I’m in a few different business Mastermind Groups. I cherish each and every group I am in and find value in their interactions. One of the questions that has been extremely popular lately among all my groups is this: How do adults make friends?
When we were in high school and college, it was easy to make friends. We were thrown into natural groups because of the shared schooling experience and then from there, it was just a matter of finding the people that ‘fit’ with you. As adults, it’s considerably more difficult to find and form close friendships. There’s a variety of reasons for this. We’re busy with our own lives, focused inward on ourselves and our families. Any extra time is usually spent on self improvement (from working out to meditation to reading) or doing fun things with family. Outside of work, adults don’t spend a lot of time in groups, or tribes.
Paradoxically though, it is when we are adults, navigating the difficulties of juggling work and family, stressing out about finances and confronting mortality, that we most need good friends to talk through all those issues. So, how do we find friends as adults?
(1) Become a person worth making friends with. Are you a person that has something of value to offer to new people? Are you interesting? Caring? Smart? Can you carry a good conversation? If you want to attract high quality people into your life and group of friends, it starts with you being the kind of person you’d like to be friends with. Add a hobby. Start to read interesting books. Give yourself something to talk about when you do find someone to be friends with.
(2) Seek out group activities. When we’re out of school, there are only a few places where we have the opportunity to see people over and over again. Church, exercise classes, book clubs, group crafting activities, volunteer activites and organized sports are all great places to start to find new friends. And, by participating in any of those activities, you will be giving yourself an opportunity to grow as a person too. It’s a win-win.
(3) Ask. It feels vaguely weird the first time you ask another adult out to coffee or drinks. And, like when you were 15, the fear of rejection never goes away but just ask. When I’m ‘dating’ a new friend (yes, that’s the term we use at Bramble Berry when we’re talking about making friends), I like to suggest activities (for me it’s normally around hiking, walking or wine tasting). That way, if the entire experience is a dud, at least you had fun because the activity was something you’d love to do anyways.
(4) Follow-Up. If you want to create a relationship, it’s important to consistently be reaching out (not in a nuisance’y way – more of a chatty, friendly way). Another friend and I were talking the other day and we both realized that we feel like we’re constantly the ones making the effort, making the calls, suggesting the dates, and sending the texts. And, you know what? That’s okay. Friendship isn’t about keeping score about who called who. It’s about making those layers of trust, common interests and shared goals. So, when you make a promising connection, reach out and solidify that connection.
Do you have any other tips or thoughts? I’d love to hear them!
Even in college it is hard to make friends when you want to get straight A’s. I am have a two part time jobs and full time school. I make friends with people in my class and try to sit next to them, but in the end of the day, we don’t hang out.
Right now I feel sad because every year, each person that agrees to be my roommate flakes out for a better deal. :/ A true friend is hard to find…
I believe that as an adult it is harder to make friends because each person has their own path and adult challenges and thus like you said, focus more inward than outwards. Especially in an individualistic society where everyone is self sufficient, making time to be with others is actually not the norm.
I know what you mean – college was hard. I usually made friends like you do – with people in your class and it was usually around study group! =)
Keep trying – you’re right, a good friend is hard to find BUT once you find them? What a fun thing to have, a kindred spirit that you can share happiness and sadness. It’s worth trying to find. Keep trying =) It’s worth it!
I guess I have to be the odd one. I agree with most of what you said, but do not agree that if I am the one making all of the effort to keep our friendship going – then is it really a friendship. To me it is a two-way street. Give and take. Over the years I have learned who true friends are and those who just want to be around you for what they can get. I’ve prayed for those who were friends and those who just wanted to be around for what I had. It takes wisdom to know the difference. And when you are in business, you need to know the difference. Those friends whom I had to keep in contact with (and I do mean always), they are associates. Not friends. I send an occasional letter, card or email. But they are not someone I would choose to keep in my inner circle.
Totally understand your point. Your inner circle should be treasured and valued. =)
carrie garvin says
Great blog Anne- Marie!
Island Girl says
Thanks for this post. I am going to try right away! I do get an opportunity to meet quality people all the time. But I’m not good at following up and I kinda like being home (by myself).
I think if I met people who had similar interests like crafting, it would be better. I’ll have to search them out!
Thank you for the reminder Anne-Marie. I have been guilty just lately of ‘keeping score’ and I do know better xxx
Interesting topic, so I’ll share a story. My closest adult friends were made with other parents that brought their children to dance classes. The first groups of friends I made were when my daughter was very little, and we decided to have a mom’s night out. Once the girls started school, my daughter was the only one still interested in dance, so I didn’t see my friends as often, and made new ones.
I was always the one who arranged every meeting. I would contact each person in the group, find out schedules, and plan times and places to go out. Every time we went out, we had a fantastic time being together, however, I got tired of always being the one who contacted and planned everything. So I decided to not do anything and see if someone else stepped up. Years went by and I missed my friends, but since time went by I felt more awkward about contacting them.
One day, my old friend called me accidentally – there was another Erica in her contacts – and we talked and decided to get the families together for lunch. We had a wonderful time and I realized that it was worth the work to be able to have such great company. I realized I was foolish – I am naturally a planner and so everyone counted on me. Coincidentally, she apparently had my name on her phone call list for 2 years. We all get busy, but sometimes, we have to do the extra work to keep good friends once you find them, even if it means you do most of the work.
