Making friends used to be easy, remember? Strong bonds were forged in the classroom and on the playgrounds. But it gets somewhat complicated as we age; the opportunities to socialise dwindle as life and work get in the way. Perhaps it’s also because, as adults, we become so much more self-aware. Whatever the reason is, it’s not to our benefit. The Campaign To End Loneliness found that 45% of adults in England feel lonely at least occasionally. And the percentage rises disproportionately for older adults and the disabled community.
Here at Friendzr, we’re all about a social connection (we’re not just saying that, we actually created an app for just that!). We know forging new friendships can be time-consuming and, at times, overwhelming. In fact, another piece of research suggests it takes 50 hours of time spent together to move from acquaintance to a casual friendship. And on average, 200 hours to become close friends. Seems like a lot? But given the importance of connection for our physical and mental health, it’s time well spent.
First things first – your confidence
Everyone is good at something or knows something others will find interesting and helpful. Think about what you bring to the table, things you enjoy or feel passionate about. Being aware of your strengths will help you feel more confident when meeting new people.
Brush up on your conversational skills
Listening to what others have to say is essential to get better at conversation. Ask questions, first open-ended, to give your counterpart a chance to expand on their idea. Then follow up with a closed (yes/no type) question to show that you’re listening. It takes some practice, so do it as often as you can. Check out our blog on conversation starters if you’re stuck on ideas.
It’s time to get out there
The old saying goes, ‘nothing will change if you don’t change.’ If you’re serious about making new friendships and not having much luck, it’s time to do something about it. The first step, download the Friendzr app to find people local to you. You can see who’s nearby and what they’re interested in. Once they’ve accepted your connection request, you can chat in private or even arrange to meet in real life. Be sure to stay safe, and check our safety guide first.
Consider your interests
What do you enjoy doing? What is missing in your life? The easiest way to meet new people is by participating in an activity you enjoy. Perhaps you would like to get fitter but struggle with motivation. There are now thousands of sporting clubs around the UK available for you to join. Parkrun is a classic example of a fantastic success story. What started as a weekly club for running enthusiasts is now a social enterprise, and a firm fixture in parks around the UK, every Saturday at 9 am. Anyone can take part; you can run, jog, walk or do the 5k in a wheelchair. Find your local event here.
Become a volunteer
A great way of achieving social connection is by donating your time or skills to help others. Above mentioned Parkrun is an event not just for the runners. You can volunteer to help run the event and also cheer on the runners along the way for an extra endorphin boost. Check in with your local charities and support groups for more volunteering opportunities. Helping others creates a sense of belonging, and you’re likely to meet like-minded people along the way. Not to mention the positive impact on your well-being.
Would you like to get fit while doing good? GoodGym is your answer. It’s a group of runners (now in 59 locations) that combine regular exercise with helping their local communities. Read more about GoodGym here.
Learn a new skill
Have you ever dreamed of becoming a writer? Or you’d like to learn to paint? Or master the art of macrame (so in vogue now!). If you choose to attend a workshop, you’re guaranteed to meet new people with whom you have at least one thing in common! Learning with others is great not only for its social aspect. It’s an opportunity to trash out your ideas and evolve your learning. If you can stick with it, you’ll likely make a few acquaintances along the way.
Making friends in adulthood is more complicated, but hopefully, you now have the tools to make it possible. And if you still need a gentle nudge to get started, we’ve created the Friendzr app to help people connect in real life. Launched recently in London, the app is in the beta version available on iOS and Android. Join us on this journey and enjoy all the benefits of social connection along the way.