By: Michele Lando
As children, we make our friends through school, our parents, and extracurricular activities, but what people don’t often talk about is how to build friendships as an adult.
In the words of Andrea Bonior, Ph.D. (who also wrote the book, The Friendship Fix) “True friendships in adulthood can be much harder to make and maintain than they were during the golden days of lunchboxes or the late-night camaraderie of dorm rooms.”
Making friends when you’re an adult is hard because a) adults don’t have the fearlessness that children do, and b) as an adult, you’re not automatically put around people who are in a similar stage of life. Research proves this statement, as shown in a 2013 study published in the Psychological Bulletin. This study illuminates how friendship networks peak and start to decrease as you move through your twenties. (Ugh, talk about a midlife crisis!)
But don’t worry; there are tactics that will help you build friendships as an adult in spite of the scary numbers. The key to building friendships as an adult is to put yourself out there and force yourself into new situations with like-minded people.
“The key to building friendships as an adult is to put yourself out there and force yourself into new situations with like-minded people” – Click to tweet this
In school, especially in college, you’re surrounded by people who have at least some similarity to you. You’re around people who chose the same school, are in the same environment, and perhaps are studying a similar topic as you, but what happens once you leave the bubble of school?
While you might find friends at work, that isn’t always the case, so it’s important to put yourself in situations where you can meet others and build new friendships (or at the very least, make new connections).
Find a Hobby You Enjoy
This is one of the easiest ways to build friendships as an adult. Find a hobby you enjoy and do it in a group setting. Think about exercise classes, art groups, etc. Do you love going to spin or yoga? Join a studio where you can enjoy yourself and meet other people with the same interest. Joining a group or club where people have the same interest as you gives you the opportunity to meet others, and gives you an easy conversation starter!
Try using an ice breaker like this: “Have you ever been here before? I love [topic] but haven’t come to this [event] before!”
Attend Networking Events
This is extremely underrated, but attending networking events in your field of work is a great way to build friendships as an adult. While you may not be connecting with the people at your office, you may be able to find others in your field of work who you mesh with. If you enjoy what you do, finding others who enjoy it as well will hugely benefit you. By going to networking events, you build your personal and professional relationships. (Nearly 85% of employees have found or obtained their job via networking.) Who wouldn’t want to attend an event where you could potentially land a new BFF and a new job?
No idea how to find networking events in your area? Check out the links below to figure out what’s right for you!
Take a Class
We meet some of our first and truest friends in school, so it’s no different as an adult! Have you always been interested in a topic but never had the time/ability to take a class in it? Go for it! You can check out classes at a college near you, look up adult education classes, or just see if there are any 3rd party classes offered in your area. This is a great opportunity to learn something new, do something you’ve always wanted to, and meet people with a similar desire.
Volunteering is great opportunity that adds value both personally and professionally. (A recent government study found that volunteering is associated with 27% higher odds of employment.) Volunteering for an organization or cause you care about will help you meet people while also gaining a voice to advocate for what you believe in. Volunteering helps you meet people from all walks of life, exposes you to people and activities that are new to you, and gives you the opportunity to do something meaningful. Sounds like a good deal to me!
It can be hard to build friendships as an adult, but you’re not alone. We all struggle with this concept, so it’s important to open up the topic for conversation. The best way to start to build friendships as an adult is to put yourself out there and position yourself so that you are surrounded by people which you can easily connect and start a conversation with.
As we get older, it’s important to realize that a few good friendships are worth a lot more than many shallow or toxic relationships. When I was little, my grandfather used to tell me that if I could count my best friends on one hand, I was lucky, and this idea is something I still live by today. Put in the work to cultivate and craft relationships that add value to your life, not stress. Remember that the root of friendship is joy, and if you start with that, you’ll be successful at building friendships as an adult. If you’re enjoying yourself and are excited about something, others will pick up on that and gravitate towards your energy!