Why Is It So Hard To Make Friends?
Humans are social animals, some more social than others, but we all feel the need to have connections that are comfortable, comforting, and safe. We want to have friends, a few or many, 2 legged or 4 legged. And we want to have a sense of affiliation to family, friends, or community in some meaningful way.
Many adults yearn for the kinds of close friendships they remember from childhood. So let's take a step back and look on those days when friendship seem to come more easily, or at least with less difficulty than today.
Perhaps you were in school, all day long, five days a week, with other children from your neighborhood. And for the most part, you and the other children stayed in the same school for several years, and then, most of you moved to the next school as a group. It wasn't until graduating high school that everyone scattered.
When individuals share common experiences they have something to talk about the homework, the teacher, the other kids, the cafeteria food, the unfairness of a test, the events in the neighborhood.
When kids share experiences, they tend to grow closer together, experiencing an increasing history that shapes them.
Fast forward to being an adult where you work with people who live everywhere except in your neighborhood, where your time to play is spent commuting, and the people who do live next to you are only here until the next election, the next contract, the next whatever.
Making friends as an adult takes “intention” and “commitment” as well as implementation of well-developed social skills. Finding your “peeps” comes after putting effort into putting yourself in the situations where this can happen and then following up on the opportunities that present. There is a little bit of magic or luck, yes, and how you foster that serendipity will make the difference between making a friend or feeling alone and isolated.
Introverts and people with social anxieties have an especially hard time finding and making connections that are satisfying and supportive. The lack of comfort can be a major barrier to sustaining intention, identifying opportunities and following through on commitment.
However, there are several other issues which can block the process, including undiagnosed or ineffectually treated ADD, lack of self-esteem outside one's working identify, or interpersonal relationship issues which draw energy away from personal growth and development.
These are all issues which can be corrected and can then create assets to be used in the effective growing of deeply satisfying social support systems.