Making New Friends is Tough
What it takes to make new friends (the research may surprise you)
As my youngest heads to college tomorrow and my husband and I contemplate a new home base, I’ve been thinking about the joys and challenges of making new friends. The mere subject causes both my daughter and I trepidation. We’re both blessed with a tribe of girlfriends who fuel our spirits. It can be tough to cultivate meaningful new relationships – new research sheds some light on the amount of time and attention it takes.
(Interestingly enough, this research was done on adults moving to new towns and college freshmen. It examines friendship as a function of hours spent together, shared activities and everyday talk.)
Here’s what the research found
40-60 hours of interaction are required for an acquaintance to become a “casual friend”
It takes 80-100 hours to progress to a proper friend
200-plus hours are needed to hit bestie status
But there’s a natural caveat: not everyone you spend time with for 40, 80, 200 hours will automatically become your friend or BFF.
This research also helps explain my recent observations of my own Pilates class participation. I’m now a full year into taking a class with some of the same people. Participating together led to chatting after our sessions, which has now led to a lunch date on the calendar for the fall. Armed with the knowledge of the time it takes, you can now prepare yourself emotionally and practically to make friendships happen.
Positive relationships are critical to our health and happiness. But it’s not always easy to start at square one.
Here are a few tips to rack up hours.
Say yes, or better yet, seek out opportunities to be active in things that interest you. This might mean stretching outside your comfort zone and picking up a hobby that has been lurking in the back of your brain. Volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about is a winner too – you probably share interests with the other volunteers.
Engage in real-life human interaction. Put down the phone and step away from the computer, at least for a bit. As much as I love the virtual community of The Walking Book Club, interacting with people in group fitness classes will always be my fave – it’s how I’ve made some of my best friends.
Initiate! Some of my best buds have come from me taking a chance. Try something as simple as “I like your energy. Wanna grab coffee?”
Be patient. For a college freshman, 40-60 hours probably pass a lot more quickly than they would for a young professional working in a new city or an empty-nester re-rooting in a new location. It takes time but a good friend is a treasure.
As a final thought, keep in mind that all of this starts with being honest with yourself. Would your life be fuller with a new friend or two? Take a moment to consider your needs and what might be missing.
If your answer is yes, get ready to make a move. What first steps towards new friendships might you take? Let me know in the comments below.
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