How To Actually Make Friends When You're An Adult
Making friends as an adult is hard! These tips and tricks help demystify how to make friends once you're in "the real world".
Can we address the elephant in the room and admit that making new friends as an adult is strangely difficult? At least, it feels strange compared to how easy it seemed growing up. Back then there were almost too many people to juggle between friends from sports, classes, the neighborhood, your dorm floor, sorority, and more. Fast-forward to being an adult and even when you feel like you have free time, it feels a little vulnerable admitting you want to find a The Bachelor and wine bestie like you had in college. While it takes work, making friends as an adult is possible and can be less awkward than it seems. First off, you are not alone! Researchers have studies how friendships change over our lifespan and it does get harder in your 20s! Why do I sound so excited about that? Because part of the reason it’s difficult to make friends as an adult is we worry we’re going to sound like social pariahs admitting that! But since there is research proving you aren’t the only one facing this, it means there are plenty more people out there looking to make friends! Now, the question is how to find each other and really connect? Here are some ideas and tips that will help lead you to finding your new squad.
1. Join An Ongoing Group Fitness Class
“But I already tried to say hi to people in yoga,” you’re thinking right now. You’re telling me that you are not best friends with the woman you make small chat with twice a week before you all have to be dead silent during class? What a plot twist! But really, while yoga is amazing, if you want a fitness buddy it helps to join a class where a group element is at the forefront. Someone has to hold the bag in a boxing class and they always say it takes two to tango! Joining some sort of multi-week class or bootcamp is ideal because you’ll see the same people consistently and research shows we naturally like people we’re around often.
2. Back To School
Dust off your notebooks because we’re going back to the classroom! Before you get that test anxiety you thought you were done with, don’t worry: we’re not taking these classes like we did back in college. Instead, you are going to find a class at a community college, extension program, or program that covers something you’ve always wanted to learn but didn’t get to take as an elective back in the day! Now is the perfect time to learn more about filmmaking, creative writing, improv, sewing, or whatever you’ve always had an interest in. The reason this helps make friends is you will be around the same people for a few weeks and you’re both learning something in your free time that care about. In addition, social psychologist Amy Cuddy says we make positive first impressions on someone if they come off as both warm and competent. Since you aren’t taking this class for your major that grades on a curve, there is no reason to be competitive with your classmates. And they will find you competent since you’re both furthering some sort of education or skill.
Especially with the current political climate, volunteering is a great way to meet like-minded people while feeling good about giving back. There are many websites, like VolunteerMatch that list opportunities for you to participate in. The reason this is such a good way to make friends is you are likely meeting people that share core values with you. A study by the University of Michigan’s Thomas Newcomb found that students put in housing together naturally grew closest to those that shared the same attitudes on controversial subjects. So, if you are volunteering at something like a women’s health clinic, you know there is a shared agreement on at least one issue close to your priorities. Plus, as stated eloquently on Reddit, "you don’t meet a lot of shitty people volunteering".
4. Try A Friend App
You probably have a strong feeling one way or another on dating apps like Tinder. There are some new apps that have hit the market that want to set you up, but this time on friend dates. Bumble, an existing dating app, has added a new feature called Bumble BFF that allows you to swipe on potential friends. Thankfully, if you are also using the app for dating purposes, you can have a separate profile just for your friends account. Another app, Hey! Vina, is solely for friendship and there is no dating portion. Having tried both, I will admit there is something a little strange about swiping on someone’s face to decide if you want to be friends. But when you do get a match, try doing a friend date incorporating something from above (like hitting a Spin class) so you have something to do in case there are lulls in the conversation!
5. GET. OFF. SOCIAL. MEDIA.
What? Isn’t that the opposite of being social? While I’m not advocating ghosting on all your profiles, sitting around staring at Instagram when you are in a friend funk isn’t healthy! Hating yourself because it looks like everyone but you loves their life will turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Researchers at Standford University found people with negative self-image end up forming relationships with others who are also cynical. Try being genuinely happy for the people on your timeline that are doing things, even when you’re at home by yourself. If that’s not possible, just hide them from your feed until you feel you are on your feet socially, too!