January 16, 2013 | life, relationships

How Do You Make Friends As An Adult?

Beach exercise

Making friends when you’re a kid is so easy. Basically the only entry requirement is liking the same colour – as long as you have that much in common, you’re best friends forever. You can bond over that shiznit for hours when you’re seven, breaking down the infinite shades of emerald that bring you joy and that’s enough for a lifelong bond. That person often ends up quite literally being your friend for life. But as you grow older, leave high school and university and find yourself in all these new situations, all of a sudden you’re late twenties/early thirties feeling like, ‘hold up, how did I ever make friends?’ It’s something that is rarely discussed, but seriously, how do you make friends as an adult?

Outside of your friends you grew up with and your work mates, how many people did you just organically meet and become super good friends with as an adult? I mean, I’m fully taking into account here that I’m a pretty solitary soul who’s a little socially awkward and totally accept that perhaps my experience is different to many, but I’m guessing that your numbers aren’t way up there either.

You know why?

Because new people don’t know the jokes, they don’t know the history, they didn’t wipe snot and mascara from your face when you were crying about that dude you were obsessed with totally blanking you at a club when you were 22. They don’t know the intricacies of your romantic (both real and imagined) history, they don’t understand why you’ll never again get a bikini wax at that one place, nor do they comprehend your inexplicable hatred of sloths. And frankly, you just don’t have the time or energy to bring them up to speed.

Sometimes I wish I could just make a PDF of all the relevant points in my life and send it to any potential friend recruits and be like ‘here, familiarise yourself with this. There will be a pop quiz on Monday.’

Oh sure, you can make a new friend and build new memories with them and that’s all glorious, but there are a fair few hurdles to overcome before they can get in the inner circle, amiright? For example, if anyone ever either sends me or posts links to Daily Mail articles, that automatically rules them out as a friend for me (being that I’m not a raging racist or misogynist, I can’t see we’d have much in common). Likewise, if they’ve never seen Goodfellas, frankly I don’t know how they’d understand at least 72% of what I say.

If you’ve stayed around where you grew up, perhaps this isn’t something you’ve had to give a lot of thought to, but as someone who has moved around the world and lived in various cities where I landed knowing no one, I can assure you, getting to know people and finding some friends is a whole world of awkward sauce, amigos.

But on a serious note, there are people who find themselves, for whatever reason, isolated and very lonely at certain points in their lives (and Lord knows, I have been one of them). Maybe we all need to be a little more open and accepting of new people. Social media ‘friendships’ only skim the surface – they’re a paired down version of an actual real life friendship that requires real, human interaction, real time, real emotion and real heart and finding someone you’re willing to share that with can be tough in such a digital world.

Share your stories in the comments of friends you’ve made as an adult and how you came together.

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31 Comments

Stephanie

Knitting group. Seriously. The most fabulously snarky, opinionated, well rounded women ever. AND they make fashionably squishy things with pointy sticks. Its a win/win.

SJP

Meeting new people through work can be a gateway to new friends, although I agree with knitting/crafting groups – I’d also like to give a book club a chance too. I’d also add running clubs – we don’t socialise that much outside of running but it’s great to chat to likeminded people.

Penelope

Volunteering for me, I met other funny, like-minded women who I now consider to be good friends. Best thing I ever started doing

Laura

I have really been think about this for the last few days and could have pretty much written this article! Funnily it was an instagram photo of you and Sarah Mei that made me wish I had more chums.

I haven’t lived in the same place for more than 3 years since I was 18 and have lived in 5 different cities. The only contact I have with school friends is through facebook (which I try and avoid!) and I am at that annoying age where some friends are getting married and having babies and I find I have nothing in common with them anymore. I think a big issue is growing apart from friendships. I know I have changed a lot in my late twenties too.

I’m about to move to another continent for 5 months (cue major panic!) and I really want to establish a great group of friends when I am there but kinda don’t know how. I have great chums I have met through social media as there is that instant association over something you both like and I do make an effort to see them in person as much as possible even if that means trips down to London. I wish I could group them up and move them around with me 🙂

Wow this sounds very sad – I tend to be quite happy having lots of me time, but I just think it would be nice to have a ‘gang’ sometimes. Looking forward to reading people’s tips!

Bangs and a Bun

BROTHER BANGS – Holy shiz, my transformation into Jerry Seinfeld is fully complete.

Sam

I have 1 close friend that knows most things from my daily life, 1 that I see rarely and don’t know daily trivialities of each others lives, but we’d drop everything if needed to rescue. I have another who’s a close friend that I see sporadically, but is that classic friend where time stands still.

I’m 38 now and those 3 friends are more than enough. I have my husband who is the person I talk to about everything. My soul mate, my best friend. I’m Lso incredibly close to my Mum now, I appreciate her more than I did 20 years ago

I think you get to an age in life where you don’t need, or probably want freat numbers of friends.

Having observed it as an outsider, having excess friends can potentially be marital/cohabiting harmony shakers.

