The Digital Age: Challenges of Making Friends in Your 20s

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Most children have things easier than adults. To make friends, they don’t need to look any further. They just need to go to school, talk to their classmates, or even just play with their neighbors. Then, you have to consider the fact that making friends at 8 years old is incredibly different at 28. When you’re young, you probably have a lot of things in common with other kids. You can go to the same school, like the same games, and play the same sports. When you’re in your 20s, it’s a different dynamic altogether.

Having a good social circle is important for several things. But one of the biggest benefits as the pandemic has proven is the impact on mental health. A study by Harvard has shown that young adults were the most affected by the isolation brought on by the restrictions.

Forging friendships may be challenging, but it’s not rocket science. Here are the difficulties and how you can address them:

Common Interests

When it comes to dating, there are so many options to find people with similar options. You can try matchmaking services, dating apps, and introductions by other people. It’s not exactly the same case for people who want to make friends. Sure, there are friendship apps, but they have their fair share of problems. For one thing, forming relationships online isn’t for everyone whether it’s platonic or not. Conversations could be awkward and stiff.

Then there’s also the concept of turning a dating app into a friendship app. Since a lot of apps have similar designs, they’re more focused on appearances rather than personalities which is more important in friendships. In fact, this is the experience of one Bumble BFF user. While using the friendship app, they either felt intimidated or ignored by the attractive users. Instead of helping them feel better, the app just made them feel worse.

If you prefer making friends in person rather than online, the first step is knowing where to look. For example, if you’re interested in learning how to dance, take a class. Chances are you’ll find like-minded adults in the same class. The good thing about a lot of dance classes is that they require partners so you instantly have an opening with another person.

woman on a call

Social Skills

Let’s face it: some people are better at socializing than others. There are certain people who have a certain talent at making people feel comfortable and have no trouble starting a conversation with anybody. The only problem is that not everyone has that ability. A lot of people just don’t feel comfortable with people they just met and it’s completely ok. The good news is that social skills can improve with time—even when you’re in your 20s.

The first step is to realize that you’ll have awkward moments sooner or later. The chances of instantly clicking and feeling comfortable people are low. You’ll have gaps in your conversations and even have some minor misunderstandings. The important thing is to realize that it’s not a big deal. When there’s an awkward moment, just accept that it happened and move on.

Another thing to try is to be more empathetic. Empathy is not just about giving to charity or volunteering in non-profit events. It’s about recognizing people’s emotions and understanding their reactions. This is very important especially when in any new relationships. Since you don’t know each other very well, you might say or do something that they don’t like. Being empathetic allows you to immediately recognize their discomfort and address any issues before it becomes a big problem.

Other Relationships

One of the factors why making friends in your 20s is so different from when you were younger is the other relationships. There’s a good chance that people your age already have their own groups or even their own families. It’s difficult for anyone to balance raising children, working full-time, and doing household chores.

This is where empathy comes in. You’ll have to realize and accept that people have different responsibilities. If you ask them to have dinner or to see a movie together, it might not be this week or this month. They might not always have the time to hang out but it doesn’t mean that you still can’t form a friendship.

On paper, it’s not difficult to make friends. You just need to start a conversation, find common interests, and spend time together. But the thing is that real life is not like playing The Sims. It’s not as simple as talking to someone for hours at a time. You’ll have to work on it but it’s worth the trouble.

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