What happened to all your BFFs from high school and college? Chances are you need a new crew. Here’s what you need to know about making new friends.

When you graduate high school, it seems like your group of friends will stay close forever. For most people, that sentiment barely lasts through college. Once you get your degree, you may assume the same thing with the new group you’ve formed at university.

As great as it would be to hang on to all the personal connections we make throughout the years, people grow apart and move away. Your best friend in college could end up being a borderline stranger before you turn 30. As popular as you may have been at any one time, you may wake up one day soon and realize: I need new friends.

It’s ok. That’s a common sentiment these days, even in a digital age where connecting to anyone around the world is possible with the click of a button. Unfortunately, connecting on a personal level is a little harder.

At this time in your life, friendships are going to be important to your health and well-being — and they’ll continue to be in the years ahead. Being active socially with friends keeps you happy, but it also keeps you healthy, because friends will encourage you to maintain healthy habits and support you as you pursue whatever health goals you have.

And in life, all your goals will find support among your friends. It’s unlikely you can achieve everything you’d like to do without that kind of moral support.

If you’ve found yourself feeling lonely, unfulfilled, or bored lately, it might be time to start the friend search. Here are some tips for making new friends.

Lower your expectations.

Once I graduated from college and moved away from my closest girlfriends, I realized how special our bond was. I’d no longer have access to my best friends any time of day without advance notice.

Adult friendships are different. It takes longer to become close to someone, and meeting people isn’t as simple as talking across the dorm hall.

Instead of getting upset that finding a BFF is harder than you imagined, you need to refine your expectations. Don’t be disappointed if you can’t find a special bond with everyone you meet; that will only discourage you from meeting new people and making new friends.

You don’t have to lower your expectations in the quality of person you look for when you choose your closest friends. Just assume that with everyone’s busier schedule — we’re all adults with adult responsibilities — the effort it takes to make and maintain connections with friends is going to be harder.

Go online.

My latest attempt at friendship-forming is through Bumble. Bumble is most often used as a dating app, like Tinder, but it also offers a Bumble BFF version where women can find other female friends.

I signed up for Bumble only a week ago and already have had a dozen matches and one official date planned this week. Anyone using the app really wants to find new girlfriends, so it’s easier to strike up a conversation.

If you’re a guy, stay patient. There may not be any great friend-finding apps for males yet, but the tide is headed in that direction. The success of Bumble for platonic-connections will likely open up a world of friendship possibilities for both genders.

It doesn’t have to be a dating or connection-making app. There are online tools that focus on the area you live in. Local Facebook groups is just one way to find those who live near you who might be open to getting together.

Find common interests.

Meetup is one of the first resources people suggested when I talked about making new friends. They were right: the site is a treasure trove of people like me. But it can also be a dud.

There are two kinds of groups on Meetup:

  1. Groups based around a mutual interest or activity.
  2. Groups based around demographics.

You can find groups for knitters, hikers, and teachers, or groups for women in their 30s who live downtown.

The problem with the latter is that besides gender and age, I might have little in common with those women. You need something besides having a vagina in common to spark a friendship.

Even if you’ve been to one Meetup meeting and didn’t find someone interesting, try again. Making new friends is a process, and often involves failing multiple times before you succeed.

I recommend joining groups centered around a hobby. This gives you an automatic talking point and provides numerous ideas for potential hangouts. Combine the hobby-centered groups with a location, and you’ll find people who are close to you who might be interested in the same types of activities. Again, Facebook is a good way to connect.

If there isn’t a group on Facebook dedicated to an interest in your region — for example, amateur photography in Philadelphia, start a group, whether on Meetup or on Facebook. You’ll quickly find interesting people to connect with. On top of that, if you are “in charge” of the group, everyone will get to know you and will be more interested in meeting you.

Take classes.

Finding your squad works best when you see them consistently. That’s why in-person classes are a great idea. They’re typically on a regular schedule and contain a small enough group that you can get to know your classmates well.

I met friends taking boxing and kettlebell classes. I plan on taking improv classes in a couple months. As with most of these ideas, it’s not enough to sign up and pay the entrance fee. You have to be willing to engage.

Fearlessly talking to people is one of the key skills you need to make friends. Most of us want to meet new people, but far fewer are brave enough to actually ask. Plus, what happens if you’re an introvert?

It’s like dating: one of you has to be courageous enough to make the first move.

