Making friends as an adult is hard, but when you’re young, it happens naturally. We played with the neighborhood kids, made friends at school, and met our peers through extracurricular activities. Friends came and went, but new ones were always there to replace them in a new class, sport, or activity.
As adults, it’s not so simple. When you’re older, friends no longer come to us by virtue of being involved in the same things. Until adulthood we’ve never actually had to learn how to make friends.
In a world that has become more and more secluded, it’s now more important than ever to get out there and be intentional about making friends and having a thriving social life. Due to the growing isolation of our work and lifestyles, it may seem like opportunities are less available when you’re older.
The good news is that as an adult, you have many opportunities to grow your circle. With a little change in mindset, you may realize that friends are lurking in familiar places and things you already do or enjoy.
- Public Transportation
Not only is public transportation good for the environment, but good for your social health! Chances are you take the same bus or train into work every day and notice the people who are doing the same.
Strike up a conversation with the guy next to you reading a book you enjoy or are curious to read. Compliment the lady across the aisle on the new haircut she just got.
I know, I know. Not all of us take a train or bus into work every day. But this rule also applies to other locations. Think of a place you frequent often enough to notice the same people every time you go. It could be your child’s day care or school, the lunchroom at your office, the gas station where you fill up, or even the mailboxes in your apartment building.
- Take it Offline
I get it. Approaching a stranger on the bus may not be your way of growing your tribe. Instead you might look to make friends with people you already know but have lost touch with. Social media and its power to connect you with people is a great way to start building meaningful friendships.
Don’t get me wrong. Socializing online, liking your friends’ updates, and keeping up through chatting might be a great non-intimidating way to begin a friendship. In fact, if you already spend quite a bit of time on social media, it might be helpful using your apps solely for connecting with people instead of mindless scrolling. However, when I think about my friend list currently, very few are people I see and make a point to hang out with in person.
While social media can certainly connect you with new friends, it doesn’t sustain a friendship. Take it offline (if it’s safe and comfortable) to really get to know someone and build a budding friendship.
- Take a Class
Have you always been interested in learning how to code? Do you wish to learn a new language? Are you ready to go back and get that Master’s degree? Go back into higher education or simply take a community ed class. When you’re passionate about something that you truly enjoy and have an interest in learning, you already have something in common with the people who’ve registered for that same course.
If you are truly seeking friends with the same interests as you, this is a great approach to meeting them. If all else fails, at least you’ve learned a new skill.
Whether it be a class, volunteer work, or hobby, doing things that excite us and allow us to meet people who are excited by it too makes us feel understood.
Most importantly, however, is setting the intention to be proactive in changing your circumstances. These ideas are things you can do in the next week or even the next hour. While we never had to make much of an effort growing up, it is now necessary if you want friends.
Try This at Home:
Pencil in a time to reach out to that friend you’ve been meaning to. Think of something you could say to someone you see often. Pay the person next to you a compliment whether you are sitting at a coffee shop, doctor’s office, or even the gym.
It might be awkward and uncomfortable, but once you do it, it can be incredibly meaningful and rewarding.