How to Make New Friends As an Adult
Posted by Katie Ostoich on August 8, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Making new friends after college is really hard. Establishing and building new bonds feels like a completely new game when you’re no longer living with a bunch of strangers you see every day like in a dorm or going to classes. In a time of transition, like what you go through after school or when you move to a new city, it’s even more important to have a social support system…but it’s often the thing that falls through the cracks. Trust me, I know how easy it is to get stuck in a rut or let the day-in-day-out routine of daily life overwhelm you. I’ve been out of school for just over three years and I can say that I’m just now starting to feel like I’ve rebuilt the social support I had in college. So how did this shy girl make it happen. Let me break down the tricks I used to make new friends in my new “adult” life.
Like I said, I am essentially a pretty shy girl. And I know that I am pretty lucky in that I stayed in the same city as I went to college in. But that doesn’t mean my friends stayed! Most of them didn’t…and I was still back at square one. So here’s how I started to approach the task at hand: Picking up a woman is just like picking up a guy.
Yes. Start thinking about making friends like picking up a significant other.
Here’s why: You have to accept that it’s not going to be easy and it’s going to take work. The great thing though is that no one expects you to be monogamous with your girlfriends.
So what’s the first thing you do when you want to meet a guy? You go where the guys are, yes? So, go where the girls are! Seriously, go to happy hours. Go to yoga classes. Join a book club. Hell, it might even be as simple as eating in the cafeteria at work instead of at your desk! The first step really is just simply putting yourself in a position to meet other women your age with similar interests.
Then, strike up conversation. For me, this is the hardest part, hands down. Being someone who naturally is introverted, I hate putting myself on the line like this. While it may not really be the case, it’s generally accepted that you may need to put some in some extra effort while pursuing a romantic partner…but actively looking for friends may be viewed as out of the ordinary or desperate. Like I said, it’s probably not the case. I know I’ve never thought that about anyone else. But it doesn’t stop the thoughts from creeping in. Stop them. No one is going to think you are pathetic.
In fact, they’re probably in the same situation! I can’t tell you how many of my now-good-friends and I have bonded over the fact that we didn’t have any friends left from college and needed more girl friends! So many women will breathe a sigh of relief when you are honest and confess that they, too, need to make new friends and have been struggling with it. Why is this such a taboo thing to say? To me, it’s not different than saying you’re single. So you haven’t clicked with anyone yet; it’s not like you’re a social pariah.
So lose the shame. Stop imagining you are the weird one and just do it! If there’s a girl you think you could be friends with in yoga, go compliment her pants and ask where she got them. Next time you see her, say thanks and that you bought them too and they really are amazing. Then all you have to do is ask if she’d like to get some coffee after class. Boom. A baby friendship is born.
And if she says no? Then she said no. You will not die.
Go on fun dates. Seriously think of them as “friend dates!” Some girls I used to work with and I created a Happy Hour Tour to meet every other week and try out new bars. Since it’s not the same thing each time, the four of us are excited to go and everyone makes it a priority. Not to mention, we invite other girls along to start expanding our group. So if you hear about a cool event going on, like the opening of an art gallery or a baseball game, invite your potential friend. And since it was so cool, she’s more likely to think of you and invite you when she hears of an event in a few weeks.
And don't forget to use your network. You may believe that you don’t know anyone, but I can promise you that’s not true. Use your existing friends as platonic matchmakers just like you use them as romantic matchmakers. Just let them “set you up!”
Here are two examples from my experiences the last few years. My husband is lucky and has a ton of friends in town. None of them really left. They decided one spring a few years ago to start a rec co-ed softball team, and naturally (despite my complete lack of athletic ability) I decided to join too. I’m so glad I did because I have made so many friends from that silly team! The guys all brought along friends from school and work and their networks – and now those girls are a part of mine too because we literally are committed to seeing each other once a week! We’ve been playing for years and I hope we don’t ever stop.
The other way I’ve used my network is to join my local sorority alumni chapter. Even though I was in no way very into being in a sorority in college and though none of the girls I was close with live here, I’ve rebuilt friendships with girls I wasn’t close to and started new friendships with girls who went to other schools. We already have a common interest, so conversations are never awkward and there are built in fun dates like wine tastings, book club, dinners and more. Use your resources because you truly never know where they’ll take you.
And my final piece of advice is to be realistic about your expectations. You kissed a lot of frogs before meeting a great significant other, so why would you expect that you’ll hit it off with every friend you meet? You won’t. But I’ve found that while sometimes it takes a little time to decide if you really click with a new friend, unlike in dating, you aren’t keeping yourself from meeting more friends if you “settle” for someone. So if it’s a no chemistry thing, hang in there, and if she invites you to group events (like, say, her birthday party), go! You might find that you connect with her friends more than with her.
So now that you know how to make these amazing new friends as an adult, you have to do it. These principles work. Don’t make excuses and push yourself to do it. Invite yourself. Invite others. You give your dating life a lot of effort because you know it won’t just happen. Do the same when meeting great girlfriends.
Any suggestions to add to this list? What has worked for you? Please share in the comments because I know so many of us are in the same boat!
***Want to learn more about building friendships? Check out the first episode of Girls Guide To TV, premiering today (August 8th) at 3pm EST, to hear the girls talk all about friendship!
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