It’s hard, I know it. Making new friends, especially as an adult, is very challenging. But while the process can be intimidating, it can also be very rewarding and stimulating. Friends are who we spend a lot of time with and share life with. They shape us in many ways. If you are struggling to find and make new friends, I share with you my personal struggle and some tips on how to make new friends as an adult.
This is a personal struggle
I’ll be very honest, I have struggled quite a bit with the challenge of making new friends as an adult. By no means do I have it all figured out. I’m a work in progress and these tips I’m writing today are as much for me as anyone else.
As a natural introvert, I’ve never been the outgoing type who easily made friends. For me, friendships were usually cultivated over time with people I eventually got to know and become comfortable with. We shared a common setting like school, sports teams or work and got to know one another over time.
A small circle
I’ve always had a small circle of friends and acquaintances. The actual people and number of friends has ebbed and flowed over time and through different phases of life, but it has always been a small circle for me. I never really found this to be an issue, I felt I had a small group of close friends and some acquaintances that would come and go – I was fine with that.
Then it all changed…
Several years ago, Erica and I quit our jobs and moved from Portland to Bend, Oregon. You can read more about that in this post. Suddenly, my select few friends and natural “work buddies” were in another city and I wouldn’t be seeing them much. On top of that, we only knew a couple of people in Bend and would be working from home, so I wouldn’t be organically meeting new people through work.
It’s different as an adult
Figuring out how to make new friends as an adult is hard. Why is it so hard?
- You don’t meet as many new people – As a kid you have new classes, sports, clubs, camps and groups that expose you to a large number of different people.
- Different priorities – Work, family, bills, housework, netflix, kids. As adults everyone is busy with their own priorities and making new friends usually isn’t one of them.
- It’s awkward – Let’s be honest, meeting new people can be strange and uncomfortable. What do you talk about? Do you have a connection? Is this someone I would want to hang out with again?
Making new friends is possible
Making new friends as an adult may be difficult, but it is possible. Just like anything in life, you have to work at it if you expect something to happen. Also, it’s very important. The right friendship can be more fulfilling and enriching than any career, car or vacation.
I truly believe that building and maintaining strong, healthy friendships is one of the most important things you can do in life. I know, because I’ve had times in my life without the close friends I’ve needed. Those times don’t feel as full of life that they could be, they have felt like something is missing…..
Tips for how to make new friends as an adult
I know it’s hard. But I have a some ideas. Here are some different tips, tactics and advice for making new friends as an adult:
1. Let go of your fears
I’ve realized over time that my shyness towards others is actually fear. Are you a shy person? If so, you are probably fearful when you meet new people. Are you scared of saying or doing something embarrassing? Do you worry about running out of things to say? Are you concerned that the other person won’t like you? Look at the common thread here, it’s fear!
It’s time to let go of those fears. They are all just in your head. All of those fears are based on worries about how other people will perceive you, but I’ll tell you this:
Other people don’t care about you.
Most people are so caught up in themselves that they don’t really give much (or any) thought to you. They may be fearful themselves, thinking about other priorities, or completely tuned out. So – get over it! Let go of your fear and stop worrying about what other people think of you. Because they aren’t thinking of you, especially if you just met.
2. Start small and close to home
The easiest way to start finding new potential friends is through existing friends and acquaintances.
- Try getting to know friends of friends. These people are likely already people you know through events and gatherings. Pick a person you’d like to get to know better and make an effort to do just that the next time you see them.
- Think about the significant others of the friends of your wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend. Could those be potential new friends?
- Do you have friendly nextdoor neighbors? What about people who live up the street? Explore your neighborhood by going on walks and being friendly, you never know who you might meet. It may be your next new friend!
3. Branch out
This is where it gets harder, but you’ll never make new friends and meet new people sitting on the couch!
- Volunteer – Volunteering is a great way to meet new people. Working with others towards a common goal for the greater good is an easy way to increase your social circle.
- Join Meetups – Meetup.com is a great networking site that helps you find local events to meet people. Just search by your interest and join a group. In person meetups are organized by the individual groups, so find one and go to it!
- Get active – Another easy way to meet new people is to join a gym or take group fitness classes. In these settings, you’ll find a sense of community and common ground. You can easily get to know people in a safe setting. Plus, you’ll get in shape, it’s a win-win.
- Utilize social media – I’m personally not great at this, but Erica has made several new friends through Instagram and Facebook since we moved to Bend. Use social networks to find new friends with common interests and set up a time to meet for a drink or coffee. You might meet your new best friend!
4. Focus on connection
Branching out and getting out to meet people is just the first step. The second step is harder and even more important – focus on connection.
If you really want to make new friends, you can’t just say hi after spin class and expect a relationship to develop. Just think back to when you were dating. What did you have to do to make that initial connection? You had to talk, ask questions, show genuine interest, follow-up, make time, etc. You’ll need to do these same types things to create a new friendship.
Establishing a connection with someone takes two important skills – opening up and listening.
- Opening up – You can’t be close-minded when trying to make new friends. Don’t pre-judge a person you first meet without taking the time to get to know them. It’s helpful to start with a clean slate when meeting someone. Open your mind to anything and just allow the interaction to drive the flow of things.
- Listening – Listening is a lost skill in today’s busy and distracted world, and you can make new friends simply by focusing on this skill. Take the time and make the effort to genuinely listen and understand the people you meet and what they say. Remember their name. Get to know them by asking questions. Make eye contact and don’t look at your phone. It’s the little things that go a long way in making a personal connection.
5. Be genuine
My final tip is simple – BE YOURSELF! You can only make new friends if you are showing your genuine self to others. Let go of fear, doubt and shyness and just be confident and comfortable in your own skin.
I know this is hard, it’s something I personally still struggle with it. I am finding that with practice it becomes easier.
Now go make a new friend!
Leave a comment below, and let us know if these tips are helpful! We’d love to hear about your experiences making new friends or any tips you have. Also, if you love this post make sure you share it – you can share about it on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Tag us @realsimplegood on Instagram and use #TheRSGLife. Make sure to give us a follow as well if you don’t already – let’s stay connected!
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