Some adults have found that making new friends is more difficult as you get older. If you’ve ever moved to a new place (maybe because of a professional opportunity or if you just wanted to move to a specific city on a whim), you may have found this to be true. Being a new person in a new place – where you don’t know anyone – can be quite intimidating. It can also be lonely.
Social interaction and strong, healthy relationships are important for our overall well-being. Not only does it help to stimulate your mind, relationships also aid your physical health. Studies have shown that the more people we have in our lives (these must be wholesome and/or advantageous relationships), the more likely we are to make healthy choices in our lives.
When we were kids, we were more likely to be thrown into social situations due to obligations like school and extracurricular activities. These days, we are not forcefully exposed to people and forced to interact with them on school projects. Since we are not forced to do so, some people find that they don’t take the initiative to put themselves in the same type of situations. Because of that, a lot of adults find that they aren’t able to make as many friends or as strong of connections as they were able to in elementary school, high school, or college.
So if we’re not forced to do these things, how do we make friends as adults? As an adult, you’re going to have to take the initiative first. You’ll have to reach out to others or put yourself in a situation where you will be sharing the same space as people with whom you share interests with.
Unless you’re forced to interact with people at work, taking an initiative might sound a little far-fetched. Luckily for you, it’s not as far out of your reach as you may think. I’ve compiled a list of 19 things that can put you into situations where you can meet new friends. In addition, I’ve also listed tips to help you make friends while you are in those situations.
Taking the initiative:
1. Look for groups on Meetup.com
Meetup.com is a great tool to use if you want to meet someone who has the same set of interests as you. It can be awkward to go to a bar and drink by yourself, especially if you’re doing it to meet someone new. Meetup.com offers the option of going to a gathering for an activity, instantly making the actual meeting less awkward. No more standing around trying not to look creepy, bored, or lonely. If you choose a group that focuses on something that piques your interest, you can meet new people while you are doing something you enjoy.
The topics and themes of each of the meetups vary per region but they are as diverse as the groups are. Chances are that you will be able to find a group that shares at least one of your interests.
2. Go to classes at a community center or community college
Classes are a great way to meet new people. When you’re an adult, there is more of a chance that you’ll end up going to a class that you enjoy or have an interest in. That means that the people in your class will probably feel the same way. Also remember that the term “classes” doesn’t specifically default to academic courses anymore. There are a variety of different types of classes that are offered in community centers and colleges including: hobbies (knitting, crafting, etc.), music, dance, acting (and other forms of performance art), traditional art (like drawing, painting, and sculpting), cooking, business courses, etc.
3. Go to a mixer
Just like there are places that offer speed dating, there are bars, restaurants, and other spaces that offer mixers so that strangers can meet new people in a safe environment. If you can’t find one in your area, don’t be afraid to go to a proprietor with the idea. Mixers are appealing to business owners as much as they are to patrons because it will bring customers into their place of business.
4. Create your own meetup or FB group
Just like you can approach business owners when you can’t find the resources or events that you need, you can also start your own meetup (on meetup.com) or a social media group if you can’t find one that meets your interests.
When I was in college, my professors used to tell me that there was no such thing as a stupid question. If I thought of a question, chances are there were other people who had thought of it too. The same goes for interest groups.
If you’re worried about funds, it is important to know that starting a meetup on meetup.com will have a monthly fee but starting a Facebook group will not.
5. Join a community theater production
Not everyone is a born actor so this idea might not appeal to everyone. Keep in mind that there are a number of different parts and jobs involved in producing and pulling off a production. There are plenty of backstage or prep positions that you could work on: set work, sound, lights, curtains, stage hand, street team/advertising, etc.
Working with a group of people to create a production or any project, there is a bond that forms. It is as if everyone involved has put in a piece of themselves in order to make it work.
6. Start a new hobby or hone a craft you already enjoy
Chase your passion first – instead of being creepy and chasing people. Do you have a passion? If you don’t, it might be in your best interest to find one. Once you find something that you feel passionate about, and once you take the steps to follow it, you’ll find that you will run into other people that feel just as strongly about it as you do.
