Friendships play a vital role in our lives, and they have a significant impact on our overall well-being.
However, when it comes to making friends as an adult, it can be a daunting task. The effortless days of making new acquaintances in high school and college are long gone, and the dynamics of friendship seem entirely different.
But don’t worry! You’re not alone in this endeavor — many adults struggle to make lasting friendships, and it’s okay if you do too.
To help you in your quest, we’ve compiled some expert insights on how to make friends as an adult. These tips will assist you in building new and lasting connections and enhancing your social life.
Sarah F. O’Brien, LCSW, LCSW-C, CCATP, CTMH
Psychotherapist | Clinical Director
Find a hobby, join a group
Do you like bowling? Or skee ball? Or reading? Or curating plants? If you have a hobby, you can find others who enjoy the same hobby and link up. Hopefully, a friendship will bloom.
If you don’t have a hobby, could you still join a group of some kind of support group? Travel group? Dog-walking group? Spiritual group?
Maybe you can find others who love coffee as much as you and go tasting together! Maybe you can find others who love visiting state parks as much as you and go exploring together!
Related: How To Find A Hobby As An Adult
Schedule a happy hour with coworkers
Do you interact with people at work? Do you like those people? If yes, then schedule a happy hour with coworkers, eat lunch together, or even schedule to attend an out-of-town training with coworkers to develop a friendship.
Keep in mind, if you’re in a supervisory role, it’s not quite appropriate to befriend subordinates, but fellow supervisors, yes!
Get out and meet some of your neighbors
Have you met your neighbors? If not the folks right next door, how about down the street or on the next street over? Making a point to get out and meet some of your neighbors may prove to be fruitful in the friend-making department.
How do you engage with neighbors you’ve never met or spoken to? Meander down the street slowly with your dog or kids, stop to wave, say hello, and maybe strike up a conversation.
Taking home-baked goodies is another excellent way to get out there and introduce yourself to your neighbors. Have a yard sale, ask visitors if they live nearby, and you might find some of your neighbors are right there at your yard sale!
Dr. Rohit Bhoge
Assistant Professor | Addiction and Mental Health Counsellor, The Friendly Buzzer
Have a positive attitude
Before you act and start building any judgments, it is advisable to have a positive attitude. If you convince yourself right from the start that this friendship is a failure and you will get hurt, then this whole “friend-making” process will lead nowhere.
Instead, show faith and confidence in this relationship; you might cherish it for years!
Expand your horizons
Don’t be in your comfort zone all the time. Break it and look at the world from a different perspective. Once you break free from your safe zone, a world full of opportunities awaits! I would insist on going for new friends with an open mind and a will to learn something new.
Identify your potential friends
You might meet many people every day, but they cannot be your besties. You must keep a check on people with whom you can gel. You may set aside judgments and take risks to identify people who will add value to your life.
Do not ignore invitations
You might not be the one who arranges parties, but you can consistently accept invitations if you get one! Indeed, meeting people in social circles is a wonderful way to expand your friends circle. It is an opportunity that is coming knocking at your doorstep. So, grab it and make the most of it.
Make maximum use of social media
If you are a music fanatic and wish to connect with like-minded people, it is necessary to find them and connect. Interestingly, social media has made this task immensely easier, where there are groups and pages where you can connect with people of similar interests.
Drop a comment, connect over DMs, or share a text to reach out to people. I am sure you will find your friend.
Employment Specialist | Founder, Thriving and Inspiring
Start doing things you enjoy
What? How is this going to help?
When you start making time for activities and hobbies that genuinely bring you joy, you’re actually much more likely to come across others who also enjoy that thing. And what a wonderful jumping-off point?!
A real-life example of meeting friends by leaning into your own interests
Let’s say that you really love going on walks with your dog after dinner. You enjoy this, but you’re not consistent with it. But you’ve heard about my tip, and you’re willing to lean in and give it a try.
So you decide to take a walk in the park by your house every weeknight after dinner. After a few weeks, you notice that you keep seeing a handful of the same people out and about getting their movement in.
You keep crossing paths with that woman who walks her golden retriever. And it turns out that your pups seem to like each other.
You stop to chat with her because your dog must smell her dog. And you think she’s sweet! Before you know it, you have plans to try the new coffee shop in town, and she invited you to yoga next week!
Bam, you’ve just met a highly qualified candidate for your next adult best friend! She likes being active, she has a dog, too, and it turns out you both love coffee. Those few similarities are enough to get the ball rolling to see if you can form a real friendship out of this.
