Ways to Make Friends As Adults
Adults have very little time to make new friends. After all, they have long days and a host of responsibilities on their plate. Making friends was easier when people could share their juice at lunch or laugh on the swings at a playground. As one reaches their late 20s or 30s, they no longer have unifying experiences like high school and college. Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro says that external conditions change so that people have less time for repeated and unplanned activities where people learn to confide in one another. Older people just have less of an ability to go out for drinks or participate in activities like sports and clubs. However, adult friendships are important for people’s self-esteem and general happiness. Such relationships help people make important decisions about work, love and life. It is possible to make important friendships later in life. However, adults really have to use their resources and make this a priority. Taking the time to find area events, carefully select things like a gym, church, or book club, and talking to loved ones can help people connect with like-minded adults in their city or town.
10. Use the Gym for More than just Fitness
Gyms today are more than a place to work out. There are support groups, classes, personal trainers and more here. Adults looking to broaden their social circle can find great connections if they talk to the people next to them at Zumba, step aerobics or cycling. After all, it could all start with a simple question about the facility, machines or class. From here, adults can connect about the work-out and more. Small talk at the gym just means smiling in the locker room or noticing repeat users. From here, a person could find a reliable work-out buddy and friend.Different gyms offer different things. Marla Paul , author of the Friendship Crisis, says that there are Mommy & Me classes for new moms who need a way to connect with other women going through similar experiences. Additionally, a yoga or barre studio is different from a large corporate gym. One should find out where their current friends or co-workers work out and what it is like. Price, size, amenities and classes all play a factor in this decision.Adults also have to think about the current clientele. A 50-year old woman may not want to go to a gym full of 20-somethings. Similarly, there are also a number of sporting leagues people can join to meet new people. For example, one can sign up for a softball or basketball league or even something funny like 4-square, dodge ball, or roller derby. An adult league gives everyone something active and fun to do, which of course also helps people connect and bond at the same time.
9. Volunteer at an Organization
It feels good to give back. Volunteering gives people a chance to meet other civic-minded individuals. Who doesn’t want to clean up a park while chatting with other people committed to community service? Organized activities focused on mentorship or bettering a neighborhood is a great conversation starter. Adults want to find friends who have their priorities in check. Who better to befriend than another adult who is willing to get up early on a weekend to pick up trash or mentor kids?
When choosing a volunteer experience, it helps to think of one’s interests. Some people may want to work at a food pantry whereas others are more interested coaching basketball at the Boys & Girls Club. Buddying up with a current friend makes this volunteer experience even more fun so that you both build new connections with other participants. Finding these opportunities is easy thanks to the Digital Age. Many cities have websites or non-profits dedicated to listing volunteer opportunities of all types.
8. Ask Loved Ones for Help
Friends and family members often have connections in other cities thanks to work, school and life. Anyone hoping to make new connections should let their networks know about this. All it takes is a quick call, text, email or social media posting to let loved ones know. From here, friends and family could link a person up with other adults in the area. An existing relationship is a great foundation for a new friendship. After all, the adult already has something in common with an existing friend or loved one. Meeting people through others increases the likelihood that a true friendship could be built.
It helps to go about this step-by-step. First, one should mention to their existing friend circles that they are interested in meeting new people. Coffee dates, happy hours, birthday events and more can then be set up. Next, it is important to post about this using social networking websites like Facebook and Instagram, among others. One never knows who has the right connections for this type of social activity. Lastly, it’s all about the follow up and through. Adults have to take the connections and make something of them. This means taking the time to contact these new people and making solid plans.
Friends of friends often make great relationships. It is always appropriate to explain what you are looking for. For example, some mothers want to meet other mothers in the are to share parenting tips and create play dates, among other things. Some 20-somethings want to meet people their age or may want to meet older adults who can provide mentorship. Being specific about friendship needs helps loved ones connect an adult to the right people in a community.
7. Really Use Work Connections
Adults spend most of their lives at work: if it’s not the traditional 40-hour week it’s social events like a holiday party or company picnic. It is possible to find great friends at work. After all, people already have a lot in common. The key, of course, is to make conversations about more than just work. It’s important to schedule drinks or family outings that expand past the office. This builds a great foundation for a friendship that could be really long-lasting.
