Why is it Harder to Make Friends as an Adult?

Why is it Harder to Make Friends as an Adult

As a kid, I found it so easy to make friends. It didn’t matter if the kids who lived next door were a few years older or younger, proximity made you friends. I had a new best friend in my class every year. Our family backgrounds did not make any difference.

But now things are so different. Some of my friends are at university, some are getting married, some are working full time. We are all over the place and are in touch through email and text more than in person visits. I really miss that here. I have classmates, but we don’t socialize during class or we would not hear the lectures. There are study groups but we really do usually study. The workload here can be a lot and does it help to talk it out with classmates. I have asked others about themselves and most people are so busy with classes, jobs, and relationships they do not even have time for more friends.

I understand, I am busy too, but I do wish that I had friends to go to a movie with every once in awhile. Or coffee. Anything social would be fine, really. I don’t live in the dorms with the undergrads, I am on a special floor with other exchange students. This is supposed to foster community but I am the only one here from Beirut and the others mostly speak their home language together.

That means the two things I relied on as a child to make friends, proximity and school, no longer apply. These old standbys don’t work anymore. There is an elementary school near here that has what is called a buddy bench on the playground. You sit there when you are lonely and it lets other people know you are looking for a friend. I wish grownups had that too. It would make life more interesting, wouldn’t it? I told someone about this idea in my sociology class and she said, of course, grownups have a buddy bench. It’s just known as last call at the bar. I laughed along with her but it was not quite what I meant.

But I do think there are more people out there like me, and I am going to find them! Maybe my buddy bench isn’t really a bench. Maybe my buddy bench is actually the internet. This blog, for example, and other sites, too. Maybe this is the kind of place that only the lonely will find each other.

Date Ideas

I have been on quite a few dates since my arrival here. It’s not so much that I am looking for someone to marry but because there are so many dating sites. It is a logical way to meet people. I have a routine down now that I thought you might benefit or get ideas from. Here it is, the dating world according to Mia!

So for a first date, I would recommend going to a coffee shop. I don’t drink coffee but there’s always a lot of herbal tea there for those of us who abstain from caffeine. I like it because it’s casual; you can have a conversation and you don’t have to be there that long if the chemistry isn’t there or you are just not clicking. I have spent anywhere from like 20 minutes to an hour and a half talking to someone in a coffee shop, and can gather a lot of information about a person this way. Then I kind of know where I want to go from there.

For a second date, I like to do something a little bit more active. Sometimes we will go bowling or to karaoke or something. It is very revealing to see how people react when they’re competing. I like to see if they can have a good time or if they’re the type of person that needs to win at any cost; I like to know that kind of stuffupfront. Doing something active with a person on the second date gives you a built in thing to do,something to bond over because either you’re competing against each other or you’re on some kind of the team to do something.You can sort of get a feel for what kind of music they like if they have a sense of humor, and that kind of thing.Just something light and fun.It can keep the conversation moving because you have at least the activity to talk about, and you can interrupt any awkward silences through the activity.

For the third date, I always like to do a dinner and movie date.This way it can be a little more intimate but it’s still kind of casual.It is always interesting to pick a movie with someone. I think you can learn a lot about them that way. I try to do dinner afterwards so at least you have one built in conversational topic. You get to have some time discussing the movie to see what you like to vs what they like, and you can sort of establish their interests and whether or not you’re compatible in that regard.

After that, I feel like it really kind of depends on the person and what you’ve done so far.If you’re having a good time with them doing fun activities, then I highly recommend continuing that. Other types of fun activities could be going for a walk around your city, visiting a museum,and going to a park to either play a casual sport or having a picnic.All of these are things that if you still need a buffer you can maybe bring some friends with you once or twice. Things like this will help you sort of gauge whether or not this person is someone that you really want to be spending a lot of time with. I have also found that letting them plan sometimes can also help, first to take some pressure off you especially when you aren’t from the area, but also because it is nice and considerate.

So far, I’ve had a couple of contenders get to a point where we went on a 5th or 6th date. Some of them have become acquaintances, some I have not talked to again.One or two have become what I would consider a pretty close friend. I’m enjoying myself so far. I really hope that you can do that too, and I wish you all the best.

Be Open to Opportunity

Be Open to Opportunity

I am trying very hard to be open to making friends and meeting people wherever it may happen. One thing that I am learning here is the Americans are very friendly. People are always smiling at me. I have found that if I return the smile, it can lead to little conversations. Much of my day can be made up of these little conversations. I think this is a great start. It helps me practice my American English, which is different than what I learned at school, and also is just a good way to keep kindness in my day.

I am trying to keep an eye out for others who might be lonely. There is a male student who is always getting a coffee just ahead of me at the café before my chemistry class. He always sits down near the window with a book. One day when the class was cancelled, I went back to the café and asked if I could sit at the table with him since the café was fairly crowded. He said it was fine and actually put the book away. We talked a little about how our days were going and what he was reading. It turned out to be a book series that I am a little familiar with as well, so now whenever we see each other we have something to talk about. I am not sure if it will develop into anything but it is nice.

