A Grownups' Guide To Making Friends

         We never realize how easy we had it when we were kids. Wanted to find a friend? Your mom set you up on a play date. You looked over at the person in the desk next to you and passed a note. Even in college, you had a whole dorm full of people to potentially connect with. As an adult, you still need those personal connections, but they’re much harder to find.
Harder, but not impossible. You can do this.

1.    If you’re feeling the desire for companionship, here’s the first thing you can try: access the people you already have relationships with. You have more than you realize. There may be a co-worker you joke with from time to time. See if they want to grab coffee with you before or after work. Ask the neighbor that you wave to across the street about what their day holds. Turn to the mom next to you at your son’s soccer game. Reach out. Connect.
2.    Second, renew those old friendships. You may think it’s too late to talk to a college friend, but it’s really not. They’re on Facebook, Linked In, or Twitter and they’d probably love to hear from you. Often what prevents people from trying this is thinking, “I don’t have time to catch them up on my whole life.” So what? They probably don’t want to read a 20-page email summarizing every event of your life any more than you want to write it. So just skip it! Instead, try “Hi, I was thinking about you and wondered how you’re doing. I’m (in the construction business, married, a parent, etc.) now. How’s life?” Three sentences. You can do it.
3.    Third, get out there. Meetup.com is a site that connects people with similar interests to others in their community. It’s not a dating site, it’s a friend site. Put in your zip code and see what’s around you. You can meet in a public place, and often it’s free or low-cost to attend the meetups.
Some other places to meet people:
o   Take a class at the community center or local college.
o   Join a place of worship and find a small group.
o   Visit your local library. They offer community events more often than you’d think, and they’re also in the know with what else is going on locally.
o   Take an exercise class, like yoga or karate.
o   Take your dog to a dog park. (But don’t let your dog be the only one socializing.)

4.    Fourth, volunteer. Many people think this option is just about what you can give, but there’s more to it than that. When you volunteer, you meet others who are in need, but also other people that care about people. Plus, it’s easier to get to know someone when you’re working together. You will not only find friends here, you will find quality friends. Now that’s something you can’t say about the local bar.

Making new friends can be an intimidating thing. Self-doubt and simple lack of information can cripple finding meaningful connections with other people. But the outcome is worth the effort. You may not feel ready for it now, but the funny thing is that the more you reach out, the more comfortable you will feel reaching out. You may start out with zero expectations that people will want to spend time with you, but as others start responding, you can’t help but feel bolstered by their reaction! I have never seen anyone who genuinely reached out for friendships not get some level of response. Chances are, the person you’re reaching out to wants to find a connection too. 

'Til Next Session,
        Stephanie Ann Adams

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Why Do We Have to Have All These Friends? (A Rant)

        One of my favorite movies ever, It’s A Wonderful Life, has a line by George Bailey that’s just a classic, especially with my parents. Frustrated by the events of his fateful day, George says to his wife, “Why’d we have to have all these kids?” I am the oldest of four children, and so it’s safe to say my parents knew exactly how he felt at that moment. Sometimes you just get fed up.
            I’m fed up about a different topic, so my rant is titled a little differently. Why’d we have to have all these friends? By this I mean, why, after a person is married, do they still feel the need to have so many friends of the opposite sex?
            I feel a collective gasp coming on. But come on: I’m a marriage counselor. Give me a chance to make my case. My case is that there is no reason for a married person (or even a seriously committed person) to have a real friendship with someone of the opposite sex that doesn’t include their partner.
            I know, you’re offended. You have a friend of the opposite sex that is so wonderful and you think I’m completely narrow-minded to say maybe you shouldn’t be friends with them anymore. I had friends of the opposite sex too. When I was single. It was great then. I also think friends of the opposite sex can work if they are not attracted to people of your gender. But outside of that, I don’t see why it’s necessary or helpful.
            A friend is someone who is there for you when things are not great for you. When things are not great for you, though, you need to be talking to your spouse. If you’re not talking to your spouse, it’s because they’re unavailable, or because they can’t give you the feedback you need. Sometimes the latter doesn’t mean anything negative. My girlfriends or my family members can give me feedback that is different from what my husband gives me, and that’s often helpful. But I have to ask myself what’s missing in my relationship if I start seeking a non-related male’s support and advice outside of my husband’s.
            Why would you need to do that? Because this is not meant to be a rhetorical question, I will answer it for you. In my experience, most of the time people wish to have a friendship with someone of the opposite sex, it is because they want to leave that door open. Sometimes, yes, it is out of ignorance of the potential consequences. But you can no longer claim that, after reading this article. More often, it’s about the attraction of that different connection.
            It’s tempting! A spouse of a few years often forgets to compliment another person’s appearance, to pay attention to the little details, to laugh with them on a regular basis. So what’s the harm in having fun? It’s not like you’re cheating or anything.
            No, a friend of the opposite sex is not cheating. Yet. But isn’t it true that each and every affair begins with a “friend”? A guy thinks, no harm in just friending my college girlfriend on Facebook. I can’t not reply to her message..that would be rude. She understands if I complain a little bit about my wife from time to time. I have to vent, after all. I remember how much easier things were when she was my girlfriend, and now I’m married. I can just create a different email account. Oh, she’s coming in town next week…
            You might be thinking that I just underestimate your willpower. Even if I have those feelings, you might say, I don’t have to act on them! No, and you don’t have to eat an entire bag of mini Butterfingers in one sitting, but if they’re in the kitchen cabinet, I’m eating them!
            My husband and I don’t hang out with members of the opposite sex alone. This is not something either of us made the other person do, it’s something we both agreed was a priority. In fact, closely following my engagement, the girlfriend of mine who introduced us told me how much she liked how he had changed after we started dating. Before, she was friends with both of us separately. But after he started dating me, he pulled back. Stopped calling her, or texting her on a regular basis. She said, “I liked that. I felt like he was sending a message that he just wanted to be with you.”
Now, we regularly have double dates with her and her boyfriend. She and my husband talk about science-related stuff while her boyfriend and I might chat about their dog, but we’re all together. Our friendship is plural.
            That’s really all I’m standing for here; to not allow anyone, or anything, to get in between you and your spouse. Have friends…but have friends of the opposite sex together. The world is not too kind to couples. It’s up to you to build a fortress around it, together. Your marriage is too precious to risk.


