Making new friends is something many people leave behind in their childhood, yet creating meaningful friendships should be considered an important, lifelong process.
Humans are inherently social creatures, and the social support we get from friends is crucial for our wellbeing and happiness.
However, as we grow up and start to juggle work commitments, romantic relationships, and family responsibilities, it can be difficult to find time to nurture existing friendships or cultivate new ones, potentially contributing to an increase in adults experiencing loneliness.
Inadequate social support can negatively impact social development, self-esteem, and physical health, but the good news is that making new friends as an adult is not only possible, but a great opportunity to connect with people that share the values and interests you have now.
If you’re keen to make new friends in your adulthood but aren’t sure how, here are some helpful places to start.
Join a club to make new friends
Bonding over shared interests by joining a community group or club is one of the easiest ways to meet new friends in a friendly, non-intimidating environment.
Children often form close attachments because of a common hobby, favourite colour, or TV show, and the same technique can work for adults.
Joining a community sports club, walking group, book club, or volunteering for a cause you care about can be a great way to meet like-minded people and connect with a supportive community.
Clubs focused on a shared activity or topic also provide talking points and opportunities to break the ice and create friendships with unfamiliar people.
Find new friends online
Social media has transformed the way many of us experience relationships, and while the jury is still out on whether technology has brought us closer together or created more of a divide, it seems that the way you use social media matters more than the platform itself.
With that in mind, using apps like Bumble BFF, created by the dating service in recognition that more adults are seeking fulfilling platonic relationships, may be a great way to use social media to your advantage.
The online space is becoming more sophisticated than ever, so finding people in your local area with similar interests and passions has never been easier.
This can be a less confronting way of meeting people initially, as the immediacy of face-to-face communication is removed, allowing you time and space to explore new connections in the comfort of your own home.
Take the leap to form a friendship
Once you have met some new people and made some initial acquaintances, how do you take the next step to becoming actual friends?
Making a small request or suggestion, like asking someone to go for a coffee after class or going to a movie you’re both interested in, is a great way to test the waters with someone new and explore a potential friendship.
Shared experiences are the building blocks that form the foundation of lasting friendships, so putting yourself out there by asking to spend more time together is the best way to strengthen the connection.
Embrace vulnerability in making friends
Building relationships with others, platonic or romantic, requires an inherent level of vulnerability.
Good friends are the ones who will be by your side throughout life’s ups and downs, and those you can truly be yourself with.
Dropping the glossy façade many of us present to the world and sharing our hopes, dreams and fears with another person is scary, but also creates a deeper level of trust and intimacy, fostering mutual support, respect, and love.
Making new friends can be nerve-wracking and create a desire to impress, however being true to who you are and what you are looking for in a friend upfront will avoid investing time and energy into someone with whom you are incompatible long-term.
Face the fear of rejection
Work commitments and a busy schedule aside, the fear of rejection is one of the main barriers to reaching out to new people.
Adults tend to be more conscious of the judgements of others and exhibit more impulse control. This is a natural part of our development, and while it’s helpful in situations like the workplace, it can also make us less spontaneous and courageous.
Children tend to be less concerned about socially appropriate behaviour, and have a more carefree approach to communication, which is something many adults could learn to embrace.
If the risk of unreciprocated interest is the price of forming genuine, supportive, and meaningful platonic relationships that add enjoyment and fulfillment to your life, it’s a risk well worth taking.