Striking up a new friendship: it's not so easy

Striking Up a New Friendship: It's Not So Easy

Social isolation is on the rise.

Posted March 23, 2018

Becoming socially isolated is more và more common. Friends may move away, or a job promotion may require putting down roots in a new place. Divorce itself can be as socially dislocating as a cross-country move. Working at home page instead of an office can mean entire days without face-to-face contact with anyone. For someone who lives alone, the omission of workplace relationships can result in profound isolation.

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How are we supposed to make new friends as adults? We need an entry point into lớn other people’s lives. Many friendships bởi get started at work. Places for encounters abound in the workplace through shared resources like water coolers, copy machines, & break rooms. There are ample opportunities for starting up conversations while waiting for the microwave, so long as at least someone else isn’t head down, texting away.

When a team at work completes a project, the group may go out for a celebratory beer together. Getting together outside the office is a chance for expanding relationships beyond discussions of work issues. Yet I know many people now who work on virtual teams where there is no post-deadline feast or fest together. Some employers have sầu stopped sending workers to out-of-town conferences, subscribing khổng lồ the less expensive sầu option of webcasts for professional development credits obtained through solitary listening instead.

Companion—this word has the Latin roots “pan” (bread) and “com” (with or together). Virtual liên hệ is not personal liên hệ. An email communication is not the same as an actual conversation. This fact must be emphasized because the value of personal tương tác is being forgotten. Yesterday, I called to give sầu a reference for someone I once supervised, & the prospective sầu employer và I ended up having a digressive exchange full of stories, ideas, & surprising professional convergences that could never have emerged lớn this extent in an email. The next time our paths cross, we may go out for coffee. We may break bread together.

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Moving from superficial chitchat to building a friendship is no simple matter in itself, but first people need a way khổng lồ demo out an initial interest in knowing more about each other. More than one or two casual encounters may be necessary before bridging over into personal territory. For instance, parents faced with transporting their kids to endless activities often become friends with the parents of their children’s friends. Calling to get in on a carpooling arrangement leads to lớn chitchat about jobs or schools or the price of gas, và then soon thereafter comes a book group invitation or even a dinner date on a Saturday night.

Communal workspaces are becoming increasingly popular, especially for those who live sầu & work alone. At least there are chances to strike up conversations while reaching for creamer in the refrigerator or replacing paper in the copier. Walk inkhổng lồ a Starbucks & you are greeted with the sight of almost everyone focused intently on their laptops. Trying to find a plug for yours might require a ten-second dialogue, but that’s all—unless the person you have sầu interrupted has been craving some kind of conversation and friendliness breaks out.


Indeed, the modern plague seems to lớn be loneliness. It is hard lớn reach out to anyone when we are mostly relating lớn screens rather than lớn the people around us. There was a time not long ago when people would talk khổng lồ each other on trains và planes, while waiting on lines, during idle moments of availability khổng lồ one another. Now with earplugs shutting out spontaneous conversation, we have lớn disturb another person’s plugged-in world in order to make contact, and that feels like too much of a barrier for something so tentative sầu.

Later life can be especially challenging in this regard because we may start khổng lồ outlive sầu some of the friends most dear khổng lồ us, and it can be hard lớn sumtháng the spirit khổng lồ extend ourselves. For people of all ages, though, doing something contributory in concert with others is often a useful remedy. Volunteering as a friendly visitor to lớn people who are homebound, tutoring kids at a local school, or helping to lớn build a house with Habitat for Humanity may come with the rewards of new friendships.

To me, the sight of several people at a bus stop involved in their devices is a portrait of how we are living these days. Conversations between strangers are on the wane. There are fewer chances to discover commonalities when a neighbor walking his dog is listening lớn Nquảng cáo or someone down the bloông xã pulling weeds is humming along to a concerkhổng lồ on their headphones. We have become worlds unlớn ourselves. It happens all too frequently that we can find ourselves friendless in a new place, geographically or emotionally, while going about our business. My hope is for a collective awakening in which we become alert to lớn opportunities to unplug, reach out, and get personal once again for all of our sakes.