How do you make new friends?
Why do some people struggle to make new friends more than others?
Are you lonely and want to make new friends as an adult? Here are 9 ways to make new friends in your 20s, 30s or 40s by @BrazenLiving. Your new best friend is waiting! #FriendshipGoals #BFF #MillennialsClick To Tweet
It may have been a lot easier when you were a 4-year old kid.
You go to the playground with your parents, get excited over another kid’s jacket, touch it and boom! You have a new friend.
Your parents clap their hands and you’re proud.
Ah! You miss those innocent years when all you had to do was make an appearance to make a new friend.
But you’re an adult now, and suddenly, the rules for making friends are a lot more complicated. You’re expected to respect personal space, boundaries and the right to privacy.
To make matters worse, your time outside the work/home routine to interact with new people is limited. Are you feeling lonely?
So, how to make new friends in the midst of all these constraints?
The Secret to Making New Friends as an Adult
Although it’s more complicated for adults, there is still hope for us to make new friends…. in some unexpected ways.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, or 40s. The basic ‘how to make new friends’ principle we applied as kids still apply.
And that is to appear in places where others like us hang out. We will get to that in a minute for some ideas.
But before we get there, we need to take a look at two important ingredients that make friend-making more probable, so that our efforts are not wasted.
New Friends Have Something in Common
The strangers we meet are more likely to become our friends if we both have something in common.
It could be the neighborhood we live in, our interests or what we do for a living. A common ground provides the basis for communication, a fundamental need for any relationship.
But there is another, more compelling reason we actually become friends with the people we meet.
Beverley Fehr, author of Friendship Processes says in Psychology Today, that “the transition from acquaintanceship to friendship is typically characterized by an increase in both the breadth and depth of self-disclosure”.
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Friends Form from Sharing and Opening Up
It turns out, the secret to making friends is sharing our secrets with whom we intend to befriend.
If only one of us risks disclosing personal secrets without the other reciprocating, the acquaintanceship will eventually wither and die without blooming into a full-fledged friendship.
We can’t assume, however, that a friendship will form and stand the test of time if the two ingredients: common interests and exchange of private information are present.
A friendship can still be threatened by many other factors. To get an idea of possible reasons, check out 21 Brutally Honest Reasons Why You Don’t Have Close Friends (or a Cheering Squad) before we dive into how to make new friends.
How to Make New Friends in Your 20s
#1. The Everyday Places
The truth is, we don’t have to be in a special place with a sign that says ‘make new friends here’. We can make friends in the very old places we’ve been frequenting twice a day, four times a week for the past 5 years.
So what kind of places are these?
The gym you go to every week, the coffee shop you visit daily, the park where you walk your dog, the hiking trail, the library. You know, places you visit all the time.
I get it, we enter these places with a purpose in mind. And we prefer to get in and out as soon as we are done with what we’re there for.
But if you’re held up in a queue or taking a walk anyway, you might as well make some new friends. Put your phone away and look around for an opportunity or opening to get to know someone.
Say something nice to another pet owner about their pet or compliment the barista. If you’ve been doing yoga side-by-side with the same person for a week now, it’s time to invite them for coffee.
Down at the gym? Leave your iPod at home and ask the nearest person how to use equipment if you have no idea how to, instead of walking on the treadmill yet again.
Once you break the ice, it’s easier to introduce yourself and take it to the next level.
But assess the openness of the other person first. Not every adult is open to making new friends out in public places.
What I find is that a pleasant smile disarms even the most anti-social of beings. So, always approach people with a big smile.
#2. Friendship Apps
A friend online is a friend indeed.
If you prefer the comfort of getting to know someone without the pressure of making a physical appearance, friendship apps are a great start.
They cost nothing and you can start making friends while wearing your pajamas, from the comfort of your home.
I’ve picked out a few that you can get started with right away, but there are more out there. Browse through to see which one suits your personality best, sign-up and have fun!
If you enjoy social gatherings related to your area of interest and meet like-minded people in real life, you’ll love this app. Meetup has 24 categories to choose from including tech, family, photography, writing, career, and business. The app uses your location to display upcoming events based on the category you selected. You can RSVP to these events, message other participants and join groups to stay up-to-date on future events.
If you’ve heard of Bumble, this is the platonic version of the app for friendships. Much like the romantic version, you are paired with someone if both of you swipe right. And you have a 24-hour window to begin messaging. It’s relatively easy to use the app. You just upload photos of yourself, write a description and what you’re looking for in a friend. Once that is done, your new best friend is just a swipe away.