How to maintain friends as an adult
Making friends in your adult years is a unique experience, but maintaining them is the other side of that coin. When life gets in the way, it can be pretty tricky to make sure you’re intentional about staying in touch with the friends you make.
Top tips to keep your friendships and nourish them:
Set up a day and time to chat
Whether it’s once a week, every other week, or even just monthly, commit to a chat on the phone or FaceTime. Set the alarm and put it on your calendar.
Keep this chat like you’d keep a doctor’s appointment and use it as a casual time to chat and update each other on life.
Be intentional about seeing each other in person
If distance allows, get a few dates on the calendar for you to see your friend face-to-face.
You don’t have to spend money; you can catch up over tea in your living room. Or you could meet for a meal, meet up at your favorite store to window shop, or connect over your favorite hobby together.
Phone calls are great, but there’s something about being in each other’s company that really nourishes and deepens a relationship.
Elect one person to be the “planner” if that’s what it takes to make sure you get out together.
Ask your friend questions
Whatever the occasion, whether you’re on the phone or sharing nachos at your favorite pub, dig into life with your friend.
Go beyond the surface-level stuff like work and normal life responsibilities. Ask what your friend is struggling with. Ask what she’s proud of recently. And focus on feelings! Listen, and don’t give advice unless they ask.
Simply ask questions and listen. You’ll uncover all the meaningful things that lead to a meaningful relationship.
Send check-in texts or audio messages
When something reminds you of your friend, send a quick text. Even better, hit record and let them hear the excitement or shock in your voice.
This is just a simple way to feel connected since adult life doesn’t always give us the opportunity to be physical with our adult friends all the time.
Certified Confidence Coach | Celebrity Communication and Body Language Expert | Author, “Speak Like You Breathe“
It’s easy to forge friendships in high school and college. But as we get older, it’s more challenging for adults to make friends. Here’s how you can make new friends a little bit easier.
Humans are creatures of consistency and patterns, and as we get into adulthood, those patterns become engrained in who we are, how we show up and behave, the choices we make, and what we do.
In addition, as adults, we have more clarity around what we like and don’t like, and we are less open to straying from that.
As we grow older, most adults become more inhibited and self-conscious than we were in college and high school.
When it comes to making friends, there’s a level of vulnerability that comes hand-in-hand with that, and as we get into adulthood, vulnerability is something we seek to hide instead of being open to it.
For some people, the fear of judgment and being rejected overrides the act of reaching out to make new friends. When it comes to changing that, a decision needs to be made.
A decision that is making new friends is a priority and a willingness to step outside of your comfort zone.
Here are some ways to help you make new friends:
Re-assess your current connections
Sometimes we don’t have to go too far to make new friends. It may be time for you to re-assess your current connections and social circles.
Quite often, we have close connections as well as casual ones. Pause and take a look at the casual connections and see if there is anyone you’d like to deepen that connection with. The nice thing is that meeting them wouldn’t be brand new because you both know each other on some level.
Find your cause
With this tip, you can double-duty your efforts. You can make new friends and give back.
Find a cause that you believe in and volunteer:
- You will be around other people with similar beliefs.
- You’ll truly do something meaningful for yourself.
- You’ll be able to easily connect with or have conversations with the other person because there is a mutual interest.
Decide to put yourself out there
Decide to put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to initiate conversations. Start talking to more people. Say hello to the person in the line in front or behind you. Start saying hello and starting a conversation with the regulars you see at your morning coffee shop each day.
Remember that making friends is a two-way street, so make the first move.
What to say: A simple, genuine compliment, sports, or talk about what’s going on around you. Just say hello and follow with, “How’s your day going?” Just keep it simple and real.
Related: How to Keep a Conversation Going
Employment Attorney | VP, UN Women USA | Author, “For the Forces of Good: The Superpower of Everyday Negotiation“
Making friends is a habit to be practiced, along with the understanding that, with very few exceptions, most friendships have bookends — a start and a finish.
People come and go. That’s ok. If you make it a habit to foster new friendships, you can keep the supply chain going!
Here are three ways to practice making friends as an adult:
Treat people how they want to be treated
It never goes out of style, yet it’s the first thing I’ve seen go by the wayside in video conferencing. Have you heard the Golden Rule of treating people like you want to be treated? Wrong! Treat people how they want to be treated.
Take an extra minute with a classmate, a neighbor, a co-worker, or that person at the gym who “always” seems to be using the same equipment at the same time as you need it — to learn what makes them tick.
