lifestyle

How to Make Friends as an Adult – Real Life “Success” Stories

One of my favorite quotations is, “Friends are family you choose for yourself.”

Remember when making friends was just… easy? You’d show up to first grade and it seemed like friends were everywhere. Maybe you sat at the same table, or were in the same soccer program, or (if luck would have it) your moms were best friends and therefore default besties by proxy.

I have found that finding friends as an adult is much more daunting. I don’t know about you, but I know I’m a little more self-conscious as a 28-year-old than I was at eight. There’s the problem of figuring out where to find friends and overcoming the fear of rejection. For some reason, I find it more challenging than dating.

As I recently moved to a new state, I have been thinking a lot about how I have found friends as an adult. I graduated college six years ago and have been incredibly lucky in building some truly amazing friendships. I say it all the time, but I think I have the best friends a girl can have in the entire world. The problem is that they literally live all around the world. I have a few local girls here in Hoboken who I know (and love), but we seem to have night/day schedules. Our travel schedules never line up, I have work events at night when they’re off work. Even my friends who live in the city and Brooklyn, we end up seeing each other every few months or so… by chance.

My friend Julia and I often dream about buying a giant plot of land somewhere where all of our friends can have a tiny house to live in. So we’re near each other but still have our space. Obviously, that’s a dream and we’re living in the real world.

I am half writing this post as a personal pep talk to not be afraid to put myself out there and to remind myself that I know how to make friends. I’m also writing this because it’s one of my most asked questions. Finding friends is challenging and might take some time, but it’s not impossible and it’s so worth it in the end. I wanted to share some of the ways I’ve made friends and I also polled readers to share their “success stories” too.

Making Friends as an Adult

SOCIAL MEDIA // Blogging has been one of the most effective ways that I’ve found friends in adulthood. I know, at first glance, that you might write this off if you’re not a blogger yourself. Hear me out though. Social media, in general, can be a great way to connect with people who have similar interests as you. Just last week, I met a girl who I follow on Instagram while I was down in Charleston! We both couldn’t believe that we actually hadn’t met each other before… you really do feel connected, through a screen. As cheesy as it sounds, it might be worth it to “slide into a DM” or something like that 😜.

I have too many friends from social media to list in the post, but my friendship with Julia started during a campaign we both did for Kate Spade. She was the “west coast blogger” and I was the “east coast blogger.” We ended up meeting at a dinner my friend organized and literally hit it off! We have never lived in the same place, and only recently started living in the same time zone!, but we have prioritized our friendship. We always have the best time, whether we’re traveling the world together or just having a sleepover and watching cheesy movies.

– MUTUAL FRIENDS // This is probably my number one piece of advice for making friends. (Maybe I should move it to the top of the list!) The easiest way to get introduced to a new friend is to reach out to your existing friend group. If you’ve moved to a new city or transferred to a new school, see if your friends know someone in the area. Seriously, the world is so much smaller than you think. You definitely know someone who knows someone. Leverage that! (You can also be proactive and connect a friend or two.)

Carolyn actually reached out to me when I lived in NYC. We had a friend in common (plus she was a blog reader) and we got frozen yogurt one night and talked for hours! We’ve been friends ever since… and now live in the same city!

– The Cold Call // This is probably the hardest way. It’s a skill I still need to develop and work on. The cold call is basically just reaching out to someone you don’t know and don’t have an existing relationship with and making a connection happen. I try to remind myself (and others) to be the friend you wish you had. If there’s one thing I’ve learned through pulling content for this post, it’s that A LOT of girls are looking for friends. Someone might be too intimated to reach out, but would gladly accept an offer to get coffee or carpool with you to the next volunteering event. Start small with your reach out. When in doubt, just strike up a conversation and test the waters a little bit.

– Old Friends // I also recommend reaching back out to an old friend. Maybe it’s someone you grew apart from during your teenage years or a friend you lost touch with after a move. Reach out. Sometimes time and a new headspace can do the trick. I actually had quite a falling out with my best friend when we were seniors. SO many factors contributed to it and it was pretty devastating. It was such a high-value friendship and poof it was over in a matter of weeks. Right before I moved out of NYC, she was working on a project that summer in the city and we got together for coffee. Other than a few texts here and there, we hadn’t talked in years. I expected our coffee to last 30 minutes tops and we ended up sitting at the table and talking for four hours. We both realized that enough time had passed to heal our wounds and we were different, older, and more mature people. We may not be the best friends we were, but she is still a dear friend and I can’t tell you how thankful I am that we put the past behind us.

