Becoming an adult can be quite daunting and weird. Suddenly, you’re expected to be self-sufficient, have your shit together, and not eat cereal for dinner. Plus, you’re forced to figure out the totally weird predicament of making friends as an adult!
Now it seems like everyone has their social circles solidified and significant others locked down, and making friends is a lot trickier than hitting “accept” on Facebook. Your social life can meander if you don’t make it a priority.
The importance of friendship for our overall happiness is massive. Yet the idea of making new friends and meeting new people can feel like an overwhelmingly complex task. So for those of you who struggle to make friends and meet new people, this helpful guide will give you a breakdown of areas to tackle and hopefully help you realize just how easy making friends can be!
Use The Internet
People use dating sites to find potential partners, so it only seems logical to make friends in the same way! No, I don’t mean putting an ad on Craigslist. Meetup.com, for example, allows you to connect with like-minded people wherever you live who share the same interests and are equally as keen to make new friends. Looking for new friends that share your love of yoga? Or maybe you want to find some buddies to play music with. Whatever your interest, it’s very likely someone’s already created a group for it. And if not, you can create your own! You can find meetups based around outings or activities, or purely social meetups like checking out a new bar or restaurant in the area.
My May resolution was to not only make time for friends, but to making friends and meeting new people. So I decided to give Meetup a try. I was pretty nervous to head out to the first one on my own, until I realized most other attendees were on their own as well! And attending a Meetup based around a certain activity that you’re interested in is perfect for breaking the ice by automatically giving you something to chat about.
Not only will you have a load of new connections, but also you are likely to learn something new and meet people who will offer you a whole new perspective from the friends you already have.
Approach People & Ask A Question
It may sound weird, but pursuing friendships can be a lot like dating. If you see a cute guy at Barnes & Noble, you’re probably racking your brain for topics to start up a conversation. So why not do the same when making new friends? Ask the girl in your yoga class how she gets her perfect beach wavy hair. Or if the nice cashier at Central Market always has the best hummus recommendations, ask her what some of her favorite restaurants are. Thoughtful, open-ended questions show that you actually have an interest in the other person’s opinion. Be confident, natural, and spend time building rapport.
Find A Hobby
It’s obvious, yes. But you’re not going to make new friends sitting alone in your apartment binge-watching Netflix. Finding a hobby that you actually enjoy is important for your overall sense of well-being. So why not try to meet new people at the same time! A shared interest + a genuine desire to make a new buddy = friendship city! Friendships often develop effortlessly when there’s an underlying similarity. And seeing each other regularly speeds up the transitioning from acquaintances to friends. Choose an activity that you enjoy and sign up for a class or join a club, like Zumba and yoga classes, playing intramural sports, or joining a book club. If you feel like you’re getting along with someone and have a shared interest or the same sense of humor, don’t be afraid to ask them out for a drink or coffee date.
Connect With Mutual Friends
Friends of friends are one of the best ways to connect with new people that are somewhat familiar. And using a mutual friend can bypass the awkwardness of meeting a complete stranger. Presumably at least one of your current friends is a decent judge of character with pals in other areas of her life with whom you’d be simpatico. Tag along when a friend of yours is going out with people you don’t really know to easily broaden your squad. As a bonus, it’s relatively non-awkward to establish a follow-up date — just include the friend who brought you two together, et voila.
Work Somewhere New
Of course, this is a little easier said than done. But if you’re lucky enough to have at least one co-worker you find relatively interesting, don’t take it for granted. You spend hours around your co-workers anyway, so why not try developing bonds with them. That doesn’t mean you have to go to group happy hours if you’re an introvert, or just don’t want to go. But grab your beloved co-workers for a lunch date every once in a while. Or even just initiate bonding over Gchat. Then make an effort to stay in touch if one or both of you moves on to a new gig.
Revisit Your Archives
Don’t bother with the friends you’ve broken up with for good reason or who refuse to acknowledge that you’ve lived and changed a lot since you were 13-years-old. But one of the glories of social media is that it’s a pretty painless way to reconnect with faces from your past who you actually miss — like the high school friend who you feel out of touch with for no good reason other than life happens, or the mom friends who unintentionally blew you off after having kids. If something went wrong between you and a friend that you’d really like to reconnect with, rehash your shit if you feel like it will help you two successfully move forward.
If you meet someone that you really click with, call them, invite them out and make an effort. Again, bringing it back to dating — while we may not have the courage to actually do it, most of us know how to pursue a crush. You invite them to a concert featuring a band you know they love. You start reading books or watching the shows that they’re into. So just apply similar (but less romantic) tactics when making friends. If you met someone up for lunch, follow up with them afterwards to say you had a good time.
Try To Be Your Authentic Self
This is a personal tip that I have found is incredibly important when it comes to making friends. When surrounded by new people, it can be super tempting to try to be the person we think they want to see, or to mimic the behaviors of others so that we feel like we’re fitting in. However, the people you meet this way won’t be meeting the real you, and so it definitely isn’t the best way to make a meaningful or lasting connection.
Relationships built on phony facades and false build-ups are only as good as their foundation. Superficial friendships will only fizzle over time. So to achieve a solid connection, you have to be yourself. There is no way to feel more connected to someone than to open yourself up to them.
Most Importantly, Make Yourself Happy
The happier you are, the more self-confident you will be — plus the more people will be drawn to your seriously good vibes. Wear the clothes that make you feel beautiful, not what’s currently trendy. Eat foods that nourish you as well as satisfy you. Fill your space with things you love and go to places that truly inspire you. Doing this will engender authenticity, curiousity and open-heartedness. You’ll start attracting the friends you want without feeling like you’re trying.
Get Out There & Do It!
Seriously. The more you put yourself out there in various groups and situations, the less intimidating it becomes.