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One of the most common complaints of the average adult is that they can’t seem to find authentic friendships. According to a 2018 study, half of Americans feel lonely and 40% say they feel isolated from others. It’s hard to make friends. Between all the normal responsibilities of adulthood like work, kids, and family obligations; fitting in time to build genuine relationships feels virtually impossible.

However, the reality is that friendships are an essential component of your overall health. In her book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, Australian nurse Bronnie Ware listed “not maintaining friendships” as one of people’s biggest death-bed regrets. Studies have shown that adults with social support have a reduced risk of depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy BMI. Research has even revealed that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers.

Deepening Your Relationships

So what gives? Everyone struggles with building adult relationships, but there’s plenty of evidence to tell us how important they are! The good news is that you really don’t need dozens of friends to be happy. 3-5 close personal relationships is all the average person needs to feel satisfied with their circle. Maybe you have a couple of people that you really enjoy, but struggle to stay connected in the day to day bustle of life. Here are some easy ways to strengthen connections with people you already know.

  • Send a text. This seems to simple and may feel impersonal, but a simple text to ask someone how they are doing can go a long way toward strengthening your bond. A text shows that you thought of them and genuinely care about them without dramatically disturbing either of your schedules. 
  • Make a phone date. Finding time to have a genuine phone conversation can be challenging, but it a preplanned phone date can be an excellent way to maintain and strengthen a connection. I have moved several times in recent years and most of my friends are out of state. Scheduling a monthly phone date keeps our lives connected and ensures that when we talk its time when we both focus on engaging in an authentic conversation. 
  • Social Media. Social media is often criticized as a shallow excuse for friendship, but truly it is what you make of it. Make a point of engaging with the posts of people you care about staying connected to. Social media can be an excellent way to enrich your friendships and keep up with people, but you can’t be the silent stalker. Push yourself to comment on things or tag people when you see something that makes you think of them. 

Starting From scratch

Maybe you read this and think “That’s great, but I’m not even sure if I have people I would feel comfortable texting!”. Sometimes breaking the ice with someone is the most difficult part of deepening a relationship. Just remember that almost everyone is seeking deeper friendships so it’s likely that your attempt to connect will be very well received. Even if it’s just someone that you see a lot around the office and have made small talk with, push yourself to taker the next step and invite them to lunch. 

In life beyond college friendships can feel nearly impossible to find and build. I hope you feel encouraged that you aren’t alone in your loneliness and many many people are in the same boat. Be the person who makes the first move and start engaging with your acquaintances or neglected friendships from the past more consistently. Pretty soon you’ll find that you have a happy little groups of friends to go through life with.

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