Hey! Vina is an app for women to meet like-minded women. Similar to Bumble BFF, you create a profile and swipe right on those you’re interested to be friends with. But Hey! Vina offers a lot more than just friendships and chat. There are quizzes and articles on their online magazine, The Vinazine to motivate and empower women to be the best version of themselves. Spending time on this app will fulfill your need for a friend and gain support from other women. Go girl power!
#3. Part-Time Job
If you have time to spare, consider getting a part-time job. Relax, it doesn’t have to be a grind. Consider taking up jobs that you enjoy to fill your time, make a little extra cash and meet new people.
Remember that your aim with a part-time job is not to make more money but to make new friends so remember that when sending out applications.
Your new colleagues have great potential to be your best pals through workplace activities, outings, and daily interactions.
It’s also a great way to improve your social skills if you are shy, introverted or quiet in nature.
A living testament to this is Victoria Dunn, who claims her co-workers from her part-time job are some of the closest people in her life.
“Throughout my life, I have always been known as shy, passive, and hesitant. However, those would be the last words my co-workers would use to describe me.” – Victoria Dunn
Just make sure you make some effort to join others during breaks, friendly chatter and after-work activities.
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If you are a bit more social and don’t mind talking to strangers, jobs like tour guides offer more opportunities to meet people from all walks of life.
A friend of mine sings at parties and events in the evenings and has found it to be the perfect way to meet new people regularly.
You could also start Hygge at work to build better bonds with your coworkers.
Lastly, if you’re self-employed leave your home office and try a co-working space instead.
How to Make New Friends in Your 30s
#1. Solo Travel
Confession: this is how I personally like to make new friends, simply because there are so many exciting aspects to it.
Solo travel helps you to become more independent whether you’re a male or female. And it allows you to interact with your environment and the people around you better.
You tend to be more open to communicating with other travelers and locals when you’re not traveling with friends or family.
If you have not traveled solo before, give it a try. The following are some of my recommendations on how to make new friends while traveling solo:
- Stay in a hostel instead of a hotel even if you can afford it. It increases your chance of meeting fellow travelers. Dorms or shared rooms make it easier to chat with your roommates.
- Many cities have walking tours that are either completely free or dirt cheap. Take advantage of these as you will come across others traveling solo like you. Strike up a conversation and you might just end up watching dolphins swim together. (Yep, happened to me)
- If you see someone dining or drinking alone in the common areas, ask if you may join them. Most will be happy to have company especially if they have been traveling solo for a while.
- Go on pub crawls which are a thing in most major cities. Drink responsibly, talk to people over a pint and get acquainted. If you’re lucky, you might meet someone going in the same direction as you and you’ll have more time to forge a life-long friendship.
If you are a female and traveling solo makes the hair at the back of your neck stand, research solo traveling and your destination beforehand.
There are thousands of female travelers who go it alone every single year, gaining valuable life experiences and life-long friendships in the process.
As a solo female traveler myself, I can say with a degree of certainty that you will be fine if you practice the same safety precautions you practice at home and use common sense.
If solo traveling is not your thing but you love the idea of meeting world travelers, you can try Couchsurfing.
Couchsurfing is a concept that allows travelers (couchsurfers) with little money to stay with willing locals while traveling.
If you have a spare room, couch or air mattress, sign-up on Couchsurfing to open your doors to travelers. You won’t be making much money (if at all) from it, but you will meet friends from all around the world.
There are no hard and fast rules for couchsurfers and hosts apart from the usual safety advice.
But if you are serious about making friends and learning about another culture at the same time, consider extending your hospitality beyond the spare couch.
You can show them around your town, cook for them or even include them in your daily chores such as cleaning and washing.
Some hosts have welcomed the same traveler more than once, which says a lot about the friendships that are formed through Couchsurfing.
It’s an easy method to make friends from other parts of the world while staying in control and without having to leave the comfort of your home. It is not without risks, of course, so do your research and review the traveler’s profile carefully before making an offer.
Yes, blogging may seem like a solitary activity from the outside but it actually isn’t. Any serious blogger would tell you that networking and collaborating are all part of the blogging journey.
Especially if you want your blog to be out there where people can benefit from your writings and share it. The fact is, blogging opens a whole new world. Plus, it doesn’t cost much these days.
Here’s how to make new friends as a blogger:
Social media groups:
Be active in Facebook groups that are relevant to your niche or start your own group. Answer questions, share your experiences and ask questions to keep the members engaged. The more you offer your advice and expertise in these platforms, the more trust you build among those in the group. And this increases the likelihood of making lasting friendships. I recently made friends with a fellow blogger on Reddit while discussing my Pinterest account linked to my blog.
