Dealing with Peer Pressure as an Adult
Meeting new people is part of everyday life and is important not only for our "grown up" socialization but also for making connections in the professional world. Sometimes, making friends as an adult can be just as challenging as it was as a teen.
Even when we feel self-assured and independent, we still want to fit in (who doesn't want to be accepted?). Peer pressure doesn't end in adolescence and even if you think you have the ability to say "no," it may be more difficult than you think.
According to a study published in Developmental Psychology, resistance to peer pressure decreases between the ages of 14 and 18 but remains unchanged until the age of 30. Therefore, it's safe to assume that many young adults continue to struggle with a bit of peer pressure.
Why Do We Care So Much About What Others Think?
As adults, aren't we supposed to feel comfortable in our own skins, stand strongly behind our opinions and decisions, and not care what others think? In a perfect world, yes, but there's the inherent need for approval and to feel part of a group. Unfortunately, negative peer pressure can steer us in a different direction.
Negative Peer Pressure
Experiencing negative peer pressure as an adult may be a little different than when you were a teen, but it can still be challenging. For instance, rather than being pressured to drink alcohol for the first time, you may be pressured to stay out late, have "just one more drink", drive while under the influence, and other risky behaviors.
You may be compelled to partake, particularly if a business contact is in the works or if you have a chance to catch the eye of someone you want to date. No prospective job or relationship should depend on whether or not you stray from your established, healthy routine.
Surrounding Yourself with "Good" People
If you spent a lot of your adolescence or early adulthood drinking heavily, smoking cigarettes, or even dabbling in drugs, you may be trying to steer clear now. Even if you are confident in saying "no," it can be exhausting when you feel the need to explain or defend yourself. Negative people will shame you, make you feel guilty, and not offer any support.
When you seek out or make connections with people who are supportive and respect you for who you are, it's easier to stick to your goals and be true to yourself.
Standing Your Ground
When you meet new people you want to make a good impression. You may find that you have a lot in common with someone who pressures you negatively. Does that mean you can't be friends? No, but you need to stand your ground. If the pressure is too toxic or too overwhelming, you'll need to recognize when to move on. Here are some tips to help you deal with negative peer pressure:
- Be Assertive. Say what's on your mind and if your difference of opinion isn't valued, it's not worth the trouble.
- Be Prepared to Have Critics. Do you hate criticism of any kind? You need to decide if you will allow criticism or avoid it; either way, you'll probably encounter some.
- Celebrate Diversity. Having a diverse group of friends may help you through social challenges and feel less affected by peer pressure.