You’re here because you know you want new friends and would like concrete, step-by-step directions on how to achieve this as an adult. Here you go.
Image provided by Kristeen Millett
Adulting is hard for so many reasons – bills, responsibilities, keeping up with the darn Joneses, kids that won’t raise themselves. Today we’re talking about yet another challenge faced by grown-ups: Making new friends. Whether you’ve recently moved to a new city or you’ve been in the same place for a while but are stuck in a bit of a hermit-lifestyle rut, this blog post is for you.
Countless studies have been done and the results are in: Friendships are a vital ingredient in the recipe for a long, healthy life. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Adults with strong social connections have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). In fact, studies have found that older adults who have meaningful relationships and social support are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.”
But you didn’t come to this blog post to be convinced to make friends. You’re here because you know you want friends and would like concrete, step-by-step directions on how to achieve this as an adult. Don’t worry – you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for below. Let’s dive into the good stuff.
Directions for the age-old in-person friend-making:
Step 1: Get dressed and leave your house.
It sounds simple enough, yet the idea of getting out there (beyond your own front door) and stepping into society with the intent of actually mingling with others can be daunting. Most of us have experience in socializing and making new friends…but that was decades ago, way back in grade school when we had no choice other than to place ourselves around others.
It’s harder now. With remote work opportunities and the ability to have everything from freshly prepared food to groceries and home goods delivered right to your door, you could realistically stay home for days on end. Venturing into society is now a choice – no longer a necessity – and if you know you would like to build up your network of friends, it’s a choice you do have to make.
Step 2: Go to the spots around town you personally enjoy.
The health foods store across town, the bookstore down the street, the sports bar with the biggest televisions, the park with just the right amount of shade – spend time in the local places that make you happiest. This is where your chances of running into likeminded people are highest. People who enjoy the same activities are likely to spend time in the same places, and shared interests are a great way to break the ice and find friends with whom you’ll actually have something to talk about.
While you’re at it, make an effort to get to know the staff or caretakers of these establishments. They may not be the close-circle friends you end up making, but it doesn’t hurt to grow your network of acquaintances you can rely on to,at the very least, give you a smile whenever you swing by. Even these small interactions and recognition can go a long way in boosting your wellbeing.
Step 3: Commit to engaging with at least one person.
No one wants to be the weirdo who approaches strangers in public places, yet most of us would like to be “picked” by a kind person who invites you into a casual conversation that is positive and of genuine interest to you. Deciding who to engage with will depend on reading body language – it’s pretty easy to tell if someone is in a rush, for instance, and would not be open to chatting.
If anyone seems receptive to conversation, it’s always great to lead with a question.
- (In the grocery store) “Excuse me, I’m new around here. Do you know of any places to eat that have some healthy options?”
- (In the bookstore) “Hey, do you know of any book clubs around here? I’m hoping to meet some people in the area and figured that could be a good place to start.”
- (In the sports bar) “Do you come to this bar often? I’m trying to scope out the best spot to watch my team play.”
- (At the park) “Hi, your pup is adorable. Sorry to be forward but I’m trying to get to know people in the area who enjoy the park and may want to do group walks. Have you heard of any local groups that do that?”
Step 4: Repeat as often as needed.
So you followed the first three steps and left without a strong connection, or even a hint of potential friendship. That’s okay. It’s a numbers game: The more often you put yourself out there (literally out there in the public), the more likely a simple question turns into a heartwarming conversation that turns into a shared interest in spending more time together. These are the baby steps that build a lasting friendship. Rome wasn’t built in a day, as they say, and neither is your rolodex of new friends.
Directions for the new-age virtual friend-making:
Step 1: Scour social media for local “Groups” that relate to your interests.
There are Facebook Groups, and even special interest Instagram pages, for just about every topic. The trick is finding groups you relate to that are created for people in your geographical area. From parents to food-lovers to yard sellers to snake-spotters, people come together virtually in Groups and on pages to share advice, photos, reviews, comments, and more.
Simply search a word or phrase of interest in the Groups tab on Facebook and filter by City. Once you’ve joined a local group (which may require approval from a moderator), get to work looking through posts on the page to see if any active group members seem like people you’d like to know.
Step 2: Reach out.
The purpose of these pages is to connect likeminded people, so it’s the perfect place to find a new friend in a very casual way. What’s better is social media allows you to take a peek into a person’s life (with the caveat that social media will never tell the whole story!) so you can determine the likelihood of your personality or lifestyle meshing well before you reach out.
But in order to make a friend, you do have to open the door to communication, and this can be done by leaving a comment on a person’s post in a Group, sending them a private message, or even posting in the Group to spread a wider net.
Whether you’re communicating with one person – Hi, my name is ____ and I see we’re both in the ____ Group. I’m new to the area and am trying to find a few people who may be interested in getting together… – or posting to the whole Group – Hi, everyone. I’m new to the area and would like to get to know other people who are interested in _____. If anyone would be up for getting together in person, please comment below… – reaching out via the Internet can feel a lot less daunting and provides a built-in communication channel for keeping the conversation going that in-person meeting does not.
For the sake of your health and your happiness, put in the work to make new friends. As adults, it does take intentional action, but the payoff is worth it. It may be scary in the moment, whether you’re approaching a stranger in a public place or pushing “send” on that message online, but the temporary discomfort is majorly outweighed by the boost to satisfaction and longevity that comes with adult friendships.
→ BeLocal is here to help new movers settle into the place they now call “home.” If you’re new to an area, find out if there’s a BeLocal guide for you. If there isn’t, consider creating one for your new hometown.