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Hard To Make And Keep Friends As An Adult? You Should Know These Communication Tricks

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Hard To Make And Keep Friends As An Adult? You Should Know These Communication Tricks

The importance of friendship for our overall happiness is massive, yet many of us struggle to maintain friendships, or with making new friends, once we enter adulthood. The relationships in our lives usually start to take a kind of priority hierarchy with spouses and partners, children, and parents coming out on top. The lack of structure that friendships are based on means there’s not always pressure to see friends often or prioritize them like we do with our immediate families.

As a result, maintaining our friendships can be hard and we often find that many people end up floating out of our lives as easily as they came in.

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The Greatest Enemy In Adult Friendships

The greatest downfall when it comes to adult friendships isn’t actually what you think it is – and we all have a habit of doing it. With our adult friendships, we tend to be too polite and by this, I don’t mean we should start being rude to our friends. Let me explain.

As we get older, our responsibilities and busy lives start to get more complicated. This results in a tendency to avoid meeting, texting, or ringing someone up on the phone in the polite circumstance that we’re interrupting their busy life.[1] We often easily forgive people when we haven’t heard from them for months or they didn’t respond to our last text message. This isn’t something we would necessarily put up with in other relationships, such as a spouse or child.

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Emily Langan, an Associate Professor of Communication at Wheaton College[2] who has done numerous studies on friendship, believes our relaxed expectations for maintaining friendships and initiating contact is one of the main reasons why we leave them to fall through the cracks.

The Key To A Lasting Friendship In Adulthood

While politeness can cause friendships to become more infrequent than they should, many people still maintain a friendship with sporadic communication. It’s a different dynamic to those friendships formed during childhood and adolescence when we would hang out and meet up on a daily to weekly basis. But with adult friendships, distance and circumstance can naturally restructure the relationship.

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But the key to lasting friendships going forward in your adult years is dedication and communication.

This doesn’t mean having to communicate or meet up on a regular basis, but it’s all about the type of communication you have between you. Shared past experiences, inside jokes, and heartfelt communication are how you keep those special friends in your life, even when you feel you don’t speak as much as you used to. Referencing back to those shared moments and memories can keep the spark alive and the bond strong. For example, travels you shared or funny memories from school or university.

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Another factor in lasting friendship was highlighted in a longitudinal study of best friends by Andrew M. Ledbetter[3] that suggested the more you’ve invested in a friendship, the more likely you are to keep it going. Therefore, lasting friendships need to be based on equal investment from each side. Once this stops happening, the friendship can start to break down or graduate out of your life.

What About Online Friendships?

Social media is making it seem easier to stay in touch with friends, but how much is this adding to a friendship? Online communication can suit some people who are living apart from certain friends, and even create a level of maintenance. However, relying too heavily on online communication can cut off a level of meaningfulness and investing further, making us question whether we have the means to maintain a satisfying friendship outside of an online medium. This sometimes leads people to not pursue any more effort in a friendship, never causing it to grow.

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It seems lasting friendships come from not assuming that you’re taking up your friend’s time, and making more effort than just texting every now and then. Our happiness involves our friends too, so try carving out some time to catch up and reconnect.

Featured photo credit: Kevin Culala via pexels.com

Reference

[1] Business Insider: People of all ages have the same 3 expectations for friendships
[2] Wheaton College: Emily Langan, Ph.D.
[3] https://web.ics.purdue.edu/~sparks/Friends%20Forever.pdf

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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