How to make friends as an adult
Jerry Seinfeld fans may remember his comedy bit about how, once you’re in your thirties, applications for friendships are closed. Seinfeld’s sentiment might be true for some people – who has the time and energy to invest in new friendships – but there are many of us who, at times in our lives, find ourselves feeling socially isolated.
So, how do you make friends as an adult? No need to look any further, as I’ve read the internet from cover to cover and summarised it for you. Here are five tips collated from the best articles I found online.
Strengthen your casual connections
Canadian psychologist Dr Miriam Kirmayer shares her advice on The Cut, and recommends deepening your casual connections. This means becoming closer to someone you already know. Scan your life for these casual connections: your workplace, your sports teams, the people you see regularly through weekend activities or hobbies you do. Dr Kirmayer tells The Cut: “Making an effort to gradually open up about different parts of your life, that can help to deepen that sense of connection.”
You might also like to show someone you care about them by following these tips from therapist Margo Field: Here’s how to show someone you care.
Join a group that does something you love
The Guardian shares the experiences of four people who try to make new friends as adults. In this article, clinical psychologist Linda Blair says that the basis of friendship is usually a shared experience. She advises to join a group, class or volunteer organisation based on something you really love or care about.
Based on my own experience, this has mixed results. I have joined several groups since moving from the inner city to the Blue Mountains, and while not every group has thrown best friends my way, they have always provided some level of social enjoyment. And, along the way, I have picked up some lovely friendships that have lasted beyond the group.
Make new friends online
In this ABC article, a young woman called Rachelli was struggling to find connections when she moved to Perth. She started a Facebook group called Be.Her.Friend. which has grown to more than 12,000 members. Clearly, she is not alone in wanting to make new friends.
There are many local community groups online and they can be good ways to meet like-minded people. I have made new friends in my local area by starting my own Facebook groups too, including a book club, a writers’ group, and a kids’ bushwalking group.
Organise a friend date
I love wikihow, and the entry on making adult friends has not let me down. One crucial step in making new friends is hanging out. Of course! Wikihow advises: ‘Think about an activity your acquaintance might enjoy and ask if he or she would be interested in doing it with you over the weekend.’
My advice? Glad you asked. Be prepared for a no. Your potential friend might, like Seinfeld, not be in the market for new friends. Or they have other reasons for saying no. Don’t take it personally. Instead congratulate yourself on having the courage to be momentarily vulnerable.
Have a drink
I’m reluctant to encourage drinking as a social lubricant, but I can’t argue with science. In this SMH article, psychology professor, Dr Steven Howel, says that a night out is the best place to establish a new friendship. His study into friendship ‘found that those who drink together and tackle a crisis together – even something small, like how to get home at the end of the night – are more likely to become close than people who don’t drink or share dramas.’
As an aside, the same article quotes another psychologist, Robin Dunbar, who is prescriptive about friendships. He says we need five close friends, 15 good ones, and up to 150 in our outer circle. I don’t know about you, but I need to do a friend spreadsheet. One hundred and fifty sounds like a lot of people.
So there you have it. Now it’s time to get out there and practise your social skills. Good luck!
How to make new adult friends according to Jerry Seinfeld: Don’t
Oh, and here’s the Seinfeld stand-up about making new friends, if you want to re-watch it:
Kate is a health writer and communications professional. She is the founder and editor of The Healthy Life. She lives in the Blue Mountains with her husband and two kids.