For so much of life, friendship feels natural. If you’re a third grader in Miss Smith’s class, your friend is probably also a third grader in Miss Smith’s class. If you like playing cats at recess, your friends also probably like playing cats at recess. As you got older, your friends were probably people who played on the same sports teams as you, were involved in the same after-school clubs, went to church camp with you, or maybe they were your roommates.
As we grow up and become adults, these more “natural” connections feel harder to come by. Even worse, oftentimes old connections fade or a friendship simply drifts apart as priorities and responsibilities change.
I think we can all agree that making friends in adulthood is challenging- but it doesn’t have to be impossible.
Here are five tips for how to make friends in adulthood:
1- Go someplace where you would have a similar interests
This is the same principle we applied as kids on the playground- if you want to have a best friend who likes playing mermaids you need to go hang out with the girls who are playing mermaids.
Maybe now that you’re an adult, you’ve outgrown the mermaids phase (maybe not and if so power to you). Either way, the concept remains the same: if you want to form fast friends with someone, look for someone who holds your same interests.
Volunteer for a political candidate you really believe in, get involved with your local refugee organization, sign up for a cooking class, join facebook groups about your favorite podcasts (they might even have meetups).
This way, you already have common ground when you meet for the first time. It helps alleviate some of the social anxiety and lets you get over the smalltalk phase quicker. While not every connection is going to be a hit, your chances are better when you already have something in common.
2- Ask to be set up
We know that blind dates are often a nightmare (don’t come for us if you met your spouse on a blind date). In our experience, friendship set-ups are far more successful.
If you have a friend who is well connected and understands you well, ask if they might know anyone who you might want to become friends with.
Some of our best friends were made through mutual connections- why not be bold and advocate for your needs with a friendship set up?
3- Keep an open mind
Sometimes the sweetest friendships come from unexpected connections. For example, maybe the older widow who lives on your block could become a dear friend. Maybe there is someone in your community who needs an English tutor, or a mom who could use a walking buddy to get out of the house, or maybe there’s someone you see at the dog park who you could strike up a conversation with- you never know where friendship might find you.
While it’s great to be intentional in our efforts to find new friends, it’s important that we don’t get tunnel-vision. Get creative and be open-minded when considering who might become a friend.
4- Rekindle an old connection
It’s easy for friendship to drift apart but it can be just as easy to rekindle an old connection. Is there a great friend you had in high school who just moved to your area? Or an old college roommate you haven’t talked to in ages but you would love to know what she’s up to?
Sometimes making friends in adulthood is as simple as nurturing connections we’ve had in the past.
5- Manage your expectations and keep your chin up!
It’s healthy to approach making new friends in adulthood with the same mindset you might have had while dating- not every “date” or friendship hangout is going to be a hit. Not every new person you meet will be “the one.”
Similarly, not every roommate, next-door-neighbor, or book club connection will turn into a friendship- and that’s okay! Keep level-headed expectations of these interactions to help avoid disappointment and keep trying. You are a wonderful person and anyone would be lucky to be your friend- good things will work out with time!