14 Things To Try If You're Still Struggling To Make Friends As An Adult
Among the endless stream of irrational, secret fears most twentysomething and emerging adults have is: What the hell happened to all of my friends?! It's a weird, tragic paradox: you begin to realize just how wonderful and important it is to have people around just as you get to that point in your life when everyone, well, moves on.
Here's something to help you take a deep breath: you're not really supposed to have the same friends that you did in high school or college. Sure, you should keep in touch with a few of your absolute favorites, but you move on, and so do they, and start lives in other cities, with other, demanding jobs, and with other people. You probably couldn't even imagine how many people feel alone and sorta lost at this age (or actually, you probably can). The point is: it's not even just normal to feel like you don't have your tribe around you anymore, it's part of the process. People change. Interests change. You're not the same person you were seven years ago, and if you're able to evolve with and alongside certain people, that's incredible — but if not, that's more commonly the case.
So, with all of that said, onto the real question: how do you make friends as an adult?! Well, the good news is, it's usually a lot simpler than you think. Most people are so eager just to know other people as grown ups, and you'll have more in common with people as you mature, too. But that won't even matter as much, because you don't need to be soulmates to be friends as adults. So here's how to go about finding your brand new, grown up tribe (because it's a totally normal part of life).
Be Open To It
This could actually be the only point on this entire list and it would be enough. This is the first and basically most important/only(?) thing that really matters here. Your heart and mind need to be open. You need to want it. You need to have the capacity to actually care about other people, and be wiling to sacrifice a little bit for them. This is the Most Important Thing Of All.
Don't Choose Friends — Let Connections Flow
When you're in a group of people at a party, or even at work, you'll naturally find that you click with some people and you don't with others. Don't try to force friendship on the ones with whom you don't jive. Likewise, just allow the connection to keep flowing. It will happen naturally when you're among people you're well-suited for.
Say "Yes" More Than You Say "No"
You don't have to drive yourself insane by going to every class, every happy hour, every bar, every event ever ever ever, but if you never say "yes," you'll isolate yourself. Say yes more than you say no. Go out at least once a week if you can.
Keep Up With People
Take time each day (or week) to reach out and message a friend or two (or three!). Keeping in contact regularly enough is how to sustain friendships that you might not necessarily be near, but want to maintain.
Just *Be* Around People In General
Read in a coffee shop, or take a yoga class, or go to a co-working space if you work from home very often — anything that puts you around other people as much as possible (but also aligns with your work/life interests).
Take Your Headphones Off
As I've said, don't be closed to how connections could happen. Seem approachable, and you will be.
Ask People About Their Passions, Counsel Them On Their Worries
So the whole thing about making friends is that you actually have to, you know, care about them. You have to want to be someone's real friend, and a great hack to making sure conversation flows well is by talking to people about what they love the most and what they fear the most. If you bond over those strong emotions, you'll keep coming back to one another.
Don't Choose Friends By Shallow Means
Don't worry about how old people are, or what they look like, or how much you think you have in common. The best part of mutual, adult relationships is the fact that you're just two people who happen to seriously get along, and connect over something. That's all that matters.
Don't Let Your Anxiety Or Discomfort Dictate Your Entire Life
It's normal — human nature, even — to want to move toward what makes you most comfortable. But that doesn't make it the best choice, or even a smart one. Don't miss out on amazing relationships just because it's a little bit hard to reach out, open up and socialize. It's worth it.
Go Where Your Tribe Would Be
This is to say: don't try to make friends at the bar if you don't like drinking that much. Join a class or a club or something that involves a lot of people of similar interests gathering.
Not every friendship is the right friendship, and you'll know this only when you know yourself well enough to see what really matters to you and why.
Be Honest About The Friend Hunt
Tell the people you know that you're trying to open up and meet new people and get out there more. Chances are, they'll be more than happy to invite you out for their next group night.
Don't Expect Other People To Fill You
Friends are important, but they aren't going to solve every problem, ever, especially as you get older. As an adult, autonomy isn't just important, it's crucial. You still have to carry on living your own life. The people who join you on the journey will come and go.
Learn To Have Fun Again
Learn to enjoy the stupid, simple little things. Not every relationship needs to be a lifelong friendship. Not every night needs to be productive and deep and meaningful. Just let loose, and you'll find other people who will love to do the same.
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