Making New Friends Is Hard
As we get older, many of us find our circle of friends shrinking.
We fall out of touch, people move away, and friends become busy with their careers and families.
We often end up losing friends faster than we make new ones, until one day we realize that we only have a few (if any) close friends left.
It’s a normal phenomenon, but it’s also lonely and frustrating.
In my case, I was the one that moved away. Within the past three years, I’ve moved states twice, having to start over with building friendships each time.
It’s been especially difficult for me because I got sober a few months after the first move. I get bad social anxiety, and before getting sober, I had relied on alcohol as a way to make friends. With beer out of the equation, I was forced to learn new ways to create friendships as an adult.
The number one lesson that I’ve learned is that to make friends as an adult, you have to actively look for them.
I think too many of us are spoiled by the easy friendships formed in high school and college. School has built-in social interaction that allows friendships to just fall into our laps. You can literally sit in your dorm room with the door open and have a chance to meet someone new.
As an adult, you can’t just sit around the house and expect to meet people.
When I was first trying to find new friends, I spent a lot of time reading articles like this one, but I was always disappointed by advice that felt a little too vague to really put into action. I’ll do my best to avoid that, and describe below exactly how I’ve managed to meet new people.
For those who don’t know, Reddit is an insanely popular forum that has millions of users across the world.
Reddit is divided into “subreddits,” smaller forums based on shared interests, like hobbies or particular TV shows.
Some of these subreddits are location-based. For example, where I live, there’s a subreddit for my city, my metropolitan area, and my state. My city’s subreddit has proven a great way to meet people.
There are a few different users on the subreddit that post monthly meetups, sometimes themed around a specific activity. Most of the meetups involve going to a bar, so I wrote those off, but there’s one regular meetup for hiking on local trails.
I RSVPd in the thread, and the next day met a dozen other Reddit users at a nearby state park.
Some of them I liked, some of them I didn’t, but there were enough people there that I was able to make a couple of friends.
The nice thing about these meetups is that they tend to attract other people who are also looking for new friends, which helped make it feel less awkward.
I was also worried going into it that everyone else would already know each other, but that wasn’t the case at all.
I’d highly recommend checking out your city’s subreddit. You can likely find it by going to reddit.com/r/yourcityhere.
If there aren’t any meetups already being planned, you can even plan one yourself.
The second way that I’ve met new people is by finding others to go running with.
This overlaps with my previous point because I happened to find them through Reddit as well, although I could just as easily used Meetup or even the corkboard at my local running store.
I started running with others when I saw a Reddit post of someone looking for a workout buddy in the area. I sent the guy a message, and we scheduled a time to go for a run, along with another person who had read the post.
The run went well and we continued to meet up a couple of times a week.
I had resisted finding running buddies for a long time because it felt like too much of a headache and I was worried that I wouldn’t be a strong enough runner to keep up.
In retrospect, I only wish that I had done it sooner. Running with others has been a great way to make a couple of new friends and helps me stay motivated on my runs.
If you’re not a runner, think instead about your own hobbies. Maybe you could find new people to go bowling or rock climb with? If you don’t have any group hobbies, think about starting one.
Reaching Out to Old Friends
In addition to finding brand new friends, I’ve also tried rekindling friendships from my past.
My most recent move landed me back in the state I grew up in. Since I hadn’t lived here in over a decade, I had completely fallen out of touch with old friends from here by the time I came back.
It didn’t occur to me until a few months in that I should try reaching out to some of them. I checked Facebook to see who still lived in the area and found three people I had known in high school. Then, I sent a message letting them know I had moved back to the area and asked if they wanted to meet up.
I was surprised by how easily we were able to rekindle friendships. Even though so much time had passed, and we had all changed dramatically, we still got along great.
Friends of Friends
The good thing about making more friends is that the process can often snowball. One of the best ways that I’ve found to make new friends as an adult is to have your current friends introduce you.
Sometimes this will happen organically when a friend invites you and someone else to hang out at the same time. If it doesn’t though, then don’t be shy about explicitly asking your friends to introduce you to more people.
A Summary and Other Ideas
So, in summary, I’ve had success so far with the following four methods:
- Reddit meetups
- Hobby (running) buddies
- Rekindling friendships
- Asking to be introduced to friends of friends
These four methods are the ones I’ve actually used to make friends, but there are a couple more that I’ve been meaning to try. I’ll list them here in case you’re looking for more ideas, but since I haven’t tried them, I can’t vouch for their effectiveness:
- Many people recommend volunteering, which is one of those things I’m always meaning to do anyway. I can see how this would be a great way to meet other people with similar interests.
- Religious organizations are also a really common way to meet new people, especially here in North Carolina. There’s one in particular that a friend recommended to me recently, but I haven’t found the time yet to check it out.
- I also see Meetup.com recommended a lot. I have literally spent hours scouring the site, and haven’t been able to find a meetup that matches my interests and my schedule. It seems like there is a lot of potential there though, so I will check back in a few months to see if anything new has shown up.
Having fewer friends doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of getting older. It’s hard to meet more people, but it isn’t impossible.
No matter how you end up searching for more friends, the most important thing is to be active about it. Staying at home browsing meetup.com isn’t enough, you have to actually get out there and meet them.