Some overall tips I have to keep in mind:

– BE OPENMINDED. I wish I had learned this earlier in life. I had an internship with a political campaign during the summer between high school and college. There were four interns in the office and two of us had gone to high school together. We had actually danced together for like six years at the same studio and were in countless chorus classes/performances together. She was absolutely popular and I was absolutely not so I don’t think we had said more than a few words to each other. Well that summer, we were forced to hang out for HOURS every day in the office and even traveled to a few events for the campaign. By the end of the summer, we were more than friendly. While we were driving home from an event in Orlando towards the end of the summer, she turned to me and said that she wished she hadn’t made judgments about me during high school. Truthfully, me too. We had so much more in common than we realized and had such a great time together during the internship. Had we not been so close-minded in high school, maybe we could have become friends a lot sooner.

– BE PATIENT. Making friends isn’t going to happen overnight and building lasting friendships will take even longer. Don’t get discouraged if a friendship doesn’t blossom… it’s like dating, sometimes people just don’t click. I know I’ve thought someone would be a perfect friend only to spend some time together and realize it’s better on paper than in actuality. Keep trying! Finding a great friend is worth it!!

From Readers:

“A few years ago I participated in a charity event, and I found myself really enjoying all the time I spent with the other participants. I suggested we all meet for cocktails one night, and the rest is history. We go to dinner, we have impromptu parties, and we work in a homeless kitchen together once a month. Even the spouses of the group join in, and we have a great time. We also have found that we have a lot of connections in our work lives and in other philanthropic efforts, so we’ve been able to help each other out.” – Peggy

“I think the most recent way I have made friends as an adult is getting back into dance! A few years back I found an incredible ballet teacher who was on a mission to open an adult dance studio that was more about fun than it was about competition, basically all of the great parts about dance with none of the negatives. And she did it! I take class about 3 times a week now and it has been such a joy being back in a dance studio, and I have found such a fantastic tribe of girls! I guess it goes for any sort of activity…gym, sports teams, art classes, whatever…getting out to do something you love is always good and a total bonus when it leads to like-minded people and new friends!” – Nicola

“I picked up a shift to work the front desk and flip the room at a local yoga studio because I get to take classes for free out of it and it is a pretty easy, low commitment gig. That was obviously a great perk, but I never imagined how close I would get to the people I was working with at the studio! One of the girls who worked at the front desk with me quit a little while ago, but we still see each other almost every week!” – Natalie

“This might sound kind of lame, but I made a friend as an adult through Bumble BFF. It’s just like the dating app where you swipe left or right, but it’s for making friends. I met up with two people through the app, one for brunch and one for wine and fondue (there’s a cute fondue place in my town that does Ladies Night on Wednesdays with just cheese and chocolate). I didn’t really click with the girl that I got brunch with, but I’m now friends with the girl that I got fondue with.” – Malinda

“Compliments are great ice breakers (especially when given sincerely) and if they’re already in a place that you sought out on your own based on your interests/preferences, you probably at least have that store/restaurant/event in common! My formula is: Speak on the good you see on or about someone (re: sincere compliments!!), and follow up with something along the lines of ‘Hey, I’m new to the area, any suggestions on places I should check out?’ … Women are way more kind and supportive of each other than we give ourselves credit for. It’s absolutely uncomfortable to initiate conversation with strangers, but I’ve found this to be an easy way to start!” – Amy

“When I looked outside of my ‘normal’ age range for friends (I’m 28), I found a perfect match. I joined a running club a few years ago and my pace matched the pace of a mom in her late 30s. We talked about everything during our runs to pass the time – her kids, relationships, books we’d read or wanted to read – and started meeting to run on additional days outside of the normal club runs. Now we make regular friend dates to museums or to just try new things in our area. It’s been a blessing to have her as a friend because she’s been able to offer advice or insight on things I’m experiencing as a newlywed and on the flip side, she says I make her feel ‘young.'” – Leah

“Besides the obvious ‘say yes to everything’ advise, I started planning a monthly happy hour earlier this year and inviting everyone I knew and encouraging them to invite their friends. Pick a recurring date (ex. the first Thurs of every month), select a new spot each month, and text everyone you know about a week out. Make sure they know they can invite whoever! It’s so much less pressure than the dreaded ‘friend date; (ask someone you barely know to drinks to see if you click as friends and figure out where y’all fit into each other’s lives).” – Clark

“My favorite story is a friend I met in December on a bus to NYC. We sat next to each other and literally talked for almost 4 hours straight. She had recently moved to Boston and knew no one. We didn’t exchange numbers but had shown each other photos on Instagram so connected that way. A week later she had DMed me to get drinks and we’ve become super close friends!! We went on many ‘friend dates’ and now meet regularly during the week for morning runs, dinner, drinks etc… We love telling everyone our ‘bus friend’ story!!” – Alexandra