People say they don’t like “small talk.” So don’t make it small! Ask about the meaning of a tattoo, if they can recommend a good podcast or playlist for working out, or what shows they’re binge-watching.
Take time at the start of a video call to do it, too — rather than just “getting down to business” (and then wondering why you feel depleted).
Practice the art of questions
You may have heard of “open-ended” and “closed-ended” questions. Dig deeper by distinguishing between curiosity questions v. questions designed to persuade and the timing of questions (“What do you mean by that?” “How would that work?” “Interesting! Can you give some examples?”).
Practice asking the right questions, in the right way, at the right time — and “magic” questions like “What would happen if…”
Listen not just to what people are saying
You have two ears and one mouth So, use them in that proportion. Listen not just to what people are saying but to why it’s important to them: treat underlying emotions as a category of facts.
Talking is overrated. People will think you are interesting if you show genuine curiosity about them and listen deeply.
“I’ve never met someone who knows so much about hummingbirds. I can tell the delight and relaxation they seem to bring you. And I love the generational aspect of it and how you used to watch them with your grandparents.”
Related: 50+ Reasons Why Listening Is Important
Find activities or groups that align with your interests
Making friends as an adult can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. One of the best ways to start is by finding activities or groups that align with your interests.
Joining a gym, taking a class, or joining a club or organization are great ways to meet people who share your passions. Volunteering is another excellent way to connect with others while giving back to the community.
Initiate conversations and introduce yourself to others
Don’t be afraid to initiate conversations and introduce yourself to others. A friendly smile and an open attitude can go a long way toward making new connections.
If you’re feeling shy, try to find a wingman or wing woman to come along with you to social events. Remember, everyone is looking for friends, so don’t be afraid to reach out and make the first move.
Building a solid network of friends takes time, patience, and a willingness to put yourself out there. With a little effort and determination, you’ll be well on your way to building a meaningful and fulfilling social life.
Certified Addictions Counselor | CEO, Sunshine Behavioral Health
Volunteering is a proactive way to make friends as an adult. We are often no longer in school in our adult years, and sometimes it’s not very practical to make close friends at your place of work.
These factors limit the number of places you can find friends, which is why volunteering can help.
When we volunteer, we are often donating our time to something we are passionate about or at least have an interest in. This means those who are also volunteering most likely feel the same way which can help you to make some really meaningful connections.
You already have a great conversation starter and are often in a better mood when volunteering because you want to be there. When no one forces you to do something, you have a better time adapting and simply being yourself, which helps you unwind and be more open to making new friends.
You can also get a better sense of people when they are not at work or at another type of institution. No one is watching you to ensure you’re always being productive, as you aren’t being paid to be there.
This means other people will also be more open to making connections, and you can see whether or not you mesh well with others. Getting to know someone in this type of environment can lead to outdoor hangouts, which can then lead to friendships!
Related: The Importance and Benefits of Volunteering
Founder, Design For Recovery
Join hobby-related communities
One of the best ways to make friends as an adult is to join hobby-related communities. Friendship is mainly grounded on mutual interests — be it hobbies like fishing, sports, or even handicrafts.
By immersing yourself in communities with a hobby that interests you, your chances of meeting and striking up friendships with like-minded people are high. This is because, within niche-specific communities like hobbies, people open up.
They don’t feel judged as they feel that you are genuinely enthusiastic when listening to them. When you listen and get to know a person with similar interests and have a good time with them, it is highly likely that they will reciprocate quite quickly.
So, pursue a hobby, be friendly, listen, have a good time, and be open to making connections with the people around you.
Spiritual Life Coach & Certified Massage Therapist (MMA) | Manager, Alignmat
Making friends as an adult can be challenging, but it’s definitely not impossible. Here are a few tips to help you build new friendships:
Start by expanding your social network
One of the best ways to make new friends is to put yourself in situations where you can meet new people. This might mean joining a club or group that aligns with one of your hobbies or interests, signing up for a workshop or class, or volunteering for an organization you care about.
Be open to different types of people
When you’re trying to make friends as an adult, it’s important to remember that friendships come in all shapes and sizes. You might find a great friend at work, through a shared hobby, or even through a chance encounter on the street.
Don’t limit yourself to just one type of person or people who are exactly like you.
Be genuine and authentic
When you’re trying to make friends, it’s essential to be yourself. People can tell when you’re not being genuine, and it can be hard to build a real friendship when you’re not being authentic.
Remember that you don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not in order to make friends.
