Making friends when you're younger just happens naturally. But making friends as an adult is more like seeing the gynecologist. You know you need to do it. You know it's good for you. Once you've done it, you feel good about yourself. But the actually doing it...well, it's about as fun as a brief encounter with a freezing cold speculum while your panties are in a wad on a plastic chair in a freezing cold (and poorly lit) office. And it feels like you're that exposed, too. OK, so maybe I'm being dramatic, but unless you're one of those natural social butterflies or one of the rare birds who still regularly hangs out with all your high school friends, finding new people is tough.
And it's not just you. Even science has looked at the issue of adult friendships and found that without serious work, it's basically all downhill once you hit your late 20s. So what do you do if you wake up one morning and realize you don't have any people? Where do you start without resorting to combing loud bars filled with people who are actually as young as you feel but who look like middle schoolers? Fear not; there are options. I can't guarantee you won't feel like you're about to get the speculum or that you won't fall on your face and spill something that stains on something really expensive. But, IMHO these have helped me snag new members for my grown-up tribe.
1. Meet Up
I mean, if you have to go meet strangers, they might as well be strangers who share your same interests. MeetUp advertises events that happen all over the world, and they have some oddly specific events. For example, if you're a libertarian vegetarian who lives in Minnesota and you like dressing in clown make-up and juggling live sharks, there's probably a meet-up for that. You can join Meet-ups about gardening, board games, politics, cooking... And if, at the last minute, you decide you just don't have it in you, no one's night will be ruined if you don't go.
2. Go To Night School
I know, I know. You're OVER school. But it's not like those super boring classes where you have these huge papers and you have to do all the work in your group projects. You're not chasing a degree, so you can take something like pottery or bowling. It's better than trying to talk to people at the gym. Trust me. And you get new skills. Friends like people with good skills.
Right? Cause it's not like you don't already have 30 million bajillion things to do. But volunteering is a total win-win. If you do it regularly, you'll meet people who care about the same things you care about. If you don't meet people, you'll still use your talents to do something good for the world. Plus, nothing makes for a popular Instagram post like a clever protest sign.
4. Use Your Kids (Or Pets)
Do you have kids? If so, here's a coffee and a hug, because, for reals, that seems amazingly difficult. If you're not already meeting other parents through your part-time, unpaid transportation job, consider having a few kids and their parents over to play and chat. If you have your gab session at a park, you don't even have to clean your house or make (buy) snacks. And if you're child-less, but still have a furry child (as in a cat or dog or hamster, of course — let's not get weird), try heading to a dog park.
5. Up Your Social Media Game
You probably have a good 200 Facebook friends that you actively ignore and another 50 or so that you only accidentally ignore. Find people you wouldn't mind sharing the same oxygen with and become a more active presence in their online lives. Comment, post, make funny jokes, chat, then if things start getting pretty serious, start chatting, texting or even (gasp!) making pans to hang out IRL.
6. Shake Your Friend Tree
Let people know you want to start getting social. Ask them who you should be friends with. I posted on Facebook that I wanted my friends to hook me up with people in their circles that I shouldn't be living without and I met some of my all-time favorites.
7. Leave Your House
So much easier said than done, but you'll have to do it at some point if you really want to meet new people. You probably get a million invites to things like random birthday parties, special events for businesses you've never patronized, and friends doing live home births (true story). And you probably never go to any of them. So go! You don't have to become flush with all of the coolest friends in town. Sometimes all it takes is that one rare unicorn who kind of gets you to open up a whole new world of people.
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