Making friends as a child is easy. Generally, the only thing needed is for two or more children to be in the same space for over five minutes and friendship ensues.
This skill, however, seems to shrink more and more with age. Add to this diminishing social skill, the fact that we have jobs and children and responsibilities, and that sometimes we move cities, states and even countries, and it’s easy to see why we seem to have fewer friends as we age.
So given that we can’t just head down to the nearest sandpit and strike up a conversation over who can leap the furthest, how do we go about making new friends as an adult?
Join groups, then take it out of the group
One way to make new friends is to join interest groups. Just like in school, this will place you in forced close proximity with people who share your interests. For at least a few hours a week, you will have the chance to chat, laugh and make memories with people that just may become close friends.
There are community groups all over the country, all you have to do is to Google to see if there is a group you’re interested in joining in your local area.
Interest groups could revolve around anything from yoga to beer appreciation circles. Whatever your interest is, it’s likely there’s a group for it.
Now, simply joining a group is just the beginning. Friendships started in a group will generally tend to fizzle out when you stop attending. Because of this, you need to make the effort to connect outside of the group hours.
This could mean going out for a drink or coffee after the group meets, or alternatively meeting for lunch or dinner, or going to an event you may both be interested in.
Be vulnerable and take the risk
It’s hard to start adult friendships. It means you need to take a risk. This risk involves asking someone for a ‘friend date’ and putting yourself out there for rejection.
In order for friendship to occur, there also has to be a level of trust and understanding. So in addition to fun and laughter, you need to open up and confide at little. Without sharing a little about yourself, you can never move beyond acquaintances to friends.
Drop the pressure
You’re not going to gel with everybody, that’s a fact. Sometimes people just aren’t meant to be friends. Just like you don’t expect to marry your primary school crush, you shouldn’t expect that you’ll become close with everyone you approach.
What this means is that you can drop the pressure, stop over analysing everything. Just go out and meet a bunch of new people. Some, you may become fast friends with, others you won’t and that’s okay.
People like it when you remember things about them. So when you meet a potential friend, ask questions about how they are and what they’ve been doing. Remember what they told you, and when you see them again ask how things went.
For example, if you met someone at a book club and they told you they were going on a holiday the following week, the next time you see them, ask them how their holiday was.
Be consistent and be a regular
If you’re looking for friends and you’re doing this by joining a group or an activity, make sure you consistently go to that group or activity. It’s hard to make friends with someone who you only occasionally see. For friendship to blossom, you need to regularly see the person.
Another great way to meet people is to become a ‘regular’ at a local spot. For instance, you could become a regular at a local yoga class, or a café, or a park. Be at the same spot and around about the same time on a daily or weekly basis. You will place yourself in the proximity of other regulars, and may be able to strike up a conversation which could lead to friendship.
Rekindle old friendships
Bring more friends into your life by rekindling old friendships. You may have not spoken to someone for 15 years, but that’s no reason not to reach out. Pick up the phone, or send a text or a Facebook message.
In fact, social media is a great way to reconnect with old friends. So get social by starting to be more active on Facebook or Twitter. Post updates on your life, funny stories or photos, links to interesting stories, and like others’ photos or send messages. Involve people in your life and you will find that they will involve you in theirs.
Be a friend in times of need
A great way to start or deepen a friendship is to be a friend to someone in their time of need. If an acquaintance or someone you want to be friends with is sick, offer assistance. If someone is struggling in their life, reach out to them and offer what help you can. This may simply be a listening ear, it may be cooking them some food and dropping it around, babysitting, or driving them to an appointment, etc.
Doing these simple gestures builds trust and lets people know that you are someone that they can rely on.
Try an app!
There are plenty of strictly platonic friendship apps out at the moment. These phone and computer apps are designed to connect people who live in the same area and who have the same interests.
So if you’re interested in meeting new potential friends, you may want to download the following apps:
The oldest of the friendship finder apps, Meetup has thousands of interest groups to choose from.
Similar to Meetup, Patook is designed to match users with like-minded people who live in the same area.
This app is designed to connect people who live in close proximity and to keep them up to date with what’s going on in their neighbourhood.
This app is designed specifically to link professionals with other people in their own industry.
This app lets you design an event for others to attend, or to join others’ events. Activities could be anything from ‘New in town, help me to explore’ to ‘Foodie looking for other foodies to eat with’.
This app gives you a window into fun experiences across the globe. With it you can linkup with like-minded people, discover new experiences and adventures and follow people with adventures that inspire you.
If you’re finding yourself a bit lonely, or you’ve noticed your friendship circle has thinned, or you’re just a bit bored and are looking for new adventures, have a go at making some new friends – it is possible!
All you need to do is put in a little thought, take some risks and make a bit of an effort, and you could add a bunch of new, inspiring, interesting and good friends to your circle.
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