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Op/ed: Make New Friends at any Age With These 7 Phrases

Forging New Connections Can Be Hard for Adults too, Psychology Researcher Says

By Marisa G. Franco

six friends

Building news friendships in adulthood doesn't come as easily as it does when we're children or teens—but it remains possible, says a UMD psychology researcher.

Illustration by Adobe Stock

Having kids, establishing new romantic relations—just being an adult in general—means you’re waving goodbye to friends, writes Marisa Franco, an assistant clinical professor with the University of Maryland University Honors Program, in a new column published on

Citing studies showing that 58% of American adults are lonely and that we lose half our friends every seven years, Franco, author of the New York Times bestseller “Platonic: How the Science of Attachment Can Help You Make—and Keep—Friends,” suggests seven phrases that can open the door making new ones.

As a psychologist and expert on human connection, I know that the people who are most successful in building and rebuilding their social circles are the ones who don't wait for new friends to come to them. They initiate and cultivate.

Here are seven phrases to break the ice and nurture new friendships, no matter how old you are.

1. 'I love your _____! Where did you get it?'

Striking up conversations with new people is the first step of any friendship.

While talking to a stranger may seem nerve-racking, people are more open to conversation than you think. One study found that only 40% of people thought the first stranger they approached would be open to talking to them, and yet in reality, strangers were open to talking 92% of the time.

Try paying someone a genuine compliment about their shoes, T-shirt or overall style. It's sure to make them more open to talking to you.

Find out about the other six phrases for building new friendships at



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