New friendships can form at any stage of life.
For some people, making friends is easier than for others. The formation of friendships is affected by many factors, such as temperament, different situations in life and different interests. Some people may be fine with just one close friend, while others want to have a lot of people around them. The most important thing is that your social life feels natural and good to you.
Where to find new friends?
You can find friends in many places. You can meet people through work, hobbies or studies, for example. People also make friends via the internet. When looking for new friends, you may want to think about what you want from and value in a friendship. Your own activity is also critical to friendships – do you expect people to approach you, or do you feel it is natural for you to approach others?
Social media provides opportunities for meeting all kinds of people. It allows you to find new friends around your interests, but also from the other side of the world.
Friendship is only formed when both parties are ready for it. And like any relationship based on trust, a friendship also takes time before it becomes reciprocal. In friendships, reciprocity means, for example, that you are interested in each other’s lives and you can both talk about things that are important to you. In a friendship, both parties give and receive something.
At its worst, a friendship may turn into unhealthy co-dependency. In practice, co-dependency may mean that a friend clings to the other person or is excessively jealous of the other person’s other relationships.
The events and changes experienced in life may be the common factors in a friendship. Some friendships are closely related to a specific life stage or another event the friends experienced together, which is why the friendship may end once the shared event is over. These may include military service, festivals or a workplace.
Friendship is also affected by the wishes of both parties. One person may want more shared time with their friend, while the other person may want to focus on their family. Changes in life may put a strain on friendships, such as if your friend starts dating, starts a family or changes their lifestyle. Some friendships fade away, but they may also be rekindled over time. It is a natural part of life to distance yourself or grow apart from your friends.
The feeling of loneliness is very common
Loneliness may be temporary or last a longer time. You can feel lonely even if there are many people around you. Being alone out of your own will and enjoying the solitude is different from the distressing feeling of loneliness. Loneliness is more of an internal feeling than a condition placed from the outside. Spending time alone voluntarily may feel relaxing, and it is important that you learn to enjoy your own company.
Being seen and accepted is everyone’s basic need
Being seen and accepted is everyone’s basic need. Loneliness may stem from the need of belonging. Social media is a great way of finding new friends, but it may also add to our loneliness since it lacks physical contact. Social media may make us think that everyone around us has it better, which may increase our loneliness. It is important to realise that social media is just a channel for forming new contacts and meanings. Not everything is necessarily as it seems.
Loneliness may cause shame and pain, but it can be alleviated through talking, writing and peer support. Helsinki offers various meeting places for young adults where they can meet new people and share experiences. You can also find peer support channels on social media where you can discuss feelings of loneliness.