According to leading sociology research, the three conditions crucial to making close friends are proximity, repeated, unplanned interactions, and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other.
Great. That comes naturally when you’re in college, but when you have a family and are working sixty hours a week, friendship is a different story. After a certain age, making new friends is hard. Because the working world isn’t like college. We don’t have the luxury of proximity, where there’s a thousand people around every corner. And we don’t have the benefit of the calendar, where there’s a hundred organized activities every day. People get busy with adult pursuits like career and community and marriage, kids and the like.
But while making friends as an adult is difficult, it’s not impossible. The secret is finding centers of belonging to do the heavy lifting for you.
Yoga studios are an ideal tool for doing so. The goal is to find an organization of which you can become an engaged member. Because relationships flourish when they start from a place of constitutional commonality. When people’s brains make sense to each other. Which doesn’t mean you should only befriend mirror images of yourself. But when you seek out people who have overlapping value systems, when you repeatedly connect with individuals who choose to make meaning in similar ways, most of the heavy lifting is already done for you. Now all you have to do is go deeper.
One of the micro practices I find to be useful is reciprocal disclosure. Every day I come to the yoga studio, I try to learn one new fact about each person, each time I see them, while also revealing one new fact about myself. This expedites intimacy, uncovers new points of connection and deepens the relationship. Even if only an inch at a time.
What are your centers of belonging?
Scott Ginsberg is a writer, daily practitioner and workstudy volunteer at Bikram Yoga Park Slope.