Unlike dating, most people aren’t going to say no to grabbing a coffee or seeing a movie. If it goes badly, you don’t have to ask them out again. If it goes well, you can continue to build a friendship.

Make yourself a good friend.

What kinds of qualities do you like your friends to have? How much attention do you expect, and how do you want to be treated? Make sure you’re making an effort to be the person you want your friends to be. Don’t be the one who waits for the other person to initiate. If you like keeping score, forget about doing that to make new friends as adults.

Be willing to put yourself out there and be vulnerable. You might get rejected or rebuffed, or find that someone just doesn’t have time for you. Don’t let it get to you. Keep striving to make those connections and don’t worry about whether someone thinks of you as a friend as much as you think of them. That kind of confidence helps people be drawn to you, anyway.

Say yes to everything.

No matter where you live, there are times an acquaintance or coworker invites you to something you’re not interested in. No matter how boring the event seems, go anyway. Saying yes is an important habit to cultivate if you want to make personal connections.

Related podcast: Yes or No: Do All the Things Except Some

The more you say yes, the more you’ll be invited. The converse is also true: say no too often and you’ll never get an invite again. Once you’ve ingratiated yourself with a crowd, you can start saying no every once in awhile without losing your new squad.

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Vacations can make or break a friendship. If you’re going to plan a good one – do it right.

Recently, the number one movie in America was Girls Trip-a hilariously wild movie all about taking an epic trip with a few of your best friends. I’ve had the good luck to take a number of girls trips with my BFFs (I have more than one) and there are a couple of tips that I would like to share so that you can successfully plan an incredible vacation with your BFF.

Decisions, decisions!

First, you will need to decide on the destination. This decision sets the foundation for all of your additional trip-related decisions. In the process of deciding where to go, you will discover the type of traveler your BFF really is.

You can opt for a traditional location such as a large city with good food and interesting tourist exhibits. Cities such as NYC, Chicago, LA, and New Orleans are typically safe bets.

Then, you begin asking one another the following questions:

  • How safe of a city does it have to be for you to feel safe visiting it?
  • What do you find interesting to do for fun?
  • Do you want to drive around town all day?

Once you’ve worked through these questions, begin discussing the logistics of your trip. Talk about how you like to experience and explore a new city. Are you a wanderer? Do you prefer to follow an itinerary? These are all disqualifying (or qualifying) questions that will help you decide: is this really a person that I would like to travel with?

Do I want to travel with you?

Be honest if the answer is NO! If this is your BFF, don’t put yourself in the position of a friendship breakup because you took a trip that one of you potentially wouldn’t enjoy because the activities and city were ill-suited to their personality.

Friends sometimes want to get super adventurous way too fast when traveling together. I would strongly advise you to avoid doing this and to build up to an epic travel experience by taking smaller trips together…just to make sure.

Time to talk money.

Once you’ve decided on the location, you’ll then need to work on some of the nitty-gritty. What do your budgets look like and how does your budget affect what you can do?

Be candid about your budget-but at the same time be self-aware. Whether both of you are flush with cash or not, come up with a nice balance of activities that provide a wide-range of opportunities to have fun at varying levels of expense. This empowers both friends to choose activities that suit their financial situation.

Have a real conversation about what you can, cannot, or won’t pay for during your travels.

Become self-aware. How flexible are you? Would you lose your mind if there were problems with your accommodations? Would you freak out if you had to share a room or a bed? Are you an indifferent eater, an obsessive museum fan, or (ahem) clingy? Do you need someone with you as you explore town? Or, are you the type of traveler who needs occasional “me” time when you’re on trips with friends? Be honest!

It’s now time for shenanigans!

Some of my favorite trips were taken with my BFFs. Traveling to Las Vegas on a Greyhound bus and freaking out when the blind couple with the fake seeing-eye-dog almost got hit by highway traffic during one of our rest breaks. Fun times!

Going to L.A. with another friend and meeting every single freaky person in California – who just knew that we weren’t from there. They just could smell the Colorado on us.

Going to Breckenridge with my European BFFs and everyone (but me) getting altitude sickness and needing to go to the local oxygen bar for some relief.

I love having these memories and I know that you, too, will enjoy creating new, life-long memories with your BFFs.

I strongly suggest traveling with your friends, just be honest with yourself about what you can and cannot tolerate when traveling. You can be realistic about your friend’s quirks without throwing them under the bus.

