2 months ago
How to Make Friends as an Adult
Most of us might not want to admit this. But chances are that at some point, you’ve probably felt like you were struggling to meet friends. You may have even wondered who your “real” friends are. As we get older and life gets more full, things shift, and so do our friendships. But there’s something about getting older and finding your people. If you want to meet people and form new relationships, you’re going to have to put yourself out there. So today, I want to talk about how to make friends as an adult.
How to Make Friends as an Adult
Meeting, growing new friendships, and developing a close friendship with someone can be just as difficult (and exhausting) as dating. Friendship breakups can be as painful as the end of a romantic relationship, or even worse. As someone who moved to a new city on my own in my late 20s, I went through a few friend groups before I found my friends. Sure, I have some friends from high school and college, but we don’t live in the same state, so we’re friends, but we all need more than that.
I’m still close with one of my best friends from 1st grade and we talk all the time, but she’s in LA. I need people who aren’t 2,000 miles away as we all do. And after a recent move at 39 and some big life changes, I’ve held on to some good friends, but things shifted again. And I am not someone who wants a large number of friends. I’d rather have a handful of close friends that I can really connect with.
Let’s talk about the friends in the above photo, from left to right
Katie and I met on Facebook. She’s a photographer, and I reached out to see if she would be able to photograph something for me for work. She said yes, and seemed really nice, so I suggested we get lunch. This was back in 2014, and we’ve been good friends since.
Stacy and I met through my friend Jess (Keys) who I met through blogging. They used to work together and became friends. After Margot got sick, Jess asked if I’d want to connect with Stacy since she went through the same exact thing with her daughter two years before us. We connected 10 days after Margot’s diagnosis in 2020, and have been good friends since. And Gina. She was a graphic design client who I knew, based on her blog name, happened to live near me. We ended up talking quite a bit and decided to get lunch. I met her the day before she left for a trip and got engaged, and she’s been one of my best friends for the last decade.
There are also friends I became close with, and those friendships faded away. It can feel so lonely, having a friendship end, but it’s normal. There’s loss and grief – all the feelings you’d feel with the loss of any relationship. And I just want to remind you that it is ok to struggle with the end of a friendship. I’ve struggled with this, too.
Maintaining healthy friendships
Knowing who your true friends are does not always come easy, and it can take a significant toll on your mental health. The things that held our friendships together during our younger days may not feel like priority anymore. It’s not that it was easy to grow friendships then, but the things that bonded us were different, and chances are that we had more time. We were maybe even a little less tired. When I became a mom, a few friendships faded. After my daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia, my social circle changed pretty drastically. I learned who my true friends were, and formed some new, meaningful friendships, too.
The connections we make run a lot deeper as we get older, and I’ve personally become closer to the friends that have been in my life for a long time. One of my dearest friends said it best.
“It’s easy when it’s bottles of rosé by the pool, spending the weekend at Lollapalooza, and planning weddings and trips. But to me, true friends get on the ground with you and sit beside you when you’re at your lowest. I know you’d do the same for me.”
Making friends as an adult
I want to talk about a few things today. I’ll share my experience in making and growing friendships, going through friendship breakups, and how I coped with those breakups, too. Starting over in a new city wasn’t easy, but I put myself out there. I had to. I didn’t always want to and it didn’t always work, but I tried. Some friendships faded while others grew stronger as the years have gone by. You have a better sense of who you are now might find yourself looking for more when it comes to potential friends.
So what do you do when the weekend rolls around and you realize you need some girlfriends to spend time with? Instead of just sitting there wondering “why can’t I make friends?” (ps. you can!) you have to do something. Where do you go? What do you do? If you’re ready to meet a new friend, you’re going to have to step outside your comfort zone. Here are a few ways I’ve added to my real life grown-up friend group.
Try connecting with someone you “know of” or ask for an introduction
Meeting people can be tough. I’ve found that the easiest way is to get out and do things. I just moved to a new town a month ago and met some new moms at our local pool. Chances are you know someone you really like and lost touch with, too. Reach out to old friends or acquaintances. And always put some effort into growing and maintaining those friendships both near and far. It’s easy to stay (or get) in touch these days. Do you know someone who knows someone that you want to connect with? Ask for an introduction! If one of my friends asked me to help connect them with another friend, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second.
I was always the type who just had a few close friends and I’m still in touch with a few from my childhood and college. When my friend Jessie, who I met in Chicago years ago, moved to Minneapolis, we always made a point to stay in touch, and it still feels like she’s very much a part of my life even though we haven’t lived in the same city for half a decade.