“One of my best friends, I met by looking for a roommate on Craigslist. It sounds crazy but we became roommates and she eventually moved in with her boyfriend. Now they’re getting married and I’m a bridesmaid in her wedding! Thanks Craigslist!” – Ashley

“Find a work wife! I know it’s hard to meet friends outside of work but having an ally at your workplace can be so nice and help you not feel like you’re going crazy. Even if you feel lonely on a Saturday night you’ll know you have someone at work that has your back and then that can translate outside of work too within time!” – Janecia

“When I moved to my new city I found a church with a big group of young professionals and made a great group of friends rather quickly that way! Within a few weeks, I had joined an awesome all-women Bible study and was invited to an open mic night, a winery, a girls night to watch the Bachelorette, and had helped another new friend move apartments. Now 5 years later, three of those women I met are bridesmaids in my wedding (one being Maid of Honor), I am “auntie” to so many kiddos, and while the group has ebbed and flowed, it continues to be a source of huge encouragement in my life!” – Karen

“I met all of my adult friends playing social sports and I’m not even athletic. I joined casual sports such as Kickball and Skeeball! I play NYC Social in NY but they have leagues in lots of cities and usually go by the name Volo City! They are amazing” – Theresa

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36 Comments

Alexandra

On point, Carly! Women definitely struggle with friendships through time and I believe part of the battle is acknowledging it and understanding it’s a struggle for everyone. Wouldn’t that be wonderful – if everyone had a more open-minded approach as a result?! Loved reading this, and I’m sure many other women who need to hear this will too!

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Holly

This post is so lovely, with so many amazing tips! I have been really struggling to make friends in my area since all of mine went off to University, but am definitely going to try out some of these tips. It is so nice to know that I am not alone in the struggle and those reader testimonials are amazing! Thanks so much for sharing!
Holly from The Art of Being Holly xo

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Allie

Thanks for all the great advice! I’ve moved a lot since college, and making new friends can definitely be challenging. It’ll happen though! Like most things in life having an open mind and an open heart will get you there. Happy Wednesday! xAllie http://www.theallthatglittersblog.com

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Chelsey

One of my biggest tips for making friends is to not be scared to just reach out! I think a lot of times I’m worried that the other person will think I’m weird, but in reality they typically are extremely gracious. Also, I think (small) gifts are a great way to make connections! New neighbor? Bring them some cookies once they get moved in. An acquaintance has a new baby? Send her an email and ask if you can drop off dinner one night (I always thought this would be weird, but all my friends with babies say that they were so grateful when people did this for them and it wasn’t weird at all). Making small steps to connect with someone else can make such a huge difference.

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Amanda

Four years ago I moved with my boyfriend to a new city completely across the country where we knew literally no one. Now we have a big group of friends! We were lucky because he was joining a grad school program which built in a few new people for us, but initially I just said yes to every invite and went to every single thing. I arranged a game night, invited everyone I’d met, and asked people to invite their friends. It was kind of bold for me as an introvert with some social anxiety looking back on it, but I made about four really amazing friends I now see all the time. Putting yourself out there works!

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Taylor

Love this! I agree, making friends as an adult is so much harder. Since moving to a new city right after college I had struggled to make friends and finally (3 years later) I feel like I finally have a few solid friendships. I just had to push myself a little 🙂

Taylor | http://www.livingtaylored.com

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Kathryn M

Thanks, Carly. I just moved to Boston and this could not have come at a better time!

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Courtney Pelfrey

This is so true – all of it! It feels less and less organic as you get older, I’ve found, but it’s almost MORE important to find quality friendships, which is a tough paradox. I’ve had the greatest success meeting people through my small group at church, connections through work, and (if we’re being really honest) just traveling more to see my high school/college friends in various cities!

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Denise

Great post Carly – I really enjoy your blog, and at first glance I am probably not your average reader. I am a 48 year old, part time hospice nurse living in Marin County, CA with 2 teenagers, and have been with my husband for 30 years. One of the reasons I love reading your blog is that I really enjoy the perspective of someone who is younger, both in life and in fashion and that dovetails with my suggestion for friendships. Make friends with people of various age groups; you learn so much more from people who have lived life during a different era and can provide a different perspective than your own on cultural and political issues as well as teach you about new topics. I have a friend who I met at work almost 20 years ago who is in her early 60s. She has provided so much depth to my life, she teaches me about plants and gardening, music history, we cook together and so much more. Recently she brought me to meet a friend of hers who was almost 80. We sat in her garden drinking wine and talking about life, and I realized afterward how much I value these women for what they can teach me. It also reminded me to be that mentor to younger women and to not let age be a barrier, but rather a link between us, and to always remain curious about others and open to learning from them regardless of what I might think we have in common.