Share your favorite BFF travel story in the #Adulting Facebook community!

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Don’t grow bitter and ghost. Here’s how to help your peeps out and keep your sanity.

I’m sure there are a number of people who read the name of this post and reacted with a, “Oh, HELL NO!” Paying for your friends potentially opens up a can of worms that none of us want to even begin to deal with.

There are a number of ways that you can find yourself “paying” for your friends. And several ways to pay for your friends include exchanges of time, goods, or even services. Has it been awhile since you’ve had to deal with that issue? Good for you! But, it’s a matter of time before you find yourself potentially paying for a friend.

Let’s walk through the moments when it’s ok to pay for your friends and moments when it’s not.

The friend payment tiers.

First, let’s acknowledge that there are different tiers (or levels) that requests for payments may find themselves. Let’s go through a couple of scenarios.

Scenario #1: You and your friends go hiking for the day. Your friend chips in and pays for gas because you’re driving. In this scenario, there is an acknowledgement that the friend is experiencing an expense that the other friend can contribute to.

But wait, there’s more! Before the day is over-you stop for a cup of coffee. Your friend (who gave you gas money) no longer has cash and you offer to buy them a cup of coffee. In this particular situation everything pretty much balances out. This friend normally is pretty good about remembering these types of situations, so you know that a cup of coffee is in your future.

A cup of coffee is usually around $5 or less so this situation shouldn’t upset your friendship.

Scenario #2. I recently had a friend pay for some other friend to attend a Tony Robbins event. My friend paid for everything-because this person CAN. They make around $200,000 a month (I kid you not) and have the ability to give gifts that in no way affect their financial life.

For the rest of us who aren’t making a couple of hundred thousand a month the question you need to ask yourself before paying for your friend is the following, “Will paying for this harm my finances directly or indirectly?”

If the answer is yes, then you should not offer to pay for whatever it is you’re paying for.

Loans vs. gifts.

I don’t loan money-to anyone. And, when you talk about paying for someone else’s expenses, whatever they may be, you’re basically talking about loaning someone money. Loaning money to a friend is a “Don’t Do it” zone.

If you’re the friend who is putting your other friend in the situation where they need to loan to you-not cool. I’ve been the friend who has borrowed money from a friend and it took YEARS to heal the rift that occurred because of it. I was borrowing money because I was broke and so it’s not surprising that I was unable to pay them back. I was a financial mess.

If you’re the friend who is being put in the position of loaning some money-you will have to ask yourself some questions. The most important one is: are you comfortable loaning money? And if you loan it, are you ok with potentially losing that friendship if your friend fails to repay you?

The next question you should ask yourself is: “can I help this friend by giving them a gift versus giving a loan?” Again, I don’t loan money to people. I give money and I typically have an account for family and friend expenses.

These expenses always come up unexpectedly and when it’s inconvenient for EVERYONE. I strongly recommend having a “my friend’s/family member’s money is funny-and I’m not laughing account.” But, the key is to never let anyone know that you have this account.

Hey, you slackers!

Has your friend picked up the tab for you several times in the past couple of months? If you’ve answered “Yes” then it’s time to do two things, pay back your friend and treat them to something nice. And, it’s also time to consider why this situation keeps coming up and your friend keeps paying for stuff for you.

We’ve talked about literally paying cash for things for your friends but we haven’t talked about other types of payments you may find yourself doing for your friends. Here’s a few examples of non-cash payments that you may find yourself gifting to a friend.

Driving your car-less friends around town.You’re basically always the designated driver (sigh). I hate to admit this, but I learned how to drive as an adult. My friends drove me around for YEARS. That means I now find myself (happily) driving people around town and into the mountains because I have YEARS of being driving to make up for.

Yep, I was that girl. I’m absolutely happy to drive people around as much as possible because I appreciate all of the times my friends drove me around town.

Maybe your friend has helped you out with your new puppy, every time you went on vacation, saving you hundreds of dollars in boarding fees. Now, they have a dog. It’s time to offer to puppy-sit their dog and give it the love that they gave yours.

Maybe your friend has babysat your teeny tinies a couple of times. If your friend doesn’t have kids, think about what would make their lives better? A grocery gift card (plus cash). A special experience? If your friend has kids, it’s a no brainer-just babysit their kids and call it even.

