The Courage to Connect: Overcoming Barriers to Building Friendships

Presented by BetterHelp.
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Remember the playground days? Friendships sprouted like wildflowers β€” all it took was digging in the same sandbox or bonding over a tragically squished PB&J. But adult friendships? They require a bit more gardening.

See, our adult lives are bursting at the seams: work deadlines, kid’s soccer practice, that pile of laundry glaring ominously from the corner. Yet, buried beneath it all, most of us crave that feeling again: belonging with a capital “B.” The kind of connection where belly laughs are frequent, worries are lent to understanding ears, and you’re reminded that you’re delightfully, imperfectly perfect β€” no matter what weirdness the day throws at you.

Making friends as an adult isn’t easy. But before you dedicate yourself to a life of takeout and Netflix marathons, remember that you are capable of genuinely connecting with others. With a dash of courage and a willingness to get a little messy, you can plant those seeds of connection and watch them blossom.

Forget Fear, Embrace the Awkward

Obstacle number one is usually fear. It’s that sneaky voice whispering, “You’ll say something awkward,” or “They’re way too cool to be your friend.” Here’s a secret: Everyone feels that way sometimes. Imagine this fear as a slightly confused puppy yapping at your heels. It may be annoying, but it won’t stop you from getting where you want to go.

Now, about awkwardness. Consider it your friendship initiation ritual. Mispronounced name? Own it with a smile. Coffee stains as accidental abstract art? Go with it. Awkwardness is where the “you’ll laugh about this later” stories are born. Every misstep is a cringe-worthy story you can bond over later.

Why Platonic Love Matters

Almost every day, we’re bombarded with images of swoon-worthy romance. But platonic love is just as important. It’s your chosen family. The friend who bails you out of boring parties, celebrates your wins like they’re her own, and knows just when to offer chocolate or a kick in the pants (whichever the situation requires). 

This kind of love anchors you, nourishes your soul, and makes that wild ride called life infinitely more fun. It also comes with its share of benefits for your mental and physical well-being.

Ditch the Dating App Mindset

In a world of swiping right and instant gratification, you may want to apply the same rules to your friendships. But friendships are marathons, not sprints. Start with a mindset of curiosity, not instant soulmate status.

That barista with the contagious laugh? Strike up a conversation beyond your latte order. Parent at the playground who seems just as frazzled and wonderful as you? Commiserate. These little moments can spark big connections.

Listen Like a Friendship Superhero

Want superpowers? Master the art of listening. Ditch the phone, make genuine eye contact, and be fully present. Ask questions, actually remember details (favorite band, absurd pet names, whatever sparks their joy). Following these tips shows you’re not just collecting pals, you’re building bonds.

Online Friends: Potential is Real

The internet isn’t just a black hole of memes, although those can be fun from time to time. It’s a potential goldmine for finding your people. Join groups geeking out over your obsessions (taxidermy enthusiasts, anyone?), spark conversations in forums, and even dare to try those friend-finding apps.

The caveat: online buds often need real-life hangouts to maximize friendship potential. Once you’ve established some rapport, propose something low-key. You can try grabbing some tea or even nerding out at that weird museum you’ve both been eyeing up.

Online platforms like BetterHelp offer safe online chat rooms to connect with a therapist or counselor who can help you navigate social anxiety and any other barriers to building friendships. They also offer individual therapy sessions that can provide personalized support and strategies for overcoming fears of rejection and improving self-confidence.

Be the Friend You Want

Have you heard of the “Golden Rule”? It turns out, that bit of advice is friendship gold. If you want someone who remembers your birthday, be the one who throws surprise parties. Crave a friend who always texts back? Be that friend. Great friendships are a two-way street, built on effort and, most importantly, a genuine desire to see each other shine.

The Beauty of Second (or Third) Chances

Life happens. Jobs change, cities change, priorities change. Sometimes friendships fade, and that’s okay. But guess what? It’s never too late to rekindle a genuine connection. Reconnecting with an old friend can be surprisingly joyous. And reaching out to someone you always clicked with, but the timing was never right? That’s where friendship magic happens.

Forgiveness can also give you second chances you didn’t even know you were hoping for. Sometimes, letting go of past hurts or misunderstandings opens the door to friendships that blossom beautifully when the timing is finally right.


The courage to connect is like a muscle β€” the more you use it, the stronger it gets. It’s not just a one-off event; it’s choosing to continuously show up, to listen, and to build those bonds. Remember, the best friendships, like the best stories, are still being written. Your next chapter of connection might be just around the corner.

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