Take the initiative
Making friends as an adult often requires taking the initiative. If you meet someone you’d like to be friends with, don’t be afraid to reach out and make plans to hang out. Sometimes the other person might be just as nervous about making friends as you are, and they’ll be happy you took the lead.
Making friends takes a bit of time, and it’s essential to be patient. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t immediately make a new friend. Remember that building a strong friendship takes time and effort and that it’s important to take the time to get to know someone before you can consider them a close friend.
In summary, making friends as an adult takes effort and patience, but it’s worth it to have a strong social support system.
By putting yourself in new situations, being open to various types of people, being authentic and genuine, and taking the initiative to reach out and make plans, you’ll be on your way to building new friendships.
Lead Organic Growth, Menuzen
Making friends as an adult can be a daunting task. You’re busy juggling work and family, and it can be hard to find time to socialize. But don’t worry; there are ways to make friends as an adult.
Join a club or organization
This is an excellent way to meet new people and make friends. There are clubs for all interests, from sports to music to religion. Check out your local library or search online to find a club that interests you.
Events are a great way to socialize and make new friends. Whether you’re interested in a particular activity or just want to meet people, events are a great way to do so. Check out your local calendar to find events that are happening in your area.
Go out for coffee or a drink
This can be a fantastic practice for meeting new individuals and getting to know them better. Coffee shops and bars are great places to meet people from all walks of life. Just be sure to be polite and friendly, and don’t be afraid to ask people to join you for a drink later on.
Take a class
Classes can be an excellent way to meet new people and learn new things. Classes are a great way to do so, whether you’re interested in learning a new skill or learning about a new topic. Check out your local community college or university for classes that are available.
Join a social media group
Social media groups are a great way to connect with other people and make friends. There are groups for all interests, from cooking to travel to makeup. Once you sign up, be sure to join the group and add your name to the list of members.
Making friends as an adult can be daunting, but with a little effort, it can be easy to do. Just be polite, friendly, and interested in others, and you’ll be on your way to making some great friends.
Head of Marketing, Lonely Axe
With 49% of adults having three or fewer close friends, making friends as an adult is more complicated than it appears, as most adult friends are situational friends we see in certain places at certain times. Nevertheless, genuine adult friendships foster meaningful social connections.
So, as an adult, you can do the following to make friends:
Commit to making an effort
Making friends necessitates planning and stepping outside of your comfort zone. It is best to consider making new friends as a way of growing and evolving as an adult and to plan ways to commit to making an effort to make a new friend.
Make use of your current social network and communities
Joining communities and social media groups that focus on things you like and care about is the best way to make friends online. You can accomplish this by participating in study groups. Another channel to consider is social media.
You can begin a conversation with a person that can lead to a meet-up.
This can be intimidating because it’s easier and safer to stay on the surface after making friends; however, being curious about a friend makes them feel special because you want to learn about their unique story, and they feel valued and listened to.
You can put curiosity into practice by asking questions about their relationship with their family, their views on personal development and growth, their passions, and their fears and insecurities.
Make yourself vulnerable
Being vulnerable is not the kind of confidence and grace everyone appears to have because it requires you to open up to people about a part of yourself that is not so good and that people may find ugly.
However, being vulnerable is the driving force behind connections because it is brave and tender, making you appear more human.
Think about coaching
Coaching benefits include improved self-confidence, relationships, and interpersonal skills. Having a coach walk you through how to get out of your head and embrace making new friends as a way to improve yourself individually is more effective than doing it on your own, as with a coach, you have someone holding your hand every step of the way.
Founder, The True Wilderness
Take an active role in your community
If you want to make friends as an adult, it’s essential to take an active role in your local community. This could mean joining a book club, attending social events hosted by local organizations, or volunteering for a charity.
Participating in these activities will help you meet people who share similar interests and values.
Put yourself out there
Making friends as an adult can be intimidating, but taking the initiative and putting yourself out there is essential. Try joining a club or organization that focuses on a topic that interests you.
Go to events and introduce yourself to other people; starting conversations can be a great way to get to know people and build relationships.
Take advantage of online opportunities
The internet has opened up countless opportunities for making friends as an adult. There are many online communities dedicated to bringing like-minded people together, such as forums or social media groups.
Joining these types of communities and participating in meaningful conversations can help you meet people who share your interests or values.
Make an effort to keep in touch
Once you have met some new friends, it’s essential to make a conscious effort to stay in contact with them. Keeping up with your friendships is vital for maintaining strong relationships over time.
You can keep in touch by sending a quick text, arranging to meet for coffee or lunch, or simply making time to chat.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it hard to make friends as an adult?
