7 tips for making adult friendships

When we were younger, making friends was easy. The same barriers weren’t there, and the opportunities were plentiful. I’ve known the vast majority of my best friends for 30 years or more.

Over time life has gotten exponentially more complex with careers, marriage, kids, etc. It’s really easy to focus solely on these and become isolated and lonely. Fortunately, our kids have activities with other kids, and these kids have parents. So there are plenty of opportunities to meet new people. And it is from this angle that I want to share a few tips for making adult friendships.

 

Tip 1: It’s important that we like and enjoy the other parent(s.) It’s a no brainer, right? Problem is that sometimes our kids really like each other, but we’d rather not socialize with their parents. Sure, you’ll chat at your kid’s events, but that doesn’t mean you have to be friends. Fortunately, I like all my kid’s friends’ parents.

Tip 2: It’s really helpful when the kids like each other and want to hang out. It’s hard when you’re at your kid’s activity and you meet and connect with one of the other parents. After a while, you think about hanging out, but then you learn that your kids don’t really like each other. Sure, you can be friends outside of the family, but this can bring complexities.

Tip 3: We need to have as many opportunities as possible to connect and hang out. Sure, parents can become great friends after our kids share one activity. But if we don’t have other opportunities, it’s less likely we’ll continue. When our kids are on opposite teams down the road, we’ll be more likely to stare at them with semi-recognition or look away to avoid eye contact than hang out like lifelong pals.

Tip 4: Rather than depending on luck, we can create opportunities for kids to share activities so we can hang out with the parents we like. I give my wife 100% credit for teaching me this. (And she also gets 100% of the credit for organizing this stuff.) We can invite the kids to join other activities. Maybe your kid plays a different sport, or is in the chess club, or scouts and their friend tries it out and likes it, too. More fun for parents.

Tip 5: Ok, our kids have known each other for a while, shared the same activities, and like each other, and we like the parents. So we start hanging out outside structured activities for the kids. We adults are friends.

Tip 6: We have to maintain these friendships by continuing to reach out and create opportunities. Honestly, it’s easy to sit back and wait to be invited to things. And sometimes we will. And sometimes we won’t. Since we have the power to initiate getting together, we should. If we don’t do our part, eventually they’ll drift away.

Tip 7: I learned this from my friend Ken: don’t score keep. Don’t sit back and think, “OK, we had them over. Now it’s their turn.” Sure, if you have a family over 60 times in a row, resentment will develop and you’ll drift away. But if you have a 4th of July party, don’t trip out if they don’t invite you over for a bbq in a couple of weeks. If you want to have a bbq with them, invite them over. Don’t keep score.They’ll probably have you over for Labor Day and Thanksgiving and Christmas. Rather than getting caught up in it being 3-2 them, celebrate that you’ve been to 5 parties with your friends.

Until next time…

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