Making new friends as a kid was simple and easy. You didn’t have to think about conflicting schedules or the awkwardness of getting to know someone. You played and spent time together just for fun. As adults, we often think that friendships from our youth can never be replicated as we get older. It’s true that the element of time can be missing from new friendships, but they are, nevertheless, valuable and don't need to be decades old to be powerful.
Yet making friends as adults seems to be really tough. We are afraid of getting hurt or wasting our time. We use excuses, like being too busy, to convince ourselves that a new friendship isn’t worth the effort. It takes energy and work to create and sustain a friendship. To do this, we are required to be vulnerable and take a leap of faith. That's hard! We've had our share of hurt and disappointments, so we are cautious. More often than not, we let a potential friendship fizzle because of fear. Making friends is like dating- you'll need to put yourself out there and go on a 100 "dates" before you find someone who is compatible. You need to be prepared to experience frustration, excitement and maybe a bit of anxiety.
Yes, the fear of all of these emotions are real and can sometimes prevent us from pursuing new networks of support. In Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, we work together on challenging the beliefs that inhibit you from trusting or cause you to avoid any situation where you might be disappointed. You have the ability to cope with a friendship that doesn’t work out in such a way where you aren’t paralyzed from pursuing a new one.
When your definition of and expectation for a friendship is flexible, there is less at stake. New friendships don't have to be deep or super meaningful. You can foster genuine friendships by putting in some effort, like making concrete plans (not "oh, we should get together some time") to do something you both enjoy or connected on. Be interested and curious! You'll have to give before you get, but it'll be worth it to make a new friend.