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Basic Tips for Adults Who Want to Know How to Make New Friends

Updated on October 1, 2010

Making friends is something that we have been doing since we were little kids. Unfortunately, the older we get, the harder it can be to make new friends. This seems counterintuitive since most other things in life get easier with time. However, it makes sense because of the way that our lives change as we get older.

When we are young, we have a lot more opportunity to meet new people than we do when we are older. And we also tend to be less judgmental and less set in our ways about what friendship means when we are young than when we grow up. These things combine to make it more difficult to make friends as we age. As a result, the real key to making new friends is to regain some of that openness, adventurousness and exposure to new people that we had when we were kids.

The best ways of going about doing this as adults tend to depend on the reason that we are seeking new friends. Let's take a look at some common reasons that adults are on the lookout for new friends and some great ways to make friends in those situations:

Moved to a new area:

Many people make a move to a new area as adults and leave their social circle behind. Although this can be difficult, it also presents the easiest opportunities for making new friends in the new environment. That's because you're going to be introduced to new sets of people just by virtue of living in a new place, shopping in new stores and working in a new location.

Here are some basic ideas for making new friends when you've moved to a new area:

  • Chat up the people at your new job.
  • Spend time in the neighborhood at local coffee shops or bars and open yourself to conversations there.
  • Introduce yourself to your neighbors.
  • Meet the parents of the kids that your kids quickly become friends with.

The key to making new friends in this situation is really just to put yourself out there. As long as you are open to meeting new people and you are outgoing in your approach, you'll be able to meet new people fairly easy throughout the course of your daily activities.

Shrunken social circle

There are many reasons that our social circles shrink as adults. We drift apart from high school and college friends. People get busy with their spouses and new families. Friends move away. And soon we find ourselves with a few great friends but not enough of them.

Here are some basic ideas for meeting new people to add to your existing social circle:

  • Start hosting Sunday dinners at your place. Invite the friends you do have. Also invite acquaintances that you'd like to know better. Encourage each of them to bring others. A group will develop.
  • Take a class or join a local group that engages in an activity you enjoy. Even if you don't become friends with people outside of the group, you'll have a set weekly activity where those friends are based.
  • Meet people online who live in your neighborhood. Use the "strictly platonic" section of Craigslist, the forums of a local website or sites that get people together for events in order to start meeting new people.

The key to making new friends when your social circle shrinks is to remember that you have a foundation of friends already and just need to add people here and there. This reduces the pressure of finding a "best friend" and lets you just focus on finding people to do things with now and then.

Major life change

Life changes can unfortunately cause us to lose friends. Your relationship ends and the couples you were friends with don't spend much time with you anymore. You get married have a baby and your single friends are doing things that don't interest you much anymore. You go through therapy and make some serious adjustments to your life who cause you to leave behind people who were dragging you down.

Ideas for finding new friends after a major life change include:

  • Join a support group for people in your situation.
  • Start a weekly social event in your area around an event you enjoy. A weekly theater performance group or a weekly wine tasting will bring new people around you have similar interests to you.
  • Look to your acquaintances. We often already know people who would've made great friends if things had been a little different. Maybe they're different enough now. For example, perhaps there was a great gal in your office that always wanted to hang out but you were too busy doing things with your boyfriend and the couples you knew. Now that you've split, give her a ring and see if she still wants to hang out.

Other general thoughts on making new friends:

No matter what your situation, there are some basic things that you can do that will help you to make new friends. These include:

  • Get to know yourself better. When you know what you want from a friendship, it's likely that it will materialize.
  • Say "yes" to invitations and activities more often than you say "no".
  • Actively tell the people in your life that you're on the lookout for new friends. They'll start setting you up with others before you know it.
  • Be a joiner. It doesn't matter what it is as long as you join something that interests you. That's where people you'll like will be.
  • Let go of your ideas about friendship. Let things develop without a lot of expectations about them.
  • Identify people in your life who interest you but who aren't yet friends. The lady at the post office who always has a kind word, the friend of your mother's that you haven't seen in years, the guy at the office who always talks about his weekend hiking trips ... these are people who have the potential to be your friend if you start getting more proactive in talking to them.

Ultimately, making new friends boils down to a few basic things. You need to be willing to put yourself out there. If you aren't comfortable introducing yourself to people in person then you might want to do it online. You also need to be open to meeting all kinds of different people and not putting a lot of pressure on the relationship to be anything specific; just let it be. Try to get back some of the feelings that you had about friendship as a kid and you'll start to find yourself rapidly developing new friends as an adult.


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