We all make a lot of friends out of the people we encounter throughout our lives. In some cases though, some people might not know how to make friends as an adult. Whether it be due to an introverted nature or a natural awkwardness, sometimes making friends in your adulthood can be challenging.
Learning how to make friends as an adult is an important skill. This is because the people we keep in our lives can play much bigger roles in our futures. The friends you make in your adulthood are more than just friendly companions. Adult friends can be mentors, colleagues, and even potential romantic interests.
With that said, knowing how to make friends as an adult can be invaluable to building long-lasting relationships in your life. Even if you identify as an introvert, you can still benefit from keeping a friend or two in your life. We as a species are built for companionship, after all. As such, it’s important for you to know how to make friends as an adult, especially if you really want your personal and professional life to flourish.
Why Is It Important To Make Friends As An Adult?
Regardless if you’re introverted or not, humans have a natural need for companionship. The history of human evolution shows how our ancestors banded together as protection from predators. It’s thus in our nature to seek safety in numbers.
Moreover, there are many benefits to knowing how to make friends as an adult. Besides the aforementioned perks when it comes to building connections in your personal and professional life, having friends can improve your quality of life as well. You learn to become more active and outgoing by spending time with other people. Furthermore, this develops your ability to adapt to different personalities, which can be especially helpful in work settings.
On another note, healthy friendships can impact your mental and physical health too. One study shows that loneliness can affect your cognitive abilities and can even raise your risk of developing depression. Another study links social isolation to heart disease, a weakened immune system, and perhaps even death.
Essentially, keeping good friends around you can enrich your life. Having people to turn to can reduce your stress, boost your happiness, and can improve your sense of belonging in society. Whether you’re in it for the fun or for the health benefits, learning how to build and maintain friendships as an adult can bring a lot of good to your life.
How To Make Friends As An Adult: The Basics
Everybody has their own way of making new friends. How people befriend others and maintain relationships can vary, as it can be a very personal experience. You may be faced with some challenges — be it external or internal — when befriending people, especially in adulthood. Get the ball rolling with some of these suggestions, because sometimes, the biggest challenge when learning how to make friends as an adult is simply taking the first step.
Immerse Yourself In Hobbies
Finding people who share your hobbies and interests is a great way of making new friends as an adult. Hobbies can become much more gratifying when enjoyed with like-minded people. Moreover, having a tight-knit community that revolves around similar interests can be an excellent foundation for long-lasting friends. With hobbies as a central foundation in friendships, you’re able to push one another to become better at your craft.
If you find yourself struggling to find a good conversation starter, why not try talking about hobbies? Take the plunge and ask someone about their favorite pastimes or talk about your own passions. Life can’t always be about work, which is why hobbies can be a superb opportunity to bond with other people.
Any hobby is an avenue to acquire new skills and be a part of something big. Whether it’s sports or an enjoyment of scale models, hobbies are an amazing avenue for you to join communities and forge some formidable friendships.
Take The First Step
As mentioned, sometimes taking the first can be your biggest hurdle. Take initiative and put yourself out there. Make yourself available and say yes when you receive invites to social gatherings. It can be a scary prospect for some, especially when you’re not used to taking the first step with other people to begin with. It can help if you can agree to meet at a more neutral place, like a cafe you and the other person enjoy. This can help create a more comfortable environment for you to engage in a more social environment.
On the other hand, scheduling a one-on-one hangout might be more nerve-wracking for you. Some people may find it overwhelming to have one person’s attention all on them. For this side of the spectrum, group events can be much more tolerable, as it can take off the pressure of entertaining a single person on your own. It’s a contrast to people who can’t handle group gatherings, as the bigger number of people can be too much to handle. They may prefer more quiet and controlled settings over larger and more outgoing social functions.
Find what sort of setting is what you’re most comfortable with and build your efforts around what works for you. Taking the first step means the ball is in your court. There’s no need to pressure yourself into saying yes right away, either, so take things at your own pace. What matters is that you’re putting effort in the first place, and that’s better than not trying at all.
Use Social Media
With the accessibility of technology at our fingertips, meeting new people online has become much easier. In fact, you might even be more likely to make new friends online than offline. For one, being online affords you a bit of anonymity, which can help you overcome some of your shyness if it’s an issue for you. Social media is a platform for connectivity, after all.
Don’t feel pressured to take your online friendship to the real world if you’re not comfortable with the idea. There’s no harm in forging casual friendships for some easy-going fun online. Although making lifelong friendships can benefit you in the long run, having friends around for more lighthearted subject matters can be just as enjoyable.
How To Make Friends Online
Knowing where to look on social media can help you maximize it as a platform for making friends as an adult. Meeting people online can be a good starting point for many friendships. This is especially so in this day and age, where you’re more likely to communicate with other people online through your smartphone.
Find An Online Community For Your Interests
Think of this as the online equivalent to our “Immerse Yourself In Hobbies” tip. There are so many communities on the Internet that cater to specific interests. The possibilities are endless when you’re online.
One good website that generates discussions on certain topics is Reddit. It boasts of a plethora of different communities for so many different hobbies and interests. Furthermore, online communities like those on Reddit don’t require you to reply to each and every post — unless that’s what you want to do, of course. Being online allows you to sit back and watch conversations unfold right in front of you in the event that you’re not up for some small talk. That’s just one of the many charms of making friends online. It’s easy, and you’re bound to find an online community to belong to, whether you want to talk about movies, video games, or everything in between.
