5 Keys to Building Stronger Friendships In Adulthood - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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January 30, 2017

Five Keys to Building Stronger Friendships In Adulthood | Geneva College

Strong friendships make adults happier and healthier. A meta-analysis of 148 studies involving over 308,000 participants found that friendship had an even bigger impact on longevity than exercise.

Unfortunately, forming new friendships gets continually more difficult over time, especially as work, school, and other obligations get in the way of laid-back socialization. According to a Time-sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences study, most people only have one or two close friends -- and far too many have no good friends at all. If, like the participants in this study, you are concerned about your lack of close friends, keep the following suggestions in mind -- they can help you form new friendships and deepen existing ones:

Make Friendship a Priority

Some friends can pick up where they left off years ago as if nothing has changed, but in most cases, close friendships take time. If you fail to interact with your friends on a regular basis, those relationships will fade quickly. Text and social media conversations are a start, but it's more important to meet face to face. As you plan your busy schedule, keep friendship nurturing in mind and consider blocking out a specific time each week for socializing. Show your friends that they are a priority in your life and they will be more inclined to return the favor.

Find Common Ground

Many friendships begin based on shared interests or participation in a particular group or club. Over time, however, the impetus for a given friendship may fade away, giving friends little to bond over. To prevent this from happening, find new ways to embrace your shared interests. For example, if you both love basketball but are no longer on the same intramural league, commit to watching a pro or college basketball team together at least once a month. Enduring commonalities such as faith can also be a great source of connection; there's nothing like bonding over your Bible.

Be Vulnerable

Looking to take that acquaintance to the next level? Open up to your prospective friend and let that person know more about your faith, your hopes for the future, and your regrets from the past. Vulnerability is a key component of any relationship; it's tough to truly draw close to a person until he or she discards the facade and opens up.

In addition to being vulnerable, you need to encourage vulnerability. This means actually listening when your friend shares major concerns and responding in a respectful and empathetic manner. If your friend or acquaintance is not quite ready to be vulnerable, don't push it -- just be supportive and model vulnerability when appropriate.

Show Gratitude

Friends tend to take one another for granted, especially if their relationships span several years. Don't just assume that your loved ones know how much you appreciate them -- show them how you feel on a regular basis. A simple expression of thanks can prove quite powerful, as can a thank you note or a special favor.

Deep friendships take time to form, but the necessary time commitment is more than worthwhile. The more you embrace vulnerability, the deeper your friendships will grow -- and the happier you'll feel.

For more information on how Geneva College can help you pursue your career and personal goals, contact us at 855-979-5563 or web@geneva.edu.