Why Making Friends As An Adult Is Difficult And How You Can Fix It

When you are a kid, gaining a best friend forever can happen in what would seem like 5 minutes. But as you get older and begin to grow up to be an adult, making (and maintaining) a healthy friendship seemingly gets harder and harder as time goes on. Suddenly, your friend groups start to drift or gain new priorities, like young children, significant others, and packed work schedules that leave little time to be around each other as much as you might have previously.

According to a new study that was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships recently, on average, it takes approximately 50 hours of time with someone before you consider them a casual friend, 90 hours before you become real friends, and about 200 hours to become close friends. Statistics that have proven to make maintaining new “friends” difficult in today’s society.

According to the study, simply just being around (and talking to) someone a lot doesn’t actually equate to friendship. When discovering this, the study’s author, Jeffrey Hall, a communications professor at the University of Kansas, recruited a number of adults who admitted to being desperately in need of friends. The study was conducted in two experiments — people who had just moved to a new city in the past six months and newly in college — and asked them to rate and track the degree of closeness and time spent together with a new person.

The results? Well, “Results suggest that the chance of transitioning from casual friend to friend is greater than 50% after around 80-100 hr together,” according to the study.“

As we transition out of emerging adulthood (ages 18-25 to be exact), we’re no longer surrounded by a group of same-age peers who happen to be in a similar life stage and with whom we have things in common,” Miriam Kirmayer, a therapist and friendship researcher, says. “Our life paths begin to diverge more and more from those of our friends, and we can end up in very different places — both geographically and emotionally.”

The study also discovered that the portion of time spent talking to one another, or the fact that you spent time at school or work with them, were key factors unrelated to friendship closeness in general. Meaning that simply just spending time in while in the same proximity as one another is not enough to be considered (or even to become) legitimate friends with someone.

While keeping that in mind, according to the study, relationships with our co-workers count as “closed systems wherein members have little influence on who else is included in the group” based “friendships,” f you’d even call it that. However, these relationships are usually not formed as relationships of choice, which ultimately means they aren’t real friendships.

“On one hand it is really easy to spend a lot of time with people as they are routinely in the same place at the same time as you,” Hall says. “However, my study shows you can have co-workers you spend hundreds and hundreds of hours with and still not develop a friendship.” Though, the participants who did in fact participate in activities outside of work with someone they knew in the workplace, such as being invited to their home, were more likely to develop deeper relationships with them and built more trust between both parties.

“If those relationships stay at work, they are unlikely to become friends,” Hall says. “To make close-system relationships into friendships, you have to move the relationship outside of the institutional system.”

So how do we go out and find these deep, strong friendships that we so desperately need? Well, it’s easy. Discovering new friendships starts with you as an individual. Apps, various online meet-ups, sporting leagues, hobbies or networking groups all common activities which allow an individual to be social and open themselves up to new interaction.

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