How to make and lose friends as an adult.

How to make and lose friends as an adult.
Photo by Joel Mott / Unsplash

What does a real friend look like?

Maybe it's someone you've been friends with for a long time. Someone who has stuck through difficult times with you. Perhaps they have challenged you.

Hopefully, you can name someone who has been a real friend.

The art of friendship is fading, so today, we will break down what a real friend looks like and how you can choose your friends wisely. 

"Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven't learned anything." — Muhammad Ali.

The Superficial Friend

There are a lot of reasons you want to be someone's friend. 

  • They may seem cool, and you feel cool being around them. 
  • Maybe it's because they make you laugh and enjoy being with them.
  • You may share similar interests.
  • It may be because it's convenient (you live on the same street or work in the same office)

While all these things are good to find in a friend, they don't make someone a good friend. In fact, those reasons on their own are superficial reasons for being someone's friend. 

A person can be cool, funny, share interests, live on the same street as you, and still be unkind. They could be all these things and distract you from what really matters or pressure you into something you do not want to do. 

This might seem elementary, like picking friends on the playground, but adult friendships are difficult to navigate, and we need to be real about our real friendships.

The Bible's Understanding of Friendship

I'm not sure where you stand with the Bible, but a passage speaks to what we should do with friends who are bad influences. 

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. - Psalm 1:1-3

The point is clear: growth happens when we refuse to spend time with the wrong people. 

You are the sum total of the 5 people you spend the most time with, so who are your people? This is why paying attention to our friendships matters as adults.

Rip Currents And Friendships

You may have seen warning signs about rip currents. As a resident of a beach town, I receive a warning message nearly every day about the ocean's conditions. These powerful currents can quickly pull you away from shore and out to the middle of the sea. 

You have a few options when you're stuck in a rip current:

  • Let it carry you out to sea, and when it stops, hopefully someone will rescue you, or you'll have the strength to swim back. 
  • Try to fight it and swim in the opposite direction, which will only exhaust you.
  • Or you can attempt to exit the current by swimming directly left or right. 

When you find yourself in a toxic friendship as an adult, it can often feel like you're in a rip current. It's taking you somewhere you want to avoid going and trying to figure out what to do. 

Your options:

  • You can go with the flow, but where you end up is far from where you hope to be.
  • You can fight against the influences moving you in the wrong direction. You may be strong enough to counteract those negative influences. But you'll get pretty exhausted over time. 
  • Or you can take a deep breath, change direction, and swim away from the current.

It sounds simple, yet too many of us allow our friends to take us places we do not want to be. 

Shouldn't I Be Like Jesus And Not Isolate Myself From Bad People?


Jesus spent a lot of time with sinners, outcasts, religious zealots, and close friends who made ample mistakes. 

The goal is not to isolate ourselves from others. 

But Jesus wasn't worried about anyone influencing him negatively because he was God, but you and I are human. That's why we need wisdom when a friendship takes us somewhere we don't want to go. 

Sometimes, the most loving thing we can do for ourselves and others is to know when a friendship isn't healthy and then do something about it. 

How To Choose Friends More Wisely

How can we positively influence the world without being negatively affected by others? What do we do if a friendship no longer seems healthy or wise? 

I am going to give you three questions to reflect on this week. I encourage you to talk through them with someone else. Try even journaling your thoughts to come back to later. 

How are my friends influencing me? In what direction do my friends take me when I spend time with them? Are they pulling me away from things that mean most to me?
How am I influencing my friends? Do I just go-with-the-flow in my friendships, or am I actively seeking to lift my friends up and make them better?
How can I be more wise with my friendships? Are there harmful friendships I need to walk away from or new friendships I need to make? How can I model Jesus in my frienships?

Last Thoughts

Real friendships aren't about being perfect or surrounding yourself with perfect people. But a real friend moves you in the right direction. 

Once you know the direction you want your life to go, you know the type of people you must surround yourself.