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Where to Find Friends and How to Keep Them!

I’ve lived in 5 different states throughout my life and each time I moved I had to make new friends. Each time it was hard for different reasons. When I moved from Colorado to Indiana, I was in 6th grade and I found very quickly that the kids at the school were very cliquey. When I moved to Missouri for college it was fairly easy to make friends because I went to a small college. And by the time we moved to Texas, Florida and Indiana, it became a little harder to make friends each time, all for different reasons. 

When I work with Highly Sensitive People (HSPs), children or adults, navigating friendships is usually one of their top concerns. Often my HSP clients are very loyal and like to have deep conversations and connections with their friends. But they often find that this is not always reciprocated, and this usually leaves them feeling dejected, rejected or confused. To discover some other things HSP children struggle with click here. Or click here for a sample of the workbook I created just for HS Kids! 

A few of you commented on our posts in September that a few of the reasons that it’s hard to make friends as an adult is that you’re not always around people of the same stage in life (e.g., married, preschool children, empty nester, etc.). And not constantly being around the same people, like you were in college, makes it difficult to get to know someone on a deeper level. 

Here’s a list of places to start looking for friends if you’re not sure where to start:

  • Join a book club (or start one in your neighborhood)

  • Join or start a Mom’s group-there are several for Mom’s of all ages

  • Join or start a supper club

  • Join a local FB group based on one of your interests

  • Join an adult sports league

  • Join a gym/take classes 

  • Become a coach or volunteer for a sports league

  • Become a referee for a sports league

  • Volunteer at a local food bank, homeless shelter or animal shelter

  • Ask someone you don’t know well out for coffee or to exercise/walk

  • Find a new hobby and a local group that teaches this hobby

  • Find a group on www.meetup.com

I would encourage you try whatever new place or thing you try for at least 3 times. This gives you time to adjust to the transition or change and gives you a chance to meet new people. Here are a few things to consider when 

What to look for in a friend (at any age!) 

An analogy I use often is that a friendship/relationship is like having 2 cups-A GIVE cup and a RECEIVE cup. And over the course of a friendship/relationship, the give and receive cups should be fairly even. There will be times that you will need to give more to a friend when they are having a hard time, need advice or some guidance. There will be times that you will need to ask for help (or receive) from a friend because you need something from them. Typically, when these cups are unbalanced in a friendship/relationship one person is left feeling used and frustrated.

I have people of all ages who struggle with making and keeping friends. Here are a few things to look for when making (and keeping) friends:

  1. Friends should have similar core values

Core values are the character values that we use to make decisions about our world. For example, if one of your core values is loyalty, you may be deeply loyal to others, even when it is no longer healthy for you to do so. But the flip side is that you also make a very good friend to others. A friend should have similar core values. This does not mean we can have friends that share differences of opinions, but it does mean that you will find that it is easier to talk about a lot of things when your values are the same. This will help you feel safe to share your ideas and opinions without fear of judgement.

  1. Friends should have common interests

Just like core values, it’s important to find friends who like the same things you like. I’ve had friends at different points in my life that don’t have common interests. And while I liked them as a person, it was difficult to find things to do together that we both enjoyed doing.

  1. Friends should be able to listen

We all go through hard things and it’s important to have someone who can offer a listening ear and advice when you need it. I’ve had friends in the past that when I’m trying to talk through hard things, they either try to “one up” me by sharing something “harder” they’ve gone through, or they switch the subject to be about them. This is definitely a skill and one I continue to work on when I’m with friends!

  1. Friendship should be reciprocal

Just like the example I used above. I believe that friendships should be reciprocal. I’ve had friends that expect me to text and check in on them and they don’t do the same for me. Then I’m in “trouble” with them for not making them a priority. In my opinion, texting, calling, getting together and invites work both ways. 

Highly Sensitive Persons (HSPs) struggle with friendships because they often overthink interactions that they’ve had with friends. This can lead to a lot of anxiety and perfectionism even in friendships. You can read more about this here. It’s also important for you to help your Highly Sensitive Kid navigate friendships in a way that helps them thrive by not overthinking their interactions too much, not being easily offended by others and encouraging them to share their wants/needs with their friends.  

I hope this helps you find the answer to questions you may have why friendships are important to our mental health. If you’re still feeling uneasy about this process, please feel

free to contact me at 317.496.0456 or email lisa@peacefamilycounseling.com. I’d be

happy to hear what is happening and help you find the right fit for counseling. If you

are looking for help with depression, anxiety, trauma or behavioral concerns, you

can read more about how I can help at my website peacefamilycounseling.

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