If there is one thing this godforsaken pandemic period has taught us, it’s that a sense of connection is vital to our happiness. And while family may offer a sense of closeness and even companionship for some of us, our friendships are often the relationships that allow us to feel seen and valued in our day to day lives. After all, they’re the ones choosing to be close to us, right?
Once you leave school and enter adult life, it can become a little harder to build solid friendships. With age, your criteria for what makes an ideal friend tend to move past “lives down the road” which complicates things, somewhat.
According to studies, loneliness is increasingly prevalent these days. As the Guardian recently shared, a study by the Red Cross indicated that nine million adults in the UK are either often or always lonely. And the ABC’s Australia Talks national survey from late 2019 also highlighted that close to a third of 18 to 24 year-olds feel regularly or consistently lonely.
Our want to be close to others is apparent. But what’s the best way to address this need? Starting a new job, or kicking off a new semester at university can help begin the process, but it’s no secret that many of us struggle to shift from acquaintances to pals.
I took a look online and reviewed my own personal experiences in this space to come up with a list of ways to hopefully help ease the awkwardness of making friends as an adult.
5 excellent ways to make new friends as an adult
Join a team sport (or any group-oriented exercise class):
Okay, maybe you don’t feel like you’re super sporty. Believe me when I tell you, that really doesn’t matter here. Signing up to a beginner’s team and having a laugh at the experience of being hit in the face with a volleyball (been there) is a great way to break the ice. And it also means regular catch-ups are set in stone, so keeping the momentum going is easier.
I have personally tried signing up with the casual team sports service Just Play and found it to be a really relaxed and enjoyable time.
Sign up to a club of some variety:
Book clubs, movie clubs, photography – any popular hobby is going to have a social group attached to it somewhere. It makes for a great opportunity to not only spend time doing something you love, but you’ll probably meet people with loads in common with you, too.
In this same vein, you could also check out local talks on topics you’re passionate about and try to strike up a conversation with someone while there. In Sydney, for example, VIVID Ideas will have a long list of options and The Ethics Centre also regularly holds in-person lectures on a range of interesting topics.
This is a suggestion I spotted in an ABC article. Volunteering your time is going to force you to interact with new people while contributing to your community. The perfect combination when you’re looking to make new friends.
Additionally, studies suggest that the act is really positive for your mental health too. Win, win.
Join a trivia team:
Get a couple of friends (literally, two will do) and start heading to a local trivia night. As soon as you begin floating the invitation around to others in your wider circle (work friends; new roommates; your brother-in-law’s younger sister, whoever) the group will grow – and fast.
I’ve seen it happen a couple of times. Trivia is a great option because there’s a common activity uniting you, meaning there’s little chance of awkward silences in conversation.
Try using an app to make friends:
Platforms like Bumble BFF have been designed for this very reason. Everyone on there is looking to meet a fun, cool, smart bestie like you, so give it a genuine shot.
Set up a casual way to meet up for the first time – like you would a first date – and see if you click. You may be pleasantly surprised!
Once you’ve found your way of connecting with new people, my only advice is to just be honest. Be yourself and don’t feel embarrassed when it comes to being upfront about wanting to hang out again. None of this vague “let’s catch up some time” business.
Making new friends is a joy once you get past that initial getting to know you phase. So, dive on in guys. It’s worth it.
This article has been updated since its original publish date.