An Expert's Best Tips For Forging Deeper Adult Friendships

We meet many people throughout our lives, some stay around and others grow apart. Having friends from childhood or college is always great. But there is a high chance that you'll be apart physically as you move to new cities, start new careers, and cultivate new lives. So as you embark on your own life, one of the challenges is cultivating meaningful relationships with other adults. While the main purpose of school, from kindergarten to college, is to educate, it's also a social place. Being around other people your age, and engaging in interests like sports, arts, and music made it easier to make connections and form friendships.


But in adulthood, that social aspect isn't in place naturally, it's one that has to be found. Work replaces school and coworkers replace friends. And while you can make friends with the people you work with, it's not always a guaranteed community. Because friendships take time to develop and because many people lead busy lives, the balancing act of making new friends can be tricky. Yes, it can be difficult to find new friends as an adult, but it's not impossible. In fact, Brenda Delmonte, a licensed mental health counselor from The Counseling Perch specializing in helping young adult and adult women with anxiety shared with Glam ways to make deeper friendships as an adult.

Be authentic

Your parents have probably told you that being yourself is the best way to make friends. There is some truth to that even years later. "Having a genuine attitude and allowing yourself to show up authentically and unapologetically will help to deepen friendships," Delmonte explains. "It gives off the impression that you are who you say you are and can be trusted."


For many people, trust is the most important aspect of an adult friendship. Most adults keep close-knit groups of friends rather than those with large numbers. Being able to trust those closest to you, whether it's with getting home safely on a night out or sharing personal thoughts and feelings, is a top priority for many.

"When we trust someone, we are more likely to open up about deeper issues and this creates opportunities for a deeper connection and bond in friendships," Delmonte adds. You should be able to open up to friends and trust they're going to keep things confidential and have friends trust you to keep what they tell you confidential.

Use compassion

There's no one pathway for adulthood, which means people will be in all different places, whether it's where they want to be or not. Delmonte explains, "Adulthood is a time of many happy life changes (i.e., marriage, having children, purchasing a home, job promotions. But, it also includes complicated ones, (i.e. divorce, job loss, health concerns, and grief associated with need to let go of dreams and face reality). We need friends to help us get through these difficult times."


As a friend, you should be able to extend compassion and support for all of life's most hectic moments. Be genuinely happy during the best time and provide empathy in the hard times. "When you show compassion toward a friend and truly show your support and caring traits, you will be seen as reliable and kind." Being there for someone during vulnerable moments — both good and bad — can aid in deepening a relationship. Of course, you'll want a friend to do the same for you. If you're always there for someone, but you don't get the same in return, that may be a sign of a one-sided friendship, which aren't beneficial for your mental health.

Pick up the phone

Friendships need to be maintained, and that can be hard to do in adult lives. "We all get busy with our lives. Spending too much time in your own world without talking to your friends and checking in on them will lessen your bond rather than increase it," Delmonte says. It's easy to get wrapped up in your routine, focusing on work, your partner, or immediate responsibilities. But without reaching out, your friendships can suffer.


Sometimes you have to take the initiative and reach out to someone first. Everyone is busy, and most likely, they aren't purposely ignoring you. Friends may be in the same boat as you, focusing on day-to-day priorities, their partners, or their jobs. "Make sure to set aside time to send a text or call your friend," Delmonte continues. "Knowing that you care goes a long way in building a friendship." Check in with friends regularly just to talk about what's going on and how life is going. You don't always have to make plans to hang out, but by having regular conversations, you're maintaining contact and being a consistent presence.

Participate in mutually shared activities

But, of course, few friendships can be sustained completely over the phone. Do your best to plan activities to do together. "Doing activities together can help create shared experiences that can foster a feeling of connectedness," Delmonte explains. "Connecting while doing an activity in person may be a better option than simply texting and never meeting up with each other." Simple activities like going out to dinner or drinking coffee and catching up can be a great way to remain a constant in each other's lives.


You can also plan to do activities around where you live, like museums, movies, or other forms of entertainment. If you're the active type of friends, you might want to make time to go to the gym, take a walk, or try sports leagues together. It may also be worth creating a schedule to spend time together, like committing to seeing each other once a month. For long-distance friendships, there will definitely need to be some planning involved. Try to take trips to see each other and spend quality time together. The important part is to find an activity you both enjoy and do them regularly to bond.