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. Though some of the strategies below are still possible, others may be a bit more challenging. But it's still possible to make new friends during the pandemic. You can also take this time to reconnect with old friends.

Why Friends Matter in Adulthood

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

But having solid friendships as an adult is important. For instance, one study found that regardless of your marital status, people who reported having 10 or more friends at age 45 had significantly higher levels of well-being at age 50 than those with fewer friends.

What's more, another study found that friendship quality often predicts health more so than the quality of any other relationship.

In fact, people with larger social circles had a 50% lower mortality risk than those who didn't. As a result, if your social circles have started to dwindle, here's what you can do to start adding more friends to your inner circle.

Have the Right Mindset to Make New Friends

When it comes to making friends as an adult, you have to have the right mindset. For instance, you cannot go into the process thinking that you are never going to make friends. Instead, follow these tips and you will be well on your way to making some lasting friendships.

Focus on Being Open

In other words, 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 child. Be open to meeting new people and having experiences.

Likewise, don't assume that all your future friends have to be the same gender as you. Platonic male-female relationships are absolutely possible. Be open and inviting and see what happens.

Make a List of Potential Friends

Almost every person has one or two people in their life that they would like to get to know better. As a result, make a list of people you might like to hang out with sometime. 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. As a result, decide when you are going to ask that friend from the office to join you for appetizers after work. Set aside time to call the woman from your book club that you really connect with. The key is to schedule these initial contacts because if you don't, you will just keep putting it off.

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 a get together because they like you and want to get to know you better. Of course, if you cannot afford something or you are sick, then definitely decline the invite. But make an effort to do something else together instead. Accepting invitations, even if you don't know the person very well, 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 interesting places. Take an art class or a dance class, 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 have a poker night at your house, post something on your social media account to see who might be interested.

Reach Out to Neighbors

Many people don't recognize the potential friend who lives right next door. They simply give the courtesy wave across the street and then close their door. But there may be some really great friendships waiting to be made just down the street from where you live. 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 the people you work with. And despite the fact that you are in a professional setting, you likely know a great deal about one another. If this is the case for you, consider inviting one of your co-workers to do something non-work related. 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. 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—and potential friends. 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 you are 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. It might even be worth checking local cafes or craft stores. Or, if you can't find a book club in your area, you can always start your own.

If books aren’t your thing, you could look for or start a movie club, cooking club, hiking club, etc.

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 Bible study, volunteer opportunities, or a weekly potluck, churches are a great place to meet new people and make friends.

Volunteer

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. It's also a wonderful way to meet new 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.

Consequently, 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 life. 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.

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