Relationships have a profound impact on our lives, becoming integral parts of our emotional well-being. Beyond romantic relationships, friendships play a crucial role in shaping our mental well-being. Close friends offer emotional support, companionship, and a sense of belonging. Research suggests that individuals with strong friendship networks experience lower levels of stress and better psychological well-being.

It can feel awkward to form new friendships as adults, but the payoff is worth it. Forging positive connections can help alleviate stress, establish a safe space, reduce anxiety, and boost self-esteem. The camaraderie and shared experiences among friends contribute to a positive outlook on life.

Now that we understand how important solid friendships are to our mental health, let’s explore how to make (and keep!) strong friendships as adults.

  1. Make “making friends” one of your healthy habits. We have to maintain our healthy habits for our physical and mental well-being — so treating establishing friendships as not only important, but vital to our health can help your brain reconcile how much time and effort is needed for great friendships. If you’re great with maintaining your gym regimen but keep putting off having lunch with the person who makes you laugh the most, it may be time to shuffle your priorities a bit.
  2. Quality over quantity. As an adult, “free time” is a commodity and should be spent with people who build us up and make us feel supported, and who we are willing to do the same for. Making true connections rather than superficial ones can be challenging, but putting that extra effort into those few friendships that fill your bucket will be worth it.
  3. Be flexible. We all know those seasons when we are so busy that we retreat and have very little time to spend with even our favorite people. Understanding when this happens in friendships, and being flexible and empathetic, can help your relationship endure those times when you or your friend are really “in it.”
  4. Follow up. While it may be easier to wait for someone to reach out to you, take the time necessary to engage with your friends. Contact them when they have important events/appointments/days/etc., and cheer them on or cheer them up when they need it. Remember the little things and ask questions to dig in deeper. They’ll appreciate your efforts and in time, you’ll find yourself doing these things naturally, with your friendships becoming intertwined with your daily life.
Consistency is key in every relationship, and forging strong friendships depends on you prioritizing the relationships and putting in the effort. The rewards of friendships empower us, provide a sense of belonging, and allow us to be our true selves.

The Importance of Building Friendships