Friendship in Adulthood: Embracing Growth, Connection, and Becoming the Friend You Want to Be

Remember childhood friendships?

Running barefoot through sprinklers, giggling over secrets whispered in forts, forging bonds as pure and bright as morning sunshine.

Ah, the sweet nostalgia.

Sometimes if we think too hard, it stings a little to think back because somewhere between braces and graduation and the varied paths beyond, the landscape subtly shifted. Careers bloom, families sprout, and the map of life unfolds with detours and unexpected turns. We grow into adults, our schedules busy and stress levels high, and we get lonely. So much of adulting is lonely, to be honest, and you start to doubt yourself and your relationships in the chaos of the daily grind.

Friendship, that once ubiquitous force, becomes a sparse and complicated maze you can’t seem to find your way around. So what happened? And more importantly, how can we get it back?

The evolving landscape of adult friendship

This isn't a eulogy for lost friendships, but a celebration of the evolution that defines adult connections. They become richer, more nuanced, shaped by shared experiences and independent journeys. The laughter may be quieter, replaced by late-night phone calls dissecting life's complexities, punctuated by comfortable silences that speak volumes. But the need for connection, for that human tapestry woven with understanding and shared laughter, remains as fundamental as ever.

How can adults make new friends?

Making friends as an adult begins by exploring shared interests. Engage in activities you enjoy—join a club, take a class, or dive into online communities focusing on your passions. Be open to meeting new people in these settings. Initiating conversations, attending social gatherings, and being approachable are key. Nurture connections by following up, suggesting meetups, and actively participating in shared activities, creating a solid foundation for budding friendships.

Seeing beyond the filter to find meaningful connection in a digital age

But in this age of curated feeds and filtered faces, maintaining meaningful friendships can feel like navigating a digital minefield. We see the highlight reels, the vacations and promotions, and sometimes the comparison whispers doubt: "Am I enough? Are my friendships real?" Here's the truth: life happens. Careers bloom and wither, babies crawl and leave for college, and the faces in our calendars may shift. Embrace this dynamism, for it's the very pulse of life, pushing us to adapt and grow.

What’s the secret ingredient to adult friendships?

Authenticity and vulnerability are the bedrock of genuine connections. Knowing you can be your realest self with someone, no matter the medium, is the real treasure of friendship.

Whether you’re connecting with an old pal or making new friends, embrace your quirks, passions, and vulnerabilities—they make you uniquely you. By sharing your true self, you invite others to do the same, fostering deep, meaningful bonds. Embrace vulnerability as a strength, allowing for honest, heartfelt connections. Showcasing your authentic self not only attracts like-minded individuals but also creates a space for trust and mutual understanding to flourish in friendships.

6 Ways to be the friend you want to be

So, how do we cultivate these precious bonds in the midst of it all? Let's shed the pressure of idealized friendship and step into the real, where imperfection reigns and growth flourishes.

1. Embrace the evolution:

Acknowledge that friendships are ever-evolving. The carefree days of shared sleepovers may morph into weekend coffee dates stolen between soccer practice and grocery runs. Celebrate these changes, seeing them not as a loss but as chapters in a shared story.

2. Prioritize quality over quantity:

Adulting is lonely and you might be craving more connection, but it’s hard to make time for it sometimes. In our frenetic world, "busyness" has become a badge of honor. But busyness doesn't equal connection.

Carve out intentional time for the people who matter. A phone call that lingers past the planned half-hour, a handwritten note tucked into a lunchbox, a surprise coffee delivery on a stressful day – these small gestures speak volumes.

3. Explore the friend you want to be:

Friendship is a two-way street and it can start with your roadmap for the kind of friend you want to be. Think about the things that matter to you in your friendships and then commit to offering them to others.

Show up, listen actively, and offer support without judgment. Celebrate your friends' successes, hold their hands through setbacks, and embrace their quirks as the threads that make their tapestry unique. Be the source of laughter, the shoulder to cry on, the cheerleader pushing them to climb their own personal mountains.

4. Embrace vulnerability:

We often wear masks, hiding our vulnerabilities behind carefully crafted facades.

But true connection arises from shared vulnerability and being able to connect with ourselves and our friends more wholly. Meet your friends where they are and allow them to do the same for you. Confide your fears, share your triumphs, and apologize when you need to. Embrace this vulnerability invites reciprocity, deepening the bond and creating a space of genuine understanding.

5. Nurture the connection:

Friendship, like any garden, needs tending. Schedule regular calls, plan weekend adventures, and make an effort to stay connected even when life throws curveballs. Remember birthdays, offer congratulations, and be present in their joys and sorrows.

6. Let go of perfection:

Life is messy, and so are friendships. There will be misunderstandings, missed calls, and moments where we fall short. Forgive yourself and your friends for your varied lives, priorities, and needs.

Learn from mistakes, extend grace, and let go of the need for everything to be perfect. Your friends are as diverse as your friendships, so make space for them to show up with their authentic selves too. Your most cherished friends will understand that even sunflowers have their shadows.

And a bonus question before we go:

Can I be a good friend if I’m introverted?


Being introverted doesn't diminish your ability to be an incredible friend. Introverts often excel in meaningful one-on-one interactions. Focus on quality over quantity in friendships.

Leverage your strengths, such as deep listening, thoughtfulness, and genuine empathy. Offer your unique perspective and be a reliable, understanding companion. Embrace your introversion as a strength, nurturing intimate connections based on trust and authenticity.

Friendship in adulthood is a collection of incredible moments that make up a mosaic masterpiece.

You may find yourself collecting stolen moments and rescheduled lunch breaks to make your landscape, but if you get the chance to take a step back you’ll see how beautiful the bigger picture of shared laughter, quiet understanding, and the messy beauty of growth truly is.

Take the moments you can find and move past the missed connections where adulting took the lead in your life. At every age,  it's these bonds of friendship that anchor us, illuminate the path. We may have to fight a little harder and hold a little tighter, but they will remind us that we're never truly alone in this grand, messy adventure called life.

So, reach out, send a text, and schedule that call. Even if it’s just a moment; friendships are built on every effort you make.

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