Being an adult is weird. Suddenly you’re expected to be self-sufficient, have your shit together and not eat mac and cheese for dinner. You’re also forced to figure out the totally weird predicament of making friends as an adult. Making friends while growing up is much easier. You’re put in school with dozens of potential buddies. Group projects and after school activities are perfect situations for finding cool people to hang out with. During college your new best friend could be anywhere — from someone in your dorm to the person you sit next to in Bio.
All of the sudden you’ve graduated, your friends are moving away and it’s easy to be left feeling pretty lonely. Friday nights that were once reserved for partying it up with your roommates are now left for quiet nights at home with Netflix and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. But before you start getting too hard on yourself, remember that everyone goes through this difficult phase. And, like every part of growing up, it just takes some stumbling to find your balance.
Use the Internet
It may sound a wee bit pathetic to have to turn to the internet to find friends, but we use dating sites to find potential partners, so why not? No, I’m not talking about putting up an ad on Craigslist. There’s so many other less-creepy options these days for meeting people. Meetup.com, for example, allows users to search for “meetups” happening in their area based around practically any common interest. Looking for new friends that share your love of Crossfit? Have a passion for cooking worldly cuisine? Whatever your interest, it’s very likely someone’s created a group for it. And if not, you can create your own! Some meetups are based around outings or activities and others are just purely social like checking out new bars or restaurants in the area.
When I first moved to Australia and didn’t know a soul besides my boyfriend, I started attending Meetups. I was pretty nervous to head out to the first one on my own, until I realized most other attendees were on their own as well! Attending a Meetup based around an activity is perfect because it breaks the ice by automatically giving you something to chat about.
Having a set group of friends in high school and college was reassuring, but also led me to be a bit closed off from making new friends. If I met someone who I didn’t click with right away or I felt didn’t seem like my “type” of friend, I usually didn’t put much effort into getting to know them. After all, I had my other friends — why bother?
After college, when my core group all moved to different areas, I was forced to dig a little deeper to see if new acquaintances could become friends. First impressions of people tend to be misleading, so it’s usually worth it to put in the extra effort. I met a girl at work who seemed like the polar opposite to me. From her politics to her taste in music, I didn’t think we’d have anything in common. Finally we went out for a happy hour drink and she ended up cracking me up the whole time! Although we had a lot of differences, our sense of humor was really similar and we became good friends.
This can be really scary, but another one that’s almost always worth the extra effort. If you saw a really cute guy at the gym, you’d rack your brain for topics to start a conversation. So why not do the same with a new friend? It may sound weird, but pursuing friendships can be a lot like dating. You see someone that looks like they’d be fun to hang out with. Maybe it’s the girl with awesome bangs in your yoga class. Or the super sweet cashier who always has the best hummus recommendations at Trader Joe’s. Spend some time building a rapport. Ask about their hairstylist or share a funny story about your weekend. Compliments always go a long way, as long as they’re sincere.
After you’ve struck a few conversations, go in for the kill: ask them on friend date. Be confident and natural. You want to make them feel special, like you’re approaching them because you think you’ll get along well, not because you’re desperate for friends. If this sounds weird, imagine how you’d feel if a cool, self-assured person walked up and wanted to hang out. It’d be awesome! After all, who wouldn’t want to be friends with a confident, beautiful person like yourself?
What are your tips for meeting new people as an adult?
p.s. 15 ways to be a better human today + How to get shit done even when you’re totally unmotivated