Another thing that I am attempting is extracurriculars. I have been looking for clubs to join, academic and interest based. So far I have not had as much luck with the interest based groups, but I did join a premed association here at school that has allowed me to meet many people. I have classes with some of them, and that was helpful too. I do not feel so much like I am one person in a sea of people I don’t know when I sit down to hear lectures anymore—I walk in and suddenly it becomes, there is Chris, and there is an empty seat next to Angie. I’ll say hi to him and then sit next to her. Slowly I am becoming more comfortable with the people in the association and we are starting to talk about plans outside of studying and academia, so there is potential there.

I also found a group online through Meetup.com that does volunteer work. It gives my spirit a boost to help others, and I can go as my schedule allows. I am exploring more of my host city and meeting people from all backgrounds. It has been very good for me. Sometimes, small groups of us will go out to eat after we are done with our volunteer work. That is my favorite part. Usually, there are between five and seven of us, a good size amount of people. Not too many but enough that it feels like there is always someone to talk to.

Whenever the large classes are broken down into smaller groups, I try to socialize with my group members by finding out their names and where they are from. Then the next time I see them, I am able to greet them by name. People seem to appreciate that very much. I have made several acquaintances that way and have noticed people are starting to remember my name as well.

First Meeting Advice

I will admit that I have tried some online dating and interest groups since I have come here. It can feel dangerous and unsafe, so I have thought very hard about what I can do that will not diminish my desire to go out and meet people, but also give me a sense of security and feel like it is OK.

I will admit before meeting someone for a date, I will look them up online. I will check their social media and things like that just to make sure that the information they have told me matches what I see on the internet. There has been an incident or two where I found that the person had a girlfriend or was not really who they said they were.

I also talk to them on the phone a few times, too. Mostly to see if I feel comfortable talking to them because sometimes I do not. Sometimes people just are not compatible. It is always good to find out at this early stage before it goes any farther.

Next, I will agree to meet them at a public place that is not on campus. I usually don’t even tell people where I attend school. There are a few here and are decent sized so that helps. I tell the RA on duty where I am going and my sister, too, even though she is an intern at a hospital several hours away. It is imperitive that you tell someone where you are going and the person you are supposed to be meeting. I do not assume that every person I attempt to meet is dangerous but it is better to be smart. People need to know where you will be and who you are supposed to be with. Usually, I make the first meet a coffee date. This way it isn’t too long of an amount of time but is enough to see if you want to see that person again. Even if they invite me to a movie or something afterward, I will say no. Partly because then I will be somewhere that I have not told anyone about but also to give us both an out if either one of us isn’t feeling it but thinks it is necessary to be polite. I always check back in with my RA to let them know I have returned. A second date can definitely be longer but I will tell my sister what my plans are. If our plans change, I will excuse myself as politely as possible at the first opportunity to text her and let her know. I have been on a couple of third and fourth dates but nothing too serious so far.

For group events, I have a much easier time. I just tell someone where I am going and then I go straight there and back. If there are a group of people that Ihave been talking to that want to extend the event and go somewhere else, I’ll only go if I really feel comfortable. I’ll text my sister, too. I never get in the car with anyone and always drive myself separately, or will suggest somewhere within walking distance.

Some experiences have been good and others not so good, but I do feel safer taking some smart precautions. I wish you luck meeting people and hope you stay safe too.

What I have Found on the Internet

What I have Found on the Internet

I have really been trying to reach out to people face to face but sometimes that can be intimidating and hard. So I also look on the internet or use apps. Here are some of the best that I have found:

Meetup.com has been a great resource, because if you google “find groups in my area” you will mostly get support groups for various physical and mental ailments. That’s great and all but not what I’m actually looking for. Meetup.com, on the other hand, is actually what I need. I can search for any type of interest and find groups of people near me who care about it too. I can see a calendar of events and pick and choose what I want to attend. I can talk to other members of the group as well. This is how I found my volunteer work group and it has been really wonderful. The people are nice, the work we do is appreciated, and it makes me feel really good. I get to focus on something besides college and how homesick I can be. And I think a lot of the participants in the group feel very similarly. A lot of them are far from home too. You don’t have to use it for a volunteer group, though. You will find everything from playgroups for kids to adventurous activity groups to bar crawlers to book clubs. If you’re not in a heavily populated area, you may have to drivea ways  to find your people, but where I am is pretty centralized. There is a lot of stuff here. I am lucky in that way.

My school also has a searchable club and organization database that I can search to find out when and where the meetings are held. I haven’t had quite as much luck there but I am still trying. I am in one group for my major that is very active. They do a lot of study groups and discussions, so while it can be useful, I find it can sometimes be…unappealing to do. Some of the other clubs I have been to, the students are very…intense, I think the word is. They are big fans of the topic and have a hard time with people who are casually interested and really just want to get out of the dorms. Other clubs were more work than I had hoped they would be, and I cannot let my social life ruin my academics.

I have had the best dating luck, if you want to call it that, using either Zoosk or Match.com. I have met up with a few people that I was matched to through those. It has been interesting.  I have not been matched with too many duds yet. One, maybe two that were a bit boring. Some I don’t continue to pursue romantically but would like to keep as friends. I have met at least five nice guys this way. They are good for going to a movie with or a telephone call every once in a while. Or even going out to dinner or something.

Well, that’s it for today. I have another match to email. Thanks for reading!