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. Read More...

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. Read More...

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. Read More...

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

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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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. Read More...

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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Is there really hope in the friend zone? Read More...

You feel something. They don’t. You want something. They don’t. You try, you show up, you’re available, and they say, “Let’s just be friends.” Ugh!

The “friend zone” has thwarted many a would-be lover.

The friend zone can become the danger-zone if it’s not treated with caution. For the would-be lover, every glance, slightest nicety, and hint of attraction (valid or otherwise) are always seen as prospects for a hopeful future.

All too often, unfortunately, such hopes are dashed and hearts crushed when the would-be lover’s prospect finds prospects elsewhere.

Five areas within the friend zone can make it the danger-zone.

Proceed with caution.

Friends in the friend zone aren’t friends with benefits.

One of the benefits of being single for many is the opportunity to mingle sexually. In today’s more sexually open culture, people choose to be single for longer and enjoy the benefits of having friends with benefits.

Two adults who don’t want a relationship but are sexually active can be a match made in heaven. That is, as long as both sexual partners stay on the same relationships/sexual plain. For someone stuck against their will in the friend zone, a night of benefits can be too confusing to let the friendship last.

Don’t merge the friend zone with benefits.

Friends in the friend zone don’t expect a free dinner.

We’re still ironing out gender norms. For that reason, deciding who pays for what is a little more confusing today than it used to be.

To each their own, of course, but it’s not fair to expect a would-be lover stuck in the friend zone to pay for nights. The occasional treat may be okay, but when it starts to feel like a relationship, act like a relationship, and look like a relationship, then the friend zone is disrupted. It becomes a one-sided relationship.

Friends in the friend zone should be sure to keep the friendship equitable to not confuse the would-be lover. You need to pay as much as you let the other person pay.

Friends in the friend zone aren’t rebounds.

Having a would-be lover in the friend zone is nice. It boosts confidence and can fuel the ego. It’s a safe space. It can also feel like a place of refuge when your relationship with your significant other goes south. When one relationship repels you, you’re often attracted to the relationship of least resistance.

Unfortunately, a one-night stand for you can confuse for a friend stuck in the friend zone. Therefore, find your rebounds and one-night stands in other zones. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself with more than one strained relationship and make repairing either too hard.

Friends in the friend zone don’t replace partners.

Having the advantage of a friendship doesn’t mean you can take advantage of your friends, especially those in the friend zone.

If you start to feel like your friend in the friend zone is becoming your go-to friend, a BFF of sorts, they may start to interpret your friendship as more — or begin to resent whatever relationship there is.

When one person wants more than another, lines can become easily blurred. It’s up to the one who established the lines not to cross them.

Friends in the friend zone aren’t like other friends.

Friends in the friend zone are special friends who can quickly be taken advantage of and feel taken advantage of by the would-be love. We all have who would bury a body for us if we needed and who wouldn’t expect anything in return – well, except maybe a good bottle of whiskey.

Friends in the friend zone aren’t that kind of friend because they may feel deserving of more than a bottle of whiskey.

Should they expect anything in return for small favors? No, but people in the friend zone can easily see what’s not there because they want to see what they want to see.

Every relationship and every kind of relationship has its own boundaries. Staying within those boundaries, especially when you’re put contrary to your desires, can be hard. When you’re the one who sets those boundaries, it’s important to not cross them.

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Friendships are work. Just because you’re adulting hard doesn’t mean you have to let them slip away. Read More...

When you’re going through high school and college, the idea of drifting apart from your closest friends seems impossible. When you share a bond so strong, how could living in different cities or working opposite schedules get in the way?

Flash forward to your mid-20s, and you haven’t talked to any of them in months. Maybe you don’t even have their numbers.

After I graduated college, I learned the hard way that friendship is like a garden – if you don’t water it consistently, the vines will wither and die. Busy with work and high on my new career, I gradually started losing contact with the people who once meant the most to me. I assumed it would be easy to make new friendships, just like it was in college – how wrong I was.