For example, let’s say that you like writing and want to pursue writing a book. In this example, you will run into people when you are out looking at supplies, books, search for local writing groups, go to book signings, talk with local booksellers, attend writing courses, go to writing conferences, subscribe to online writing communities, etc. Writing (a seemingly introverted and solitary hobby) can open up your social circle if you allow it to.
7. Reconnect with old friends or acquaintances
For some of us, the connections are already there, they are just a little frayed and thin. Try reconnecting with old friends.
8. Get active
Find a running, walking, cycling, or hiking group in your region. This is great for a number of reasons. You can start making healthier decisions for yourself and meet new people. If you’re in a new city, you can also use this as a vehicle to explore different parts of your new home.
9. Reach out to someone at work
Coworkers are like adult versions of classmates. We are all forced to be in the same space. The only difference is that we aren’t forced to interact – not all of us at least. Because of that, I’ve taken to reaching out to some of the people that I don’t normally interact with. By bringing in donuts, sitting next to different people during my lunch break, and going to different break rooms, I’ve met a number of new, wonderful people.
10. Volunteer for a cause that you are passionate about
Volunteering for a great cause can help boost your karma, make you feel good about yourself, expose you to new people (that feel passionate about the same things you do), and can help with networking on a professional level.
11. Use your pets (or even your kids)
Going to the dog park with your dog, the vet with your pets, or to a play group with your kids is a wonderful way to meet people who
12. Organize a movie night or game night at your place
Sometimes, it isn’t that we don’t have friends, it is that we aren’t fully invested in the friendships that we already have or that we are taking them for granted. In your quest to find healthy, strong relationships, don’t forget to nurture the friendships that you already have. Even if you’re low on funds, it doesn’t cost a pretty penny to host a movie or a board game night at your house once a month.
13. Offer up your place for small events
If your coworkers, family members, or friends are looking to have a small get-together (maybe a baby shower, an afternoon tea, or a small group), consider offering up your space if you have the room for it. It is a great way to meet new people.
14. Take a closer look at your social media contacts
If you look at your friends’ list, you may find that you’re “friends” with hundreds of people that you don’t actually talk to. Don’t let those connections go to waste. Reach out to them.
15. Ask your friends about their friends
Your friends know you best. If you’re looking to make more friends, they might be the perfect way for you to meet some new people. They could introduce you to some of their friends – who they think you would enjoy.
16. Think about the events that you always turn down
We don’t always feel social. Being naturally an introvert, I know what it feels like to want to hole up at home with a good book and a cup of hot cocoa. However, sometimes we have to really force ourselves to step outside of our comfort zones. If you’re itching to make new friends but you’re also constantly turning down social invites from your current friends, maybe you should consider saying yes next time.
17. Treat it like you are networking for your job
When you have to do something for work, you force yourself to get it done. You mark it with your red pen so you know that it is a priority. However, if you’re doing something on a personal level, it doesn’t always make the priority cut. In fact, things that are uncomfortable but are not deemed important on a “survivalist” level, often get cast aside for other tasks. Don’t let this fall to that fate. Making and keeping friends are important to your overall well-being.
18. Become a regular at an eatery or some other destination
I’ve met a number of people through work. Sometimes it is through my own profession – but sometimes it isn’t. For example, I go to the same coffee stand each day. Because of that, I got to know the barista that worked the same morning shift. I became her regular. I even had my own regular order. After chatting, over a period of a few weeks, we found that we had more in common than a love for coffee and caramel.
19. Set a goal for social contact
When you do go out and enjoy the company of strangers, there are some things that you should consider. One of which is that you can set a goal for yourself. It could be as simple as, “Go up to at least three strangers and say hello.” Or it could be more difficult: “Meet one person that you may be able to strike a friendship with.” The point of these goals is to keep you focused when you are thrown into an uncomfortable situation.
Some other tips that might help include:
- Finding friends that have the same hardships that you do (kids, work stresses, bad habits, etc.)
- Try not to discriminate and try to keep an open mind. In order words, talk to people that you normally would just dismiss.
- Don’t be afraid to take the first step. Say hello.
- It’s a simple solution but one worth repeating. If you smile, you are more approachable and appear more friendly.