As a kid, friendships happened naturally. It was as easy as being in the same class or playing the same sport. Those childhood bonds formed effortlessly and sometimes lasted years. But as an adult, making new friends is a lot harder. Whether you’re an introvert who prefers to stay in, a busy parent raising kids, or someone who has just moved to a new city, suddenly it can feel impossible to meet new people.
However, studies show that close friendships are important to your happiness and can even extend your life. According to the Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging, those aged 70 and older with strong core friend groups had a 22% chance of outliving their peers. Plus, the lonelier people tend to feel, the more likely they are to experience depressive symptoms, decreasing their quality of life. Given all the benefits that come with having friends, we’re sharing a few tips on how to make friends as an adult so everyone can reap the rewards.
Now that you’re all grown up, you have to put a lot more effort into your adult friendships. Studies show that forming a friendship can take up to 90 hours, and becoming best friends can take twice as long. While conversations and mutual interests can help develop that interest, time spent together is the key indicator of your friendship. That’s why connecting with new people sooner rather than later is so important.
Jump to the infographic below or read on to learn seven tips for making friends as an adult:
1. Plan a Monthly Activity
Monthly activities are great not only for those who feel overbooked but also for those who are new to an area and want to regularly meet new people. Schedule a recurring time once a month, then invite friends, coworkers, and other people you’ve met — encourage them to invite their friends as well.
This regular event will hold you accountable for making new friends, which can be easy to forgo as you get busy with work, family, or your other responsibilities.
2. Start a New Hobby or Join a Class
One of the best places to meet new people is somewhere you’ll already have shared interests. Whether you want to learn how to crochet or are a seasoned runner looking for jogging companions, extracurricular activities make it easy for you to find new friends fast. Find a hobby you enjoy, then check your local area for clubs, lessons, and meet-ups.
As a bonus, trying new things can stimulate creativity and make it easier for you to learn future tasks. As you stimulate neurons in your brain, you make more neural pathways that help you process information faster. A new hobby won’t only make it easier to find new friends, it will also help you learn new skills!
3. Ask for Help
This step can be intimidating, but put yourself out there and lean on your current connections to help grow your social circle. Post on social media to let people know you’re looking for new friends or mention it in conversation with a coworker. Though it might be nerve-wracking at first, oftentimes you’ll find that the person you’re talking to is in a similar situation and they may have a web of connections they can introduce you to.
This is also a great way for introverts to reach out to their more extraverted counterparts. By letting your extraverted friends know your goals in advance, they can be more mindful at events or parties, helping you with introductions and finding like-minded people.
4. Reach Out to Old Friends
Whether you’ve moved to a new city or you’re just looking to broaden your circle, old friends offer a great way to meet people. You can bridge the gap between friendships that may have fizzled out or meet a new circle of friends through them.
Take a look at your contact list and reach out to an old friend. Offer to grab a coffee or try a new restaurant. You may find that as you get together, whatever caused you to drift apart has long since changed and that reconnecting opens up a whole group of new mutual friends for you both. Plus, you probably have plenty of shared experience to bond over and years to catch up on.
5. Make a Cold Call (or Text)
A cold call is when you reach out to someone you don’t know well through mutual friends or other connections and make efforts to be their friend. If you’re nervous about this tactic, start by asking them to get lunch at work or drinks after an event to lower the stakes. For those who are bolder, try directly telling someone you want to be their friend. This is not only flattering, but it will make the first few hang out sessions feel more intentional and focused on getting to know one another.
Even if a cold call doesn’t make you nervous, studies show that the more you avoid doing a certain task, the more your anxiety and fear about the behavior magnifies. When you’re anxious about doing something, your nervous system is engaged. If you don’t engage this system, you won’t experience this anxiety, which may seem good, but also means you aren’t learning to overcome certain fears like putting yourself out there to meet new friends.
6. Use Social Media
Social media is a great way for introverts to find new friends as adults. Join groups, follow local pages, and look out for events and meetups. Oftentimes the people in these groups are also looking to make new friends, so you already have a mutual goal in mind.
If events and meetups aren’t for you, try following online communities in your area and engaging with them first. You’ll feel more comfortable getting to know the person online, and when you’re ready to meet up in person, it’ll feel more natural.
7. Think Beyond Your Age
When making new friends, it can be easy to fall into the habit of looking for groups of people around your age, but some of the best friendships often emerge from bonding with someone older or younger than you.
Cross-generational friendships not only help you have more compassion and empathy for other perspectives, but they also support mental well-being. Older friends can offer advice and perspective that differs from your usual friend group, while younger friends can inspire spontaneity and energy. Next time you join a club or go to a party, make a point to get away from those your own age and chat with someone older or younger than you.
How to Make Friendships Stick
Making friends as an adult is hard, but maintaining those friendships once they’ve formed is relatively easy. As an adult, you’ve learned what it takes to be a great friend, and even as you get busier, there are still a few things you can do to make new friendships stick.
True friendships are formed by spending quality time together and remembering both big wins and small victories. Use these printable compliment cards to let your friends know that you support them through thick and thin.
From texting your friends inspiring success quotes before an important interview to putting your phones away when you spend time together, these little things can help you maximize time together and grow closer.
As an adult, you face adult decisions like marrying the love of your life or buying your own home. However, your social life is important too, so take the time to build meaningful connections with people you care about. If you’re looking for more life steps to take, get a life insurance quote within minutes from Bestow.