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St

A wholehearted agree with the comments about not limiting yourself to those in your immediate age group. That tends to be natural since school did that for us. But once school is over and you are out there in the world making a life for yourself, be open to friends of all ages. I’m in my 30s and have found my friends in their 40s-60sto be extremely valuable as I navigate marriage, parenthood, and owning a home. I have found the best way to meet new friends it to get involved in your community in the services that matter to you: YWCA, mother/infant support, literacy, art museums, music programs, nature centers. Many of these organizations have volunteer groups attached to them that provide education and support for the organization. Start there and I promise you will meet friends of all ages and stages. Partners/spouses of your spouse/partner is another field of potential friends that already have something in common with you.

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Lily

The timing of this post is just too perfect!! I just went to a Hall and Oats concert (yes I should be 46, not 27) and I made a friend! Like exchanged numbers and hung out later that weekend and we have tentative plans to hang out in August (she lives in Virginia). The whole thing was a bit rusty but REALLY fun to meet someone new!

I too have done run clubs (all of the members are almost twice my age) and I even joined a community chorus earlier this year where I made friends as well. It’s challenging at first, but once the muscles are flexed it’s like riding a bike!

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Mackenzie

Love this post! It’s definitely a challenge making friends after college. I recently moved from TN to WI to be with my boyfriend, so most of his friends have become by friends. They are so wonderful, but it’s hard not having your “own.” I recently went to an event for a podcast I listen to, and while I almost talked myself out of it 1,000 times, it was such a great decision! Now we have our own little local Facebook page and have a book club set up.

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Cristina - Memories of the Pacific

Being an introvert it is really hard for me to make friends. I think this becomes even more difficult as an adult because everyone seems to have their life sorted out and they don’t need new people in their lives. However, my husband and I got married last year and met another couple who were also preparing their wedding and we’ve become great friends so it’s not impossible! 🙂

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Inna

I believe we tend to get too comfortable with our small group of friends and are afraid to reach out and make new friends… This is definitely something I need to work on as well. Thank you for the wonderful post 🙂

http://innapishtoy.com

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Alyse

This gives me hope! I’m moving to London soon, and I’m already worried about making friends… great ideas !

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Sarah

Just started reading your blog! Love it! This post came at the best time— my husband and I just moved to Charleston, SC and we were just discussing the other day how difficult it can be to make new friends when moving to a new city! It was so easy in the past to make friends, like with fellow classmates during college…but we are staying optimistic and open-minded to new friendships! Thanks for the advice!!

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Rachel

Thank you for this post, Carly! Being part of your Facebook group has also served as great inspiration and motivation to get out there and meet new people. It has been so heartwarming to see this group of strangers offering advice for one another every day, and is such a positive reminder that we’re all in this together!

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Nicole (24)

Thank you so much Carly for this beautiful post! For me this words have been needed. I am still struggling with finding new friends with the same interests. I love a lot of stuff but sometimes I am way to shy to open my heart and my mouth.. Great to know that I am not weird and more girls than I thought have the same struggle… I feel so much more of understanding now. Thank you! great post ❤️

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Lacey

Girl! The internet has made me the “cold call” queen! So much easier! Great tips for sure!

xx,

Lacey | theglittergospelblog.com

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Jane Reggievia

Hi Carly! This such a great post! As I’m older and jumping into parenthood, I’m getting worst at making new friends. Somehow become a parent I feel uncool (I shud learn from Regina’s mom from Mean Girls, bcs she’s a cool mom LOL). Sometimes I even can’t talk to my single friends anymore because we live in different bubble. But thanks to social media (and blog!), I finally knew some of other fellow mommies out there. We never met before it everytime we chat, we feel connected. It’s crazy when think about internet world, but thanks to that we can make new friends.

Thank you Carly for bringing up this topic. Love ya!

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shannon

this is such a great post! i’m moving in a few months to a different state & only know my boyfriend who i’m moving in with & one friend that’s about a half hour away. i have been so nervous about meeting new people so i’m not depending on my boyfriend for social interaction (lol) & this is full of good ideas! i love the idea of finding a new church & joining a women’s bible study, that’s where i strengthened friendships in high school at youth group meetings. great post!!

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Rachael

I had skimmed this post when it was published but became so relevant to my life recently. I moved to Boston almost 5 years ago. I have a great job, boyfriend, and one childhood friend here. I am part of my sorority alumnae chapter and three of the girls I’m closet with just moved away to other cities. I feel like I am back to square one so this post is really helpful!

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