Remember the time in middle school when you met and approached a random kid in your class? Perhaps after that moment, you decided to converse with the person and find out about their interests. And if you shared a common interest, you two instantly became friends.
Unfortunately, friendships in your 20s aren’t like that.
On top of being bombarded with work, promotions, and other career-related stuff, finding the time to cultivate deep, meaningful friendships can be exhausting. You may feel like you’re stretching yourself too thin, and indeed, it can feel lonely at times when you’re in the journey of searching for companions by yourself.
However, it’s not that bad after all. Finding quality friends is key, especially when you need a shoulder to cry on. Besides, investing in quality friendships in your young adulthood is worth it.
Research shows that after your mid-20s, you may lose a lot of friends in your social circle. There will be some people you meet who inspire you, and others who may drift apart.
So are you an early-20-something looking to meet a new friend? Consider some of the tips below:
1. Look for quality over quantity.
During high school and university, we were always pressured to prioritize the quantity of friends in our social circle, instead of the quality. Indeed, it may have been fun to go to an event with over 10 people – especially when taking plenty of pictures for our social media accounts.
However, having tons of friends may make it more challenging to create meaningful friendships. In the end, you’re not going to trust everyone when discussing your personal life, and not everyone is going to consider your boundaries. Therefore, it’s best to keep an eye out when considering the values and goals of your friendships.
2. Know your boundaries.
We often forget about boundaries in our friendships, especially in our 20s. We want to be liked by everyone else, so we do as they say, even if we aren’t comfortable with it. Although this tactic may be useful in terms of creating friendships initially, it may be difficult to reinforce our values in what we believe in.
Therefore, it is good to acknowledge and reinforce your boundaries whenever you’re being challenged. If you feel tired on a certain day and cannot make it to a dinner, do not feel obligated to say ‘yes,’ even if you’re afraid to lose a new friend. If you feel that someone is taking advantage of you, feel free to call it quits.
3. Know it is fine to make friends with any age group.
Whenever you’re in your early 20s, you tend to stick within your age group especially when making new friends. However, it is also good to experiment and converse with adults of all different generations.
For example, if you converse with someone in their late 20s, you may realize how perspectives can change overtime and you may notice that they may observe a situation differently than you do. As a result, you’ll be more open-minded about the world than you think you are.
4. Know that not everyone wants to socialize after work.
Although it is important to acknowledge your own boundaries, it is also important to accept other people’s boundaries as well. If you feel that the only way to make friendships is by socializing after work, keep in mind that everyone has different commitments and may not have time to socialize after a shift.
Furthermore, it is important to also make other people comfortable whenever planning an event with them.
5. Respect other people’s interests.
Everyone has their own biases especially towards a certain music genre, movie, or song. When cultivating friendships, it is important to realize that everyone has their own opinions and as a result, friends should not be chosen based on their common interests with you.
For example, you should not exclude a person just because of the music they listen to or the movie they watch. Instead, you should respect that differences in interests may make a friendship more meaningful; you’ll both be able to share your own interests with each other and tell your own stories.
At the end, you’ll become more open-minded in a friendship with diverse individuals who have different interests.
6. Be transparent about your feelings.
A friend should be someone you aren’t afraid to hide your emotions from; you can confide in them whenever you feel uncomfortable or ask them to hear the most vulnerable aspects of your life.
Therefore, in order to develop meaningful friendships, especially after you gain trust from others, you should be transparent about how you feel.
If they are bothering you and you’re not in the mood to talk, it is important to let them know about your current emotional state. And if you’re nervous or worried about a test or an exam, it is important to inform your friends about this as well. Friends are there to help you, and by expressing your own feelings, they may be able to connect with you more.
7. One friendship breakup is not the end of the world.
Friends, just like classmates and other relationship partners, will come and go. However, just because one person leaves, does not mean that you could not trust everyone in terms of building a strong friendship.
Sure, it may be traumatic to see someone you cared about become a stranger or acquaintance to you the next day. But if they hurt you or did not keep enough promises, it is best to move on.
8. Be mindful of what you share with your friends.
Remember the time when your acquaintance forcibly ends a friendship, and then you realize that they now know all of your secrets? The reality is, you may never know when you should or should not trust someone; Some people do put on a facade and try to hide many of their opinions from you. In this case, whenever you meet a new person, it is best to be mindful of what you tell them, as you never know how that information may be used.
9. Try not to give people second chances.
Similar to the point of keeping and reinforcing your boundaries, it is important to know your limits when interacting with others. If someone hurts you repeatedly and backstabs you, it may not be a good idea to give them multiple chances.
However, it is also important to see if there is a pattern in their behavior: If they have pushed your boundaries repeatedly, it is a sign that the healthy friendship you have with the person now may develop into a toxic one.
In Summary: 9 Friendship Tips For Your 20s
Although we are all pressured to socialize and be friends with everyone in our early 20s, it is important to watch out for red flags as well. No friendship is worth the mental and physical toll. And moreover, not everyone you meet may be able to develop a good friendship with you. In the end, it is best to take your time to find your values and goals, and then your friends will follow.