Not to start off on a super sad note, but I just read an article that had surveyed elderly people and people near death, and the 4th biggest regret was that they had kept in better contact with their friends. That’s pretty bleak considering how easy it is! If it was like, “I wish I made more money” or, “I wish I traveled more”, we could say they didn’t have the means in this life to make that happen, they were dealing with poverty, etc. But staying in touch with your friends? That’s not that hard, especially considering all the resources we have available today.
Most People Make Friends At School And Work
The thing is that so many people make tons of friends when they’re in school because it’s a structured system where you see people every day, and you bond over so many different things from your dislike of school to puberty to mutual interests. But after we graduate educational institutions, it becomes exponentially harder to make friends.
I know many people who have only ever dated people they went to high school with… and it’s not a high school sweetheart thing! It’s just that those are the friends they made and connected with, so it becomes easier to merge those friendships into relationships!
It’s not like many people don’t have jobs they go to every day with many coworkers. In fact, many jobs are tolerable only due to the fact that you have fun coworkers to get you through it! I had fun coworkers when I worked at the psych rehab, but the reality is that we never would have met under other circumstances. And besides work related functions, even if they were fun-type happy hours or parties, we barely hung out outside of work.
I think that’s the case for most people! You find commonalities with your coworkers and fun counterpoints that help get you through the rough times, but if you hadn’t met them at your place of employment you probably never would have given them a second glance. That doesn’t mean they’re bad people! That just means you don’t have much in common; probably not enough to sustain a long-lasting friendship.
Making New Friends Takes Time And Effort
So if we aren’t going to school and our coworkers are cool, but not our specific brand of people, how the hell are we supposed to make friends as an adult? Throw in our busy schedules, children, chronic illnesses, and possible introversion and that just sounds like we’re destined to never actually make a new friend ever again. Right?
Nope. You can make friends at any age. The thing you don’t want to hear is that you have to work at it. Like anything you want in life, you have to prioritize it. I know we’re all incredibly busy and we can’t imagine adding one extra thing to our very full plates, but remember how my recent post of 15 five minute self-care acts where I talked about prioritizing self-care because it will make you happier and actually better equipped to help other people? This is the same deal.
If we’re going to have a regret on our deathbed about not making more friends, spending enough time with them, or just somehow connecting with them, isn’t that something we should work on prioritizing? We prioritize the things that are important to us. So if you’re feeling a severe lack in the friendship department, it’s time to do something about it. And understand that it’s going to take time. Not just in finding the right people, but in developing and preserving those relationships.
Here’s the good news: I’m sure you already have someone important in your life. You’ve had friends before, right? You know how to do this. You can do this. It’s just a matter of compartmentalizing and figuring out the best way to do it.
It’s important to be upfront with potential friends about your schedule and what you’re looking for. Do you want a best friend you can share every single thought with? Do you want someone you can go to specific events with? Do you want a Facebook friendship where you support each other online, but rarely see each other in person? Do you only have time to meet up in person once a month? When you meet up are your kids going to be with you? Be transparent!
A new friendship doesn’t have to look like the platonic version of a romantic comedy where you’re ice skating and stay with each other the first seventy-two hours of meeting each other. You don’t have to write love notes or do anything out of your comfort zone. You don’t have to be anyone other than yourself.
So Where Are These New Friends At?
Here’s some more good news: You’re not the only one reading this article! So many people are looking to make more friends as adults and don’t know where to start! And the type of friends people want to have in their life vary vastly from pen pals to event buddies to kink play friends to best friends forever (friendship bracelets included).
The internet has made it easier than ever to find people who have similar interests to you! There are so many Facebook groups dedicated to the most specific interests I didn’t even know existed. Have you tried joining them? What about searching for that group, but a local version? For example, I love guerrilla art and random acts of kindness. I learned that not only was painting rocks and leaving them as art abandonment common, it was widespread enough that there are at least three local Facebook groups with thousands of people in them. I can go to events, chat with people near me, and get to know people before I ever even think about proposing an in-person meet-up.
Uh, also. You can make a Facebook group if there isn’t one specific enough for your interest(s)! If you’re interested in it, I’d bet money there are others who wish there was a group in existence to celebrate it! Consider starting one and collecting partners in crime that way!
Also, I know many of us think that dating sites are just for random hookups, but there are so many people on there just looking for friends or people who have their same interests and want to go to conventions or local events with them! The key is being very specific about what you’re there for and not being deterred by the propositions you’re still going to get from people who disregard the fact that you say you’re only there for friends. Are you going to have to sift through more people than normal? Yeah. But when you find them, it’s worth it! (I recommend OKCupid for this versus Tinder, personally.)
Speaking of events, go to them! Have you looked at the local events tab on your Facebook page lately? If you don’t have a Facebook account, it’s worth making one just for that resource. There are so many events of so many varieties, I seriously can’t keep track or go to all of them. Every single time I go to an event, I meet someone new. It’s not always the most incredible bond of all time, but sometimes I believe you meet someone so they can introduce you to someone else. That’s not intended to be shitty or to disregard that first person’s worth/value. It’s just how the universe works sometimes! Think about your past. Can you think of someone awesome you were introduced to by someone you already knew and you connected really well with that person, but kind of lost touch with the first one? That’s all I mean. People come into our lives for reasons and lessons. Appreciate that and them!