Approach other bloggers with offers to jointly write books, promote products or participate in interviews, webinars or podcasts. It’s business of course, but at the same time, you make genuine friends with those you collaborate with. You have legitimate reasons to reach out to others in your niche when you have a blog. So reach out to other newbie bloggers and influencers with a project mind or just to get some advice.
Guest posting is another great strategy to make friends with others in your niche. Often, it is no more than an e-mail or a message on social media to request another blogger for an opportunity to publish a post on their blog. If you have a blog and they like what’s on it, there’s a chance you’ll get to showcase your writing and win a friend. Who knows, with time, an opportunity to collaborate might present itself. You can guest post for It’s All You Boo too!
One of the first things you’ll learn as a blogger is to create a mailing list no matter what your niche is. A blog has the ability to touch others on a personal level. But the next level is building a closer relationship with your followers through periodic newsletters. You’ll be surprised how many people actually respond to your newsletters with ideas, insight and sometimes just to thank you for your posts. It’s a great feeling, and you know you have a friend in your followers. Granted, you may not always be able to meet those in your mailing list for coffee, but they could be you life-long supporters in the online world.
There are many events, meetups, and conferences that take place every year specifically for bloggers. If you are a blogger, attending conferences such as these will give you the opportunity to learn more about blogging and make tonnes of new friends with similar passion and interest.
How to Make New Friends in Your 40s
#1. Volunteer Programs
I am not yet in my 40s but I have volunteered in several programs where I have met wonderful friends I still meet up with.
Seek out local soup kitchens, inform your community leader or visit a senior center to get yourself involved in volunteer programs.
The easiest way is by visiting or calling related associations. Let them know what you can do to help or, ask them how you can be of help. Most of the time, they are short of hands and are therefore grateful for your call. So don’t think this is a long shot.
In my case, I knew someone connected to our local association for the blind. I told them I was interested to help in any way I can and I was in!
Soon I was called to record reading materials that were not available in Braille and next, to build a sensory garden.
Group activities have a higher chance of interaction. But even if the job you’re volunteering for requires you to work alone, you can always regroup with the rest of the volunteers, residents, and caretakers later.
Don’t be afraid to invite them for dinner after a long day of volunteering. You already have something in common to talk about. All that’s left to do is build on that and take it to the next level.
Still, remember about sharing secrets?
#2. Hobby Classes
There must be something that you’ve wanted to learn since you were young. Something that you like to do. Is it quilling? Knitting? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to play the violin.
Go and sign-up for a class instead of learning it from Youtube videos. You’ll have a better chance to ask questions, learn systematically and of course, meet other like-minded people.
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And once you are in the same class, you can initiate friendship by:
- Asking for help on something you don’t understand or have difficulty with.
- Suggesting getting a cup of coffee after class.
- Suggesting practicing together over the weekend or some other convenient time.
- If you are new, ask others where’s the right place to buy supplies, tools or accessories related to your new hobby.
Don’t be shy to be the one to approach others. Break the ice and start saying hello from the first day to avoid feeling awkward later.
You also never know where your new passion project might lead you!
#3. Religious Communities
If you are religious or want to become more spiritual, this is a great way to make new friends. It’s not only great to strengthen fellowship but also your faith.
And just like a hobby, you already have something in common. Something stronger that binds you together.
Most religious communities have tons of activities going on at any given day of the week.
Some of these include community outreach programs, Bible study, prayer meetings, retreats, choir practice, singles meetup… the list goes on. Use the opportunity and sign-up for one of these.
Test it out and see if it suits your personality. If it doesn’t feel like a good fit, try another group, it’s okay. There is no commitment but please inform the group leader before moving on just to be polite.
If you attend weekly service or mass, be sure to attend at the same time every week. That way, you will meet the same group of people week after week, making it easier for you to say hello.
Start Making New Friends Today as an Adult
So there you have it, 9 ideas on how to make new friends in some unexpected ways.
Which one is your favorite and what is your biggest struggle in making new friends? Share away in the comments to keep the discussion going.
Remember, it doesn’t matter if your favorite is from a different age group. If it works for you, go for it!
How do you make new friends as an adult?
More About Guest Contributor
Rosemary Anthony is an author of suspense thrillers, freelance writer, blogger, and chocolate artisan. She brazenly shares stories of her personal screw-ups on Brazen Living to help others live their dreams and succeed without sacrificing their character. Occasionally, she becomes better herself. When she’s not writing or making chocolates, she can be found loitering somewhere in Europe.