There comes a risk when you talk too freely about a squabble or disagreement you’re having with your partner and opinions can be offered too freely. Little whispers in ears…

I know someone who’s just walked out on her marriage and family because instead of dealing with her little niggles at home, she kept moaning to her friends who in trn, instead of silently listening, encouraged the woman to bitch and moan more, agreeing with her and fuelling the fire.

I’d rather my trio of friends (who don’t know each other), my husband and parents. And a couple of mum’s from school for an odd night out.

Having waffly said all that, I like the idea of being in a stereotypical American Book Club. They sound like a lot of fun!

X

Sarahf

This is really pertinent for me right now, at a stage when friends I used to spend so much time with having babies and getting married and generally having less time to hang out and talk crap. one of the best friends I made as an adult was a cafe owner, and I went to her cafe every week. She decided we should be friends and so friends we became. I guess hanging around a lot at a small cafe is one way to make friends! Even if they end up just being someone to have meaningless chat with. I have “gym friends” but can’t imagine moving it beyond the walls of the gym, although maybe I should just suck it up and ask. I’ve moved around alot,and now live in a small town in Japan, so I have to accept that a lot of people here don’t “get” me, and that is OK, there are others who do, even if they’re a long way away.

Tessa G

Hello

I love this post.

I often feel like I have fewer friends than other people, or that my close friends are disparate and dotted all over the place so don’t have a ‘group’. But then I remember that maybe I don’t want or need a group in order to feel happy and fulfilled by my (really wonderful)friendships.

A year ago I met my boyfriend, through an old work colleague who has become a close friend. They are part of a huge, close knit gang of mates, who are all lovely and warm and accepting, but so often I feel like I’m a very separate entity and can’t slot in. The key difference is that they all grew up together in London, whereas I have done a lot of moving around – I’ve developed such a strong sense of independence and, to an extent, solitude, that it seems mad to me that they are all able to move as one entity. I’m also naturally reserved, which can come across as aloof. Sometimes I love it,loosely being part of this big comfy group, but I also often feel hugely intimidated by it.

So yes, I can empathise hugely with this post. It is difficult to make new friends that aren’t work related. And it’s difficult to overcome natural barriers created by not having grown up with people. But, it’s also ok to have fewer good friends, rather than a lot of fair weather friends.

TXX

Jo

I moved to a completely new city two years ago and knew no-one except my then-boyfriend (which, believe me causes it’s own set of problems and we eventually broke up). So i had to put myself out there and make new friends, a couple of which i can genuinely say will be friends for life, in fact one of them is “that” friend who i call for a reality check or when i’m stressed, so i do believe that real and lasting friendships can be created with people you meet in your adult life. Luckily, i have an amazing group of friends from uni that i catch up with regularly and doubt i’ll ever be without them, so even if i did feel “lonely” at first, i was never “alone” because they were always at the end of the phone.

I can only say what worked for me when i moved, but the place i have found friends are:

1. A temp job when i first arrived
2. Moving into a flat-share when my relationship ended
3. Joining a netball club
4. Taking Spanish lessons

I know not everyone is in the situation where they can/want to do the things i did (flat-share is NOT for everyone!) but the best advice i can give would just be to put yourself out there (in the least offensive way possible). Seriously, if i was chatting to someone at work or at spansih class or wherever about social stuff i would be like “well i literally know no one in this city so bear me in mind if you’re going to see Batman at the Cinema/trying that new bar/other similar social situation(!)”. Yes i know but it does work sometimes and most people will appreciate that you’re just trying to be friendly. Anyway, if it doesn’t work and people think you’re a bit weird, what do you care?! You hardly know them! See, works both ways!

Didn’t mean for this comment to be so long but i just think people should know that’s it’s alright to tell people you don’t know anyone because it totally worked for me and i love living here now!

Great post, i think a lot of people experience this in their lives.

JO (@essentiallyjo)

Sarah Mei

You accept their invitation to meet IRL and design some fancy running shoes. Then you invite them to join your team of runners, see them through a half marathon and a ton of other shit and invite her to exercise classes for LOLZ and workouts. She is very grateful, also doesn’t like the Daily Mail and has seen Goodfellas more than once, btw. X

fleur

I’m struggling with the opposite of the situation you describe – oh, I am similar to you, but not the boyfriend. Oh no. He spends 10 minutes talking to someone on a night out, and suddenly they’ve swapped numbers, emails and added each other on Facebook. This is great… except for when the new friend is some young, single girl and he’s talking about how they’re going to go out for a drink! I mean, I know he’s treating it as a friendship – I trust him. But I’m still not cool with it! So making friends easily can be a curse in disguise 😉

ellesbells

Essentially its about effort. I moved country when I was 13 and made friends then at 18 the all pretty much left(literally as well as figurtively) for uni and I was working and going to uni at night (this uni is not the type of place you can really make friends, you are shattered from work at uni and as soon as you can go home you do)
as time has gone by I have found that to make new friends as an adult you have to make a shed load of effort. I found that with men I had to often qualify that I didn’t want to sex em and with women I often find that I must circumvent some suspicion. the other thing I have do and has been crucial is that when I met someone I am as open and welcoming into me and my life as possible, if you share with people easily it gives them the confidence to go on ahead and let you in you don’t smell of metaphorical shit.
its hard work and sometimes some people run away from you and sometimes you invest in someone that turns out to be a douche but often its worth it, but such is life.
all that said, the old adage of you only need a handful of friends seems to ring true with lots of people and might well be true, it’s just not for me.

