There were so many opportunities to meet other kids and friend them: neighborhood kids, kids in your class, and even the kids of your parent’s friends. When you were a child, it was okay to walk up to another kid and declare that they were now your best friend, but that’s not how it works when you’re a grown-up.
It’s much more challenging to make friends as an adult since there are certain social protocols in place that must be followed. You don’t want to seem desperate to make a friend or you’ll appear sketchy, nor do you want to come off as indifferent or difficult. No one chooses to be friends with someone who was problematic right from the start.
Friendship should be a positive experience that enriches our lives.
If you tend to be more introverted, you may wonder how you could ever strike up a conversation with a stranger. Robin Lee Allen says, “When someone inevitably introduces themselves, I practice being open and learning their story. I ask myself, “Who is this person? What is he or she searching for? Are they interested in others or themselves? What is their primary motivation?” I then ask a series of questions that lead me to the answers and actually listen to their responses. At this point, no one believes I am an introvert.”
How to Never Ask “Why Can’t I Make Friends” Again
Here are some tips on how to meet and make friends as an adult—even if you already have a ton of friends, it never hurts to get some fresh perspectives in your life. There’s something exciting about making a new friend that can naturally put you in a good mood and help you when you’re feeling lonely and all your other friends are busy.
If you have kids, you’ve already got a ton of potential friendships.
Kids can be a great way to meet friends says Alison Bernstein, founder of Suburban Jungle. “Take them to classes, get to know other parents…chat at a birthday party drop-offs or sporting events! They are the key to meeting people that are in the same stage of life…and as your kids make friends, you automatically have things in common with them [the parents] as your kids will go through all the “firsts” together…starting with kindergarten, trying new activities, gaining independence. It is a common bond that goes a long way!”
Take your dog for a walk, and if you don’t have a dog take yourself for a walk.
Janet Ruth Heller, Ph.D. says, “Say ‘hello’ to people as you take walks and run errands Some of these individuals may become your friends. I talked with one woman every time I walked in my neighborhood, and we started hiking together, she is now a good friend.”
Take a class in something that you’re interested in but not required to take.
If your job isn’t dependent on what you’re learning and you’re taking a class just for fun, you’ll be much more relaxed and open to new friends. You can bond over the in-class assignments and if it’s a class that suggests extracurricular activities such as attending a play or going to a museum, you can invite your new friend to go with you. Prosperity Coach, Joy Passy says, “I highly recommend that people take up hobbies and classes that meet regularly so they can get to know people without it feeling awkward.”
Go to an event where you don’t know most of the people there.
It can seem terrifying if you’re not an extrovert to go to a party where you don’t know many of the invitees but in a way, you’re going in with a clean slate. You can be who you want to be. Milana Perepyolkina, author of Gypsy Energy Secrets: Turning a bad day into a good day no matter what life throws at you, says “Be brave, go to parties and gatherings where you do not know anyone, smile and initiate contact. Everyone enjoys a good compliment and talking about their passions.”
Join a meetup group, teams, or a community.
Meetup groups are great because you can find people with the same interests as you. It could be something that you love to do like hiking or something you’ve never done like knitting or 3D printing. Audition for a theater or improv group: you may never make in it Hollywood, but you’ll make some good friends.
Volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about.
When you’re volunteering, it’s a double win—you meet people and you give back. You start out the relationship having something in common with another volunteer and you’ll quickly bond because you both want to make the world a better place, one charity or cause at a time.
Make friends with your friend’s friends.
V. Lynn Whitfield, of VLW Enterprise, says, “We [she and her friend’s friend ) meet at an event we are all attending and find out that we like the same things, or we are both single and looking for someone to go to comedy shows with or dinner, and a friendship develops.”
It’s okay to make friends with a mutual friend as long as you don’t do anything that will negatively affect their friendship. As long as you don’t co-opt the friend so that they have no time or need for your mutual friend, it’s cool. Try to arrange things that you can all do together so that no one feels left out—yes, those feelings can still happen when you’re adults.
Reconnect with old friends you lost touch with.
One thing that’s great about Facebook, is that it really can connect you with people from your past. I shared a picture of my 4th-grade class and a friend of one of my friends identified herself as the girl standing behind me. We got to chatting and it turned out that although we had both moved away from our hometown, we lived a few blocks away from each other, and shared a love of music. We weren’t close as kids, but that didn’t prevent us from being friends as adults.
It’s important to continue to make new friends while keeping your old ones, or if you’ve just moved to a new city and need some local friends. The more positive and loving people we have in our lives the better, and while it might be more complicated to make friends as an adult, those friendships can be deeper and more satisfying than the ones we had when we were children.