Making friends as an adult can definitely be challenging, but it’s not impossible. In fact, it’s quite common for people to form new friendships at different stages of their lives. As we grow older, our lives change, and we might find ourselves in new environments where we can meet new people and form new relationships.
However, the process of making friends as an adult may require a different approach than it did when you were a child. You may need to be more intentional about reaching out and putting yourself in social situations where you can meet like-minded individuals. But don’t worry, with a little effort and patience, you can definitely expand your social circle and make new friends as an adult!
Is it normal for adults not to have many friends?
Yes, it’s normal for adults not to have many friends or be without close friends. People’s social networks and friendships can change throughout their lives due to circumstances—moving to a new city, changes in work or family circumstances, or simply due to life events and personal growth.
However, it’s important to note that having close friends and a strong social network can provide many benefits, including emotional support, a sense of belonging, and opportunities for personal growth.
What if I’m shy and have a hard time meeting new people?
That’s totally normal! Making new friends can be intimidating, but there are ways to overcome shyness:
• Start small: Try talking to someone in line at the grocery store or strike up a conversation with someone sitting next to you at a coffee shop.
• Practice makes perfect: The more you put yourself out there, the easier it will become.
• Be prepared: Come up with a few conversation starters or topics in advance to help break the ice.
• Seek support: Consider joining a support group or therapy to help you work on your social anxiety.
How can I break the ice and start a conversation with someone new?
Here are some suggestions for breaking the ice and starting a conversation with someone new:
• Ask open-ended questions: Ask about their interests, hobbies, or what they do for a living.
• Comment on something in your surroundings: If you’re at an event or a class, make a comment about the topic or something you noticed in the environment.
• Share something about yourself: People are more likely to open up and connect with you if you share a little bit about yourself first.
• Show genuine interest: Listen to what the other person is saying and ask follow-up questions. People appreciate feeling heard and understood.
How can I make friends when I have a busy schedule?
It can be challenging to make friends when you have a busy schedule, but it’s not impossible. Here are some tips:
• Make the most of your free time: Make an effort to attend events or activities that align with your interests, even if it’s just for a short time.
• Be intentional: Plan regular activities or events with people you want to get to know better.
• Get creative: Look for opportunities to connect with others in unexpected ways. For example, you could start a book club with friends or join a sports league.
What if I’ve moved to a new city and don’t know anyone?
Moving to a new city can be exciting, but it can also be challenging when it comes to making new friends. Here are some tips:
• Get involved in your community: Attend local events, volunteer, or join clubs or organizations related to your interests.
• Connect with neighbors: Introduce yourself to your neighbors and see if they’d like to grab a coffee or attend a local event together.
• Take advantage of technology: Join online groups or use social media to connect with people in your area who share your interests.
• Be proactive: Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you meet and suggest getting together for a coffee or a walk.
How do I maintain new friendships?
Building new friendships takes effort, but maintaining them is just as important:
• Keep in touch regularly: Regular communication is key to maintaining friendships. Reach out through phone calls, text messages, or social media to check in with your friends and keep the lines of communication open.
• Make time for each other: Set aside time to spend with your friends, whether it’s a weekly coffee date or a monthly dinner. Consistent, quality time together can help strengthen your friendship.
• Offer support and understanding: Be there for your friends during both good times and bad, and offer help and support when needed.
• Be open and honest: Good friendships are built on trust and honesty. Be open and honest with your friends about your feelings and be willing to listen to theirs.
• Be flexible: Life is constantly changing, and it’s important to be flexible and understanding when it comes to your friendships. Be willing to make compromises and adjust your plans to accommodate your friends when necessary.
What if I didn’t click with someone I’ve just met?
Not every person you meet will become a close friend, and that’s okay. It’s natural for some relationships to just not click, and that’s not a reflection on you or the other person.
Here are a few things you can do if you don’t seem to click with someone you’ve just met:
• Be respectful: Even if you don’t feel a strong connection with someone, it’s important to be respectful and polite in your interactions with them.
• Give it time: Sometimes, it takes time to get to know someone and build a friendship. If you don’t feel an immediate connection, don’t give up on the relationship right away.
• Be open-minded: Try to be open-minded and see the good in the other person, even if you don’t feel like you have much in common.
• Focus on shared interests: If you have shared interests, try to focus on those and see if that helps build a connection.
• Accept that it’s okay if it doesn’t work out: If, after making an effort, you still don’t feel like you have a strong connection with someone, that’s okay. Not every relationship is meant to be a deep friendship, and that’s okay.
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