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Making & Keeping Friends as Adults

Sometimes, friendships are hard. When we grow up, we realise how important it becomes to ‘keep’ friends. On the other hand, making friends as adults is a whole another story.

What is it?

Let me know if you relate to this but one thing I find a bit difficult as I grow older is the ability to ‘retain’ friendships.

You might be on a path that requires you to grow (leading to ‘change’) but your friends might be not.

While you may end up becoming a “better” person but for your friends, it’s the older version of yourself that they loved and thus, they may not accept this part of you. Sometimes they do and move on, which is a bit saddening.

People often worry about what others think of them after having conversations.

Surprisingly, research shows that people consistently underestimate how much their conversation partners actually like them.

This phenomenon, known as the "liking gap," was observed in various situations, from strangers getting to know each other to college students becoming dorm mates.

In essence, people tend to be more liked by others than they realize following conversations.

Another study found that adolescents with more intense symptoms of depression had different experiences during interactions. They tended to overthink what their conversation partner was thinking and felt that their partner was doing the same.

This often led to more negative emotions. Interestingly, the level of depression in a potential friend also played a role.

Adolescents paired with friends who had similar emotional adjustment statuses felt a stronger desire to talk and felt closer to each other compared to those paired with friends whose emotional statuses didn't match as closely.

What do I need to know?

Based on researches and findings, here’s what all you can do about your friendships -

  1. Companionship is a vital element of a healthy friendship. It involves connecting with individuals who share common hobbies, interests, attitudes, and values, making it a solid strategy for fostering lasting relationships.
  2. Intimacy is another point, indicating that those who are open to emotional closeness tend to build strong friendships.
  3. Go with the assumption that people like you. Your image in your mind is not how your friends perceive you. It can be different.
  4. Aspire to be a listener. Please. You may have a lot to say but also let your peer share their thoughts & encourage them. This would help not only them to open up but also for you to cultivate a better friendship.
  5. Consistency. Just like any other habit you build. Do activities together, talk with them or meet them daily, weekly, fortnightly.

This article originally appeared in Psych Newsletter.