Thursday, May 19th, 2022
Making new connections worth it
friend: n. 1. A person whom one knows, likes and trusts
By Leslie Gartrell
Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard
Jerry Barger shows Michelle Heindel a picture on his phone during an Ugly Sleeping Bag Assembly event at Grand Lake United Methodist Church in Celina Wednesday evening. Groups like this are a good way to make friends.
For many adults, the adage "make new friends, but keep the old" is easier said than done.
Most people would agree it was easier to make friends when they were children because they grew up alongside their peers as neighbors or classmates over a period of time. Making friends in adulthood is a different matter.
That's not a coincidence, according to Michelle Salazar, owner of Momentum Counseling and Consultation in Celina.
"I think it's very hard for adults to make friends. One of the biggest barriers is time," she said. "It's easier when we're kids. You're at recess, lunch, football games … you're around people all the time."
Most notably, childhood and young adulthood is a time when many people actually have time to seek out new friends, Salazar said.
Jeffrey A. Hall, a communications studies professor at the University of Kansas, estimates it takes more than 200 hours, ideally over the span of six weeks, for a stranger to grow into a close friend.
However, the average American spends just 41 minutes a day socializing, according to Hall's research.
People between the ages of 20-50 may find it especially difficult to make new friends because of time constraints, Salazar said.
"There's so much to do, so many obligations," she said. "I think the friends that we make in this time is largely due to proximity and convenience."
Many adults find friendship among coworkers, and adults with children may make friends at fundraisers and PTA meetings, Salazar said. At the same time, those friends may not be the fulfilling, genuine friendship a person wants, she said.
Laura Roetgerman, executive director of Center for Personal Wellness Counseling and Consultation in Minster, acknowledged it can be difficult to form new friendships.
"I strongly believe that finding, building, and maintaining fulfilling friendships is one of the most important things we do in our lifetime," she said. "I know it's hard. (But) friendships are important and worth the effort."
Roetgerman and Salazar concurred there's more to making friends than hitting the town and hoping for the best. Working on self-esteem can be a good starting point, Roetgerman said.
"Working on self-esteem can feel challenging but building up confidence can be a great help in finding friendships," she said. "As people build up confidence in themselves, they can use that as an opportunity to additionally build self-awareness."
Roetgerman said individuals should also consider asking what types of relationships they want to have and discover what qualities they bring to a friendship.
"Having a better understanding of yourself can help you attract people who fit the relationship you're looking for," she said.
Salazar agreed, adding finding friends with similar values can be great. Those values could be as simple as how much time and how often to spend together, she said. However, that doesn't mean all friends have to be the same, she said.
Keeping an open mind when meeting new people and focusing on positive aspects of the person rather than their minor flaws or differences can make the process of finding new friends easier, Roetgerman said.
While there's a harmony and level of comfort that comes with having friends with similar views, Roetgerman advised against spurning others with difference interests.
Salazar said affirmation is very important when it comes to friendship. Actively listening to others can reinforce those relationships, she said.
"People are more likely to be our friends when they feel heard and validated," Salazar said. "Don't listen just to respond. Listen to understand and comprehend."
Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard
Dawn Gagle, right, narrates a story while Karen Miller laughs. The women met as part of the Wednesday Nights for Women meeting at Grand Lake United Methodist Church.
Lastly, Roetgerman suggested making a list of places, groups, clubs, classes and social networks where there will be opportunities to meet others.
"Consider joining a group or club and if you can't find one you want to join, consider starting one. After you make your list, commit to going and actually show up," she said. "Joining groups, clubs or even a volunteer program can create a consistent routine that provides a chance to build a natural rapport over time. As you get to know these peers, you'll likely have an easier time building deeper friendships."
A Daily Standard post on social media asking for suggestions on where to make friends locally received many responses suggesting local restaurants and bars, library activities, churches and social clubs.
Roger Craig said he joined the Moose and Eagles lodges, and took out a membership at a local golf course after moving to the Villa Nova subdivision in Auglaize County last September.
Elizabeth Riley-Newell, Celina, said the Mercer County District Library has a calendar with activities including crafts and cooking.
"Also for those active in a congregation or looking for one, the churches in this area provide a fair amount of groups and volunteer programming that will most definitely connect people to new friends," she said.
Several respondents noted area bars and restaurants hold events such as trivia, bingo and live music where people can make new friends.
Others suggested arts-related groups and clubs as places to make new friends. Sherry Chandler, president of the Lake Area Arts Group, said the group meets on the second Wednesday of each month in the Art Center at Brew Nation in Celina. The LAAG also hosts a variety of beginner-level art classes, she said. Peggy Green said the Celina Area Photo Club meets at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of each month, also at Brew Nation.
Others said they've made friends by taking walks, visiting dog parks, fishing and boating. Donna Anderson, Celina, said she and her sister have met people while fishing and drinking coffee near a dock in their Highland Park neighborhood.
A few respondents noted there are also several area social media pages and groups people can follow to make new friends and learn about events, such as the Grand Lake St. Marys Fishing and Friends of Grand Lake groups on Facebook.