How to make friends as an adult (because it's hard)
When is the last time you met a new person and instantly hit it off, then asked if they wanted to be friends? Probably when you were five, as a kindergartener. That’s a perfectly normal question for kindergarteners to ask each other—Want to be friends?—but how do you ask the same question in a more sophisticated fashion, as an adult?
As we transition into adulthood, we often find our circle of friends begins to shrink. As people begin careers, get married, and start to have families, everyone seems to have less time for hanging out with their friends. Even though it’s normal to go through this phase, it can feel a bit awkward and lonely at times. However, there are a few easy and simple things you can do to maintain relationships you already have and make new friends as an adult.
First, ask yourself: do you take the initiative to call a friend, invite them out to dinner, or simply drop by for a visit? It’s easy to forget, but friendship takes effort. By the time we enter into adulthood, life revolves around work, family, and other household duties. (Congratulations! You are a responsible adult if this is true in your life.) But what about friendship? As life become increasingly hectic, it becomes harder to find time for friends; but that doesn’t mean they should fall off your radar. Making time for the people you care about should remain a priority throughout your life, and that’s the simplest and easiest way to ensure you have friends into adulthood.
So, are you ready to build your circle of friends? Great! Start here.
Join a club or activity
Remember high school? Where did you meet most of your close friends? Extracurricular activities. There are plenty of opportunities to be involved in the same kind of activities even as a grownup. Do you like to cook or paint? Or maybe dodgeball is your thing. Check out your local community education for creative classes or adult sports leagues. Any activity that gets you out of the house and socializing with others can be a great way to meet new friends.
Ask for an introduction
If you’ve moved to a new area, making new friends can be especially tough. When I moved to a new town, one of my good friends had a friend who lived in my new resident city and I asked her to introduce us. We ended up getting together and really hit it off. After the initial introduction through our mutual friend, we became fast friends. You might be surprised at how small the world can be through a few mutual acquaintances. It’s OK to ask for help in making friends!
For 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week, 2,880 hours a year: we spend a lot of time at work. Having a confidant who understands your work frustrations and with whom you can share inside jokes with goes a long way. If you get along with a few people well enough at work, why not get together outside of work? Plan a Friday happy hour or offer to help a coworker with a weekend project. Camaraderie can extend far beyond the water cooler.
My sister is one of my best friends. I’m a little more Thelma and she is more Louise, aka a perfect compliment for one another. My mother and I have also grown closer as I’ve gotten older. Sometimes it’s the three of us who get together for a trip to the farmer’s market or shopping at the mall. My family is pretty cool, and we have a great time together. Perhaps you have a sibling you’re close to, or a cousin or an aunt. Family members can make great friends. Why not count them among your circle?
So you’ve found a few new people you’ve hit it off with—that’s great! But now what?
It may feel awkward to ask people to hang out or to be friends, but keep in mind everyone feels that way. It’s hard to put yourself out there. We’re full of self-doubt. Oh, they probably already have tons of friends. They’re too busy. Or the most dreaded thought: maybe they don’t feel the same way. Stop the negative talk. Making friends should come without pressure. Approach it in a casual and easy manner. If you find someone you enjoy spending time with, chances are the feeling is mutual. Ask them if they’d like to get coffee, or join you at the movies. It’s not something that gets easier for anyone as they get older, but most people are open to accepting new friends. They will be glad you took the first step and you thought to include them in your plans.
This phase of your life is where you find comfort in having a few very close friends, versus having a long list of casual friends. Quality over quantity is where it counts.
Friendships change as you enter into adulthood. I have two very good friends I’ve known since grade school, and our playdates have evolved from playing with dolls to taking turns drinking wine at each other’s houses. We used to talk every single day; and now, maybe it’s a few times a month. While our relationship has changed since we were young, they are still both my closest friends. Before I even call them they already know what’s wrong, and if I’m in need they will rearrange their busy lives to help out. Decide what friendship means to you. Is it someone you can call on day or night? Someone who can offer advice in a tough spot? Maybe it’s someone who can bail you out of jail after a wild night in Las Vegas or, better yet, is sitting in the cell with you. Whatever friendship means to you in adulthood, recognize it is different now than when you were younger. And that’s OK.
Rachel Ortiz is a true Midwesterner residing in rural Minnesota. When she’s not wrangling her two children or dancing in her kitchen, she loves to eat french fries with a side of ranch dressing. Her dream job is to be a beach bum but she’ll settle for being a writer. You can find her stories about lifestyle and motherhood on her blog, Honest Applesauce.