The weird thing about being an anxious, introverted 30-something, is that you somehow simultaneously absolutely hate people, but also get lonely and want to be invited places.
Making friends as an adult feels so much harder than bonding over fingerprinting and jelly shoes at primary school.
Now when I show adults my finger painting they just give me weird looks!
Here are some top tips, with a little help from the besties, on navigating adult friendships.
Why it’s so hard to make friends as an adult, and a life hack for small talk.
The 4 big reasons making friends as an adult is hard:
1. Lack of time: We get busy in our routine, we no longer have as much time to devote to making friends.
We have extra things to worry about, like figuring out what that red light on our car means. Nights in sound perfect, it can be harder for us to find the energy to be social
2. Lack of opportunity: When we leave school we have less opportunity to spend time with people we have a lot in common with, like age and special interests.
3. Social awkwardness:
As a child we may have happily struck up random conversations about clouds, forming instant connections.
As an adult we overthink even small interactions. It’s much easier to pretend to be on our phone than make conversation with the women at the bus stop. We tell ourselves she’d probably just think we’re weird anyway.
4. Lack of trust: As we get older it’s harder for us to put our trust in someone new, it seems scary to us, and our anxious brain (who just wants to keep us safe) tells us to stick to the routines and people we are already familiar with.
Even for extreme introverts, having no or few friends can affect our mood, and our self-esteem too.
Let’s try a little exercise.
Start a conversation with someone new (Ew, scary, right?!) Don’t worry, I’ve got a little life hack to make it easy, and to make sure you don’t feel like you’re annoying anyone.
Ask them “How’s your day going?”.
This is the perfect opener.
It allows them to just say “good, thank you” if they don’t want a conversation, or it opens it up for them to elaborate a little more, and BAM, before you know it you’re forming a little connection.
Even if they give a short answer, exchanging a few words and a smile with someone can make our day a little brighter.
Will you give this a try?
Making Connections in Unexpected Ways
When we have few or no friends, we can feel lonely and it can affect our self esteem.
Human connection is key to happiness, but it doesn’t have to come from a tight-knit group of BFFs that we hang out with 24/7, connection can come in many unexpected ways.
Here are some ideas for connection that have been shared in the Sugar & Sloth Besties Facebook group:
1. Start writing to a Penpal. Getting lovely letters in the post is a great way for introverts to get that lovely friendship feeling, without a big commitment. There are penpal groups online, have a search on Facebook.
2. Try Bumble BFF, it’s like Tinder for friendships.
3. Listen to chatty podcasts, bloggers and IG lives, this gives you the warm and fuzzy feelings of being connected, without any of the actual scary talking to people bit.
4. Get a pet! Animal connection counts too - it’s science!
5. Find a local or online group for your super niche interest. There’s all sorts of clubs from board games to reptile keeping, the more passionate you are about a hobby, the easier it will be to make conversation with others who enjoy it too. PS
My fav is park run, I normally don’t even talk to anyone, I just enjoy the atmosphere, that is enough to make me feel connected. Search on Facebook or try sites like Meetup.
6. Do a random act of kindness, even if it’s anonymous you’ll get a warm and fussy feeling of connection from making someone else a little bit happier.
Is it OK to have no friends?
So... Is it OK to have no friends?
YES! But also no. Let's discuss...
Connection is a good thing, without it we can feel isolated, alone and suffer from low mood.
BUT you can get connection in lots of different ways. You may feel connected by fulfilling work, online chats with strangers, a menagerie of pets, or raising children.
Everyone is different and there is absolutely no right or wrong in the way we live our lives.
All relationships can be draining, some of us simply can't deal with the energy they need to sustain them, especially those of us who are neurospicy.
The amount you need human contact will probably ebb and flow throughout your life, that's OK too.
As long as we are happy, then there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.
What you have to ask yourself is, how am I currently meeting my need for connection? Is it enough, or is it something I need to work on?
What do you think, is it OK to have no friends?
Ooh, time to talk about my fav topic... ONLINE FRIENDS!
OK, time for a home truth... Online friends ARE REAL FRIENDS.
God bless the Internet for helping us anxious weirdos connect with others just like us!
In fact, let's get all nerdy and look at the actual definition of friendship... "A person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection".
Nothing to do with breathing the same air.
Meeting online friends is waaaay easier and less scary than meeting people in real life too, and you never know when online friendships can turn into RL meet ups too.
What do you think, are Internet friends real friends?
Annnnd if you'd like some online buddies, the Sugar & Sloth Besties Facebook group is a great place to start.