A How-To Guide For Making Friends As An Adult

Updated March 12, 2024by Regain Editorial Team
Making new friends in a new environment can feel daunting

For many people, friendship provides 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 can be easy (thanks to school, camps, and other activities), establishing online and real-life friendships may become more difficult as we age. As our lives become encumbered with work and other obligations, we may have less time and fewer opportunities to meet people and know them well enough to start a real friendship. 

How to make friends as an adult

When looking for love and making friends, it is important to, first and foremost, be open-minded. 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.

Just because it is hard does not mean it is impossible to make friends as an adult. Let’s explore fun ways to build connections with people in adulthood.

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 with whom in your office you could see yourself starting a friendship. 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 a long amount of time together, ask if they would like to grab lunch together during the workday. That way, 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 wanting friendship, try switching up your location and checking out a coworking space. You may 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 social events, so you have a convenient 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 do.

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 might even be 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 may not be as intimidating as a large class setting.

Of course, working out is not the only option. You can try lots 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. 


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 with 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 has multiple degrees of separation away from you, is a potential person with whom you might form a bond. You already have somewhat of a confirmation that the person is likable from whoever connected you, so you do not necessarily 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

At some point, many of us have likely thought, "I can’t make friends in person, I feel awkward." You are not alone; many people don't feel comfortable having small talk and building rapport with a stranger, and that's the beauty of this generation. We now have different social media platforms to make connection easier. 

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 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 don’t 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.

Join an adult social league

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 and dodgeball. 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.

Say yes

Making new friends in a new environment can feel daunting

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. How to make friends could be different for each and everyone, especially if you're an introvert and you feel more inclined to exist with your own company.

Online therapy for making new friends

When adults move to a new city or neighborhood, they may be surprised by how challenging it can be to make new friends. The idea that everyone in their midst already feels connected can cause someone to wonder if they will be accepted and welcomed into the social group. In these cases where your anxiety is preventing you from initiating conversations or connections, an online therapist could be a valuable member of your support network.

Regain is an online therapy platform designed to help adults in their relationships, which includes friendships. One of Regain’s appealing factors is that it enables users to meet virtually with a licensed therapist from any location with a secure internet connection. They can even take their therapists directly if they feel they could use some advice in the moment. 

Just like in-person therapists, online counselors can use therapeutic approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help people reframe negative thought processes interfering with their ability to forge friendships. Self-limiting beliefs like “I’m not worthy of friendship,” “What if I don’t fit in?” and “I’ll probably embarrass myself” are all examples of thought patterns an online therapist can help transform into empowered alternatives. 

For instance, instead of fixating on fitting in, an online counselor can help a person focus more on presenting their authentic selves; that way, they are more likely to attract people with common interests and personalities.

Research continues to support the efficacy of online CBT as a treatment for various mental health disorders, like depression and anxiety. A meta-analysis of nine controlled trials involving 840 participants showed that the effects of online CBT were comparable to those of in-person CBT, and that participants seeking both modes of treatment experienced reductions in symptoms of anxiety and depression.


Making friends as a grown adult can be intimidating, but it is something that everyone endures. Put yourself out there and make an effort to connect with new people – know that, at the least, doing what feels scary can quell the anxiety that comes from ruminating about a potential interaction. Should you feel like an online therapist may help you get started, you can reach out to a compassionate Regain counselor for support.

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