Friends play significant roles in most of our lives, whether they help us celebrate the good times or they help us make it through the tough times.
Friends and friendship can have a different meaning to different people. However, in general they represent a support system. Support may mean someone who keeps you company when you don’t want to go out alone, to play sports with, or someone to listen to you without judgement when you are having a bad time.
Several research findings indicate that friendships contribute in important ways to psychological development and health and well-being from early childhood through the older adult years. Having a strong, supportive social network has been associated with lower levels of stress, increased longevity and greater levels of happiness.
Expanding your circle
Making friends or expanding your current social circle is not easy for everyone, especially if you are an adult. As children we have ready-made opportunities where friendships can easily develop; such as school, after-school activities, hanging out at Camana Bay, playgrounds and summer camps. In addition, children often are more open in accepting others in their lives without restrictions, and of course they have a lot fewer responsibilities.
As we get older, we have limited free time, increased responsibilities in our jobs, finances, and families. Therefore it may be easier to forget how much fun it can be to call a friend to chat over the phone or go out to a social gathering.
Fairly common social issues we may come across is that, as adults, we are not sure how to make friends like we used to, and putting together a social life can be a big task for some of us. There are quite a few ways we can find ourselves in this situation:
You have recently moved to Cayman and don’t know many people yet.
Have been in a long term relationship and have let your social life decline as a result.
Old friends have slowly been dropping out of the picture (moving away, busy with work or a new family, etc.) and they haven’t been replaced by new ones.
You feel like you’ve grown apart from your current friends and want to make new ones.
In the past you were happy being alone a lot of the time, but now you want to be around people more often.
You never really knew how to make friends and have always wished the social life was better.
Tips for you
Whether you are reconnecting with a long lost friend, maintaining a solid friendship or taking up the challenge to make new friendships, maintain your authenticity and know that you cannot make someone like you.
Be a good listener and know that it means a lot for someone to have you listen to them and one day you will need your new friend to listen to you. Keep in mind that there are very little ready-made opportunities to make friends as an adult, so make sure to be available for opportunities when they arise.
Some social activities to meet new friends may include joining a local sports team, providing some volunteer service, participating in a cooking class, or joining a special interest club such as books, photography, running, sailing, astronomy, etc. This is not to suggest that having friendships will eliminate stress and hard times from your daily life. However, it can help you manage it better.
For more information about EAP, please visit our www.eap.ky To speak with a professional counsellor, please call 949-9559 or email [email protected] to schedule a confidential appointment.