For many people, friendship is one of the greatest joys in life. Whether you have one or two close friends or a large circle of acquaintances, these people can add significant value to your life.
Unlike family, you can choose your friends. While making brand new friends as a child and teenager is easy, thanks to school, camps, and other activities, it becomes much harder as we age.
Making friends as a grown adult is a challenge for most people. During adulthood, we become busy with work, family, and other obligations. There are less time and fewer opportunities to meet people and know them well enough to start a real friendship. Just because it is hard does not mean it is impossible to make friends as an adult.
How To Make Friends As An Adult
When looking for love and making friends, you need to be open to the idea truly. Making friends as a grown adult can be nerve-wracking for many people. So much time had passed since the days of school when it was as easy as saying hello to a classmate to make a friend. If it has been a while since you made friends, you may feel stressed or anxious about the prospect of putting yourself out there to new people.
If you are in this position, therapy or counseling can be extremely useful. A therapist can help relieve any anxieties you feel about making friends and boost your confidence, so you feel ready to get out there and meet new people. Plus, an online therapist or counselor will be available to you at all times, so you can talk to them if you start to feel overwhelmed at any point when making friends as a grown adult.
Connect With Coworkers
Most adults spend a significant amount of time at the office or otherwise doing job-related tasks. It makes sense, then, to hone in on the people who you spend the majority of your time around- your coworkers. You probably already have a feel for who in your office you could see yourself starting a friendship with and may even already be friendly in the workplace. If you want to take your friendship from "work friends" to "real friends," ask the person if they would like to grab dinner or drinks after work. Happy hours were made to form closer bonds between colleagues, so do not be afraid to use them for that purpose.
If dinner or drinks seems like it may be too much or you want to get to know the person better before committing to spending such a long amount of time together, ask if they would like to grab lunch together during the workday. That way, just if things do not go so well, you both will have to get back to the office anyway. A quick workday lunch is a great way to test the waters to see if you would like to pursue the friendship further.
Of course, this scenario is a bit trickier if you work from home. If you are in that position but are feeling lonely or desire friendship, try switching up your location and checking out a coworking space. You will find other people in similar situations as yourself and will have the option to keep to yourself or strike up a conversation over coffee with a fellow remote worker if you feel so inclined. A bonus of coworking spaces is that many of them hold afternoon and evening events for members, so you have the perfect opportunity to meet other people who work in the same location as you.
Experiment With New Activities
If you are seeking new people in your life, why not try some new activities as well? You can do many activities that could lead you to other people that enjoy similar things as you.
One option is to join a gym with classes that interest you, like spin or yoga. Often there are a few minutes before the class begins when students are waiting for the instructor to begin teaching. Use that opportunity to introduce yourself to your classmates. You most likely will not make friends with every person in attendance, but odds are at least some of the other attendees will be friendly and maybe even looking for some new friends as well.
If you are nervous, wait until you have been to a few classes, and you can spot the other "regulars." You can also try small group training to work out with just a few other people and a trainer. This way, you will have a chance to get to know the other people in your group, and it will not be as intimidating as a large class setting.
Of course, working out is not the only option. You can try tons of activities, such as cooking, crafting, or even salsa dancing. Find something that you enjoy. Then, you already have something in common with the other attendees. Common ground like a shared hobby is a great way to start a friendship, and you will automatically have something to talk about!
Networking is typically used in the context of your professional life, but you can network to make friends, too. If you move to a new city or want to make new friends wherever you live, utilize the people you already know to connect with others. If a relative mentions that they know someone you live in your area, follow up on that and ask for an introduction. If you get invited to a birthday party with ten other people in attendance, use the opportunity to connect with some of the other guests.
A friend-of-a-friend, or even someone who is multiple degrees of separation away from you, is a wonderful person to try to form a bond with. You already have somewhat of a confirmation that the person is likable from whoever connected you, so you do not have to worry about spending time with someone mean or standoffish. Plus, you have your mutual connection as a conversation starter.
You should not feel embarrassed to ask friends and family to introduce you to people they know in your city. Everyone goes through the struggle of making friends as a grown adult, and most people are happy to help out. Even if you only have one friend in your area, if you start meeting their friends, that person's friends, and so on, your circle can rapidly grow.
Use The Internet
Many people overlook a key aspect of social media- it is meant to be used for socializing. While most people scroll through their updates without interacting with others, social media can really be used to meet other people in your area. If you already follow someone, try sending them a message to ask if they want to meet up.
You may feel a little awkward doing this at first, but keep in mind that this is the purpose of social media. If you do not want to be this forward, use social media to look up events in your area that interest you. Meeting someone at an interesting event gives you some common ground to start forming a friendship. Plus, if you have similar interests, you may find a buddy to accompany you to similar events in the future.
There are other ways to use the internet to meet people outside of traditional social media. Meetup websites are a perfect way to meet other people who have similar interests to you. Many meetups are geared towards socializing and the activity you will be doing, so you never have to feel awkward or nervous about coming alone. Chances are, many people who attend the meetup are also looking to make friends. There are meetups for almost every kind of activity or group of people in most cities, including book clubs, hiking expeditions, faith-based groups, and artistic endeavors. Peruse the meetup websites and find a group (or multiple groups!) that piques your interest.
You may also want to try a mobile app for meeting people. Though these apps are typically used to meet romantic partners, many of them now offer a "friendship" option for swiping. You can choose to connect with people based on their profile, so you can even select people who have similar interests to your own. People would not be on these apps if they were not trying to make friends, so you know you have plenty of potential future friends literally at your fingertips.
