I really struggled to make friends after I graduated, until one day I decided to actively do something about it.
Why is it Harder to Make Friends as an Adult?
After graduating from college I noticed that some of the friendships I had started to taper off. That's just a part of life; sometimes as people get older they put more into their careers and families, they move away, find new interests and generally people grow apart. The common link of school was no longer holding our friendships together and it became harder to keep those connections alive. When I was a kid, some friendships dwindled and died but now as an adult I wasn't making new friendships to replace the old ones. Generally it's a lot harder to make friends as an adult, but luckily there are things you can do to change that.
A lot of people feel lonely and wish they had more friends.
Friendship Tips and Tricks
Do you feel awkward trying to make new friends? A lot of people do.
Do you wish you had more friends than you do now? You're not the only person that feels this way. Many people feel lonely and wish they had more friends.
Remember when you were a kid it how easy it was to make friends? All you had to do was sit next to someone and you had a new best friend! Of course as an adult, things get a little more challenging. Friendships are important for our well-being, but for adults it becomes increasingly hard to maintain relationships and make new friends.
Here are some tips to make solid friendships that last:
- Put yourself into social situations. You need to make contact with people outside of your inner circle.
- Find common ground. It helps to relate to the people you meet. A good way to do this is to join a hobby group where you all share the same interests.
- Take the initiative. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. If you meet someone that you'd like to hang out with, invite them somewhere! Don't wait for them to make the first move and don't worry about being rejected.
- Repeat contact. It helps your friendship if you see the same person regularly over a period of time. Regular contact fosters relationships. For example, if you are taking classes you are more likely to make friends with the people you sit next to.
- Build the friendship. Open up to people, talk to them and open up to them. Tell them about your life and take an active interest in their lives too.
- Put work into it. Reach out to people and stay in contact. You need to put effort to keep the relationship going. Call and text new people to see how they are doing. Keep up a discussion on Facebook. Whatever it takes so that you don't lose contact.
Join a Club or a Group
You can use your interests or even find new hobbies to meet people. A book club, dart league, axe throwing group, bowling league, Toastmasters, running clubs, martial arts clubs, Roller derby teams, quilters, knitters and Civil War reenacters! These are just a few of the many types of clubs or groups that you can join. Find something that sounds interesting and look for ones that meet fairly regularly.
Check out local interest groups on Facebook. Check the community bulletin boards and classifieds. Decide on a hobby that you enjoy and see if they have any local chapters in your area. If you don't find anything that you are interested in, you can even start your own club!
I've had success finding platonic friends with the app Bumble BFF. Sometimes dating apps work too: I was surprised to hear from someone who made a platonic friendship on Tinder. If you decide to use dating apps to find friends, just make sure you tell people right away that you are only looking for friendship.
Just like with dating applications, the success rate really depends on your location and how many other people in your area are using the application. Here's a list of friendship apps I have put together, by researching the most popular ones available and trying many of them out for myself. I also took into account the apps reviews and how happy people were with them.
All of these apps are free. Let me know in the comments if there any good ones that I have left out.
- Bumble BFF (You have to sign up for Bumble first and then switch to BFF mode)
- Hey! Vina (For women only)
- Meet My Dog (For dog owners only)
- Peanut (For Mothers)
- Skout (A dating app, but it can also be used for networking and making friends)
- MeetMe (Advertised as a friend app, but often used for dating)
- We3 (Formerly called Me3, the idea is to meet in groups of 3 which some people find less awkward than one-on-one meetups).
- Atleto (For sports)
- Nextdoor (It's a neighborhood app to help people get to know the people in their area: people use it for many local events and issues including garage sales, lost pets, community theater and construction notices).
Meetup.com is probably the most popular online site for in-person meetups. You join local groups based on your interests and then participate in events with that group. If you want, you can even start your own group. My experience with Meetup.com was positive; the people I met were very friendly and happy to make new acquaintances. While I found that it's a great way to get out and socialize, it's not always the best place to make lasting friendships. Most of the groups I have participated in had several hundred members and the events I went to always had new people. Remember, if you are trying to make friends, it really helps to see the same people more than once! Meetup.com is a great site to get out of the house and find something fun to do, but if you are serious about making friends, look for groups that have fairly frequent meetups and a small amount of members.
Church and Other Spiritual Centers
Find a church or spiritual center that coincides with your values, beliefs and/or practices. If you aren't religious, check out Unitarian churches, which are places that welcome all faiths, belief systems and even atheists. A spiritual center could be a group that practices Tai Chi in the park, does yoga, meditation, or focuses on a relationship with nature. Research different groups and see what they offer and how it could benefit you. You can look up your nearest Mega church and check out your local options on facebook. If you like the vibe, check it out! Churches love having new members and can be a very welcoming place. They often organize group activities, and work together to help out the community. Its a great way to meet like minded people.
Continuing Education Classes
Having something in common and repeated interactions are important for friendships, and with a continuing education class you get both of those things. Many classes also assist in the socializing factor by putting people into groups for projects. Some suggestions for classes include accounting, event planning, art and photography, language courses and improv classes. Even if you don't have success finding friends in a class at least you had the chance to learn something too!
Join a Gym
This could work well or not, depending on what type of gym you join. Look for gyms that encourage socializing. While some people join a gym for the sole purpose of working out, there are certain situations where gyms are a great place to find friends. Gyms with classes are the best for this, whether it's a Zumba class or Boot Camp group. Some of the nicest people I have ever met were in my CrossFit class. If you go to a gym class regularly you are guaranteed to meet people who share something in common with you. It also helps if you find a gym with a sense of community. The gym I joined had a lot of get-togethers: summer barbecues, themed dress-up days, pot lucks, cookie parties and restaurant outings. On top of that, we normally all went regularly to class and I saw the same 10-15 people at least 3 times a week (repetitive contact helps build friendships!).