The longer you’re in a friendship with people the more your boundaries may get blurred. Don’t take your friends for granted and check in from time to time to make sure you’re both on the same page in regards to financial expectations within your friendship.

Are you usually the lender or the borrower? What boundaries do you have to make sure your choices don’t ruin your friendships? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community.

 

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Does being single = lonely, especially around the holidays? Not. Even. Close.

The holiday season is a landmine of expectations, obligations, and self-imposed stress. Getting through the ChrisMahanaKwanzaka trifecta of holiday celebrations and cheer takes a lot out of the average person. And, when you’re coupled up, there are additional obligations that further complicate what should be a fun and happy time or the year.

Enter, single-life.

Many would argue that being single sucks-especially during the holiday season. But, I beg to differ. Being single during the holiday season can be a glorious experience that may include lip-synching to random holiday songs after a couple cups of spiked holiday eggnog while watching rom-com marathons. If you don’t believe me, I’m going to make my case and see what you think!

It doesn’t suck.

Now, let’s be clear, I actually love the holidays. I love the decorations, the songs, eggnog, and every excuse to eat pecan pie. The holidays seem to be the only time that families don’t fight the expectation that they should spend time together…because they’re a family.

And, I love taking every opportunity to spend time with my family. But, I’m going to push back on having to meet certain expectations during the holiday season. And, as a single person, I can lobby pretty effectively why I would like to visit at a different time of year. It’s cheaper, easier, I already have plans. You get the picture.

Avoid the “whose family?” conversation.

One of the potentially most contentious conversations a couple may find themselves having during the holiday season is “your family or mine?” Upon asking this question some additional issues pop up.

What if you only have so many frequent flyer miles and your loved ones live in the middle of some random town in Illinois (like mine do). You then begin the process of selling why you should visit your family vs. theirs. It’s almost like family smackdown-Holiday Edition. May the odds be ever in the least dysfunctional family’s favor.

Not only do you have to negotiate location, you have to negotiate the level of crazy that you would like to deal with. Every family is a little bit crazy, so each couple has to have a conversation that acknowledges that their family is potentially crazy and how much you’re willing to deal with during the holidays. Let the games begin.

Single people don’t have to worry about having this conversation. You can just decide to go wherever you would like to go and even choose to avoid your family until it’s a calmer time of year.

Let’s go to Costa Rica instead.

In fact, one of the best things about being single is that you can choose to skip the holiday crazy. I love Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and basically, any and every excuse to celebrate the meaning behind each holiday and spend time with my family and friends.

But, I’ve found myself turned off by how spending has changed the energy of the holiday season. The rampant materialism is just exhausting. I’m completely disinterested in buying gifts because I’m just not into buying gifts because you expect me to.

So this single person, and I’m sure many others out there, will opt out of the holiday season and go on a fun vacation where I can focus on self-care, have fun, and avoid all the drama.

As a singleton, you can decide how you give back to others during the holiday season. Family traditions be damned. You can create a new tradition for every holiday, every single year. And, with exception of your immediate family, no one is going to judge you for deciding what will serve your needs best during the holiday season.

Freedom!

The best thing about being single during the holiday season is the ability to do whatever you feel like. Want to go to yoga on Thanksgiving and get your Shavasana on? Done! Feel like watching the Westminster Dog Show? Done! Want to sleep in and then plan out your winter travel or your Black Friday shopping extravaganza? Done!

But, perhaps my favorite thing about being single during the holidays is the ability to avoid gift-giving analysis paralysis.If you feel like you suck at giving gifts, not having a significant other gets you out of that tricky obligation. I really enjoy giving gifts, but there is something about giving gifts during the holiday season. So. damn.stressful.

Being single during the holidays doesn’t have to be a downer, it can be as good or as bad as you want it to be. In fact, if you’re single or coupled up, you have a lot more control over how your holiday season should be.

It’s all about perspective.

Always remember, be grateful. There are other people who may be having a harder time than you. This post is being written after watching Houston, Florida, and Puerto Rico get slammed by hurricanes and flooding and Northern Californian towns get completely destroyed by fire.

It could always be worse. If you’re missing company during the holidays-throw a potluck, volunteer, help others. Many people think that being single during the holidays means you’re alone. To me, it just means you’re single.

Bring people into your life each and every day. And, if you prefer to skip the holiday shenanigans-do it!

