Making friends as a child came naturally, without seemingly any effort.
From Girl Scouts and peewee sports to high school extracurriculars, to clubs in college, we were presented with hundreds of opportunities to make new connections every day.
With so many things to do as a child and young adult, it was hard to not make friends—you were surrounded by people every day!
Many of these friendships from our youth stood the tests of time, and you may still be best friends with someone you sat next to in high school.
However, things become more complicated when you go out into the “real world.”
Making friends as an adult seems to be harder than launching a career.
Gone are the days of forced companionship in public school and college, and extracurricular activities are things of the past.
You can no longer turn to the person next to you in the dining hall or in class to meet your new best friend, which presents a number of unique challenges.
To make friends as a grown-up, you now have to “put yourself out there,” which can be intimidating to many.
Whether you’re an introvert who prefers staying in or someone who recently moved to a new city for a career opportunity, finding and making new friends as an adult can seem near impossible.
Luckily, there’s a number of resources to help you figure out the hidden secret of how to make friends as an adult.
Keep reading to see how you can break out of your shell and seize the friendship opportunities that present themselves to you.
These friends are out there, you just have to go get them!
Making Friends in a New City
Many women embrace change after graduating from college and follow their careers to a new place.
According to a 2016 study, 12% of graduates cross state lines after receiving their bachelor’s degrees for a new opportunity.
While moving to a new place and getting a “fresh start” is incredibly exciting, as is starting a new career, it can be isolating.
Especially if you choose to pick up and move far away from your college, hometown, and loved ones, it can feel hard to start over completely when it comes to making those close connections that are so important.
The lonelier that people feel, the more likely they are to feel depressive symptoms.
This directly correlates to a poorer quality of life— so making friends is not only beneficial in terms of having a companion, but it can help you feel and live better.
Making new friends certainly takes time, so starting sooner rather than later is incredibly important.
In fact, several studies have shown that becoming friends could take up to 90 hours while becoming “best friends” can take almost twice as long.
It’s important to start making those connections early— but how do you go about making those connections?
1. Join a Class or Start a Hobby
Clubs and shared interests don’t have to be left behind in college—you just have to pay for them and do a little more work to find them now.
Especially in a new city, this is a great place to meet people that have similar interests and hobbies to you, which eliminates the need for “getting to know you” small talk.
Starting fresh can mean picking up new skills and new hobbies, or exploring ones that you already have a passion for.
If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at pottery, look for a class.
If you’re a seasoned runner, find local running clubs, training sessions, or meetups.
And if your profession has a professional club or organization attached to it, look for your local chapter and see when the next happy hour or luncheon is.
The options are all out there, all you have to do is find them!
Even if you only make one or two friends from this, you’re still finding things that you’re passionate about, which will make you much happier in the long run.
2. Use Social Media
Social media isn’t just a great place for sharing your photos or thoughts—you can even use it to connect with others!
This provides a great, safe space for those that are introverted to safely and comfortably put themselves out there, all from the comfort of their phones and their couches.
Just by joining local pages, you can find events, meetups, and hangouts that are often intended for new people to mingle and make friends.
This common goal eliminates some of the initial awkwardness of making friends, so you can more comfortably approach new people.
Check out Facebook, Instagram, or even Twitter for “Girls New to [Your City]” to get started!
Making Friends as a Wife and Mother
While making friends as a young professional can seem challenging, it seems like a piece of cake compared to the challenges that new wives and new mothers face when making friends.
As happy, rewarding, and joyous as these major life changes can be, they are just that—major life changes.
This can often have an adverse effect on your existing friendships, but luckily, there are a number of resources out there to connect wives and mothers with others who understand their positions.
How to Make Friends as a Wife
This is due to a variety of factors, but case in point: you don’t want your spouse to be your only friend, even before the lovey-dovey honeymoon phase wears off and you’re back to reality after your dream nuptials.
Whether the change in your friendships is due to jealousy, change in priorities, or just plain schedule differences, there are some easy fixes to finding new friends now that you’re a married woman.
Making “couple friends” with your spouse may be a great solution to befriending people that have similar interests and schedules with you, not to mention they won’t feel like a third wheel!
Another way to make friends as a wife is through finding interests unique from your partners, like joining a club or starting a new hobby.
While being married is wonderful, you still want to be sure you’re being your own person with your own unique interests, outside of your partner.
Whether this is starting a book club with your work friends, joining a climbing gym, or starting yoga, you should have something that gets you out of the house and gives you some “me time”—that also gives you an excuse to meet new people!
How to Make Friends as a Mother
Your new bundle of joy is the best thing that has ever happened to you, so why aren’t your friends equally as happy?
Studies have shown that while 69% of women were satisfied with their friendships prior to having kids, that number drops to only 54% after childbirth.
Those same studies have shown that before having kids, women spent up to 14 hours per week with friends—and after, that time drops to a measly 5 hours a week.
If you’re finding it a challenge to reconnect with your childless friends after having your little one, especially if you’re a work from home mom, try reaching out to mom support groups in your area.
This way, you’re connecting with others in your community who understand the same things about parenting that you do—and you’re building in future friendships for your child at the same time!
There are likely other moms in your office, so try arranging an “Office Moms Night” for you all to reconnect after maternity leave, or when you want a few hours away from your responsibilities.
There are people all around you who understand the same struggles you’ve gone through and likely have the same things to talk about regarding their children, so don’t be afraid to reach out!
Appreciating Your New Friends
Once you’ve found and made your new friends, you want to show them how grateful you are for their friendships.
As you know, making these genuine connections in the adult world are hard to come by, so once you’ve found your people you want to let them know you don’t take them for granted.
Putting the time and effort into a friendship as an adult can seem difficult too—between work schedules and outside commitments, you may only have time for seeing each other once or twice a week for a few hours.
Making these friendships stick takes effort, but putting in this work will make the resulting connection so strong, and very much worth the effort put in.
Real, genuine connections are built on communication, and a big part of communicating is really listening to your friends.
Put your phone down and push your other distractions away, and put the effort into hearing your friends’ big victories, small wins, and empathizing when they have a bad day.
Everyone likes feeling appreciated, so show them you care (and listen) with printable compliment cards.
Supportive texts are wonderful, but there’s really nothing like receiving a hand-written note letting them know how much they’re appreciated.
No matter how you choose to forge these connections as an adult, remember to build meaningful relationships that serve you well and make you happy.
Friends are supposed to be supportive and empowering, not feel like a burden, so go out and find the people that make you feel like YOU.