Wow, that is a great story and such a good reminder for me. I’m going to text a few of those friends that have fallen off the radar now….
Great post! Making friends all through school was fine, even as a newly married person and as a new mom, it was easy enough. Once we get wrapped up in keeping up with our kids and daily life, making and keeping friendships is so difficult.
An area for improvement in my life, for sure!
Having a child now, I can completely see that – wow! I love love love our little boy AND he is quite the little time consumer. I’m seeing less of my friends lately but I am still seeing them and I know as he ages that it will just be easier and easier to see my old friends AND make new friends. =)
Jessica @ Bay Bay Bites says
Those are great tips! I especially like the last one. I know people who keep score and that’s just silly. 🙂
I agree but sometimes, pettiness gets the best of all of us =) Let’s work hard to not let it be us!
It’s easy when you have kids! You meet your kids’ friends’ parents and they become your friends.
I can’t wait to meet my sons friends parents! He’ll be that age soon!
Very true! I live in NYC and making new friends here is nearly impossible. When I ask for a “date” people look at you funny and never get back to you. They are too busy with work and time is money here… Older set of friends are not so tough though!
I’ve been to NYC but only for a visit and work a few times but you’re right, everyone seems like they are really busy there. That would present its own set of challenges but working for one or two great friendships is totally worth it.
You’re spot-on, A-M!
Oh!! si tan ocupados con el dia a dia, por suerte tenemos comunicacion telefonica cada minuto que necesitamos hablar con a\lguien, con mama, con hermanos etc
Lo mas impoertante es alimentar la amistad, dar tiempo a los amigos, escuchar las necesidades de cada cual
Gracias por todo lo que recibo de ustedes
Hi. Great post. Iwas just thinking about it. It’s been hard to make friends even though Im a really friendly person. People seem to be too busy or something. Anybody in Bonney Lake or close who would like to start some kind of friends group?
Book clubs are where I’ve found my closest friendships if that helps at all. I started at the Barnes and Noble book club and then started finding private house ones. At one point, I was in three! Now, I’m down to just one but I have many lifelong friends because of all that reading and time investment.
Oh yes, you are so right in all points you’ve mentioned! School and college friends are probably the most “lasting” if we can say so. But in our adult life it is really difficult to find new friends… The first source is our job – at work we meet lots of people having the same interests are we do. And second – for me personally, it is quite easy to find new friends among other parents since I am a young parent too 🙂 At forums, on playgrounds, etc.
Thanks for sharing your tips and reminding about the importance of friends 🙂
Great thought about your job and friendships – you’re definitely right about that. I never think about that because as the boss, I tend not to make friend-friends at work (because then it’s difficult to be the boss!). In college, I made great friendships at work.
I love the idea of other parents; I need to find play groups that match my work schedule. Right now, there’s one on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. which is right smack dab in my focus hours at work. Plus, it would be great to find other Moms to bounce ideas off of.
Great advice. I just moved to a new city and need all the help I can get. It’s especially hard meeting people and making new friends when you work from home.
That is so true – working from home naturally isolates you. Maybe put an ad out to find a workout buddy in your neighborhood to break up your days with walks or runs? My brother just did that on a fishing website and is finding new friends left and right. It’s inspiring to see.
Good luck in your new town!
Emily Caswell says
I find that some of the best friendships I’ve made as an adult have begun around projects. We both had an interest in something and information or skills to share, and putting them together gave us an “excuse” to learn more about each other. After that initial experience, we found we had other things in common. You’re right, though, it is much more difficult to make friends as an adult than as a kid or college student!
I love that insight about projects. I’ll have to keep that in mind when I’m working out how to make friends with a new person – there are always people I’m looking for opportunities with.
You are so right about asking! The first time I asked a friend of mine to go do something I really did feel like I was setting up a date. We are great friends now though, and I’m glad I didn’t miss the opportunity.
It is sooooo funny how that feels isn’t it? I agree, it feels like you’re asking someone on a date but it is worth it. =)
As an introvert I had to teach myself that the only way to make friends is by being the first one to say something. Even if you have no idea who the person you are talking to there is always something you can talk about – in this case I always ask a question of some sorts.
I am glad to say that I have come a long way and still “a work in progress”. Being in the bath and body industry I’ve observed that everyone has a different personality but soap always makes everyone come together 😀
I agree – soap always brings everyone together =) My favorite phrase is to say “Tell me more” whenever I am trying to talk to someone who us new to me. It’s an easy fallback.
What a great blog! I am always amazed when I take my 5 year old twins to the park and they just walk up to a little kid and say “Hi I am Eliot, wanna play?” Before you know they are best friends running around and laughing like they have known each other for ages. I wish it could be just as easy for us adults!
You and me both – it seems so easy when you don’t have all this baggage we get as adults (fear of rejection, internal monologues etc…). I can’t wait to see our little Jamisen start to make friends.
This is a great post A-M! Very, very true 🙂 Wish I lived closer!
Me too! I could use more friends =)
Me, TOO! 😀