Do Work & Chores Stop You From Making New Friends?

How ‘good’ are you at making new friends. Recent research has discovered that many of us (49%) are simply too busy to think about making the effort required to establish a new friendship with all that it entails. 63% say that work takes up too much of their time, whilst chores are blamed by 65%

The Campaign to End Loneliness, in partnership with YouGov, has revealed that 54% of British adults feel that it has been a very long time since they made any new friends. With loneliness being such an issue you’d think that making new friends and connections would be seen as a worthwhile investment, rather more important than work and chores!

Why is it then that so many people seem disinclined to do what’s needed to forge new relationships? Are work and chores really such a priority that there’s no time to focus on getting to know new people? Making the effort to smile or start a conversation which may grow into something more meaningful requires time, effort and perhaps money, especially if the social side escalates. Is that seen as too much like hard work?

The survey found that 88% of the 2000 people interviewed online felt that minor gestures, like smiling at each other or sharing small talk in a public place, like on the bus or in a store, was a valuable way to tackle loneliness. Certainly, positive human interaction is a start to keeping human connection alive. Perhaps those transitory gestures are enough for busy people.

But how do we start making new friends, especially if other people are not especially receptive?

– One way is to meet new people in a relaxed social situation. If we’re interested in a specific activity, like music, sport, theatre, why not find a local group that accommodates that interest. There we can meet people with similar interests to ourselves, are more likely to maintain our enthusiasm and over time get to know people quite well. New friendships are often made in relaxed social settings.

– If we already have a full social calendar but it doesn’t especially inspire us might it be time to spring-clean some of our friends into a less prominent position? There may be friends from childhood, school days, from when the children were young, our old neighbourhood, and we may have kept in touch, meeting regularly over the years. If they’ve now become a routine obligation rather than a pleasure why not start by being less available, or mix up those get-togethers into more of a group invitation, making them more relaxed and fun whilst freeing up some time. That way, you succeed in making space in your diary for new ways to spend your free time.

– Many people make friends through work. A shared occupation may not be enough to sustain a lifelong friendship but it’s often enough for people to share fun, interesting times together and often provides plenty of common ground for discussion. You could progress a relationship by suggesting a coffee after work or by finding out what’s happening locally and organising a social event for several of your colleagues.

– Similarly, children can bring parents together, either through school events, the PTA or chatting at the school gates. Those small moments of connection can gradually become more meaningful and add real value to our lives. Friends encourage us to become sociable, motivate us to make more effort to look after ourselves, give us advice if we’re struggling with something with which they’re familiar. How often do we ask our friends for recommendations? It’s good to be referred to a tried and tested tradesperson when we’re in need.

– It’s important that our friends have similar aspirations to us. It can be awkward and embarrassing if our friend has much more disposable income than us or wants to party more frequently than we do. Sometimes we have to be open and honest, say what we’re able to commit to and maintain our cool. It’s often quoted that we become like the five people we spend the most of our time with. Ensure that your friends motivate and inspire you rather than drain and deplete.

Making new friends works best when it’s an easy process, when it’s logistically convenient and adds value to our lives. In order to support and nurture new relationships we have to make time, want them in our lives and be able to afford the time, money and effort. Sometimes chores and work need to be relegated to second place.