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Inspirational Book Review: Soulprint

Inspirational book review of Soulprint: Discovering Your Divine Destiny is linked below! I found it convicting and uplifting, let me know what YOU think! New post in the works, "Why'd We Have to Have All These Friends?" Hmmm....


A Little More Behavioral, A Little Less Cognitive

     I found myself responding to my client the other day that they should be “a little more behavioral, a little less cognitive.” Though this client must necessarily remain anonymous, I feel immensely grateful to them for allowing me to express a phrase that has grown in meaning for me as I have taken the time to think further on it.
             I hear a boogie beat when the words go through my head, “a little less cognitive, yeah, a little more behavioral…” That makes it sound light, which is fairly accurate. It’s certainly not meant to be heavy. It’s simply saying this: sometimes you need to not think. Just do.
            Not what you expect to hear from a (primarily) cognitive-behavioral therapist, right? We like making you think, at times ad nauseum. Thinking is important. It’s important because sometimes people don’t think, and they get themselves in trouble. But sometimes people think too much as well.
            How much is too much? When it’s paralyzing. When it promotes perfectionism. When you’ve done all you can do. When it makes you more upset to think about it, instead of less.
            Thoughts only have value as they change behaviors and emotions. Otherwise, they’re just ping-pong balls bouncing around in our pretty little heads. Thinking “I’m not worthless” doesn’t mean anything until you decide it’s true! A decision is an action that validates the thought. It says, “this thought really matters, because I’m going to do something about it.”
            So, all you obsessive thinkers (and I’m including myself here), realize that by thinking too much and never acting, you are making them powerless thoughts, as powerful thoughts cause action.
            Have powerful thoughts: do something about them.
            A little more behavioral, a little less cognitive.

'Til Next Session
      Stephanie Ann Adams

Inspirational Book Review

My review of "Life, In Spite of Me," an inspirational memoir of a young girl who laid in front of a train to commit suicide and miraculously survived. Her story of faith and triumph is reviewed at
Please rate my review and look for the next blog post, coming soon!
'Til Next Session,
Stephanie Ann Adams

The Magic of Sorry!

I loved games growing up. Naturally, I was pretty excited when I figured out part of my job got to be playing games with kids. How cool is that, right?  In choosing games to use in therapy, we try to go for games that are easy to talk over, and take a combination of skill and chance to win. Each one has a great opportunity for lessons. But I think the game Sorry! tends to have the most potential for good conversation with a young child…not to mention a lesson for the adult as well.

Each card lends it to some new possibility:

1 or 2 (cards used to get out of start): You have to start small to finish the race.
Move Backward 4: Sometimes what feels like failure is really progress. (Case in point: if you “hold” one of your pawns on YOUR start space after getting out and wait until you get a backwards 4, you will end up moving backwards and can now continue forwards on your “Home” path, therefore completing the circuit to home with 4 steps backwards instead of 50+ steps forward.)
Move Forward 7 or Split Between Pawns: In life there’s more than one thing going on, and sometimes you have to balance in order to win.
Move Forward 11 or Switch Places with Another Player: Sometimes you can get farther when you walk in another’s shoes.
Sorry!: Sometimes in life you hurt other people, even when it’s not your fault. You get to choose how to go about it. Cheer and jump up and down: “Yes! I got you! You’re HISTORY!” or “I’m sorry this is frustrating for you. That’s just how the cards got played. Please know we will still be friends when this is all over.”

Games, like art, mirror life. We’re all trying to get ahead. We all hope to reach the finish line. But how you participate is just as important. The path is bumpy. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be such a victory to get through it. Unexpected challenges provide an opportunity to shine or to make a poor showing of your sportsmanship. In the end, true winners are happy just to be playing.