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You may be reading that title and thinking, what???? Why would anyone need an article like this? But bear with me for a moment because it’s not as easy as you might think. Many of us who are adults already have an established group of friends but if you don’t, it can be quite challenging to find new ones. This is actually the plight that my daughter and son-in-law are facing now that they are living in Canada again after two years overseas.
You see, they have an amazing group of friends here – ones they made in university who have stuck together and are still really close but those friends have now scattered and don’t live that close to each other. The friends came down the first weekend Sam and Graham were back for a big welcome home party but really, for most of them, occasional weekend get-togethers are the best they can do. And when you’re used to having local mates that you can ring up and hang out with at the pub on a moment’s notice, that can making come home a bit lonely.
So, how do you make friends as an adult?
When you’re a kid and in school, it can be as simple as going about your daily life. You have a built in pool of people to choose from at school and during after school activities. Now that you’re a grownup, what do you do?
1. Think of the places you currently encounter people in your daily life. You may no longer be in school but there are other options. Work is one possibility but you need to tread carefully there. It is best not to rush into a friendship that could potentially turn sour and cause issues for you in the workplace. I’ve had friends I met at work before but it was something that happened after a long period of trust-building. And to be honest, when one of us moved on to another location, few of these friendships stuck for me. It just seemed that once we no longer worked in close proximity, part of that bond was gone.
Where else do you go in your daily life? Randomly attempting to befriend strangers at the grocery store is probably not wise but perhaps you attend church on a regular basis or belong to a social club where you could start looking out for opportunities to cultivate a friendship.
2. Beyond what’s currently available in your life, start thinking about what you could do to expand your friendship possibilities. You might consider taking a class from your local Parks and Rec department – this is one way of ensuring that the people you meet there share a mutual interest with you. You could also enroll in a night class at your local university. I highly recommend checking out Meetup. You can search based on your location and interests. Here in London, there are several women’s groups who meet to share fun activities like going to the museum, going out for dinner, going to the movies, going to wine tastings, and much more.
Go to your local library’s website and see what activities and events they have on their calendar – ours often has book clubs, hiking clubs, painting groups, and more that you can become involved in, often for a very low cost or even free! Join a sports team or choir. Do some volunteer work. All of these open you up to more opportunities to meet new people and possibly form new friendships.
3. Maybe your current friends have other friends living in your area. Ask for an introduction! Chances are since they are friends with both of you that you might just have something in common. And maybe they’re in the same boat as you are, looking for more friends to hang out with locally. If your partner has some friends, consider trying to get together as a couple with other couples. You might find some common ground with your partner’s friends’ or your partner’s friends’ partners (whoa, that was a mouthful!).
Or have a party and ask each person to bring a friend with them. It’s kind of like those matchmaking parties where women are asked to bring a non-romantic friend along in hopes that they will result in people getting dates, but for friendships instead. It’s simple math. Expand your circle of people and expand your potential friendship possibilities.
4. Have kids or pets? Use them to strike up conversations and form friendships. Take your kids to the playground and chat with the other parents there. Take your dog to the dog park and chat with the other dog owners. Somehow it becomes easier to strike up a conversation and open that door to potential friendship if you can do it by talking about the kids or the dogs to start with.
5. Make yourself open to the possibility. I’m an introvert and it’s tough for me to let people in. I tend to go out into the world with blinders on when it comes to other people at times and in fact, I will even do things like go through the self serve checkout at the store to actively avoid talking to people. And I don’t go out a lot in the first place either. Tough to make friends when the only contact you have is with a dog and two cats day after day. If having friends is important to you, you have to be willing to reach out and make a conscious effort to put yourself out there.
Making friends as an adult may be a little more difficult than it was when you were 6 but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Or that it’s not worth it. In fact, sometimes when you make friends as a child, as you grow up, you also might grow apart. Forming a friendship as an adult can be stronger and have more staying power.