How to Make Friends as an Adult
Making friends outside of the bubble of school isn’t exactly easy. Think of how much help there is in romantic relationships. From apps to coaches, therapists, programs, etc. Yet, where do you go if you have a rift with a friend, or you move and are back to square one in the local friendship department?
Strong friendships are linked to longer lives. Seriously, check out this data from the Australian Study of Longitudinal Aging:
Researchers followed nearly 1,500 people over the age of 70 for 10 years and found that people with the strongest network of good friends lived longer than those with the fewest close friends.
Older adults with the strongest network of friends were 22% less likely to die during the study than those with the weakest network of good friendships.
So what’s one to do when after years of focusing on your career/kids/marriage you look up haven’t made a new friend in who knows how long?
Ways to meet people
You’re going to have to put yourself out there. Just like with dating, it’s a numbers game and you need to open the door to connecting with more people. You’re casting a wide net. The expectation is not to show up to one event and come away with 20 friends, it’s to be consistent in showing up and creating layers of friendships.
Some may become loose acquaintances that you wave and chat for a moment if you run into each other, and a select few will become someone you will text to hang out with. If you make 3 of those text-and-hang-worthy friends this year, it’s a job well done!
A few places you can find places to gather:
Meetup.com – You can find general groups (like the awkward 30-somethings I joined😄) to more specific like Women in Tech. The nice thing about meet up groups is they are not just one off gatherings, rather a group of people who meet consistently so you are likely to see the same people at multiple events.
Groups and Classes – Check the community board or page of local places you frequent. Bookstores may have a book club that meets there. Craft stores are known for having workshops for certain skills. All of these are fun ways to connect with others who share your interests. Volunteer groups are another amazing way to connect with people who share a passion. Facebook is another great place to find potential friends with shared interests. Personally, I joined a local Asheville chapter of a podcast I love (Any Murderino’s reading this? Come say hey to me on IG!) and started going to trivia with some of them and made some actual friends I meet up with outside of group meetups.
Events – Often coffee shops will host Coffee and Conversation, either a one-off or hopefully a regularly occurring event. Networking meetups are not only a great way to build your career network, but to make friends with common career focus.
Dog parks and playgrounds – Whether you are a dog mom, human mom, or both, these are low-pressure places to start a conversation. In both places, people are standing around while their dog/kid plays, plus you instantly have at least one thing in common you can start talking about.
Taking it from strangers to friends
So you walk into a meetup and see a room of strangers. Now what? How do you go from a nod and smile to actual connection? Just like you opened the door to connecting with others, now you are opening the door to conversation.
Stay off your phone
I know it is reeeeaaaally tempting to hide behind your screen instead of making eye contact, but think of how approachable that looks to others. You are less likely to say anything to someone who is staring at their phone and vice-versa.
You do not have to open with an in-depth story about yourself or a deep conversation starter. Comment on what someone is wearing, ask if they’ve been to one of these meetups before, if they live close by, who cuts their hair. ANYTHING! From there it will either fizzle out or flow easily.
If you enjoyed talking to someone throughout an event, they are very likely enjoying it as well. If it feels you have known this person for a while even if you just met and if you genuinely wish to see them again, it won’t be out of left field if you say that.
This next step is up to you and how bold you are plus how much you have been chatting. If you do hope to see them again, let them know! When it’s an easy conversation, they are enjoying it, too, let them know that. You want to take this connection to a 1:1 environment so recommending you connect on whatever social platform you use is pretty seamless.
You can also go straight to the phone number. I find it feels more comfortable to offer yours up instead of asking for theirs but it really does depend on how the situation feels. Be genuine, “It’s been great chatting with you, can I give you my number so you can send [insert whatever they recommended to you throughout your conversation].” or, “I
“It was great talking with you, are you on Instagram? I’ll follow you
“I need more friends who [insert what you have in common (like hiking, read real books, are moms, etc.)], maybe we could meet up some time outside of this group, here’s my number, let’s stay in touch!”
Invite people to things
When you have someones contact info, invite them to other events. They may not be able to go, but it’s another touchpoint and opportunity to deepen the relationship. The more often you invite, the more likely they will think to invite you if they attend something.
Be patient and be consistent
Remember, you aren’t going to make a BFF in one interaction. Keep showing up and be open to going to an event where you do not click with anyone. Be brave and go alone!