Do you enjoy the single life, especially around the holidays? Tell us why it’s great over in #Adulting Facebook community

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Take a deep breath. And go for it.

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You want to talk to someone, but you get tongue-tied. Trying to talk to someone you’re attracted to can be difficult. After all, you don’t want to say something stupid or end up rejected.

In this episode, we talk about how you can meet people you’re attracted to and even talk to them without falling on your face. Can you make that first move?

Concepts

  • Reasons it’s so difficult to meet people you’re attracted to.
  • How introverts and those with social anxiety can find it even more difficult to talk to someone you’re attracted to.
  • Fear of rejection and feeling foolish.
  • How to feel better about rejection, and why it’s good.
  • Tips for approaching someone you’re attracted to.
  • Ideas for asking questions and starting a conversation.
  • What to do after you’ve had a successful conversation.
  • Tips for avoiding playing games afterward.

Our DO NOWs this week focus on your ability to meet people without feeling totally uncomfortable. We talk about feeling good about yourself and practicing with a friend.

Our reader question takes a look at what to do if your attempts to approach someone doesn’t work.

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Resources

How to break the ice.

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Once in a while, people escape the friend zone. When you get an out, here’s how to make it count.

You’ve heard the common refrain about romance: “It’s better to be friends first,” but how often does it happen and is it really that easy?

It is the norm to hear about online dating sites and finger-swiping apps as ways to date or hook up with people. Every single person isn’t eyeing the friend they’ve known for the last five or ten years as a possible love interest.

But once in a while, friendship does bloom into more, and it can be tricky to make the transition into lovers. If you are considering taking a friendship to the next level, here are some things you can do to smooth out the process.

Quit the buddy behavior.

If you’ve been friends for any period of time, it can be hard to see each other in a new way. Even though your intentions are good, it can be easy to fall back into old friendship routines. While friends, you may have been used to hanging out in old sweats or dingy jeans. Instead of just “hanging out”, try purposeful dating where you put a little care into the planning and sprucing up.

Also, it’s time to level up on your terminology to describe your relationship. Instead of “buddy” or “friend” – let’s slowly work in more meaningful terms of endearment. When my (now) husband and I started dating, he was quick to turn on the mushy terms. I remember them sounding strange at first after being friends for so long, but I came to appreciate his desire to establish what I meant to him. You don’t have to jump right into “honey”, maybe come up with your own unique names for each other to make the shift.

Remember your why.

Let’s be honest – moving from friendship to romance can feel like crossing a line and there may be moments where you wonder if you are making a mistake. Fear is natural but can keep you from someone who is good for you.

Assuming you’re dealing with more than physical attraction, think about the qualities of your friend that made you want to try for more. Is it the way you’ve seen them treat other people? Is it how dependable and trustworthy they can be? Is it their integrity or sensitivity? Whatever those characteristics are, allow them to keep you in the game so that you give things a fair chance. The friend zone is safe, it keeps them in your life without possible heartache. But no risk, no reward.

Prepare to discover.

If you’ve known each other for a while, you probably know all the things you have in common. You may already have rituals around your shared interests and likes. Now that things have progressed, make efforts to form new memories and new rituals together.

Try things neither of you has ever done before! You may discover new passions or that your significant other gravitates to things you didn’t expect. This gives you the opportunity to incorporate new things as you embrace what you already know about each other. As people, we are constantly changing, and just because you “know” someone, doesn’t mean you sacrifice the excitement of what you get to learn about them.

Keep communicating.

You know what your friendship has been like, but romantic relationships are very different! It can be easy to take for granted that you know each other and try to forego really important conversations that can make or break a relationship.

  • What do you want out of the relationship? Just fun? To see how it goes?
  • What do you want for yourself down the road? Marriage? Children?
  • Is either of you prone to jealousy? How do you handle it? How will you handle it together?
  • What are your views on intimacy? The timing?
  • Which boundaries are important to you? How do you feel about constant phone calls? Someone showing up at your job?

Depending on how close your friendship has been, you may have discussed some of these things. Even though you may have already shared many of your hopes, dreams, and fears with the other person, it is important to keep sharing your thoughts and feelings. They evolve as we do and your relationship may also contribute to that evolution.

Let it take the time it takes.

You already have friendship as a foundation, there is no need to rush. You have nothing to prove to the rest of the world or to each other. Like most other things in life, the journey along the way is a treasure in itself. Enjoy the moments that make your new relationship worth cherishing as you find your own rhythm.