Thankfully, I was able to turn things around before I lost my friends completely, but others aren’t so lucky. There are twenty-somethings all over the country pining for their old buddies, wondering where it all went wrong. If you don’t want to become one of them, read ahead to find out how.

Create a schedule.

My friend Leslie told me about how she would go weeks without talking to her sister, and how sad it made her. Every time she’d call, her sister would be busy and vice versa. Sick of playing phone tag, they created a schedule where every Sunday at 2 p.m., they call each other and catch up on an episode of their favorite show, usually “Pretty Little Liars” or “Chopped.”

Leslie said that since they created a schedule, they haven’t missed a phone call unless one of them has been on vacation. I love the idea of creating a regular phone date at the same time every month.

For this system to work, each person has to promise to be available during the agreed time and not cancel when life gets busy. You can’t flake out just because you’re tired or your boyfriend really wants to watch a movie – once you miss an appointment for flimsy reasons, it’s going to be easier to skip out from that point on.

Keep it simple.

A couple weeks ago, my college friends and I took a four-day trip to Asheville, North Carolina. We stayed in a rustic cabin outside of town and planned to spend our time kayaking, paddleboarding and hiking – almost none of which we actually did.

Why? We spent most of the time talking to each other, drinking homemade cocktails and staying up late playing Taboo. I had as much fun with them singing along to the Spice Girls in the car as I did exploring downtown Asheville.

If you’re struggling to make time for your friends, you might be overthinking it. Don’t try to plan an amazing Friday night, ask them over to watch “30 Rock” or play a board game instead. You don’t have to plan a dinner party or make reservations at the newest bar to have a good time.

Run errands together.

When I still lived in the same city as one of my best friends, we would often do the most mundane tasks together, like go grocery shopping or return clothes we’d bought online.

It’s not that we didn’t want to do something more exciting, but I was very frugal at the time and didn’t have extra money to spend on movies, concerts or going out. Instead, we’d go to Costco, get a hot dog for $1 and then buy whatever was on our list. Even though we were spending our Saturdays at a warehouse club, we still had fun.

If you’re pressed for time, don’t choose between your friends and your responsibilities. Combine them instead. Who knows, your friend might also need to buy moisturizer at Sephora or a new blazer at the mall.

You can even do this if you’re on a call with someone. For example, I love talking on the phone while I’m out walking the dogs or cleaning up around the house. It doesn’t take any extra mental capacity, and I’m not shirking my responsibilities.

That’s why I would always call my mom when I was driving home from work. I didn’t have anything else I needed to do at the same time, and it always made me feel better.

Take advantage of technology.

My best friends and I are separated by multiple states and we only see each other a couple times a year. To bridge the gap, I try to send them articles I think they’ll like or comment on their Facebook photos. Technology makes it so easy to stay in touch, especially if you’re far away.

Since I’ve started texting my friends more, I’ve felt more connected to a part of my life that ended when I graduated from college. I feel happier when I get a text from a friend, even if it’s as simple as an inside joke or a recommendation for acne cleanser.

Send snail mail.

You can also send letters and cards for birthdays and random events. It’s cheap, but it’s so fun to get real mail from your friends.

What are some of the ways you make time for friends? Have you adjusted relationships due to distance or schedules? Tell us about it over at the #Adulting Facebook community.

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Feeling like a stranger in a strange land? It can be hard to start over in a new city. But part of the fun is making new connections and finding a new crew. Read More...

When my husband and I moved from Indianapolis to Denver a couple years ago, I left behind a solid core of friends that made up the bulk of my social life. I was sad to leave them, but confident I could do the same thing I’d done when changing schools as a child or moving out of state for college – maintain my old friendships and start some new ones.

While I had no problems staying in touch with my friends from Indiana, making new relationships was so much harder than I ever expected. Not only did I lack any kind of social base to start from, but I had just left an office job to start my career as a freelance writer. You don’t realize how important the workplace can be as a social tool until your only office mates are a husband and two dogs.