Friends are people who you can count on to always be on your team. So, why not join an actual team? Adult social leagues are gaining popularity in cities all over the world. There are teams for various sports, including football, soccer, and more laid-back games like kickball. Even if you do not consider yourself athletic, give one of these teams a shot. They are called social leagues for a reason- if people truly take the sport seriously, they will join a more professional league.
Adult social leagues are designed to connect people and focus on social activity much more than the sport itself. Most leagues meet once a week, so after the first couple of games, you will have spent a good amount of time with your team and can easily form friendships. Plus, the consistent schedule gives you a social activity to look forward to each week if you do not have many friends in your city and feel lonely.
Many leagues even have designated bars where the teams go after the games, so the activities extend beyond just the game itself, and you can meet people in the league who are not even on your team.
It can be exhausting putting yourself out there to meet new people, but it is a necessary part of the process of making friends as a grown adult. Even if you start to feel worn out, be sure to say "yes" to invitations you receive for social activities. If someone asks you to grab a coffee or attend a party with them, it means they want to spend time with you. Even if you are unsure about pursuing a friendship with this person, give it a shot! You may be surprised at how much you enjoy their company after you spend some more time with them.
It can be tempting to cancel plans in favor of spending a night in with your favorite TV show, but over time this behavior can start to affect you negatively. Even if you enjoy your alone time, you need some social activity and friendship in your life.
Making friends as a grown adult can be intimidating, but it is something that everyone must go through. Put yourself out there and make an effort to connect with new people- you and your new friends will be grateful that you did.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)
Why is it difficult for adults to make friends?
There are several reasons why it might feel harder to form new friendships as an adult. Adult lives are very different from the lives of children. As you know, adult lives are often busy and filled with a variety of commitments, such as paying the bills, cleaning the house, maintaining your career, maintaining a romantic relationship, maintaining existing relationships with close friends, and so much more. Not only that but unlike children, adults aren't in a K-12 school setting as a student. The good news is that it is possible to make new friendships and new close friends as an adult. Often, it simply takes effort and learning how to form friendships outside of the environments we made friends in as kids, such as after-school sport environments, educational environments, and other activities. Brushing up on social skills can also help those hoping to maintain friendships and make new friends as adults.
Can you make friends later in life?
You can absolutely make friends later in life. While some struggle to make friends as adults, it's possible to work past the initial difficulty you may face and make good friends at any age. Research looking at how long it takes to make close friends or develop a close friendship found that it takes 40-60 hours to form a new friendship, where it took 200 hours to develop a relationship where you could consider a person one of your close friends or best friends, so be mindful of the fact that it does take time to make a true friend and that friendship doesn't happen overnight. When you meet someone you get along with and respectful toward you, let the friendship progress naturally.
What is the best age to make friends?
Although studies show a median or average age where people meet their best friends, there is no best age to make friends in general. In fact, this study showed that as the age group increased, the average age that someone met their best friend increased, meaning that people continued to make friends as time went on and people got older.
Is it too late to make friends?
Making more friends is possible at any age, and it's never too late to make new friends. Friends are important at any age, and they are important for many reasons. Friends are important because social support is proven beneficial for mental and physical well-being. After all, you get to share experiences with friends. Having people you care about makes your life richer. Good friends give respect, and they do not put you down or make you feel bad about yourself. They talk to you in a way that shows respect and care for you, and you do the same for them. It takes time to form deeper friendships, so no need to rush into being best friends with someone right away. Start by connecting on a common interest or conversation topic. If you struggle with shyness or aren't sure how to start a conversation with someone new and that's what causes difficulty in making new friends for you, you might have a couple of icebreaker questions in mind when you're in a scenario, such as a group setting, where you have the opportunity to meet new people. There are even dating apps designed with people who want to make friends rather than meet people for romance in mind. This means that you can match with friends on dating apps and form connections that are strictly platonic. You may work for a dating app to meet friends if this is something you are interested in.
Why do some people have no friends?
There are several different reasons why a person might not have any friends. However, if you don't have friends right now, it doesn't mean you can't make friends in the future. For those who haven't had friends in a very long time or who can't remember a time where they've had close friends, the thought of making close friends can be intimidating, so know that you don't need to jump into it all at once. If your time without friends has spanned over the course of many years, you may start with making acquaintances and socializing rather than trying to jump into close friendships right away. You might also consider seeing a counselor or therapist where you can talk about battles with friends if you have them. Therapy or counseling is also an excellent place to go if you struggle to maintain friendships.
Why do I struggle to make friends?
There are several reasons why someone might struggle to make friends, so the answer to this question will vary from person to person. Some people who struggle with making more friends might have trouble making friends due to shyness, for example. They may have trouble putting themselves out there, starting conversations, or continuing conversations. Another person might struggle with knowing where to look for friends or figuring out how to meet new people in adulthood. There are, however, solutions to these concerns. If you're struggling to meet people or don't know where to find new adult friendships, for example, you might join a class that interests you, join a group that interests you, or start attending meetups about a topic that interests you. If you’re having difficulty with friendship or anything else that’s on your mind, don’t be afraid to reach out for support. The counselors at ReGain are here to help you work through your concerns, whether that’s as a couple or as an individual, and to provide a listening ear. Click here to get started, or learn more about ReGain by visiting the FAQ page on the ReGain website.