Have you made the leap from friend to romantic interest? How did it turn out? Any tips for making it successful? Tell us about it in #Adulting Facebook community.

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Skip the gift. Show your love with meaningful gestures.

“This would be a much better world if more married couples were as deeply in love as they are in debt.”
– Earl Wilson

Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between crippling debt and true love.

You can have more love and you can have more money. The best way to have more love is to love more. The best way to have more money is to save more. Below are my favorite ways to show love without buying a gift.

Spend quality time with your love.

When couples get together, they often can’t spend enough time with each other. Eventually, the daily routine of life takes over and they spend less time together. Soon, spending time together is no longer special. It’s not bad or boring, it’s just not as special.

Make it special.

Spend quality time with your S.O. Turn off the television and laptops. Put down the phone. Talk to each other. Go for a walk around your neighborhood or a picturesque park. Ride bikes to your favorite part of town. Play chess or a card game.

Find a quiet space and be completely immersed in the experience. Don’t share the time with Facebook.

Read to them.

For many, the memory of a parent reading to them at night is a reminder of a special kind of love. Enhance that memory with your S.O. and read to them. Read to them in bed. Read to them in your living room. Read to them in the park.

Share with them a great story and let their mind’s eye be the movie screen. This is a great way to show love without buying a gift.

My husband once read Winnie the Pooh to me while I fell asleep in bed. I pictured the story clearly in my head until I dozed. The story and the good night’s sleep were wonderful gifts that cost nothing.

Cook for bae.

Cooking feeds the soul.

What better way to say, “I love you” than to fuel the soul?

With the craziness of modern life, cooking has become more of a chore than an experience. Eliminate the chore and make for a memorable experience with your S.O. by cooking their favorite meal for them. Cooking for someone else, putting in the thought, time, and effort is a more personal way to show your love than to take them out to dinner.

This isn’t completely free, but you need to eat anyway. You might as well make it a great experience and show love without buying a gift.

Watch their favorite show or movie with them.

Everyone has a favorite show or movie that their partner doesn’t enjoy. I love It’s a Wonderful Life and can watch it every holiday season. Every. Holiday. Season.

My husband doesn’t like it, and I don’t enjoy it as much when I’m stuck watching it alone. When he’s watching it with me, it means more.

What television show or movie does your partner like that you don’t? Get it, and watch it with them. Show them that spending time with them doing something they enjoy is more important than spending time apart because you don’t have the same exact tastes.

Do for them what they usually do for themselves.

Can your partner wash their car? Pack their lunch? Clean their home? Pick up the dry cleaning? Yes, of course, they can.

Doing for someone what they can do for themselves shows a special kind of love. It makes their day just a little easier. It saves them from a daily chore. It shows that you’re there to make their life better in big and small ways.

Make a carousel of old photos from a trip or experience.

Photos are so ubiquitous today that they’ve lost value. We take a picture. Post it on Instagram. Get a bunch of likes. Forget about it when we take the next picture.

Rinse and repeat.

Dig into the archive of pictures on your phone, an older phone, your computer, or those older CDs you still have. Find special moments or an exciting trip, and put them into a single file or add them to your Flickr account.

Create a carousel of these photos to return your S.O. to a time and place you both cherish. The love you had for each other in that moment will come back. It’s a beautiful way to show love without buying a gift. And it can cement your relationship.

Give them your favorite book with a personal inscription.

Reading a hardcover or paperback book is an organic experience lost in the digital age.

A meaningful book with a personalized inscription is an organic and meaningful way to say to your S.O., “I love you.”

Whether it’s a good story, an educational or inspirational read, giving someone a book says that you want to treat them to something out of the ordinary. The more appropriate the book and heartfelt the inscription, the more the gift says you care.

Say “I love you” at an unexpected time.

It’s special to hear “I love you” from your S.O.

It’s even more special when it’s said at unexpected times.

We become conditioned to hearing it when leaving or returning from work. It’s expected before bed.

It’s not expected when you’re standing in the aisle at the grocery store or in the middle of a phone call. It’s a surprise and means more when it’s said first thing in the morning and in a text during the middle of the day.

As you can see, you don’t have to go deeply into debt to show your S.O. how much you love them.

There are countless free ways to say those three little words — and they mean more than any mere bought gift could.

