In high school and college, making friends is easy. That’s mostly because you’re constantly surrounded by people in your peer group with similar interests, and it can seem like you have an endless supply of friends.
But once you graduate college, things change. Making friends as an adult requires a much more active effort than it previously did. When you do connect with someone, it can be hard to maintain that connection. Adult life is a lot busier than high school and college life, after all. Here are a couple of ways to maintain your adult friendships.
Act like teenagers
We’re not suggesting you ring your neighbors’ doorbells and then run away giggling. However, there are ways to act like a teenager that don’t involve immature pranks. One of the best parts of being a kid is having sleepovers. Sleepovers meant permission to stay up late and eat cookie dough, watch movies, and gossip. While the CDC insists that you skip the cookie dough, there’s no reason you can’t have a slightly toned-down version of a sleepover.
If you’ve ever stayed out with friends until a bar closes down at 2am, then you’re not that far off from a sleepover. The biggest difference is that the party is at your house instead of a dive bar around the corner. Invite two or three friends over for a sleepover, and tell them to wear their fanciest pajamas. Ask them to bring over DVDs of movies you loved as a teenager, because there’s nothing wrong with enjoying She’s All That while drinking wine.
It’s common for friends to sit in a room and stare at their smartphones, so do your best to limit your screen time. Play board games instead. To really take things to the next level, purchase custom friendship bracelets that you can give your friends during the sleepover. The bracelets can serve as a stylish reminder of how life-affirming it felt to turn back the clock with your best friends, even if just for a night.
You probably can’t have a sleepover all that often. You may only be able to do it once a year, if that. But you can still express your affection for your friends in other ways. That may sound awkward, and a lot of people do have trouble expressing their feelings. If you have low self-esteem, you’re more likely to fear rejection, and fearing rejection can lead you to isolate yourself. Being alone may feel safer, but in the long run, it’s not going to make you happier.
If you don’t hug your friends regularly, then now’s a good time to start. We tend to think of human touch as sexual in nature, but it can also be a wonderful way to express platonic love for someone. Next time you’re saying goodbye to a friend, ask “Can I hug you?” Chances are, they’ll say yes. If they’re not a hugger, then you can trust that they have their reasons for feeling that way and try something else like a secret handshake or high five. You may think that sounds cheesy, but there are circumstances where being cheesy can be a blast. Don’t feel like you’re too cool for a goofy ritual.
Another way to express affection is to simply tell a friend that you appreciate them. If they give you a gift for Christmas, say thank you and mean it. If they pick you up from work when your car won’t start, offer to buy them a drink as a way of saying thanks. Communicating your gratitude lets your friends know that you don’t take them for granted.