To make friends, one should seek people out: scheduling coffee dates or inviting a work pal to a birthday party. With a little planning and follow up, this relationship can be nurtured into something that expands past work. By connecting with co-workers, one could eventually meet even more friends through this individual. Relationships are all about using one’s networks. An adult can’t meet anyone if they just stay home and give up on making adult friendships.
Boundaries are essential to any office friendship. It is important that this relationship is not based in venting or unprofessional behavior. This can be toxic and may backfire on a person. Instead, two co-workers should take the time to plan activities that are not work related and build on common interests. It is fine to go to conferences and trainings together, but there should also be social activities like bowling, roller skating, drinks, and more. This creates a friendship that could exist even once a person leaves a business or office. Adults can be honest with one another as they build this friendship outside of work.
6. Join a Local Book Club
Most cities or towns have book clubs: whether it’s a group of friends, from a Craigslist posting, a MeetUp.com group or at the local library. A book club gives people something to talk about. Adults can stimulate their mind and meet new people. There are book clubs focused on poetry, non-fiction, science fiction and more. Thus, there is something for everyone.
The key to any friendship is finding similar interests. If people are reading the same book, this can give them a springboard for future events and conversations. One could even make their own book club and advertise it on the aforementioned websites or through social media. Smart adults will think about their current reading habits, how much time they have to commit and how active the group is before choosing any one club. After all, an individual has to be sure they have the time for this commitment and that they are meeting like-minded people. No one wants to be the weak link in a book club. After all, this is yet another type of community: everyone has to be invested and held accountable.
5. Online Services Focused on Events
The Internet is a great place to turn for anyone looking to meet new people and develop new friendships. For example, one could use OK Cupid for dating purposes and Meetup.com to join a movie group or bowling activity or event. Such services give individuals a chance to connect based on their interests and background. The best connections happen when adults have something active to do, share common interests and have a catalyst for meeting new people.
To find local events, individuals have to do some research. There are listservs people can sign up for as well as community calendars in some areas. The Internet is a great resource when looking for farmer’s markets, fundraisers, and other area events. Signing up for email lists and staying on top of the latest developments helps adults learn about great events. Of course, it is important to attend only things that interest an individual. Meeting new people and making friends should be fun and built around current interests.
Smart professionals may even try to get on the planning committee for a local event. This is a great way to give back to a neighborhood, meet new people and do something productive. One can even plan their own event to try and network with local professionals or do something beautiful for the community like a paint night.
4. Faith Based Organizations
Religion and faith based organizations are another great way to meet people with common interests or moral bases. Such groups often have a lot of organized activities outside of regular service so that adults can get to know one another. There is something for everyone: youth groups, older adult dating circles, potlucks, community service experiences and more. The key, of course, is to find a church or organization that speaks to one’s interests. Some people may want a large church whereas others may want a smaller congregation.
Additionally, individuals can seek out a traditional group like a Christian church or Islamic mosque, or they can reach out to a humanist or United Universalist space that has a different way of tackling faith and religion. When choosing the organization, one can research the groups online as well as ask loved ones in the area. It’s important to think about what one wants from the group too. Some people want a service-focused church whereas others want an organization that has a full list of outside activities. All of this information should be easy to find online or by asking current church-goers. And of course, it is okay to try more than one group to find the right fit.
The best way to find the right church or faith-based organization is to stay honest with one’s self. Friendships take time to develop. Adults have to be in safe and happy spaces if they are really going to meet the right people. Compromising on a church is never a good idea. Instead, exploring options until the right group is found is worth the time.
3. Use Public Spaces like the Park
There are a lot of public spaces that people can use to meet new people. For example, taking some time to walk a dog in a nearby playground or going to a dog park helps adults connect. Additionally, using the local library, visiting a museum, or just taking a walk are all great ways to meet new people and form relationships. Small talk is an essential piece of this process. Individuals have to think about conversation starters if they do end up sitting next to someone in a park or playground.