 

 

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An office fling can be fun, but what if you want it to last? In order for things to work out, here are some things you’ll need to consider.

Common sense says that office romances are a bad idea. Most of the time they fail, leading to an awkward dynamic and uncomfortable interactions. When they do succeed, there’s still a danger that the situation could put your career in jeopardy.

So why are they so common?

The fact is, people are willing to set aside common sense when they feel a genuine spark with a coworker. And even though it’s a risky affair, office romances can work – if approached in the right way. It’s a high-risk, high-reward gamble, and it’s up to you to decide if the payoff is worth it.

If you think you’ve found love on the clock, here’s how to do it the right way.

Check the Employee Handbook.

Every office has their own rules about employee dating. Some prohibit it entirely, while others simply ask that you to report it to HR. Look carefully through the employee handbook and see what your company’s regulations are.

If the handbook doesn’t explicitly prohibit office relationships, you should be alright to continue dating. However, if you’re dating someone with whom you have a supervisor-subordinate relationship, things could get tricky. A 2013 report from the Society for Human Resource Management found that 99% of organizations said a relationship between a supervisor and direct employee would not be tolerated.

If word spreads about your relationship, another coworker might file a complaint with HR. Even if your partner isn’t treating you differently, there’s almost no way to prove you’re not getting any favoritism.

It is completely legal for a company to fire you or your partner for having an office romance. If your relationship keeps progressing, you might want to consider finding a new job where you won’t have to hide your significant other.

Avoid office PDA.

Even if you’re allowed to date your co-worker, it’s still a good idea to avoid being affectionate at work. No one wants to see a couple making out on the copier, flirting in the break room or calling each other pet names during a staff meeting.

No matter how tempting it might be, try not to show your love either physically and verbally. Not only can doing so get you both fired, but it might make your coworkers uncomfortable. There’s nothing shameful about an office romance, as long as you continue to act like professionals at the office.

Tell no one.

When you’re in love, you just want to shout it from the rooftops. You want to tell everyone you know, from the cashier at the grocery store to your first cousin twice removed.

But the best policy is to not tell anyone associated with your job, unless you’re required to disclose the relationship to HR. It’s okay to share it with a couple close friends, but it’s easy for secrets to spill out and rumors to spread – especially if mutual friends from work are involved.

When I briefly dated a coworker of mine, we kept it private and didn’t tell anyone. Once, a friend who had suspected we were dating watched us leave the office together. When he saw we weren’t holding hands, he concluded he was wrong. I later felt so proud that we kept our relationship a secret.

Avoid talking about work.

When you’re dating a coworker, bitching about the receptionist or management can be an easy topic of conversation to fall back on. But if your relationship is only built on work, it will crumble easily.

I know this from personal experience. When I was 18, I dated one of my managers at Pac-Sun. He was my first boyfriend and I really liked hanging out with him. We decided to keep dating while I went off to college, but I quickly realized we had nothing in common.

While working together it was easy to find stuff talk to about, but the distance made it obvious we weren’t compatible. If you and your partner are always talking about work, you won’t get the chance to find out if you’re truly in sync on a deeper level.

Take the time to explore each other’s hobbies, meet your non-work friends, and enjoy life outside of the office. It will strengthen your bond and prove you have something more in common.

Consider looking for outside jobs.

It’s definitely possible to sustain an office relationship, it’s usually easier if one person ends up finding a new job. While this isn’t necessary per se, it can simplify some of the issues that will inevitably crop up if your relationship becomes more serious – or if you break up.

Discuss it with your partner and make a thoughtful, forward-thinking decision. It might seem extreme to uproot your career for romance, especially if you both love your jobs, but it could save your relationship. For many people, that’s more than enough reason.

Have you experienced an office romance? Did it last or fail? Tell us about it in the #Adulting Facebook community

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A friendship not fitting quite as snuggly as it used to? You don’t have to give up on it. Here’s how to work through the changes.

Getting older is always tough, but nothing about adult life seems quite as harsh as losing friendships. Even if you were once closer with someone than you’ve ever been with another person, that relationship can dissolve within a matter of years – sometimes even months. Usually, it happens because you end up on different life paths.

As I settle into my late 20s, I’m starting to realize just how difficult it can be to stay connected with a friend whose life is completely divergent from my own. As I’ve learned from talking to older friends and family, those rifts only continue to grow wider if you let them. The key, I’ve found, is to be proactive in preserving the relationship.