Another note on events: the more specific the better. Make a list of your interests/passions, including things you’re interested in getting involved in and then search those keywords on Facebook or Meetup! (This includes things like classes,protests, volunteering, etc.!) You can ask someone to go with you, but it’s absolutely acceptable to go alone. I remember when I decided I wanted to learn how to juggle, so I found out there was a local circus practice every Monday night, and I went every week until I could officially keep three balls in the air without dropping them for a couple rounds. (I got to meet lots of interesting, weird people, and afterwards we’d go out for pizza and drinks!)
Oh, and try actually going to the things you’re invited to! I know lots of us have social anxiety and identify as introverts, but the more events you say no to or no show to, the less you’ll be invited to in the future. And if you’re trying to make new friends, this is a great place to do it. Especially if you already have a mutual friend in common!
Don’t Be Afraid To Reach Out To Old Friends
I’m a firm believer in releasing toxic people for our own mental health and personal growth. Sometimes we can end a relationship with a person and the termination can be surrounded with fear and anxiety, but after the dust settles we realize we actually don’t miss that person at all. Isn’t that crazy? That means you did the right thing.
That said, I’d like to say two things: 1) Sometimes we lose touch with people out of lack of effort and/or where we are in our lives and 2) I’m also a fan of forgiveness and personal development. I say both of those things because we are always growing and evolving, and the person you stopped talking to five years ago is absolutely a different person than they were the last time you spoke to them. It is definitely possible that if you were to try to rekindle your relationship with them now you still wouldn’t be on the same page, click, or connect. But what if you just went to lunch with them or tried messaging them on Facebook to see how they were doing? It doesn’t really cost all that much.
I’ve rekindled many relationships over the years. If I’m being honest, not many of them have been long-lasting, as in to this day, but that doesn’t mean the extra years we got together weren’t meaningful or packed with memories.
Personally, I’ve had better luck finding new (long-lasting) friends based on my current interests and where I’m at in my life now than rekindling old friendships, but that might not be your situation! Think about why you stopped talking. You might have the kind of relationship where you can just pick up where you left off and have fun from the start. But remember, relationships do take work (even if it’s just communication and reliability), so if it’s not easy peasy lemon squeezy, that doesn’t mean it’s a failed attempt.
And this shouldn’t need to be said, but you can absolutely have platonic relationships with people of a gender you are generally sexually attracted to. Not everyone has to be someone you’re interested in having a relationship with. (But again, establish communication and boundaries.)
Don’t Forget To Keep In Touch
You definitely need to keep up your end of the relationship if you want to stay friends. If they’re not pulling their weight, that’s something you can talk about, but this is why it’s important to establish clear ideas at the beginning for what type of friends you want to be. Since we have social media and texting, it’s probably ideal to check in at least every week or two (minimum).
Following up with communication is also a great tip after you meet someone! You don’t want to aggressively stalk them and “like” every picture on their Instagram all the way back to 2012, but the next day it would be nice to send a Facebook message or text (if they shared their number with you) to say it was nice to meet them and would they like to meet up sometime? Tip: give an option or two for how to meet up, including times so it’s not incredibly open-ended.
When you keep in touch, you also want to show genuine interest in the other person’s life (even if they’re struggling). It’s not always great to offer unsolicited advice, but be a sounding board if need be, send cute pictures of animals, tell them they’re doing a good job, etc. At the very least, just ask them how they’re doing! It should never be all about you.
Also, allow yourself to be a little vulnerable. Open up about your interests and the unique/weird things about you. That’s what makes you interesting, that’s what is going to ultimately attract the best type of friends that you can do the most fulfilling activities with. If you hide your weird, you’ll end up doing basic things that bore you. So fly your weird flag, and attract other like weirdos. If nothing else, that is my main piece of advice to you.
30 Places To Find Friends As An Adult
Okay, I know you want a list of actual places to go. Remember, this is just a generic list of ideas that you should build from based on your unique brand of weird, but you weren’t going to care unless I made a list, so here we go.
1. OKCupid/Dating sites (clarify “seeking friends”)
2. MeetUp.com (local events)
3. Book club
4. Walking your dog (dog park) / pushing your baby in a stroller
5. Yoga/Dance Class/Any movement class
6. Facebook groups
7. Local festivals
8. Instagram meet-ups/scavenger hunts
9. Knitting groups (“stitch n bitch”)
10. Bars/pubs/dance clubs
12. Wine/beer tour/tasting
13. Café/coffee house
15. Comedy club
16. Group bike rides
18. Farmer’s market
19. Burn/burner event
20. Happy hour (themed)
21. Sports group
22. Lectures/professional seminars/conferences
25. Meditation or other holistic group/event
Do you have trouble making friends as an adult? Where have you had the most luck?
Photos: Maura Housley