Making new friends is like dating

Maybe all your friends are having babies and you’re single, or vice versa — you’re the one with kids.A bit of self-consciousness can develop over time when it comes to making friends, says American psychologist Irene S.Levine, a professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine.“When you’re young, you have no problem going over to another child and asking to be friends,” Levine says.“In high school and college, everybody’s thrown together in similar circumstances — doing the same things, at the same place, at the same time — but after that, it requires more initiation.”The thing is, typically, we all want — and need — friends.

Three years ago, Lydia Pawlowsky was living the postgrad dream.Making friends as you age Life is different in every decade, and experts say your friendship-making strategies might change, too.In your 20s You’re likely still in touch with school friends or people from your hometown.Studies show that if you have five or more friends with whom to discuss an important matter you’re far more likely to describe yourself as “very happy.” Not only does having strong relationships make it far more likely that you take joy in life, but studies show that it also lengthens life (incredibly, even more than stopping smoking), boosts immunity, and cuts the risk of depression. Also, the mere exposure effect describes the fact that repeated exposure makes you like someone better – and makes that person like you better, too. Being part of a natural group, where you have common interests and are brought together automatically, is the easiest way to make friends: starting a new job, taking a class, having a baby, joining a congregation, or moving to a new neighborhood are great opportunities to join a group. An added advantage to making friends through a group is that you can strengthen your friendships to several people at once -- very helpful if you don't have a lot of free time. My children's literature reading groups – (yes, now I’ve helped start TWO of these groups -- the first one became so large that we had to close it to new members) are among the top joys of my life.“Okay, okay,” you’re thinking, “I get it -- but it’s not that easy to make new friends.” Here are some strategies to try, if you’re eager to make friends but are finding it tough: 1. Just as Woody Allen said that “Eighty percent of success is showing up,” a big part of friendship is showing up. You’re much more likely to become friends with someone if you see him or her often. I’ve become close to unlikely people, just because circumstances put us in constant contact. If those situations aren’t an option, try to find a different group to join. Studies show that each common interest between people boosts the chances of a lasting relationship, and also brings about a 2% increase in life satisfaction, but I’m confident that my kidlit groups have given me a lift in life satisfaction much higher than two percent. It’s a kind way to behave; also, studies show that because of the psychological phenomenon of spontaneous trait transference, people unintentionally transfer to you the traits you ascribe to other people.

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