How to Make Friends as an Adult Without Being So Awkward
A move to a new city, the end of a relationship or simply being too busy with work and family to cultivate new friendships can make you feel a little lonely. And you’re not the only one who feels that making friends as an adult is awkward. The truth is that making friends is at least a little uncomfortable for everybody, says Shasta Nelson, author of “Frientimacy: How to Deepen Friendships for Lifelong Health and Happiness.” That said, there are ways to make it less awkward 1. Finding common ground and opportunities to meet with the same people regularly will make it easier to bond. Here are nine ways to try.
1. Attend a Meetup Event
Meetup groups are designed to make the awkward less awkward. Imagine you’re an avid beekeeper or really into ikebana (the Japanese art of flower arranging) — it might be hard to meet people with similar interests at your 9 to 5. But go online and search for “beekeeping meetups” and you might be surprised to find one near you. “Anytime we’re at something where we have an obvious mutuality helps to take that awkwardness away,” says Shasta Nelson, the CEO of GirlFriendCircles.com 1. “Asking a question about that common ground is one of the easiest ways to help solidify that commonality and help create conversation on something that you obviously both hold in common,” she says.
2. Join a Club
Whether you fancy reading, knitting or croquet, there’s a club for that. And the great thing about clubs is that they meet consistently and usually include the same members every time. “One of the easiest ways to make friends is to see the same person over and over again,” says Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., author of “The Friendship Fix.” Think back to when you were a kid and making friends was almost effortless 2. You saw each other at school every day, played on the streets together in the evening and terrorized the neighborhood cat. That consistency laid the foundation for becoming BFFs. While it won’t be as easy as when you were a kid, it’ll make bonding a lot less awkward.
3. Take a Class
Here’s your chance to make friends and learn a new skill at the same time. Talk about a win-win! What do you want to learn? Glassblowing? Portuguese? Horticulture? Accounting? It’s likely there’s an art studio, college or community center near you that offers classes on a range of subjects. Each week, people just like you will be there with their minds open and ready to absorb all that knowledge. With all that open-mindedness going on, it’s pretty hard not to make a friend. Whether it’s a dance partner or study pal, classes are made for pairing up. So what are you waiting for? Carpe diem!
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4. Volunteer for a Cause You Believe In
Want to save the planet? Or public radio? Or maybe you’re more interested in ushering at a performing arts theater or cleaning up public parks? There are so many ways you can donate your time and come into contact with other people who share your spirit of selflessness. Joining other people in supporting a cause creates camaraderie and makes you feel a part of something important. It also provides consistency if you participate in ongoing volunteer work. While you’re making sandwiches for the homeless or rescuing neglected and abandoned kittens it’s easy to talk about almost anything.
5. Ask Your Friends to Set You Up
If you’ve just moved to a new city, this one’s for you. Sure, you’ve heard of friends setting up friends with potential romantic partners, but you can also ask your friends to set you up on a friend date — or at least ask them for contacts. Being introduced to friends through friends makes meeting for the first time so much less awkward. You already have mutuality and something to talk about (“How do you know Jenny?”). Sharing a funny story about your mutual friend always helps break the ice. The key is not to wait until you’re already settled in to ask for referrals. “Where people start feeling really awkward is two years later when they still haven’t met people,” says author Shasta Nelson 1.
6. Get a Part-Time Job
This is an especially useful tip for those freelancers and telecommuters — the ones who may only have human interaction when the UPS guy delivers a package. Even if you work a nine-to-five, the all-business-all-the-time environment makes it hard to find friends. After work, why not shed the suit (or sweats, for you work-at-homers) and don an apron at a coffee shop? While whipping up decaf soy lattes, you can chat with customers and co-workers, many of whom could be potential friends. There’s the consistency factor, which so many experts say is key to forming bonds. Plus, it’s a whole lot less awkward than simply walking up to someone at a coffee shop and saying, “Will you be my friend?”
7. Use Social Media
For all its faults, social media can be a great tool for making new friends. You likely have a lot of acquaintances on Facebook — people you met in person who you never followed up with or people with whom you’ve fallen out of touch. The best thing is that you already know them, which takes a lot of the awkwardness away. So take the initiative. You don’t need to message them and ask them out for coffee right away, just take an interest in a few of their posts by liking or commenting. Identify a commonality — an interest in the same sport or hobby or cause — then send them a message with open-ended questions to get a conversation going.
8. Take Your Kids or Pets to the Park
Both kids and pets give you a great way to meet people. While the kids or pups are playing at the neighborhood playground or dog park, strike up a conversation with a fellow soccer dad or dog mom. Conversation starters are easy: “Your kid/dog is so cute! How old is he/she/it?” Arranging a playdate away from the park is an easy way to take the friendship to the next level. Suggest coffee and a walk with the dogs, or invite your new mom friend over for tea or a glass of wine while the kids play in the yard.
9. Embrace the Awkwardness
Making friends is awkward — there’s just no way around it. But what do you have to lose? So what if you say the wrong thing or someone doesn’t like you? “Making friends is a numbers game,” says Dr. Andrea Bonior 2. “You’re going to have to put forth an effort, and not all of the friendships you try to get off the ground are going to turn into something.” But there’s a pretty good chance that some of them will. And that means no more weekends home alone. The bad news? Your cat is going to be pretty pissed off.
What Do YOU Think?
Did you just move to a new city? Are you in the midst of dealing with a breakup? Or maybe you’re just looking for some new and interesting people to hang out with. Did any of this advice strike a chord? Have you ever tried any of these things? What happened? Do you think you’ll try anything else on the list? Is there anything you would add? Share it in the comments below!
- Adobe Stock/Jacob Lund