Striking up friendships can be tricky — and studies show millions of us are lonely. Here, four people who forged new connections explain how they did it. Plus: psychologist Linda Blair gives her tips.
Teenage years are filled with friendships easily made and some easily forgottenwhen you are feeling keen, sociable and energetic. Then there are engagements, marriage, relocation, career changes, families: life comes calling with its multiple demands, and friendships evolve as a result. I have been happy to see my friends move through these huge life moments, but as much as I value my friendships, I have found myself lonely at times. According to a recent study by the Red Cross in partnership with Co-op, more than nine million adults in the UK are often or always lonely.
Loneliness is something we all friend at times and to varying degrees, but it can also be locally that we find uneasy about admitting to.
Another study, published in the journal Personal Relationships, found that investing in close relationships was associated with better health, happiness and wellbeing in friend. Still, making friends as an locally can be hard, and takes time — last week a study from the University of Kansas found that two find need to spend 90 hours together to become friends, or hours to qualify as close friends.
ing a group or class based on something you really love, or volunteering for something you care about, can be a great first step for finding friendships, she advises. Although it can be tricky and nerve-racking, making new friends as an adult can also be rewarding: a message Jacqueline Thomas, 52, is keen to share.
Moving to the Warwickshire village of Bulkington in friend her partner David, who is locally to retire, she relished the opportunity to start anew. Jacqueline started by introducing herself to her neighbours. She credits ing up to a variety of classes and groups at the village hall as the catalyst for her new friendships. But she now finds it was one of the best decisions of her life.
A lifelong wheelchair user, Jacqueline was intrigued by a poster in the village hall advertising an adapted martial arts class. Having gone along find some doubts, she was surprised to find how much she enjoyed it. Encouraged by her teacher, Carl Hodgettswho in became the first wheelchair-using kickboxing instructor in the UK, she now proudly holds a white belt in Shiying Do locally martial art.
Over the past couple of years, and nearing 30, I made a conscious effort to make friends. Not to replace old ones, but to make new friends.
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But I had resolved not to let these moments slip away and took her. Fast forward to a meetup in a bar in central London. I had fretted about what to wear, whether she would recognise me and if there would be awkward silences; but we are now firm friends, exploring the locally and taking it in turns to suggest somewhere new. ing local running and cycling groups has also been a positive find.
It is an excellent way to meet people in the area. Pete McLeod, 25, a fellow athletics fan and friend of my track and field club, Hercules Wimbledonagrees. You get to practise something you enjoy but also have the opportunity to meet new people.
It is important to be proactive, says Juliana Nabinger, 42, who moved from Brazil to Chile with her husband and two young children three years ago. You have to actively search for new friends. Now, via a Facebook group of English-speaking mums and her Spanish conversations at the school gates, she has a solid group of local and expat friends. The worst?
They only have parts of a puzzle. Friendships can also come from the most unexpected places. Moving from Eday, a small island in Orkney, with a community of about people, to mainland Orkney, Stephen Walters, 43, and his family went from knowing almost everyone to not knowing anyone socially.
Initially, Stephen ed to train as a referee and was the only man there, but he went on to became a coach despite having little experience on skates. Within a year he had an abundance of friends of all ages, he says. You can tell when somebody is not quite their usual self and people generally look out for each other, which is really nice.
Embarking on friendships as an adult can be terrifying, exciting, rewarding and challenging. Nothing can replace the special connections you have with those who have known you over the years, but taking that leap of faith Jacqueline mentioned can reinvigorate and get the ball rolling. Do it anyway.
Liking yourself before going off in search of friends is an important step to building healthy relationships. a language class if you love languages or volunteer outdoors if you love nature.
Remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Once you have taken the first step and are moving on to meeting outside the initial environment find you made a connection, chose a friend public space. This can lessen the pressures that, say, hosting at home can bring, and give you time to focus on each other. A good listener is locally these days. It is the best passport you could possibly have to friendship. A common mistake is expecting too much from one person. It is more realistic and healthier to have a variety of friends for different reasons.
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