It took some time, but eventually, I was able to meet some great people and form lasting friendships. Here are some of the methods I tried, and how well they might work for you.

MeetUp.

MeetUp is one of the best tools to find new friends with similar interests, and almost every major city has an active MeetUp community.

MeetUp is a haven for groups based on every kind of interest imaginable. I’ve joined book clubs, art journal groups and card-game nights. Many of these have hundreds of members, so don’t expect to see the same faces every time. But if you attend the same event frequently enough, you’re bound to make some connections that stick.

Go to two or three events before you decide you don’t like a group. It can take time to get out of your comfort zone and feel at ease around total strangers, but since most MeetUp groups are based on a specific activity you’ll always have something in common.

Make sure to look at the age range of the groups you’re interested in. I once joined a movie MeetUp without realizing I was the youngest person there. I went a couple times, but ultimately decided I couldn’t make close friendships with people close to my parent’s age.

Bumble.

This tip is only for the ladies. The dating app, Bumble has a feature where women can look for other women to be friends with. When you download the app, choose the BFF setting when prompted. You’ll only see profiles of other women who want to find a new shopping buddy or movie companion.

Bumble starts by showing you a series of photos. Like many dating apps, you swipe right on the prospects you like and left on the ones you don’t. At first, I swiped right on almost everyone, but I quickly realized I wanted to be more selective.

Almost half of the girls I saw said they loved drinking wine and going to brunch – but doesn’t everyone? I decided to swipe left on anyone who had such a generic profile. I swiped right on girls who said they loved comic books, playing with their dog or reading detective novels. I wasn’t trying to be judgemental, but it’s easier to make a connection when you have something in common.

I met a couple cool girls through the app, but staying in touch on a long-term basis proved harder. That’s not an indictment of the service, but you’ll need to invest some time and energy into the app if you want it to pay off long term.

Volunteer.

When you’re in a new city, it can be hard to get the lay of the land. What events are cool? Which museums are worth going to? Where can you find the best ice cream?

Volunteering for local events is one way to have fun, explore, and make friends in a new city in the process. Most volunteer spots last several hours, so you’ll have time to chat and get to know people. Plus, you often get free swag or privileged access.

If you hear about a local event that sounds interesting, but you don’t want to go alone, contact the organizers to see if they need volunteers.

Sports leagues.

Joining a local bowling league is the best way I’ve made friends in Denver. We played one game a week for six weeks, meeting at the same time and place consistently. Having a regular time to hang out proved to be the key to making a new group of friends. When you sporadically attend functions, you don’t get the consistency that’s required to solidify new friendships. Seeing the same people once a week made it easier to develop actual relationships.

We started planning other activities together pretty quickly, like going to the movies, attending musicals and going on short hikes. Eventually we started watching “Game of Thrones” together every Sunday and later transitioned into a weekly trivia group when our bowling season ended.

Every city has local sports leagues you can join and participate in. Most people won’t care if you’re unathletic, as long as you have a positive attitude and a cursory knowledge of the sport. Often, groups go out afterward for drinks or dinner, giving you another opportunity to establish roots.

Moving to a new city is the perfect chance to find new friends and reinvent your life with people who you can enjoy time with.

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Don’t believe the hype. You really can be friends with members of the opposite sex. You just need to see other people as, you know, people. Read More...

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Is it really possible to be friends with the opposite sex?

Believe it or not, we think it is. Otherwise, how would our relationship work for this podcast?

In this week’s episode, we look at society’s expectations for our friendships based on gender stereotypes. We also tackle the issue of being attracted to your opposite-sex friends.

 

Concepts

  • A look at the differences in how men and women see their opposite-sex friends.
  • Changing perspectives on being friends with the opposite sex.
  • Gender as a social construct and not a binary.
  • How to focus less on biology and more on human connections.
  • Tips for managing being friends with the opposite sex and your S.O.
  • Moving on after you acknowledge (at least to yourself) that there is some level of attraction.
  • What it’s like to have a bestie of the opposite sex.

