Making friends was easy at school. After that, though, as you head out into the big wide world, making new friends gets harder.
Of course there will be those few special friends from school who will always be friends no matter where life takes them.
The sort of friends whom you reconnect with instantly, even if it’s years since you saw them.
In the meantime, however, you eventually land your first full-time job, you get married and eventually have kids. Maybe you even move to a new town, city or even country and find yourself feeling lonely.
So is it possible to make new friends once your school days are behind you?
Yes, but don’t expect it to happen on its own, wrote Patrick Williams of the ABC.
Don’t despair, it’s perfectly normal if you find yourself without any or many friends in your 20s or 30s wrote Patrick who interviewed Wyomie Robertson from Transform Life Coaching.
“Friendships come for different times, they all provide you with different meaning, and you provide them with meaning,” said Wyomie.
“I definitely have seen a number of people feeling very lonely and finding it an unnatural process to find friends, where they’re feeling they need help to find people.
“I think people might feel a bit embarrassed by it [but] they’re not alone. There are so many people who go through their life who are lacking in some meaningful friendships, and that’s perfectly normal.
“Have faith or hope the right people will come along, but you do have to keep your eyes, ears and hearts open.”
There can be a number of reasons why you’re finding yourself lacking in the friends department.
Where are you going to meet these new friends?
If your life revolves around your house and your place of work, then your chances are limited.
“You’ve got to put it out there. If you wait for people to come to you it may not happen,” Wyomie said.
“You have to step out of your comfort zone and go to different things. I know people who get lots of invitation who say they don’t have friends, but say no to the invitation. They have to learn to say yes.”
Wyomie said to have a think about your hobbies and passions, and see if they line up with any local groups on website Meetup.
Meetup, the online social networking website, has been around since 2002 and lists hundreds of groups focused on various interests around the country.
She said joining a local casual sport groups was another great place to start.
So how do you strike up a new friendship?
Step one, take an interest in the other person.
“A lot of people are very, very much focused on themselves. That’s not healthy,” life coach Ronit Baras from Be Happy in Life said.
“It’s a good idea to show interest in other people. So just ask them about themselves, ask them what they’re doing, how many kids they have, what they like doing, where they go out,” said Ronit.
She said everything learned about another person is an opportunity to connect with them on that topic.
“In every conversation we’re like detectives. We listen to people and we find areas of connection, areas where we can relate to each other on those topics,” she said.
Ronit recommends that after meeting someone new, write yourself notes on what you’ve learned about that person.
“And if next time you meet them and you ask this person about something they mentioned last time, that shows that you’re attentive, that you care when people share things with you and it’s worth sharing things with you, because you remember,” she said.
Those who count themselves as introverts — shy and reticent people — may struggle with even the thought of meeting new people.
Ronit’s advice to clients in similar situations: practice makes perfect.
“I tell them to go to an event and just make an effort to talk to one person you don’t know,” she said.
“Just practice talking to people you don’t know. It’s OK, some people are shy, and it’s really hard to meet people. But shy people can be very good friends.