Using Online Classifieds and Websites
Craigslist used to have the option to post in the platonic section, but they've recently removed it. Most other online classifieds have sections where you can make a post or reply to someone looking for a platonic friend (just make sure you don't post in the dating section!). In Canada, Kijiji.ca is the most popular online classifieds website.
There are also websites dedicated to helping people find local friends, some of them include:
- Interpals.net: You can make friends locally or find a pen pal anywhere in the world.
- GirlFriendCircle: Helping women find other women to hang out with.
- Not4dating.com: Finding local friends that you can meetup with real life.
- Reddit: Reddit has a subreddit called r4r where you can meet other redditors locally.
Intramural Sports Team
I'm not very sporty myself, but I do have friends that have joined intramural leagues and become fast friends with pretty much everyone on their team. Recreational sports are a great way to meet new people and stay active too. Joining a sports team means you make friends that you'll see pretty regularly, and many teams like to get-together after games to go for drinks or food which means there's plenty of time to socialize. You don't really need to worry about how good you are in sports either. Intramural activities can be pretty inclusive; they often accommodate a wide variety of skill sets, levels and ages.
To find a local team try sites like Zogsports or search for a team on Facebook.
When I moved to a new area I immediately joined a local environmental group. I met new people that lived nearby and it also helped me become more familiar with the places around me. I have good memories from joining this group and I'm always excited when new events are happening: one of my favorites being beach cleanups! It's really great to get out and meet people who are passionate about the same issues as me.
Volunteering is a great way to meet other people, but make sure you find a cause that you actual care about. Finding something that you support and genuinely want to help out with is a great way to spend some of your time. It's also an activity that you can do without spending too much money. The bonus is that the people you meet at volunteer events are likely to share common interests. They also tend to be good, positive people that want to contribute in some capacity. Volunteering isn't just for charities either, there are so many different ways a person can donate their time, and there are so many types of groups that need help. For example, if there is an event happening near you, you can volunteer for that as well. Music festivals and craft beerfests often need help and in exchange you get to attend the festival for free.
Here are some volunteer suggestions:
- Pet shelters
- Wildlife rescue
- Environmental groups
- Soup kitchens
- Red Cross
- Food banks
- Political campaigns
- Habitat for Humanity
- Retirement homes
Also check out your city center for volunteering opportunities, sometimes they post ads on their websites. There are also websites with loads of listings, so try a site like volunteermatch.org.
Not all of your friends have to be people that you hang out with in person, if you are looking for new friendships, look no further than the internet! Look for forums and websites that share your interests or values. There is some stigma regarding online friendships, but having internet friends can be as valuable and worthwhile as the friends you hang out with in person.
If you are active on the web, there's a chance to make friends on websites. I joined an online forum related to one of my hobbies where I became an active member, and over time forged friendships with people from all over the world. The forum I'm part of isn't just about the hobby we all share, there are sections where people can post about personal topics as well. With my online community I've also participated in swaps and contests, the majority of people on the site are friendly and being part of that community has been very rewarding for me. These are people that I probably won't ever meet in person but I enjoy talking with them and they are important to me. I know people who are active commenters on political and feminists sites; they also have a strong sense of community with their internet friends.
Ideas for online communities include the video gaming community, Reddit, Youtube, and Wusoup. The best way to make friends online is to think of a hobby you love, find an online forum for it, join, and participate!
A Word of Caution
A friend of mine had just moved into a new apartment complex and thought it would be fun to get to know the other people in her building. The whole thing sounded like a good idea... but when I asked her for details she told me her plan was to advertise on the lobby's bulletin board for monthly meetups... that she was planning on hosting in her apartment! I immediately told her I didn't like the idea of her inviting total strangers into her home. I explained that I was worried because she didn't know these people yet. I suggested a public space where they could meet instead. She has since organized her first meet-and-greet and I am happy to say that she took my advice and met at the nearby coffee shop instead of in her apartment.
When making new friends you have to put yourself out of your comfort zone and open up a little, but remember you still need to protect yourself from people that are looking to take advantage of you. It's sad to say, but not everyone can be trusted, so be careful and exercise caution when meeting new people. Don't give out your home address to strangers and always meet new people in public places. Hopefully the person you've just met will become a good friend in time, but it's a good idea to remind yourself that there are dangerous people out there too.
A Final Word on Finding Friends
Don't Discriminate and Don't Be Picky!
You won't be helping yourself if you set incredibly unrealistic expectations for potential friends. Cast a wide net and don't dismiss people you meet because they don't meet certain criteria. Maybe the person you meet is a little older than the friends you would typically hang around, but if you share common interests, why not give that relationship a try?
Don't Give up!
It's more than likely that you won't click perfectly with the first few people you meet, but don't give up! Meeting new people and making friends isn't always easy. Don't expect it to happen with the first few people you talk to, but don't get discouraged. A lot of people out there want to make more friends. Think positive, you can do it!
Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 14, 2019:
Very comprehensive article and great tips on how to make friends. Thank you for sharing.
Larry Slawson from North Carolina on April 12, 2019:
Very interesting article. Its definitely more difficult as an adult to maintain friendships (particularly once you finish up college, get married, and have kids). These are some excellent tips though. Thank you for sharing!
FlourishAnyway from USA on April 10, 2019:
What a positive article on a topic that will interest many! I like your variety of suggested sites as well as the recommendation regarding meeting in a public space and protecting your personal information. Your friend who wanted to host events in her new apartment was overly trusting.