Turn to social media
This has been such a good way for me to meet people, so take note. If you want to know how to befriend someone, get to know people on social media. Online friendships can be very meaningful. I’ve met most of the friends I’m closest to online and my husband on Tinder so online relationships are just a thing for me. This is such a great way to form relationships and even friendships with people in our city (and around the world). If there’s someone you chat with who lives in your city, ask if they’d like to meet up. I started talking to my mother-in-law’s friend’s daughter, and when we made a recent move, got together since she’s 5 min away from our new home. We’ve since become good friends!
There’s a designer I knew of who sent Margot a gift after her diagnosis. I sent a thank you, and we would message occasionally. Once things calmed down with treatment and the pandemic, we finally got together for drinks and eventually, lunch.
This is something I love doing. If you have mutual friends, introduce them. Plan a dinner or drinks, and get everyone together. My good friend did this for me and I’m so glad I met some of her friends out here. We’ve all gotten together for dinner and are getting together again soon. If I meet someone new or know two people who should connect, I make it happen. I don’t even think about doing it – it comes so naturally to me, and it’s the best helping others connect. You never know where this will take you, and I truly believe it will make its way back to you.
Go out and do something
Is everyone at work going out for drinks? How many times have you been invited to something and said no? I know, I know. You’re tired. I’m tired too. But the odds of a new friend just showing up at your front door are slim. So you’re probably going to have to get out and actually do things. And you’re going to have to say yes to invites, too.
Join a gym, take a class, join a book club, or join a local pool. Take advantage of dog ownership and walk your dog over to the park or a coffee shop patio. Finding potential new friends and making new connections with people with similar interests is pretty important when you’re older. If you have kids, find a class you can take them to. I’ve become friendly with a few moms at our local pool – these kids are a real in when it comes to talking to other moms.
I know some of you might have a little social anxiety, but sometimes, you have to make the first move. If you see the same person at a class every week or talk to them at the pool, ask them if if they’d like to get together sometime.
When friendships change
Friends in adulthood require a lot “more” or they have for me. Life is a little more full than it once was, and I have personally gone through a lot. Your time is also a lot more valuable, and who we spend it with matters. Not all friendships will last forever. Some friends come into your life for a moment, and that’s ok, but it’s not something I expected in my mid-late 30s, and when those friendships changed, I really struggled with that.
Your social network is likely to change from your 20s to your 30s, which isn’t something I expected. I thought that in my 30s, I knew who my people were. I never anticipated adult friendships changing the way they have. Just knowing others have had friendship breakups helps. Some friends are just there for the good times. Others will become great friends for a period of time. And some will stand by you in the most amazing way.
When you meet someone new, open up a little bit.
Be a good listener, show up if they’re going through a hard time, and put an effort into some friend dates. Remember if they have something coming up and check in on them when they do. Quality friends show up. Let them get to know you a little bit, and get to know them. Ask questions, be honest, and find a deeper way to connect. Forming real friendships as an adult is about so much more than basic common interests. We’re looking for people we really connect with, and the only way to connect is to really put yourself out there.
You’ll become friends with your kids’ friends parents
This wasn’t really a thing for me until my oldest daughter started preschool, but I’ve already connected with a few moms in her class. You have to put yourself out there – I asked a few moms for their numbers to plan playdates for our kids – such a great way to get to know other parents. We’re making plans for our girls to get together, and it’s so nice to have a mom to talk to who is going through the exact stages (at the same preschool).
Join a group
Ok, so the only mom’s group I’m in is actually a group that I started for moms going through pediatric cancer. This is obviously a group no one wants to be a part of (ever) but I have met some really amazing moms there. So consider a facebook group or hobby group like running club, women’s group, or even a mother and child class. I am actually in a place where I feel like my friend group is pretty solid, and I don’t like to be too busy. But, I started gymnastics with my 2 year old and would definitely be open to a playdate if a parent asked.
Keep an open mind
When you meet someone new, keep an open mind. Maybe you’ll just get to know each other a little bit, or maybe they’ll become one of your closest friends. You just never know where it will go.
Why is it so hard for me to make friends?
Some of you might tell me you’re too introverted to put yourself out there and others might hate going to events and participating in small talk. You’re struggling, and I get it. I’m with you. As extroverted as I may seem, I’m much more of an introvert. Talking to new people exhausts me, and at the end of a long day, going out is the last thing I want to do. I’m not suggesting that you put yourself out there every single day until you have a new best friend. But pick one or two things you can do each week.
Say yes to an invite or an event. Surely you can survive that. Make it a point to talk to 3 people, but do your best to start a real conversation as opposed to small talk. I’m not one to work a room at an event – I usually find one or two people and just really dive into a conversation.