When you were a kid, making friends was laughably simple – all you had to do was go up to someone in your class, share your crayons, and boom! Friends for life.
Unfortunately, when you enter the real world, things become a whole lot trickier.
As you get older, there’s a tendency for your friendship group to shrink, as people move away and you lose touch. Unlike being at school, there’s no longer a readily-available pool of potential mates, and we tend to slowly forget the art of forming friendships.
making friends is HARD #BeingAnAdultIn4Words— ◇jenica katniss◇ (@jenjenkitty007) March 23, 2018
But growing up doesn’t mean you have to stop making friends. A new study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships looked into how many hours it takes to make a friend, finding that it takes around 50 hours with someone before you consider them a casual friend, 90 hours before they become a friend and about 200 hours of quality time before you think of them as close.
So how best to spend these hours to solidify a good friendship? Life coach and author of How To Be Selfish, Olga Levancuka has given us her tips for how you can turn acquaintances into friends.
Meaningful relationships take time to develop, so it’s important not to go in too hard when you want to take things to the next level with an acquaintance.
“Start with low-commitment activities,” Levancuka advises. “Some people tend to be a bit hesitant about letting others into their life, regardless of how keen they are on them. Let them get used to you being a part of their life.”
She recommends starting with something small like inviting them for a drink and not forcing the issue if they’re busy, and over time, you can move on to something bigger and more regular.
Let’s not lie – making a new friend is remarkably similar to the first few dates with a potential partner. And just like in love, you should try not to be too eager.
Levancuka says: “When you meet new people, be upfront with the fact that you enjoy their company, but don’t overwhelm them.” The relationship will have room to grow more organically if you take away any pressures or expectations.
“When you are able to identify similar experiences, it takes down walls between you,” Levancuka says.
This is simple but effective advice. She continues: “Not only does this provide conversation topics, but also a context for understanding each other, which will help you bridge differences.”
Levancuka says this can be anything from the very small – like a shared interest in walking – to the more meaningful – like if you both grew up without a father. Finding common ground can also provide ideas for future activities you could do together.
We hate to break it to you, but relationships aren’t easy. Even though you might have gained a best friend for life within five seconds in primary school, this is rarely the case when you’re grown up. This means that you have to be willing to put in the work.
“Friendships don’t happen overnight and even though you may want to make a new friend instantly, that’s pretty much impossible,” Levancuka says. “Put in the time to get to know someone and allow them to get to know you, but be careful not to come across as too demanding.”
A major part of putting in the work is listening to your new friend. Levancuka advises: “If your acquaintance mentions a new book they’re reading or a movie they want to see, ask them about it the next time you see them.”
This small act of kindness can have a huge impact. Levancuka adds: “People remember when someone shows an interest in them and what they say. Remembering details and getting to know a person helps you build a relationship with them.”
Successful friendships are often built on a certain level of selflessness, and this can help take your relationship to the next level.
“Offer to help your friend when they need it, and use this as an opportunity to get to know each other better,” Levancuka says. “You’ll feel good about helping out and show that you have a genuine interest in what’s important to them.”