A Guide to Making and Keeping Friends as an Adult
Remember how it used to be? You were five. You were in the sandbox, and you threw a little sand on the girl playing near you. She started crying and hit you over the head with her plastic shovel. Then you started crying, too. Five minutes later? You were best friends building a sandcastle together.
Making friends used to be so easy, didn’t it? As you grew older, went to grade school and then high school, you developed a series of friendships through your classes and extracurricular activities. It wasn’t quite as easy as it was in that sandbox, but developing friendships seemed a natural consequence of your circumstances.
But now you’ve grown up. The days of the sandbox and the cheer team are well behind you. You’ve got a career now. You’ve got responsibilities that keep you busy from dawn to dusk. Maybe you’ve moved away from your hometown and the many relationships you had formed there, or maybe you’ve simply gone on a different path than the friends you grew up with. Now you’re lonely, and for some reason bumping into a random stranger in a coffee shop and asking her to be your friend doesn’t work. If only it were still that easy.
So, how does one make friends as an adult? And how does one keep them once you’ve made them? If you find yourself asking these questions, look no further. Just read on for our best advice for forming and keeping adult friendships.
Get plugged in somewhere. Boil things down and this is our only piece of advice. Remember what we said above? You met your old friends in class, on sports teams, or in the lunch room at school. Back then, you were plugged into the social world because you were a student, an athlete, etc. So, what are you now? Just an employee? Just a mom? Isn’t there more to you than that? We hope so.
So, figure out what you like to do or what you would like to learn how to do, and join a club or adult education class. Like to dance? There’s a club or class for that. Like to paint? Try a wine and painting class. Want to learn how to knit? You guessed it. There’s a club or a class for that too. Put yourself out into the social world by pursuing your passions. Chances are, you’ll meet some likeminded people you can grab coffee with after class. As long as the class or club goes on, you’ll have opportunities to build a friendship that can eventually go beyond the boundaries of that context. There are many ways to find these kinds of opportunities, but we recommend Meetup.com because many members of the site are also looking for new friendships.
Of course, getting plugged in can apply to other contexts. Your workplace or your place of worship, for instance. After all, you do spend forty hours (or more) a week at your job. And maybe you spend a significant amount of time at your church, synagogue, or mosque. There should be ample opportunity to chat with your coworkers throughout the day or get involved with a prayer group. Don’t be that person who holes herself up in her cubicle all day long or attends a religious service and leaves without talking to a single soul. Get out there and make an effort.
Be available, and be consistent. Friendship isn’t a part-time gig where you get to make your own hours with little consideration for the other person. If you’re the type who suddenly wants companionship for a day and then not again for the next two months, don’t be surprised when your friends don’t want to be friends anymore.
Friendship requires mutuality. Both parties must be willing to give and to receive. So give of yourself and give generously. Sometimes this means going out with a friend when you would rather be alone. And no fair-weather friendships here. If you want a true friend in your life, you’ll have to be a true friend back. That means you’re someone to laugh with and a shoulder to cry on when major life issues or persistent anxieties crop up.
Be considerate. Ask interested questions. If she mentions a job interview coming up, write the date on your calendar so you can call her to see how it went. Remember special occasions besides just her birthday. For instance, be sure to get her and her husband special and meaningful anniversary gifts. If she’s lost a close family member, remember the date and bring her flowers every year when it comes around.
There you have it. Finding new friends as an adult might seem daunting, but if put into practice the above advice, we think you’ll find it’s as easy as it ever was.