6 Ways to Grow Friendships as an Adult

6 Ways to Grow Friendships as an Adult

by: Emily Thomas

To be clear, this post is about how to grow your existing friendships and deepen the intimacy of your friendships as an adult, not how to make new friendships as an adult. (An important topic in itself, and also one where we probably all could use a little advice!) 

No, today's post is to give you ideas to move a new or surface-level friendship forward - a friendship that you're excited about, but has stayed at a base-level so far. Friendship goals so often pop up in the PowerSheets® community (and are an important part of a well-rounded, intentional life!), so we're excited to equip you here. If you have a friendship you'd like to shift from "we like each other" to "I'd call you to watch my kids in an emergency," read on!

Our favorite ideas for growing intimacy in a friendship (these would all be great to add to your PowerSheets!):

1. Go on a walk together. There's something about moving your body and facing forward (instead of sitting and staring into each other's eyes!) that makes it easier to dive into deeper topics and ask the kinds of second questions that reveal deeper thoughts.

Better yet, schedule a weekly or monthly rhythm of walks! That's one (healthy, free!) way to get into a regular cadence of seeing each other, which is in itself a great way to grow a friendship.

2. Try a conversation deck. If you do find yourself sitting down together, popping a conversation card deck into the middle of the table can be a natural way to bring up topics you might never have landed on otherwise. They're a less-intimidating way to learn about a newer friend's past, preferences, strong feelings, and hopes and dreams - a short-cut to intimacy! 

3. Ask for help. It lets one of her strengths shine and invites her into one of your weaknesses. Of course, you don't want to be the constantly needy friend, but if she's expressed a special skill or love she has that would actually be helpful to you (closet organizing? cabinet painting? embroidering? marathon running?), ask her if she'd be willing to share her expertise.

4. Connect around food. Everyone needs to eat! There are so many ways to connect around food, and it's a less-intimidating entry point because it's such a  universal experience. Invite her to go grocery shopping together, cook the same meal and connect over FaceTime while eating it, trade off making a meal for each other each week, prep freezer meals together, swap favorite recipes, or host a lunch group like Janssen.

5. Invite her into your home. There's something about actually entering someone else's space that immediately up-levels a relationship. Yes, that means she'll see what's on your walls, the kinds of things you've prioritized in your main rooms, or even (yes!) the clutter on your counter, but what a way to create a welcome for someone and let her know you're willing to be seen and known. 

6. Don't be afraid to be the one who cares the most. Think of a particular friend in your life who's at that surface level. Now think about trying one of these tips. Does that feel scary? Worried you'll come across as too much, or desperate, or just plain weird?

We've been there! It can be so hard to put yourself out there (especially for us introverts!), but in every great relationship, someone, at some point, had to make the move to take it to the next level. Don't wait for her to do it. After all, wouldn't you rather she think you're weird because you're overly friendly, rather than overly standoffish? :)

Now, a few tips for those who want to grow a long-distance friendship:

1. Send a note. There's nothing like an unexpected piece of snail mail to let someone know you're thinking about her! Our encouraging postcards are a low-pressure way to connect.

2. Try Marco Polo, an app that lets you send short videos back and forth. It feels like a conversation, just not in real-time. We love that you can see each other's faces and go into more detail than seems possible in a text message or email.

3. Comment on her posts. Yes, social media gets a bad rap for making us feel connected without actual connection. But it doesn't have to be that way! Instead of passively liking or viewing her photos and videos, respond to them in the app or in a separate follow-up text message or call. Use her posts as a jumping off point for connection, instead of a dead end.

4. Commit to seeing each other in person. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it takes money. Yes, it takes logistical brainpower. But for a friendship to grow, some face time needs to be a part of the equation. Even a visit every few years is better than nothing! A little goes a long way. 

We'd love to hear: do you have a success story to share of growing a friendship as an adult? What worked for you?

P.S. 6 Easy Hacks to Be a More Thoughtful Person

Leave a comment

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is Cultivate What Matters' Content Strategist and Writer. With over a decade at Cultivate, Emily loves helping women uncover what matters, set good goals, and live them out with joy. Her free time is spent with her high-school-sweetheart husband and three young kiddos.

Cultivate What Matters Podcast

If you are ready to get unstuck, say goodbye to wasted days, and feel your life adding up to something more—you are in the right place! The Cultivate What Matters Podcast will help you uncover what truly matters in your life and give you the tools to start acting like it today. Whether you're feeling overwhelmed, lacking motivation, or simply looking for a little joy and delight, you'll find exactly what you need right here. We are so excited to walk alongside you!

Goal School

Get access to premium content to help you stay on top of your goals all year long!