How to Make Friends as an Adult

Group of friends at a book club

 Verywell / Hilary Allison

Remember how easy it was to make friends in elementary school? Not only were you less worried about being rejected, you also weren't as picky about who you were hanging out with. And it certainly didn't hurt that you daily opportunities to interact with other kids.

But things have changed now that you are a grown-up. Aside from the fear of rejection, making new friends takes a lot of time—something we all are a little short on these days. So instead, you lament the fact that your circle of friends is shrinking. And you are not alone.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything, including our friendships; social distancing made it difficult to meet new people and stay connected with familiar ones. But it's still possible to make new friends in spite of pandemic restrictions. You can use the strategies below not just to meet new people, but to reconnect with old friends too.

Why Friends Matter in Adulthood

Research shows that after the age of 25, most adult friendships start to dwindle. Of course, some of this has to do with changing jobs, getting married, moving, and even having children.

Forming meaningful relationships may be harder as you get older, but it's well worth the effort. Good friendships have a myriad of benefits, including:

  • Better immune functioning
  • Decreased risk of disease, illness, and injury
  • Increased longevity
  • Reduced stress
  • Speedier recovery when sick

Press Play for Advice On Making Friends

Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, featuring best-selling author Eric Barker, shares why friendship contributes to your overall well-being and how to build strong friendships. Click below to listen now.

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Have the Right Mindset to Make New Friends

When it comes to making friends as an adult, it's important to be positive and proactive. If you go into the process thinking that you are never going to make friends, you probably won't. And if you leave your social life up to chance, you probably won't see results either.

Focus on Being Open

Don't overthink the process of making friends. Instead of worrying about being rejected, or dwelling on the fact that you might not be fun enough, channel your inner child. Be open to meeting new people and having new experiences.

Don't assume that all your future friends have to be of the same gender, age, or ethnic background as you. Instead, be open and inviting, and see what happens when you expand your horizons.

Make a List of Potential Friends

Almost every person has one or two people who would like to get to know better in their life. Make a list of people you might like to hang out with sometimes. Remember, making friends takes work, and someone needs to take the initiative. After you have your list, consider extending an invitation for coffee and see what happens.

Put It On the Calendar

Let's face it. Everyone is busy. And despite your best intentions, if you don't schedule it, you likely won't do anything about making more friends.

To prevent this, set aside time to call the person from your book club that you really connect with. Decide when you will ask that friend from the office to join you for appetizers after work. The key is to schedule these initial contacts because you will keep putting them off if you don't.

Accept Invitations

Yes, you are tired, busy, and over-scheduled. But if someone invites you to do something, try to make it happen! If you have social anxiety, do your best to remember that this person invited you to get together because they like you and want to get to know you better.

Of course, if you cannot afford something or are sick, definitely decline the invite. But make an effort to do something else together instead. Even if you don't know the person very well, accepting invitations is a great opportunity to open doors and expand your friendship opportunities.

Try New Things

When you are looking to make friends, it's important to expand your horizons and try new things. You never know; you might just enjoy these new adventures. Plus, it will open up the possibility of making friends in new and excitingplaces.

So take an art class or a rock climbing course. You might not be the only one stepping out of their comfort zone, and that in and of itself can be something to bond over.

Seek Out New Friends

Part of the challenge of making new friends is knowing where to look. Too many times, people assume that there are just no potential friends out there. But the problem is not the lack of opportunities for friendships, but the inability to put forth the effort to find them.

Leverage Your Social Media Accounts

The purpose of social media is to connect people. Whether they live far away or you haven't seen them since high school, your social media accounts are ripe with opportunities to make friends. Of course, you are technically already "friends" with them online, but if you see a friend post about something you are interested in, reach out and make a connection.

You also can use social media to organize get-togethers. For instance, if you want to host a poker night, post something on your social media account to see who might be interested.

Reach Out to Neighbors

Many people don't realize they have a potential friend living right next door or across the street. They give the courtesy wave and immediately close their door, not even trying to start a conversation. But there may be some really great friendships waiting for you right next door. So the next time you are both out, do more than just wave.

Connect With Co-Workers

You spend a large portion of your life with your co-workers. And even though you are in a professional setting, you likely know a great deal about one another.

Whether or not you are working in the same physical space, consider inviting one of your co-workers to do something non-work-related when it's safe to do so. For instance, suggest you attend a baseball game together or grab dinner after work. Or, if you share a passion for something like yoga or cooking, suggest you do it together.

Join a Gym or Sports Team

It seems kind of cliché to suggest meeting people at the gym. But people do it all the time. Consider joining a gym or an adult recreational league.

You can also see if your workplace, city parks department, or place of worship has a team you’re interested in (softball, soccer, kickball, bowling, tennis) and sign up.

The next time you are in Zumba class, or you're walking on the treadmill, strike up a casual conversation with the person next to you. Who knows? You might have the beginnings of a great friendship in the making.

Attend a Meet-Up or Networking Event

Whether you work from home or go into an office every day, meet-ups and other networking events are a great way to meet new people. Not only are these events filled with people looking to connect with other professionals, but they also are great places to meet people who share the same passions. You can learn about these types of get-togethers through apps like Meet Up and Eventbrite.

Join a Club

If you love to read, joining a local book club is a great way to meet potential new friends. What's more, you will get to know each other on a much deeper level when discussing a book. Even if you don't meet your future best friend in your book club, at the very least, you will have a group of people that you can mingle with every month.

Your public library or local bookstore is the perfect place to start looking for book clubs near you. Or, if you can't find a book club in your area, you can always start your own.

If books aren't your thing, look for or start a movie club, cooking club, or hiking club. Whatever hobby you enjoy, others probably enjoy it too, and that makes for a natural starting point for a friendship.

Get Involved at Your Place of Worship

Whether you are active in a church or haven't been to one in years, churches, mosques, and synagogues are a great way to meet people who share your faith. Plus, there are usually a lot of opportunities for involvement. Whether it is a study group, a volunteer opportunity, or a weekly potluck, places of worship are ideal for meeting new people and making friends.


Volunteering your time and energy is a great way to improve your feelings of gratitude. Volunteer regularly and you're bound to meet people who share some of your core values and who would make good friends.

Many communities have a volunteer resource center that keeps listings of volunteer opportunities, so you can find something that is a good fit.

Maintain Your Friendships

After you have established a few connections, it's important to stay in contact. Friendships are like plants. If you don't water them regularly, they will die.

So make sure you are regularly reaching out to your new friends. Call or text consistently just to see how they are doing. Ask about their lives. Show an interest in the things that are important to them. A good friend doesn't make the friendship all about their needs; but also takes an active interest in the other person.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bhattacharya K, Ghosh A, Monsivais D, Dunbar RIM, Kaski K. Sex differences in social focus across the life cycle in humans. R Soc Open Sci. 2016;3(4):160097. doi:10.1098/rsos.160097

  2. Fehr B, Harasymchuk C. The role of friendships in well-being. In Maddux JE, ed. Subjective Well-being and Life Satisfaction. Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group, 2018.

By Sherri Gordon
Sherri Gordon, CLC is a published author, certified professional life coach, and bullying prevention expert. She's also the former editor of Columbus Parent and has countless years of experience writing and researching health and social issues.