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Friendship 101
Remember when making friends was as easy as playing at recess?
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So maybe you're feeling a little rusty in the friend-making department. You're not alone.

Cammy Seguin, family life educator with the University of Illinois extension in Champaign, Illinois, says that it's not unusual for adults to feel uncomfortable with the idea of going out and making new friends after years spent occupied by life's little details. The search for new pals is often regarded as "kid stuff," Seguin says. "But friendships need to be cultivated throughout our lives, especially as we grow older."

Seguin and her colleagues recently developed an adult education course about the benefits of friendship. They came up with a list of simple suggestions for making new friends. The tips include:

• Decide to make new friends. Allow yourself to be open to new experiences and relationships.

• Seek out opportunities to meet others by participating in community education classes, clubs, religious groups or volunteer activities.

• Organize a special interest group or offer to teach others a hobby or skill.

• Interested in traveling? Why not sign up for a guided tour to an exotic locale?

• If your mobility is limited, try writing to a pen pal or joining an Internet chat group. Your Club Web site, http://www.healthandwellnessclub.com/, is a good place to start.

• If you live near a college, try signing up for a course.

• Keep trying even if you feel uncomfortable at first. Go back more than once. It takes time to build relationships.

Other ideas:
• Multitask. Invite a buddy to exercise with you, to make that last-minute run to the mall, or even to come along on a grocery trip.

• Look for friends in the places that you already frequent: your church, your child's school, your health club.

• Free weekly papers often carry personal ads, and not all advertisers are looking for romance. Try responding to a "friends only" ad, or take out one yourself. Just make sure to screen respondents carefully.

• Stay in touch with distant friends. Set aside one hour a week to email, write notes, send photos, or just pick up the phone and call someone you haven't talked to in a long time.


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