Cultivating and Developing Healthy Friendships as a Young Adult

As a child, making friends is as easy as running up to the closest kid on the playground and asking them if they want to play. As kids get older, there are plenty of opportunities to make new friends in school activities and sports. Often, the same kids they played with on the playground are the friends they’re spending time with through middle school and high school. But what happens when young adults graduate from high school and have to learn to make friends all over again?

Why Healthy Friendships are Important For Young Adults

For many young adults, this time period is their first taste of true autonomy and freedom. Ice cream for dinner? There is no one to tell them to eat their vegetables first. Want to stay out until 3am? There’s no one reminding them that classes may be hard the next day if they’re out all night. It’s a time of experimentation and exploration. For some, this can be a positive learning experience as they discover who they are. For others, it can be a time where they develop bad habits or find themselves in compromising situations. 

When at home, young adults have a safety net. Not just their family, but also their friends. Friends who know them well, and can act as a sounding board for concerns and decision making. Often, young adults will prioritize their friend’s opinions above their parents, and this is why it’s so important for them to have healthy friendships. These friendships help young adults feel grounded and connected as they head out into the world on their own. While young adults may be leaving childhood friendships behind, there are ways for them to make new healthy friendships in their next stage of life.

The Challenges of Making Friends

Most tv shows and movies for young adults depict groups of friends off having adventures and having fun. It’s easy to see why young adults just assume that they will have that great group of supportive friends in real life too. But the reality is that there is no magic, or even easy, way to find your cohort.

For many young adults, life begins to have more pressure than it did when they were younger. They may be attending college classes that require much more time investment than high school, or they may be working a full time job for the first time. These new schedules and added responsibilities can make it difficult to carve out time to hang out with old friends or make new ones. And while consistency is challenging, it is an important part of creating and sustaining friendships. 

Other young adults may be struggling with mental health issues such as social anxiety or depression. The symptoms of these disorders can make it difficult to make friends due to negative thoughts or physical symptoms. Young adults are reporting feelings of loneliness, fear of rejection, and social insecurities which can tempt us to withdraw and take things more personally. And the lonliner they feel, the more they may withdraw. 

Tips for Making Friends for Young Adults

Making new friends may feel challenging, but it is not impossible. When creating new relationships there are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Try Something Familiar: College is set up in a way that encourages students to connect and socialize, but it does take some effort. One way to connect to people with similar interests is to join a club or organization. For example, if your young adult loves singing, encourage them to find a choral group on campus. They will be participating in an activity they enjoy, and they know they’ll be surrounded by others who enjoy it too.
  • Focus on Being Social Rather Than Social Media: It’s easy to fall into the trap of “relationships” on social media. They follow each other, share funny memes, but the reality is, it’s not a real life connection. There’s so much more to a conversation than texts, and the experience they can have in person with body language and social cues creates a far deeper connection than a few emojis. 
  • Evaluate Your Friendships: Making a friend is the first step, but it is important to evaluate the quality of those friendships. If your young adult is noticing a feeling of stress or anxiety around spending time with a friend, it may be time to make a change. Part of creating healthy relationships is understanding when a relationship is unhealthy, and feeling confident enough to remove themselves from that situation. 
  • Expect Some Setbacks: Just like they wouldn’t expect to fall in love with the first person they date, your young adult can’t expect to be best friends with the first person they try to connect with. It takes some trial and error to see who they can connect with to make a healthy and lasting friendship. Helping them understand that making friends is a process can help your young adult feel better when things don’t fall into place as quickly as they did when they were kids. 

Transitional Living for Young Adults

Young adults who struggle to make new friendships may benefit from attending a transitional living program. Foundations Asheville functions as a supportive community of students, therapists, educators, community liaisons, and mentors who collaborate to establish achievable goals for each young man or young woman in the program, all the while working side-by-side toward realizing those goals. As a result, the young adults enrolled at Foundations learn to develop their strengths, address life’s challenges, and follow through with their interests and passions.

Transitional living provides a comfortable, home-like setting for young adults. Foundations Asheville is located in a beautiful neighborhood near downtown Asheville and is fully integrated into the local community. Transitional programs provide opportunities to practice and build social skills with clinical guidance in a supportive environment. 

Foundations Asheville regards each student as a unique individual. As such, a treatment plan, education plan, and independence plan are designed in concert with the student to meet their personal goals. Highly experienced, licensed clinicians help each young adult identify life goals and support him in seeing them through to completion.

Foundations Asheville Can Help

Foundations Asheville is a young adult transition community located in the mountains of North Carolina. The program serves young adults age 18-24 who are looking to acquire the tools to make the transition from adolescence to life as an independent adult. Foundations helps young adults aspire to find meaning, direction, relationships, and self-reliance in their lives. At Foundations, we strive to create a full and rewarding life through an individualized combination of education, vocation training, community service, healthy lifestyle skill, relationship building, and participation in a genuine community of peers. 

The young adults served by Foundations Asheville come to the program with a wide variety of experience and a myriad of goals, but are interested in actively working toward a greater degree of independence in their daily lives. 

Our team partners with young adults to establish viable goals. Then, we work side-by-side with the each individual to support and encourage the realization of those goals.For more information please call (877) 318-7273.

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