9 Research-Backed Strategies For Making Friends When You're A Grown-Up

FriendsGetty ImagesThe older you are, the harder it becomes to make new friends.

It used to be so easy to make friends. In grade school and college, you’re tossed into a situation where everybody has to get to know each other.

But once you’re shot out into the adult world, it gets much harder. Luckily, we’ve got some tips to make it easier, based on the latest research.

Invest in situations that encourage friendship.

Back in the 1950s, sociologists discovered three factors that are necessary for making friends:

• Proximity: You have to simply be near one another.

• Unplanned interactions: You run into each other even when you don't schedule it.

• Privacy: You need to be in an environment where you can confide in one another.

As the New York Times has reported, adulthood provides few situations where all three are available.

So let's get to the methods for making them happen.

Get out of the office.

Lots of us work in open offices.

Susan Cain, the author of 'Quiet: The Power of Introverts In A World That Can't Stop Talking,' says open office designs may be popular, but they actually provide a barrier to building relationships.

'Open office plans are harder to make friendships in,' she says. 'When people are first forming friendships, the currency they're using is the exchange of confidences.'

Thus the need to head elsewhere.

Become a regular at your neighbourhood bar, cafe, or restaurant.

The key is to spend time with the same people. Eventually, the mere exposure effect takes over.

The mere exposure effect is where 'people feel a preference for people or things simply because they are familiar,' writes Psych Central. 'Just because we see a stranger occasionally does not make them any more trustworthy ... we just feel like they are because we 'know' them.'

Thus the value of being a regular at a bar, cafe, or restaurant: If you run into the same people again and again, you'll feel more comfortable around them, and thus more apt to form bonds.

Have ridiculous shared experiences.

In August, Business Insider sent reporter Melia Robinson to a grown-up summer camp -- by herself.

The results were as hilarious as the friendship forming.

She made friends while canoeing, hiking, and otherwise gallivanting around the Connecticut woods, and the bond was so strong that they later came to her birthday party.

'Being in a situation where you don't know anyone shocks you into being outgoing,' Robinson says.

'When a third of the campers come alone -- feeling just as vulnerable -- it makes it easy,' she says. 'It's like, 'I don't know you, you don't know me, but we're all here for the same reason: to have fun. So let's get to know each other!''

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