If you feel yourself growing apart from a friend whose life has become very different from your own, here are some things you can do to bridge the gap.

Understand their decisions.

Many of my closest friends are on a different path than I am. They dream of kids, a house in the suburbs and a minivan to go with it. Even though I don’t want any of those things, I still need to support their decisions.

I might look at a house in the suburbs with disdain, but I have to consider it from their point of view. Those neighborhoods usually have better school districts, and more space available for less money. If I’ve learned one thing from having older friends with kids, good schools are everything when you have children.

Friends only start to drift apart when one or both parties stop trying to understand the other. If my friend can make an effort to understand why I don’t want kids, then I should try to appreciate why she does.

Keep Your opinions to yourself.

I’m a very opinionated and judgmental person. I always think I’m right, but lately I’ve learned that’s not the most endearing quality to my friends.

When you’re on a different life path from your friends, you have to keep some opinions to yourself. I don’t agree with being a stay-at-home mom, but I won’t tell my friends not to do that. I don’t agree with spending lots of money on a new car, but I won’t shame a friend for splurging on a new Lexus.

Even if your friend is doing something objectively bad, like having an affair or running up their credit card bill, you can’t tell them what to do. You’re not responsible for their decisions and you won’t have to personally deal with the aftermath, so let it go.

Create new memories.

I had an intensely close group of girlfriends in college. We lived in the same dorm our freshman and sophomore years and continued to hang out our junior and senior years.

After graduation, we all moved away. We’d see each other at Christmas and text occasionally, but we weren’t as close as when we were 18. I knew we missed each other, and one day I got the idea that we should all go on a trip. Thankfully, they all agreed and we planned a vacation to Asheville, North Carolina.

The trip was amazing. While we spent a large portion of the time reminiscing about our college days, we created new memories in the process. I’ll never forget the hours we spent playing Taboo or watching for license plates from faraway states while driving. Even though we’ve known each other for a decade, my friends and I shared stories we had never heard before.

Now we text each other every few days, updating the others about our job interviews, our house searches and our boy troubles. Even though we’re all on different paths and live hundreds of miles apart, our friendships feel as strong as they were when lived in the same dorm.

Don’t let jealousy get in the way.

Recently, I asked my parents how they’ve managed to stay friends with people who earn more than they do. Don’t they get jealous of what their friends can afford to do? Isn’t it awkward if someone shows up to a party in a new Mercedes while they’re driving a Toyota?

But my parents are wise. They never feel envious of a friend whose life is going really well. “You’re always doing better or worse than someone you know, so just be grateful for what you do have.”

As my friends and I get older, I’m sure salary discrepancies will come up more than once. As I’ve observed from my parent’s example, money only becomes a factor if you let it. Yes, some of my friends will drive nicer cars or have bigger houses – but I can’t let my jealousy divide us. Neither should you.

The same is true if you’re single and all your friends are married, or if you can’t have kids but all your friends are moms. Yes, it’s easy to feel envious looking at Instagram photos, but harboring those feelings will make it harder to remember why you’re friends in the first place.

Do you have tips for maintaining diverging friendships? Let us know over in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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Don’t let your trust issues get in the way of your relationship.

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Relationships can be tricky, especially today when so much is in flux. Whether you are in a long-distance relationship, or whether you live with your S.O., trust issues can come up.

This sort of insecurity in your relationship can be toxic. You don’t want your own insecurities to get in the way of a great thing. At the same time, you do need to navigate the situation if trust issues are reasonable.

In this episode, we talk about how you can get beyond relationship insecurity and feel good about your relationship.

Concepts

  • Signs of relationship insecurity.
  • Indications that you’re going overboard trying to verify your partner’s activities.
  • Questions you should be asking yourself about your relationship and where you stand.
  • Problems that can lead to trust issues.
  • Tips for getting beyond relationship insecurity.
  • Ideas for feeling confident in yourself.
  • How to handle rejection without letting it impact your next relationship.

Our DO NOWs this week are all about focusing on your relationship and reminding yourself of what you like about it. It’s important to acknowledge what you like about your relationship — as well as learning to stop comparing your relationship to others’.

This week’s listener question tackles the difficult situation of overcoming trust issues when your partner has cheated on you.

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Resources

Move beyond relationship insecurity

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