The majority of people will have far fewer friends as adults than they had as children, and will form even fewer new friendships as they grow older… but it doesn’t have to be that way.
There are many reasons that it is harder to make (and keep) friends when you are an adult than when you are a kid, but one of the biggest things seems almost counterintuitive… we’re more afraid as adults than as children. As adults, we have experienced emotional pain that the vast majority of children have never been around, let alone experienced… everything from being rejected by someone you were interested in all the way up to the pain of losing someone close to you. That pain hurts in ways that physical pain doesn’t, it’s harder to ignore, and it takes longer to heal, so the fear of feeling it again is much more intense than the fear of physical pain.
Our subconscious minds, however, don’t even want to admit to this fear… they mask it with all sorts of other excuses and reasons, most of which seem reasonable on the surface, and our conscious minds don’t really want to face our fears either, so we blindly accept the excuses spewed by our subconscious. The only real way to get past that is to consciously examine why we let a friendship fade away, or why we hesitate to reach out to a possible new friend.
Being consciously aware, and active in guiding your life, requires effort, and puts you at risk of failure. Making friends (and keeping them) requires you to open yourself up to emotional pain (not necessarily to feel it, but you have to risk it), as you have to allow them inside your walls that you’ve built to keep even the potential of pain at a distance. You have to invest your time and energy into something that you don’t actually control, that may not come out the way you want it.
The how of making friends and influencing people is easy… find common ground and reach out to them. Find ways to invest your time and energy into something that you have in common, or something that is important to them. Listen to them, and learn who they really are. Let them inside your walls and your masks… the more personal your connection is, the stronger your link will be… you will be better friends, and/or be able to influence them more strongly.
None of those things are hard to do (directly) or hard to understand… the difficulty is in opening yourself up to the potential of pain, the possibility of failure or loss, and the giving up of control. It is hard to let down your walls enough to reach over them to someone else… but it’s worth it.
In fact, I am going to be reaching out to people I haven’t connected with for a long time over the next little bit… Family, friends, former coworkers. I’m writing again now, and I’m working on following my own advice (not always the easiest medicine to swallow). Want to connect (or reconnect) with me? Now is a good time… reach out and I’ll respond.