How To Make New Friends As An Adult Without Kids, According To People Who’ve Done It

Hannah Burton/Bustle

Adulting can be tons of fun. Cereal for dinner! Coming home to an apartment that's exactly the way you left it! Actually being excited about having a good credit score! And, adulting can be not so fun — new, four-day hangovers, meal prep, and of course, how hard it is to make new friends as an adult, especially if you are child-free. After a certain age, it will start to seem like all of your friends are having kids — and they're making new friends at parent-child yoga, or at play group, or whatever the case may be.

People who are child-free by choice can encounter difficulties when their social circles either shrink, become unavailable, or start to feel kid-focused to the extreme. And what if you move to a new place and don't have kids to facilitate meeting other adults, via the school pick up line or Saturday soccer games? If you don't have children, it can be easy to feel like your social options are more limited, especially if you're trying to expand your group of friends or create an entirely new one. Guess what, though: making friends without the aid of children is absolutely possible when you're an adult. Take it from these child-free people who've done it.

1Check Out Adults-Only Spaces & Hobbies

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Sometimes the best place to meet fellow adults is in places that don't necessarily allow children. "Libraries," suggests Fiona. "No free desks = sharing and coffee = friends. I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes." Jennifer adds, "Hobbies. Preferably active ones with a social aspect. Find ones where mean babies are 100% optional." Adults-only social areas don't have to just be bars; they can also include a host of activities that mean you'll be able to bond with people who may or may not have kids of their own.

2Open Your Eyes To Online Dating

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If you're both child-free and single, online dating can be a good way to spread your wings. "I have a large circle of friends who mostly know each other from online dating," says Florian. "People go on dates, stay in touch, have sexual friendships that morph into connections with their friends' other friends, etc." Just because a hookup or second date didn't quite make it into a relationship doesn't necessarily mean that your connection can't become a friendship, if both parties are down with the idea. There are also a host of dating-app-like apps that are exclusively for meeting friends.

3Work With Kids In Other Ways

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If you love kids, want to be around them, but don't necessarily want any of your own, volunteering with them is a good way both to spend some child-friendly time and bond with groups of parents. "I used to be very involved as a youth leader in the Scouts, and also an educational charity, and have lots of friends from that time," says Florian. And there's a plus: finding new people who are connected in different places. "When you volunteer for large, international organisations [sic] like the Scouts, you'll quickly find a wonderful and like minded group of people nearly everywhere."

4Take The Initiative

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Remember: making new friends is hard work. "It's important to remember you can't replicate the depth and strength of your lifelong friendships in two months of knowing a new person, no matter how cool they are," says Sophie. "That kind of thing takes time." Get proactive to get around the feeling of inertia: "I try to suggest/organise [sic] new activities and invites others, rather than waiting for invites to be offered to me," she says.

5Realize You're Not The Only Awkward One

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One of the major social benefits of kids is that it's easy to read the room: you're all here to pick up a toddler, watch five year olds on the swing, or supervise a birthday party. Without those rhythms in place, things can feel like they lack structure — like when you moved from high school to college and suddenly all social interactions become much less rigid. "Take the connection chances that appear," says Annika, "and risk the occasional awkward moment when what you thought was a 'yes' was in fact an 'err... nope'. I salve my dignity by deciding that at least it makes for (hopefully entertaining) anecdotes afterwards. People are weird, and if it's not them it's you, so you might as well go for it."

And that can prompt you into taking leaps of faith. "I constantly remind myself that other people are just as insecure and nervous about making new friends as I am," says Sophie, "so I might as well be the awkward turtle for five minutes and ask them to come on a hike or check out a gallery with me." This can be tough if you're introverted, so don't be hard on yourself if you find it tricky.

6Don't Neglect Your Friends With Kids

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"Many of my friends with kids actively resent the fact that their social circle has narrowed to just other parents with kids of a similar age, who they have nothing else in common with," says Florian. Just because they have babies doesn't mean they've become aliens; it means their lives and priorities have changed, but their core selves likely haven't. And you need to be adaptable to keep the friendship going, just like you did when they stopped wanting to go out clubbing every night.

Making friends as an adult is extremely hard work for everyone. But with perseverance and some small leaps of faith, it is possible to expand your social circle.