Making friends is not as easy as it once was. Outside of work, most of us don’t have a specific place we go everyday or even every week where our peers hang out. And with all the responsibilities of adulthood, finding the time to meet new people doesn’t always seem feasible. So how do we make new friends as adults?
Put Yourself Out There
First off, if you are serious about making new friends, make it a priority in your life. Go places with the intention of striking up a few conversations with new people. Think about what you want in a friend and where you might find that person, and then get out there!
Join a Meetup or other group that gets together on a regular basis, take a cooking or dance class, or sign up for a local sports league. If you’re out there doing what you love, you’ll attract like-minded people who are into the same things as you are. Plus, you’re guaranteed to have at least one thing to talk about with anyone you meet this way.
Look to Existing Friends, Acquaintances
People you already know are the best resources for finding new friends. Ask your established friend network to introduce you to their friends whom you may not know yet. This will remove some of the awkwardness of meeting someone new for the first time since you already have a mutual friend.
And don’t forget about acquaintances who you don’t know well yet, but think you’d get along well with. Don’t be afraid to reach out to these people and invite them out for a cup of coffee or to another social activity.
Parties are great places to meet people and make new friends because it’s a much more laid back atmosphere. Everyone is there to relax and have a good time and are more open to conversation because it’s inevitable at a large social gathering.
When you do find yourself hanging out with a potential new friend, be open and empathetic. Ask them questions about themselves and really listen to their answers. Allow them to open up to you. People love talking about themselves! Of course it’s important to have a balanced conversation, but the best way to get someone interested in you is by becoming interested in them.
Move beyond small talk and ask interesting questions that will reveal more about the person than just what they do for a living. If you can find out their core beliefs and what they’re really passionate about, you’ll have an easier time connecting and figuring out if this is someone you’d like to know better.
Sharing something personal about yourself is a great way to bond with someone quickly. Don’t share anything too personal, as this could make the other person feel uncomfortable, but rather share something you wouldn’t necessarily share with just anyone. This is often how trust and common ground is established between two people and lays the foundation for a friendship to develop.
Further, authenticity is important in any relationship, especially in the early stages when getting to know someone. Don’t act how you think the other person wants you to act, like pretending to be overly extroverted when you’re an introvert. Just be yourself. It’s never fun to find out later that someone is not who you thought they were.
These days, forming friendships is a lot like dating, but without the romantic element. Once you do meet someone you like, make sure you ask for their contact info and follow up with them. Send them an email or text message telling them you enjoyed meeting them and ask them if they’d like to hang out sometime.
If you’re not completely comfortable hanging out one-on-one yet, you could always have a small get together and invite them to come. This is also a great way to take your acquaintances to the friendship level and get to know people better.
Making friends and keeping them takes time and effort by both parties involved. It’s important to keep in touch with someone you want to have a friendship with. Regularly communicating and spending time together is essential for building the relationship.
Be patient with a potential friend and don’t place too much pressure on the outcome. We can’t be friends with everyone, after all. Most people need time to warm up to someone new and open themselves up completely.