Leave Polite Comments
If you ever come across a post — say on Instagram or Facebook — that strikes your fancy, consider leaving a friendly comment or two. There’s no doubt that the Internet brings people together, but it’s also filled with a lot of rude netizens that have nothing better to do than belittle others. Drop a comment on a nice picture or funny post, whether you’re engaging with a stranger or someone you know offline. It’s a simple way of making your presence known to the other person while leaving a bit of kindness in your wake. Leaving comments also helps you practice how to communicate with people, so don’t be afraid to do it from time to time.
Make an effort to actually engage with posts. Simply leaving a like or thumbs up won’t cut it. Reply to a post and give your two cents about it. Many friends are forged through friendly comments and banter, and before long, you’ll find yourself interacting with the same people more and more. Sooner or later, you’ll begin to look at these online personas as more than just their Twitter handles or Instagram photos. They’ll start to become real people to you, and hopefully, real friends that are here to stick around.
How To Make Friends In A New City
It can be much more challenging to make friends in an unknown environment. Moving to a new city where you have no one to call a friend can feel lonely. But, with some effort and persistence, there are ways to make friends even in a place where you don’t know anyone. It helps to remind yourself that a lot of friends start out as strangers first, so don’t think making friends in a new city is a hopeless case.
Visit A Dog Park
Don’t underestimate the power of having animal companions in your life. A dog is a man’s best friend, right? Humans and their fuzzy companions have an almost unbreakable bond. So if you have a dog — or any animal companion, for that matter — then you already have one foot out the door towards making friends.
Go to the nearest park and take your dog with you. Observe your surroundings and mingle with other dog owners. You can even think of your dog as your wingman (or wingwoman) to break the ice when meeting new people and introducing yourself. Striking up a conversation with other people can feel easier when you’re feeling comfortable, and in this case, your dog can be a great source of comfort. Plus, having a mutual love for dogs already means you and the other person have something in common, so this can ease some of the awkward first introductions away.
Say Hi To Your Neighbor
Make yourself known to your new community. Introduce yourself to whoever lives next door, if only just to let them know you’re here to stick around for a while. We’re not saying you have to be all buddy-buddy with your neighbors, but it helps to remain on friendly terms with the people who live on the same grounds as you do.
Additionally, getting to know your neighbor can help you feel more settled in your new city. You’ll develop a better sense of belonging just by simply getting to know your neighbors. You can even ask them for some tips on how to get around the area, or you can turn to them for some suggestions on what the go-to havens are in the city. There’s no assurance that your new neighbor could become your next best friend, but there’s no doubting that they can be an invaluable comrade to have on your side right off the bat.
Just Go Out
Getting lost in your new city can be an adventure in itself. Leave your apartment and get out of your comfort zone. You might discover a cool hangout for drinks or a quaint cafe for coffee if that’s more your pace. Finding new places to spend your time in also translates to new opportunities for meeting and befriending the people in your area. Who knows — the next place you hit up might be where you find your new lifelong pal.
Socializing For Introverts
It’s unfortunate, but many introverts are often misunderstood due to their more reserved nature in social settings. A lot of people misinterpret introversion for antisocial behavior. However, it should be said that introverts are simply much more selective about the people they choose to spend time with.
Introverts seek more meaningful friendships, even if it’s just with a smaller amount of people. In other words, they practice quality over quantity. That said, there are ways to go about learning how to make friends as an adult even when you’re more introverted. You can find meaningful interactions in different situations — even with strangers — so long as you have the right approach and mindset when it comes to socializing.
Introverts are nothing if not resourceful and smart. They can keep to themselves and remain entertained without the need for company. Nevertheless, if you’re an introvert and find yourself in a social gathering that you can’t get out of, it will help to formulate a strategy on how you intend to socialize. Be smart about how you intend to talk to other people.
As an introvert, interacting with people may take a lot of energy and effort out of you. It can thus make it a little easier for yourself by coming prepared. Brainstorm some conversation ideas ahead of time to avoid any awkward dead airs. Mentally preparing for your upcoming social gathering can help a lot as well.
Practice Alternative Body Language
Try to avoid defensive body language, like crossing your arms for example. Remember that non-verbal communication is a huge part of socialization. So, if you’re trying to engage with other people at a party, make an effort into appearing more approachable. If you can’t do it with your words, then adjust with your body language instead.
Take It Easy
Don’t pressure yourself to talk to everyone in the room for the sake of gaining new friends. You have to take it at your own pace; there’s no need to rush things. Real friendships take a while to foster, so practice patience. Rushing into friendships just to prove that you can befriend others with your introverted nature won’t assure you of quality partnerships with people that are built on solid foundations.
Allow yourself the chance to enjoy life to the fullest by creating opportunities to bring new people into your everyday. Simply going out and putting yourself out there will make a world of a difference when you want to make friends. Even making friends online requires you to put yourself out into the world. You can’t expect to make any friends when people don’t even know you’re available to befriend in the first place.
Remember: friendships are a two-way street. They require effort from both sides. That said, don’t forget not to lose yourself as you learn how to make friends as an adult. Having friends can brighten up your days, but don’t be so desperate for social interaction that you give up so much of yourself just to please the other person. You want people to want to be friends with the real you, not some fabricated persona that you think they’ll appreciate.
Learning how to make friends as an adult involves going back to your basic understanding of yourself and your needs. What kind of friend are you looking for at this point in your life? What sort of people are you most comfortable around? By getting to know yourself more, you improve your chances of not only making new friends, but actually keeping these friends for a long time as well.