When I was in college, finding ways to make friends was pretty easy. I could attribute this to the many student clubs I joined, living in the middle of campus in the dorms, being in honors fraternities and attending small classes, some with fewer than 20 students. We were all staring a chapter in our lives together, so making friends felt effortless.
In the real world and after college however, trying to make friends and keep the old ones isn’t exactly easy. We graduate, we get full-time jobs, we move to bigger cities, and that social network of friends and acquaintances starts to get smaller and smaller. Keeping up on social media is not the same as keeping up in real life, and it can feel overwhelming to make friends with the added hustle and bustle of adulthood.
But it shouldn’t be that way. When I made the move to New York, I had a circle of friends from college that made it easy to adapt, but my move to LA was the total opposite. I knew no one and I had to start a new friend group from scratch. This was daunting, to say the least. Many of us are transient, and job opportunities can take us to many different cities and countries. Although a successful career is great, a friend group to celebrate these accomplishments with is vital. New places bring new challenges, and many of us can find it difficult to make friends as older friendships start drifting. Here are some of the great ways I found to make friends after college and after my move.
Tips to Make Friends Now As Adults
- Try reconnecting. Sometimes making new friends doesn’t have to mean meeting strangers. A lot of potential new friendships are people that were more than acquaintances who have become distant for no other reason than life happening. Try reconnecting on social media such as through Facebook. You know those people who you consider more than acquaintances but definitely not close friends? They could be special friendships just waiting to happen! Just make the first move.
- Meet friends of friends. Meeting a friend or acquaintance’s friends is easier than meeting someone new. By meeting and connecting with the friends of your friends, the ice is already broken. You know you have things in common such as the mutual friend and they are more likely to be friendly and approachable. Likewise, you are more likely to meet and bump into each other more than once, giving you time to build a friendship.
- Stay active in online communities. There are many online communities on Facebook depending on your city. These online communities also have subgroups for meetups to make friends, getting to know one another, or even offer spaces for specific special interests. I met one of my first real friends in LA via an online Facebook community. She wrote in the group that she was free and walking around Santa Monica. I replied that I was as well and we met up for coffee. We met another friend that would eventually form our friend group via a kickboxing class event through the same online community later that week. By getting out there and staying active in the online Facebook community, you can create a strong new friend group.
- Go to that open event. Many cities have websites that let you know about events going on around you. Check out Eventbrite, Fever, DoLA, DoNYC, Pulsd and others for great events going on in your city or neighborhood. Go to that book reading alone. Attend the workshop. Take advantage of that food fair!
- Download Friend Apps. It’s true that nowadays there is an app for everything. Vina is an amazing app that lets you meet people near you. Filled with quizzes about your personality and cute additions to your “About Me,” this app is a quick and easy way to match with a new friend. Likewise, BumbleBFF offers a place to meet friends near you. Go to brunch, spend the day at a flea market, go to a show with a new friend. Use these apps to help you find someone to go to fun daytime things with!
- Get into hobbies or community involvement. When you join a community around a hobby, you’ll naturally meet a lot of people with your same interests. The website and app Meetup allows you to meet with people who have the same likes and hobbies. It is an amazing way to meet people with the same priorities and schedules as you and also learn more about things you are interested in.
- Take classes. Kill two birds with one stone by joining workout classes that allow you to meet people while also staying active and less stressed. I’ve made some amazing friendships that I still have today via yoga classes or spin classes. Not your style? There are so many workout classes you can join, and feel healthier and more energetic too.
- Volunteer. It can be a great way to meet people who have similar values as you. There are amazing volunteering opportunities, and a helping hand is always needed. The people you meet while volunteering will be those with the same passions and desire to help their community. Whether you volunteer at the local animal shelter, food drive, or fundraiser, it is a great place to help out and meet new people!
- Don’t overlook your coworkers. When we were younger, work life and social life were two very separate things. If you were like me, you worked to live and forgot about the workplace the moment you stepped foot outside the door. But, as we get older, we see and spend time with our coworkers more than we do friends and families. If there is a coworker out there who you get along with, why not invite them out to lunch or to coffee? Likewise, if your coworkers are going to a dinner, don’t pass on the invitation.
- Just be friendly. You can meet people literally anywhere. Strike up a conversation with the person next to you at the coffee shop, in line, or even the worker at a store or place you frequent. An approachable disposition and a smile will go a long way!
- Get out there. Attend parties. Accept the invite to dinner with people. You are more likely to meet new people when you leave the house. Birthday parties, New Years celebrations, housewarmings, or functions are great places to meet friends. All you have to do is show up.
Bottomline, making the effort to stay in touch goes a long way. This more than anything is the key to keeping newly formed (and older) friendships. Text, agree to hang out, and do not flake. You’d be surprised how eager other people are to make valuable friendships. As long as you are yourself, others will want to meet and form friendships with you. You just have to give them a chance.
Notes on the Old Friends
Sometimes we grow out of friendships that are toxic or just not healthy for us, but in many cases life just gets in the way. When a friend forgets a birthday or is too busy because of a new job or family, know they are not doing it to you. One of my oldest friends since middle school is married with a kid. We speak and see each other only a handful of times a year, but the friendship remains just as strong. Finding the friendships that change your life and understand you through anything isn’t easy. When you find them, keep them.
Make it a point to send frequent, short emails or texts to keep up with one another’s lives and never go too long without updates. When a friend experiences new changes in their lives, the relationship may also change, but staying supportive of their new life changes goes a long way. When a friend moves somewhere far away, considering saving up and visiting them in their new city or vice versa. My best friend took off work and flew across the country to see me in LA for a week and a half when I first moved out there. It was one of the best things I could have asked for, and it felt like old times when we used to live together in our old college town. Friendship is a give and take that comes down to one thing: show one another that your friendship is valued, by listening, taking time to remind them, and being there when they need you.