It’s a little awkward with the Do Nows this week. Do you really need to go on a quest to be friends with the opposite sex? Does it really matter. We encourage you to look at your list of friends and see if there are some experiences and people you want to connect with. No matter who you connect with, consider joining a local organization where you can meet new people.

This week’s listener question tackles the issue of trying to explain to your parents that you just aren’t interested in your opposite-sex bestie.

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Resources

Opposite-sex besties.

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Want to keep it tight with your crew? It takes effort. But it’s totally worth it. Read More...

Developing good relationships is the primary reason we’re on earth.

Human contact is essential for both your mental and physical health. In fact, studies show that those with strong emotional ties are healthier and live longer than those without.

But building those bonds takes time and effort. Even if you consider yourself a good person, it can be hard to maintain relationships, especially as work and other commitments take more of your time.

As you build your squad, here’s how you can develop relationships meant to last:

Learn to listen.

You probably already think of yourself as a decent listener.

But consider this: Do you actually listen when your friend is or partner is talking? Or do you think of what you’re going to say in response? Do you really hear them? Or are you judging what they’re saying?

Hearing is easy, but listening is hard.

It’s hard to listen mindfully, without wondering how long it’ll be before you can say something. But listening is vital to developing a good relationship, no matter if it’s with a boss or the cashier at your favorite donut shop.

“I don’t necessarily have to agree with what’s being said, but acknowledgment goes a long way towards building those important relationships,” said Elle Martinez, author of Jumpstart Your Marriage & Your Money.

Listening is like meditation. It requires focusing on one singular object and bringing your mind back to that focus when it starts to drift. It’s one of the hardest skills to master, especially if you’ve spent most of your life half-heartedly paying attention to your friends.

Stay in touch.

How many relationships lose traction because one of you fails to keep in touch? Keeping track of people is hard, but it’s made so much easier now with the advent of Facebook and other forms of social media.

Try to stay in touch, even if it’s as simple as sending a text or message saying you’re thinking of them and hope they’re doing well. I even created a recurring calendar reminder to call my grandmother. I always forget to call her, so I set it for a time when I know I’ll be free. I also keep a stack of blank greeting cards handy so I can send close friends and family personal cards when it’s their birthday.

It takes little time to send them out, but means the world to get a hand-written note in the mail. Relationships are like cars. They need regular tuneups to function or they’ll die.

Bring up problems early.

I have a theory: the best friends I have are the ones I’ve had some sort of disagreement with. If I’m willing to bring up a difficult subject with you, it means we’re good friends.

But it’s never easy to bring up something with a close friend. I hate confrontation, and most people agree with me. Fortunately, every time I’ve brought something up, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of the other person. It’s always led to a closer relationship, and I’ve never regretted it.

I usually feel uncomfortable doing this in person or over the phone, so I try to write it out. I can take my time writing out my grievances and I know that I won’t say something hastily I’ll regret later. Plus, then the other person has the option to respond in print or in person.

When you have a problem you want to discuss, try bringing it up with a neutral party first. A third-person can provide a different perspective and tell you if you’re actually in the wrong. I usually discuss friend issues with my husband first, since he can tell me if I’m being unreasonable.

Give feedback.

What most people are looking for is acknowledgment in this world. That’s why many of us seek validation through likes and hearts on social media.

Give that to your loved ones by commenting on their recent career news or by supporting their side business. Odd as it sounds, developing good relationships in today’s world includes participating on social media with them.

If your friend just started dating someone new, text her a few weeks in to ask her how it’s going. She’ll love to hear that you care about her relationship. Bring it up if you see her in person. One of the characteristics that differentiates a strong relationship from a weak one is if you bring up things that are important to your friend before they have to. That shows real commitment and dedication.

Every interaction you have, try to mention or ask something that the other person cares about. They’ll be delighted that you remember and care so much.

Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Make your people feel good and they’ll never forget it.

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