While a lot of focus is given to learning how to make friends and step up in social situations, one of the most challenging things for young adults can be maintaining friendships over a period of months of years. Issues with social skills and autism are one of the obstacles that those with developmental disabilities must overcome, but it can feel good to know that you’re not alone. Individuals from all walks of life with a wide range of abilities and disabilities can have problems with making friends and maintaining long-term friendships. The importance of friends for all of us is more crucial than most realize. In the case of those with developmental disabilities, building relationships is an essential stepping-stone toward independent living and achieving lifelong goals. These relationships can be work-based, activity-based, shared-interest-based, or shared with neighbors and others with whom you have common ground. The more you can do to grow your knowledge and experience in this area, the better.
Reasons Why People Have Trouble Maintaining Friendships
No matter who you are, your age, background, or the number of friendships you have had throughout your life, you might find yourself at a stage where you have difficulties maintaining long-term friendships. It might be because you are busy with work, school, or other activities, things that can become a stumbling block for every young adult at some point in their life. Making time to appreciate the importance of friends, connecting on a regular basis via phone calls, texting, emails, video chat, and in-person activities can help to overcome these issues. Concerns or insecurities about friendships can also hold some people back from developing solid friendships. Past experiences with people who took advantage of your good nature, abused your kindness within a relationship, or a history of bullying can prevent some people from putting themselves out there to make friends.
Rejection is stressful for anyone and most of us have experienced it at some point in our lives. It can be impossible to avoid so it can be beneficial to brush up on your social skills, take time to understand that not everyone is a good friend, and learn how to prevent situations that might lead to negative experiences. Even long-term friendships can suffer from setbacks. Rather than throw in the towel and give up, it can be helpful to communicate your feelings to your friend, talk about the things that are bothering you, and figure out what went wrong. While you might feel that your friend is pulling away from you, the truth might be that you have been acting pushy or possessive, causing the negative energy in your relationship without even knowing it. Take time to work on your friendships – even the ones that are minor in comparison to your best friendships or closest relationships. Go out for a coffee or a smoothie, take in a movie together at the theater or at home, invite your friend to go on an outing – the time spent on friendships can pay off significantly in the long run.
The Importance of Friends and Independent Living
If your goal is to move out on your own, you will need friendships and other relationships to provide you with the support you will require to be successful. This is true for anyone, not just those with disabilities. Friends check in on one another, make sure each other has everything they need, and can give a boost of positivity when needed. Living on your own can be challenging, especially if you have physical disabilities in addition to developmental concerns. Group situations can be a great way to help you achieve your goals and a great way to focus on making and maintaining friendships. Whether you decide to take on a roommate or are determined to go it alone, you should still work on overcoming any issues with social skills and autism to ensure your independent living goals are realized. Get lots of tips, support, online resources, and real-life opportunities to learn how to make and keep friendships when you join All Friends Network. Take advantage of all our free resources and event experiences to help you achieve your goals. Visit allfriendsnetwork.org or call us at 941-587-7172.