Joanita Wibowo

Much have been said about the struggles of building adult friendships. As we grow up, making new friends or even retaining old ones seems to become more and more difficult. This could be attributed to many factors, including changes in distance and priorities, jobs, family demands and other responsibilities.

The importance of friendship has been discussed over and over again. Surveys have consistently found that having friends is essential for their happiness, and studies found that people with stronger friendships have lower health risks.

Many have resorted to the internet to find solution for this problem. In the digital age, making connections is made out to seem as easy as clicking the “Add Friend” or “Connect” button. However, is it really as it seems?

Internet might help in finding more people with common interests or getting in touch with old friends, but it has been proved that they generally build weak connections. While the quantity of our connections with others is rising, the quality of our connections is often declining. Physical or ‘real’ friendship, based on face-to-face meetings, still prevails.

So how do we create or rebuild connections offline? Here are some of the tips you can try.

Getting new ones
Join social activities/clubs
What would you do for fun? Whatever your answer is, chances are you can probably make it social. With this, meeting people who share your interests becomes easier. Furthermore, a study found that group assignment (joining a club) and proximity might actually have bigger influence in building friendship than having common values and beliefs. Doing something together routinely with other people could also help build relations due to shared experiences.

Be consistent
While new environments could be difficult to adapt to, staying consistent is important. A study found that becoming a familiar face could breed attraction and turn strangers into friends. Some call this the Propinquity Effect, where people develop friendships as they have more meetings and interaction. Therefore, routines such as attending a yoga class, volunteering weekly in your local pet rescue or even having lunch in the office pantry regularly might just help you build a connection.

Be confident
While you might feel too awkward to start a conversation with new people, remember that they are in the same boat, and could feel the same way as you do. Most people do not enjoy the get-to-know drills, but many great friendships are started with these uncomfortable steps – having some confidence in beginning the talks might just lead you to one.

Rebuilding old ones
Commit time to communicate and meet up

Making some time to actually hang out with your friends might seem like common sense, but this is often forgotten in practice. Promises to catch up are often abandoned for other priorities. However, nurturing friendships is just as important as building them. Sending them a Facebook message might be a convenient start, but unmediated meetings might be better in developing a deeper relationship.

We all might often be guilty of cancelling appointments at last minute. However, doing this too often might suggest a disregard of your friend’s time and commitment. Take some time to show gratefulness and appreciation for your friends by inviting them over or visiting their family on holidays.