Selina Wragg

Thank you for posting this! I thought I was the only one, and perhaps my lack of friends was something to do with me rather than the fact I’ve moved around a fair bit over the last decade. My childhood friends live 50+ miles away, and most are now settled with kids and the like.

I’ve lived in various places around England, as well as abroad for quite long periods of time. Just as I start to make friends I seem to be off again. Now I live in West London and run a business, I find I have no real time to join clubs or go out and make friends. Plus it all seems so contrived! I tried some “dating” website for friends when I lived in Chicago and it was awful, basically lots of desperately lonely women who were desperate to find a BFF that they would force the common link. In reality it was no better (or easier) than conventional online dating! So I spent most of my time there taking myself out on trips, or having lunch with my book, etc. It was character strengthening, but I missed having a buddy to get shit-faced with on a Friday night, or to call when everything seemed hopeless.

It’s not easy as a 30 year-old to make good friendships again, and actually I feel like a sad-sack a lot of the time. Probably doesn’t help that I am a bit of a solitary animal too.

Elle L.

I was part of a group of friends from aged 16 until a couple of years ago when I was about 26; I honestly thought we would be friends forever, but that didn’t work out! I went through the whole grieving process as you would do with any loss but I am now out the other side happier than ever! I don’t have that close knit group of friends anymore but I have some great people in my life some of which I have met recently! I started doing more of the things I love and through that have met like minded people. I am an only child who loves my own company anyway; I’m also lucky to have not so long ago met the man who is now my fiance, future husband and my best friend for life! Him and my mum, the people who have remained in my life, as well as those I’m sure I will meet when the time is right…that’s enough for me 🙂
Great post! i have often wondered if it was just me…

Nicola

I’ve been wondering this a lot lately, as I find a lot of my friends are settling down with their partners, and while I am so happy for them all, I’m just not there yet.

I met one of my newest, closest friends when we were both travelling individually through South Africa and bonded over a veggie lifestyle and wanting to experience more from life.

I’ve found that a lot of adults aren’t willing to put in the required effort to build new friendships, but when you do find people who are also looking to build relationships, it’s SO worth it.

MrsB

Having children helps hugely – playgroups, then nursery, then schools – I’ve made handful of very good friends that way and a dozen of very good aquaintances with whom I catch up as a group once in a while. Also, i think it helps being an expat, I really click with other expats and London has many!

Gale

I enjoyed this post – I think a big piece of this is just being OK with your life as it is. Do what you’re interested in and you’ll meet more people! And if you don’t, at least you’re doing what you love.

Charley

This rings a few bells with me right now. I’d count myself a sociable soul but having worked my little *ss off trying to get where I am in my career(s) my only friends are through work. I’m 31 (engaged, no time to do the wedding) and still working my *ss off and found all my old friends are moving out of London, having babies and generally changing their lifestyle whilst I’m still very much a city girl, workaholic and enjoy a cocktail or two. I’ve started to panic thinking I needed to trade in younger models who were happy to meet me outside of breakfast time (the baby friends) or not asking me to drive 3 hours to their remote cottage in the country (the out of towners). For someone quite successful and happy I feel I’ve lost all my friends and maybe that’s why I bury myself in work…

Michelle

I seem to be much better at making new friends than I am at keeping old friends (let’s not spend any time considering what that says about me!)

I’ve moved around a lot and found some wonderful friends by joining the Ladies Circle (http://www.ladiescircle.co.uk/) Since I moved to Belgium, I’ve been using Meetup (http://www.meetup.com/) and have starting making friends.

It can be really daunting to go somewhere when you don’t know anyone, but I think it helps that these groups are all about making friends – so everyone is in the same boat!

Aditi Banerjee

Thanks for this nice sharing. It was very easy having lots of friends in childhood. For adults it is difficult make friendship lifelong. We get friends at workplaces but it is very difficult get friendship long life cause of different interests.WWW.mixinity.com help us to find friends with similar interests from different areas.

tink

After having split from my long-term boyfriend just over 2 years ago, I completely reinvented my group of friends. I joined a Spanish class, regular couchsurfing meetings, picked up a new sport.
But I met my best friends just by saying hi and joining them when they hung out after a concert, kicking hacky sack. I’m very very happy that I found such huge amount of diverse, interesting, and most importantly, good people.

I think most people just don’t want to go anywhere alone, but for me, once I started doing it, it became no problem. Going alone to eat, to a party, to an art exhibition, to travel, I don’t care. It gives you time to develop yourself as individual and be that more interesting when you actually meet people.

Sunday Link Share - The Awkward Magazine

[…] How Do You Make Friends as an Adult? –  Muireann is a fighter in so many ways, she is a powerful force to be felt and that’s what I love about her and the way she writes, but the thing that I love most is her vulnerability, this post really shows that. Making friends as an adult is tough and to read a woman like  Muireann talk about it, gives me faith! […]

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