Exploring the neighborhood increases the likelihood that adults will make friends in their community. Visiting a museum helps individuals connect around art, sports and more. The only way to really see what is out there is to explore the city. There are tourism focused websites dedicated to this as well as websites like Yelp that shed light on a community’s offerings. Another great option is to ask people when one is out taking a walk at the park or walking the dog. Asking about restaurants, museums, and free community events sparks a conversation that can move into friendship with some time. It helps if adults carry around their business cards and are proactive when it comes to making plans. New hobbies, interests, and relationships can happen overnight if adults get out and really make use of public spaces. These areas are set up for a reason: so people can build a tight-knit community. It doesn’t hurt to ask, especially if you see the same people out and about.
2. Alumni Networks Are Important
Part of making friends, networking and connecting with other adults is making use of alumnae networks. Professionals often forget that they graduated from high school and college or that past positions or workplaces have extensive networks. One of the best ways to make new friends is to use these alumnae networks. When a person moves to a new city, they can contact their alma mater and ask if there are any alumnae in the area. Many colleges or universities will even share key contact information. Social media is another great tool for using networks. For example, one can sign up for LinkedIn or Facebook to connect professionally and personally with people. A few well-placed comments, likes, and endorsements go a long way to piquing interest. Soon, an adult can make coffee plans with a person and really build a solid relationship based in an old network.
One should also join associations or organizations linked to these interests. For example, many colleges have alumnae groups in various cities. There are also professional organizations: from labor unions to Junior League organizations for working women looking to give back. Joining these networks helps people build adult friendships while also networking professionally too. This is a double-whammy benefit.
Adults cannot be afraid to reflect back on their past experiences when using their networks. It never hurts to ask, make plans, and be friendly and social. At the very least, a person is getting out there. At the very best, a new friendship can evolve into something really profound and long-lasting. Using one’s resources means using their networks.
1. Use Social Media
Adults do not have to be afraid of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social networking websites and apps. With the click of a few keys, people can connect with hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Smart adults can really make the most of their resources by downloading these apps on their smartphones and signing up for profiles. This is a chance to build friendships in a low-key and easy way.
For example, if a friend posts a status and other people comment, this is a chance to engage with new people without social anxiety. First, one can like the comment on Facebook. Next, they can tag this person and build off of this conversation. With time, one can invite these individuals to events and organizations.
There are many online forums where people can connect on popular television shows, common interests like parenting or fashion, and more. Using the Internet to connect with people about politics, social justice, news, and more is a chance to build one’s social network. In time, real plans outside of the Internet can be made. Friendships are often about communication and common ground. If people know they share an interest, they can build a plan around this. For example, a group of moms who have discussed cribs and sleep training may decide to meet at a park while their children play.
Friendships take time to develop, even in the Digital Age. Adults cannot take the Internet for granted. Friendships will still take a lot of time to develop, especially in this impersonal manner. For example, a person may like someone’s Instagram photo, but this does not mean plans will happen right away. Familiarity, conversations, and comfort levels are always changing. Thus, it is important for adults to be patient. They cannot seem over-eager or pushy when it comes to making friends. Less is more when connecting with people on social networking websites. In time, common interests will connect people. Plans or activities will come when the time is right. When this happens, it is important for people to follow through and make the most of this experience. When people have a great time, future plans and conversations are sure to happen.
The New York Times’s David Brooks has said that “friendship is indispensable to life” because of its social and mental health benefits and because it helps people make smarter decisions. That said, as people age, it’s harder to make time for new adult friendships. Individuals have to make this a priority if they want to connect with others and really develop strong adult relationships. It’s easy to stay isolated when so many professionals work over 40 hours a week. Any free time has to be carefully evaluated if people really want to expand their networks and make friends. Adults have to do their research to see what their resources are really like. This means researching books clubs, organized events, volunteer opportunities, area gyms and more. Letting loved ones know a person is trying to make new friends could help too. Proactive individuals who exhaust the possibilities are sure to meet new people and really develop strong connections. Of course, it takes time and dedication to build a solid foundation for lifelong friendships. By using one’s networks and doing some research, adults can make strong friendships later in life.