Making friends as a kid was easy. All you had to do was chat with the girl sitting next to you, share snacks during recess, and the next thing you knew, you had made a friend. You probably used similar strategies in high school and college. For some reason, striking up a conversation with people and making friends seemed easier then. Enter adulthood. All of a sudden, making new friends seems really difficult and you may feel as though you are losing contact with the girlfriends you once used to stay up all night talking to. As your close girlfriends move to other cities, get new jobs, get into a new romantic relationship, and life happens, it’s easy to start feeling lonely and crave new friendships. It’s normal to desire deep, real, intimate friendships, but most of us aren’t sure how to cultivate them as adults. We think people already have their friends and don’t have time to make new friends, but that’s not true. Making new friends doesn’t have to be difficult or awkward.
I am sharing five ways to get out there and make friends as an adult, but before we jump in, I want to mention that the key here is the willingness to be vulnerable. I know, vulnerability, it’s a big ask, but hear me out. If you are to have any hopes of making friends, you have to put your fears aside and risk a little vulnerability in order to make a connection. Making new friends requires you to put yourself out there and, many times, initiate the conversation. When you are vulnerable, it helps the other person trust you and feel safe because you are willing to put yourself out there. By being vulnerable you also give the other person permission to do the same.
1. Embrace your hobbies:
Putting yourself in an environment where there are people you can connect with over similar interests is a great way to meet new friends. Commit to going to things on a weekly or monthly basis where you know you will see the same people and be able to connect easily. Whether that’s joining a recreational sports league, weekly workout classes (my personal favorite), or becoming part of a book club… these are opportunities to introduce yourself to people with similar interests. You can also try something where interaction is more of a given like a cooking class, running group, Salsa class, or anything involving games.
We can all create a little time to give back and make friends in the process! Volunteering is a win-win. If you do it regularly, you’ll meet people who care about the same things you care about, and you’ll be doing something good for the world. Dog rescue, anyone?.
3. Ask for introductions:
I recently moved from NY to LA and one of the things I did was reach out to friends and ask them to introduce me to people they thought I would connect with. Building a tribe takes time, but I’ve gone on a ton of friend dates since moving to LA. Even if you aren’t moving to a new city, you can still ask friends if they know anyone that you would click with.
4. Say “Yes!”
Like many, I am guilty of turning down invites and staying home, curled up on the couch, watching TV, but when you are seeking new friendships, you have to resist the urge to stay in. You probably get hundreds of invites to things like a coworker’s BBQ, a random birthday party, an event supporting a cause you donated to once, even a game night and you might never go to any of them. So go! I get it, showing up to events alone might feel mortifying, but I promise it seems scarier than it actually is. All it takes is one connection that can turn into a lifelong friendship.
5. Use Social Media:
Social media can be a great place to deepen friendships with people you already know but aren’t that close to. That girl from college who’s been posting about her weekly Salsa lessons? Message her and let her know that she is killing it and ask her to meet up and catch up. Why not? There are also a lot of friendship-making apps which can be a great tool to connect with like-minded people online and then connect IRL.
Cultivating new friendships requires effort and time. After you’ve hung out with your new friend or rekindled a past friendship, stay connected. Send her a text to say you had a great time, send her a link to an article, a funny video, or something you think she’d appreciate. Find ways to keep the communication going so the connection doesn’t fade after your first friendship date. Within a couple of weeks, suggest another time to meet up, and then another, and then another. Before you realize it, you will have made a new friend as an adult.
This blog post first appeared on Actually She.