When most people say they are looking for someone, they mean a romantic interest. However, romance isn’t the only type of social interaction humans crave. Friendship is to many, even more important than a romantic connection. Having a strong network of friends makes overcoming hardships easier, planning social activities easier, dating easier, weekends and free time more fun, and according to some studies, even make you live longer!
Unfortunately, despite the importance of friendships, it’s surprisingly difficult to meet people to be friends with. Unlike dating, where dating apps are all the rage, friendship apps have never really taken hold, and it seems that once we enter adulthood, the idea of approaching strangers to be their friends like you probably did in college, is practically taboo. Nevertheless, there are ways to make friends as an adult. We’re going to tell you where how.
You’re not alone
Before we get into actionable advice, it’s important to remember that you are not alone: many adults want to make new friends. This is a crucial point. It’s awkward to “make friends as an adult”, and fear of rejection isn’t only a dating thing. But you’re not the only one feeling that way. All the other people you’re going to have to engage to be their friend also feel awkward engaging–but they also probably want more friends.
But You Have to Act
While you aren’t alone in wanting more friends in adulthood, you will still have to act. Making friends as adults is a tenuous dance where both sides want to engage but both sides fear rejection or awkwardness. Ironically, in a way, it’s easier to pursue someone for a date than it is to make a friend.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely this dynamic will change anytime soon. If you want more friends, you’re most likely going to have to be the one initiating contact, initiating plans, and initiating communication that maintains the friendship.
4 Ways to make friends as an adult
Now that you understand the dynamics of making friends as an adult, it’s time to get into some practical advice. How do you actually meet people you might want to be friends with when there are no classes to attend, no fraternities to join, and no dorm room parties to crash. Here are 4 ways to make it happen.
1. Making friends at work
By far the easiest and most logical place to make friends is the workplace. You’re probably spending most of your waking hours with your work colleagues. You, by virtue of being at the same job, have at least one thing in common, but it’s very likely you have a lot more in common. It’s also very likely that your work peers who have similar expertise as you also have similar backgrounds and interests–for example, if you’re a programmer who studied computer science in undergrad, there’s a good chance your fellow programmers in the office have the same educational background.
In order to make friends at work, start by being friendly at work. Make small talk occasionally. Ask people what they are up to outside of the office. Bring up some of your hobbies and interests, you may find out a colleague has a similar interest. Ask a co-worker a question about something their passionate about and knowledgeable about. Once communicating about non-work topics becomes a norm, you’re already friends!
The next step once you’ve made some work friends is hanging out outside of work. It’s awkward, but if you and a co-worker are clearly friends at work, make a move. The best way to do this if you don’t want it to be awkward is to make plans with other friends and invite your co-worker along. Often, they want some friends also, and even if they can’t do happy hour that night, they might suggest something else. There are plenty of other methods; you’ll have to feel it out depending on your interests and the like. However, “inviting along” to plans is a pretty solid way of avoiding awkwardness from either side. Yep, pretty much the exact opposite of how you want to approach dating!
2. Fitness Friends
If you’re focusing on improving yourself, it means you’re doing something for your fitness. If what you’re doing is a sport or group class of sorts, its another opportunity to make friends. Like co-workers, you already know you have at least one thing in common, and that is your in Talk about the class or related topics. Ask them if they’re going to the next class. Make it a habit to “shoot the sh*t” before and after class. Before you know it, you’ll have a “class friend”, and you can segue that into more. As with work friends, start by inviting them along to something you think they’d be interested in.
Naturally, the more interactive a fitness class or activity is, the easier it is to be social. Outside of joining sport teams (more soon), combat sport classes in particular are great for making guy friends.
3. Sports Teams
It takes initiative and investment, but joining an adult sports team is one of the easiest ways to make friends once you’ve joined.Often, once you join, as long as you attend consistently, you’ll be making friends almost by osmosis. Most people are joining these teams to make friends so social events like post game happy hours are the norm.
Still, it’s worth taking initiative to maximize your chances. Lend a hand in organizing some team social activities. That way you’ll have everyone’s contact info, and it’s easy to go from there.
4. Client/Salesperson/Service Provider
Interestingly, many friends are made through business relationships that are not “co-worker”. Anytime you work with a sales person, or a service provider (such as a personal trainer), there’s an opportunity for friendship. You clearly have something in common, and you typically have to communicate on a regular or semi-regular basis. You also likely already have contact info.
Working this type of relationship for friendship follows the colleague/co-worker blueprint: invite along.
However, sometimes it’s even easier. For example, if you’re meeting someone before lunch, see if they want to stay for a bite. (Or if it’s your trainer, see if they want to grab a shake after)
If the situation is reversed, and you want to be friends with your client, don’t feel you have to be shy. Remember, your client probably wants more friends too!
There are plenty of other ways to meet adults we haven’t covered. For example, attending events (charity events, concerts, museum events) are great ways to meet people who share similar interests. The key is to remember that you aren’t alone, but you still need to take the initiative.