How to Build Fast Friendships as an Adult
A therapist’s advice for skipping the superficial stages of making friends
Many people crave stronger, more authentic friendships as an adult. But the process of building these relationships can prove slow and frustrating when our free time is already scarce.
How do you skip the awkward chit chat phase and hit the fast forward button on a potential friendship? As a therapist, I’ve learned a few things about building quick rapport with someone.
First, give yourself permission to bore people
We all know the safe topics to broach when you first meet someone. We stick to sports, the weather, and work because we worry that our specific interests, and our zeal for them, will scare people away. But this tendency to play it safe can delay knowing whether you are compatible with a potential friend.
Rather than sticking with superficial chatter, go straight to what excites you. “What do you think is the best television finale of all time?” or “Have you heard about the Pentagon’s recent UFO report?” are great conversation starters as long as they interest you. And if the other person slowly backs away, then you’ve just saved yourself hours of tepid, dead-end banter.
Second, cut back on the gossip
Often our friendships feel superficial because they are built on a foundation of gossip. This is because it’s human nature to focus on a third person when we are anxious. We share spicy updates about former classmates with our high school friends, or grab a drink with colleagues and rant about the boss. But a friendship built on gossip can leave both people feeling drained and depressed after they hang out.
If a friend starts to give you updates on other people you know, it can be helpful to say, “I want to hear about what’s going on with you.” Or you can ask yourself, “What would I sharing about myself if I were with my best friend right now?” Then jump to the heart of things.