Friendship as an Adult
Updated: Nov 7, 2019
This topic is something I’ve thought about a lot since I moved to Coventry five years ago.
I remember feeling so nervous about moving to another city. Straight out of university, in a new job, in a new place, with no friends close by. If someone had told me then about the friendships I’d make over the next five years, I would have known I needn’t worry at all.
My strongest advice would be don't turn down a social invitation for at least six months. You never know what might turn up and where it may lead to. I remember being invited to a night out with some girls I had met through work, a few years later some of them were my bridesmaids!
Join a new class or group and get chatting to people, if you meet someone you get on with, ask them if they’d like to go for coffee afterwards. Be open about being new to the area and take the opportunity to ask for local recommendations too (you’re going to need a new hairdresser after all!)
Making friends when you’re little is really easy, you just say hi and get to chattering. It may last a forever, it most likely won’t. Only a handful of childhood friendships stand the test of a lifetime (it's why they're so special), but as an adult you’re more likely to orientate yourself towards people with similar values, which can often lead to a more lasting friendship built on a solid foundation of interests. Remember how dramatic friendships could be during school? There’s a lot less of that.
Some friendships will appear without you even having to look for them. I met some of my best friends through my husband. George was going for a meal with his friends from work and they decided to invite their other halves. Us girls got on like a house on fire and now see each other more than our husbands/boyfriends meet up. I speak to them pretty much every single day.
Balancing friendships with every thing else going on in our lives can be really tricky. Ever have that realisation that you haven’t seen someone for months and you have no idea how it’s happened? I once met a friend for lunch and it had been so long since we’d seen each other that she handed me a birthday present in March (my Bday is in September!), we both burst out laughing and made promises to catch up more regularly, but it doesn’t mean we’re any less friends than we were before. If you haven’t spoken to someone in a while and want to catch up, drop them a message asking to meet. Rather than holding resentment and telling them they ‘never get in touch with you’, get in touch with them! Who knows what has kept them so occupied recently and they’ll probably be as excited to tell you about their busy life as they are to hear about yours.
That's not to say that we should hold onto harmful and toxic relationships though. If the bond between you is no longer bringing you both joy, it isn't your responsibility or obligation to continue to put effort into it. Friendships should bring out the best in both people, but I'm sure you know as well as I do the feeling of guilt when you don't like the person you become when you're around someone when that bond is no longer healthy. You don't need to make excuses, but you do need to explain to them how you feel. If things don't change, your time and self respect is worth so much more than pouring yourself into a relationship that neither of you are benefitting from (it can often even be damaging).
At the end of the day, we all feel lonely from time to time, and a recent move to a new place or new job can leave us feeling particularly vulnerable (that oh my god what have I done moment), but remember Dolly P’s advice:
“Two doors down
They're laughing and drinkin', and having a party and
Two doors down
They're not aware that I'm around
But here I am
Crying my heart out, feelin' sorry while
They're having a party just two doors down
I think I'll dry these useless tears
And get myself together
I think I'll wander down the hall
And have a look around
'Cause I can't stay inside
This lonely room and cry forever
I think I really rather join 'em
Two doors down”
Go and join the party!