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

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.

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 September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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