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Everyday Strong: Make friends as an adult, not just in childhood

By Anna Paletua - Special to the Daily Herald | Jun 25, 2022

Patrick Smith, Daily Herald file photo

Mary Ann Judd Johnson talks about painting techniques to her art class at the American Fork City Hall on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2010.

As adults, it is hard to make friends. Over time as you grow older, naturally, you lose friends. You are always at work, attending your kid’s activities, running errands or doing extracurricular activities.

Or you might be a little introverted and struggle with opening up. Or maybe you feel like friendships are not worth maintaining because you perceive them to be more exhausting than rejuvenating.

Most adults have a hard time creating new friendships and maintaining them outside of their family. In the last few years, especially with the pandemic, struggles with isolation have increased. You lose some of those connections you had previously.

One barrier may be assumptions. Assumptions can affect the way you go about relationships.

Let’s say you want to reach out to your friends and hang out with them. But you feel like they have their friends, their lives are too busy, or they are not calling me or wanting to connect with me. Those assumptions are internal barriers that affect your ability to make those necessary connections.

Another barrier may be comparing. Comparing your everyday, normal, hectic life to everyone else’s polished, filtered lifestyle causes problems. The comparison makes it harder to connect genuinely.

Opening up and being vulnerable with people is scary. Validate those feelings that it is awkward being vulnerable. There are risks, like how much should you share? Did you overshare and tell everyone too much about your life? It is a tricky balance to strike.

But if you are willing to put yourself in that uncomfortable situation, it is easier to accept that vulnerability is necessary to connect. To develop friendships, you have to take those small risks.

Despite these circumstances, you need people. You need friendships to establish support networks. Friendships and relationships are essential.

It is important to keep seeking out friendships despite the challenges you face and the exhaustion. You need those friendships where when you experience obstacles in your life; you have emotional support; you have someone to talk to, comfort you, mourn with you, etc.

Making friends and maintaining friendships make you a better parent. You can not give from an empty bucket. If you are carrying things that are not serving you or not helping you meet your needs, maybe you want to offload some things to have some space in your life for meaningful connection.

So you might be saying, “I do not have the time,” or you feel like making friends is not a priority for you right now. So how do you create those meaningful and supportive friendships?

In our latest podcast episode, we talked to expert therapist Collette Loveless about steps you can take to open up and make friends, the need for friendships, establishing meaningful connections and the struggles that come with this.

By learning how to help you meet your needs and make those meaningful connections, you can better connect with your kids. You are setting them up for success. When you feel connected and supported, you can meet your own needs, which helps you meet your children’s needs.

United Way of Utah County is on a mission to help every child in our community feel safe, connected, and confident. You can listen to our latest podcast episode at anchor.fm/everydaystrong (or on Apple Podcast and Spotify). Learn more about us at everydaystrong.org.


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