Making friends can feel hard at any age, but it can present more of a challenge in adulthood. Let’s face it: as we grow older, many of us have fewer opportunities to make new connections and invest the time and energy it takes to form lasting friendships.
This is often due to the inability to find a sustainable work-life balance. It’s already tough when you’re a working adult, but throw in a spouse, children, older parents, financial issues, or even pets…and whew! Who has time to hang out after all of that?
Obstacles aside, however, making friends in adulthood is not a lost cause. With some effort and these five simple strategies, you can create meaningful friendships with those around you — no matter what circumstances or season of life you’re in.
First of All, Do I Even Need to Make Friends?
Yes. The answer is, “Yes”. For some reason, this topic always makes me chuckle as I recall a conversation with my husband early in our relationship. He is a true introvert with a group of friends who rarely make an effort to hang out with each other. Sure, they talk on the phone, but they see one another just a few times per year. So as I write this article, I can hear every introvert screaming, “I don’t even need friends!”
But the truth is, you do. Making friends in adulthood has been proven to boost mental health outcomes. Investing in friendships will ensure that you don’t experience social isolation. Friends will lift your mood, celebrate your milestones, and encourage you in times of heartache. This can relieve stress and improve your outlook. After all, who doesn’t love knowing that someone, somewhere has your back? Friendships aren’t just beneficial for your mental health, though. They can bolster physical wellness too. In fact, studies show that having friends in adulthood can even strengthen your heart health.
Personally, it’s been a challenge for me to make friends since becoming a stay-at-home mom. One of the major adjustments I experienced was no longer having any co-workers. The workplace used to be my number-one outlet for building connections, but in this new stage of life, I’ve learned to be more creative. So here are five strategies that help me attract friends in adulthood. I hope you’ll find them useful too!
How to Make New Friends in Adulthood
Attend social events.
Attending social events is an excellent way to meet others and establish new friendships. Look for events in your local community—such as concerts, festivals, or fundraisers—then show up there with an approachable attitude and an open mind. Start a conversation with someone who seems interesting and just see where it leads. You never know who you might interact with or what connections you might form.
Enroll in a fun class.
You know those “boring” workshops or conferences your boss sends you to? It’s just a cover-up for you make a new friend. Not only will these opportunities teach you new skills, but they’ll also introduce you to others with similar passions or interests. Look for classes that sound fun—such as painting, cooking, creative writing, or photography. Then strike up conversations with other the participants to see if any connections unfold. You might learn that you have more in common with someone than you thought.
Join a support group.
If you have a difficult time making friends, join a support group to connect with others who are dealing with a similar issue. Look for support groups related to your unique interests, circumstances, or lifestyle factors. For instance, if you’re a new parent, a caregiver, a military spouse, a fitness enthusiast, a business owner, or just about anything else in between, there’s a support group for you. This will provide a safe outlet to share common experiences and connect with others who can relate to you.
Utilize social media.
As a stay-at-home mom, this is my favorite and most beneficial tool. Social media can be a powerful network to nurture new friends in adulthood. You can join Facebook groups related to your hobbies or interests, then chime in the virtual discussions. You can also use social media to keep in regular contact with those you’ve met in person.
Just be careful not to rely too much on social media—face-to-face interactions are crucial for building sustainable relationships. But social media can facilitate those interactions. For example, I joined a Facebook group for moms in my town. Both my 3-year-old daughter and I were in need of social connections, so I asked if anyone in the group had children her age, and if they were interested in a playdate at the local park. Fast forward six months, and we have consistently been meeting once a week for a few hours at a time. While our children play, we’ve had the chance to support one another emotionally, share camaraderie in the “wife and mom life,” and even show up for each other’s businesses.
How to Maintain Friends in Adulthood
It’s not enough just to start conversations and seek out a few interactions. Remember, the goal is to actually make friends that are worth maintaining. In order to create a meaningful bond with someone, you must have interpersonal skills. Here are some attributes to look for in a friend (and to cultivate in yourself):
No one wants a friend who can’t show compassion or doesn’t make an effort to understand another experience or point of view. Being empathetic will communicate how much support and care about those around you.
We all have busy life commitments, Your new friend might not be as available as you are all the time. Don’t automatically assume the other person wants to ignore you. Just be patient — they’ll reach out when they can.
If you’re spending time with a new friend, be fully present. Listen when they talk and show genuine interest in the conversation. Ask intentional questions and make a point to learn more about them as a human being.
When a new friend invites you into their life, be responsible with the level of access they’re entrusting you with. It’s wonderful to lean on your friends, but it’s also important to be a trustworthy person who can handle a mature, adult friendship.
You both might not have the same schedules or priorities, but in order for a friendship to work, you will need to be flexible. Make sure your friend isn’t just inviting you out all the time with minimal (or no) reciprocation on your end. Initiate face-to-face plans with them as well, so the connection feels mutual.
You Can Totally Make Friends in Adulthood
Making friends in adulthood requires both effort and intentionality. It can be disappointing if you don’t form an instant connection with someone, but remember: meaningful relationships will not always flourish overnight. Put in the time, stay optimistic and motivated, embrace opportunities, and continue showing up — your efforts will be worth it, and you’ll have a new friend to share both the highs and lows of life with!
Peaches Dean is a parenting coach and writer/author. She uses her decade of experience in working with children and families to fuel her passion for writing. Her goal is to empower women in their life’s journey, especially as it pertains to parenting.
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