to prioritise, and whether you will even attempt to befriend someone. As you grow older, it takes more patience and willingness to devote time to be able to build a relationship. “In friendships, your rigid ego should take the back seat and your focus should be on nurturing the relationship,” says Hingorrany.
* Try to understand the other person’s background. We all differ from each other based on our experiences and upbringing, so it is unfair to expect another person to completely understand you or behave exactly as you wish them to. “You should not ignore the other person’s beliefs, conditioning, and childhood experiences. These factors shape your personality, and since they differ from person to person, it is important to be more accepting of others. Don’t view the world in black and white, it has lots of gray areas,” says Hingorrany.
There are greater chances of making a good friend if you reach out and make an effort to meet people.
* Be willing to forgive. Learn to let go. This is an invaluable trait in every relationship, and especially in forming a new friendship. If it’s a tiny thing, don’t sweat it.
* Communicate. Remember, people are not mind readers and won’t get the hint. “Keep the lines of communication always open. Express yourself clearly,” says Hingorrany.
* There are greater chances of making a good friend if you reach out and make an effort to meet people. Enlarge your friend circle and you may just realise that the ‘friend of a friend’ is actually a really good person and you are bonding well with each other.
* Don’t judge. Understand that it is okay to make mistakes. At times, there will be lots of awkward pauses, a lack of connect with some people, and you may misjudge people completely. But it’s all part of the process. “Don’t get defensive, cut the other person some slack. They may be in a bad mood, try to understand their problems,” says Hingorrany.
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First Published: Aug 05, 2018 09:16 IST