After graduating from college, many 20-somethings find many of their previous friendships disappear and making new friends becomes extremely difficult. Why is it so challenging to meet new friends after college? There are many reasons, including the priorities of starting a career and perhaps a family.
Despite increasing demands for your time as a young adult, friendships remain a vital part of life. But how can you make new friends as an adult? Here are some pointers on building new friendships at any age.
Friendships Take Time
First and foremost, cultivating friendships takes time. And that may be in much shorter supply once you trade in your textbooks for a suit jacket.
Whether you’re looking for your first job, building your career or beginning your family, time tends to be in short supply in your 20s. So you have to get creative! Maybe you can’t linger over a two-hour lunch with your sophomore bestie, but can you meet up for coffee?
Similarly, can you combine everyday tasks with friendship? Maybe you can’t take off an entire afternoon to browse the mall together, but you can coach someone you know who’s struggling with low self-esteem, hit the same spin class as your mate, or meet up weekly at the laundromat to nosh on juicy gossip while your sheets dry.
Making friends as an adult when time is short requires a touch of creativity, but you can do it.
Take Advantage of Opportunities to Meet Co-Workers
Many of us groan inwardly when we learn of an after-work happy hour with co-workers. We know we should go, but spending more time with people you’ve already seen for eight hours or more can hold little appeal, especially when all you want to do is get home to your comfy pants.
Don’t overlook work-related mixers, though, as they are excellent ways to foster friendships. You never really know the person in the next cubicle over until you commiserate over a beer or some pub snacks.
You may find, for instance, that you share a mutual love of poker and beer brats that can lead to many a happy game night or barbecue. Yes, they may feel awkward, but if you want to foster new adult friendships, few places outside of work mixers guarantee you’ll meet someone who shares at least one thing in common with you!
Be Willing to Explore
Nothing can lead to more potential encounters with new friends than getting out and exploring your city or hometown! That is especially true if you’ve recently relocated for career or family reasons. But even if you’ve lived in the same town your entire life, there’s sure to be at least one bookstore you haven’t browsed and one new restaurant you haven’t tried.
Don’t underestimate a spontaneous road trip when it comes to making new friends, either! Chances are, there is a natural or cultural part of interest within a few hours’ drive you’ve yet to explore.
Do it, and when you do, be bold! Strike up a conversation with the person next to you at the coffeehouse bar or in front of you in line for the theater. The exhilaration of traveling even an hour or two away gives you a glowing sense of adventure that is sure to draw others of kindred minds nearer.
Expand Your Horizons
If you want to make new friends as an adult, you need to be willing to step out of your comfort zone a bit. The good news is, learning doesn’t stop once you get your degree. Also, you’re free to take any class that strikes your fancy, not just one in your major.
Signing up for a class or workshop that interests you is a fantastic way to meet new people in your community. If money is tight, check with your local library or community center. Many have free or next-to-free classes on anything from aliens to Krav Maga, so take advantage!
You don’t need to necessarily even try to learn anything new. Connecting with yourself and gaining a higher level of self-knowledge can also lead to stronger friendships. Many local chambers of commerce, for example, offer gatherings for members of the business community to come together for more than just networking.
Some provide city tours, museum outings and hikes meant to encourage members of the local community to get to know each other while connecting with nature, their community and themselves. Take advantage of such outings. You never know who you might meet or what you might learn about yourself!
Finding Your Religion
If your spiritual beliefs align with those of a major religion, you’ve got a built-in recipe for friendship at your local house of worship. So get back into the habit of going to services once per week! Finding others who share the same spirituality gives you an instant bond.
Most places of worship offer multiple opportunities to get involved with anything from choir to early childhood spiritual education to bake sales, so joining your local place of worship opens up a host of other opportunities for fostering new friendships.
There’s an App for That
Finally, while technology has done much to isolate us from others, it can also bring people together. There are abundant free apps designed to help young adults meet others, such as the MeetUp app, which helps people connect with others in their local area for activities ranging from karaoke to kayaking.
You can join as few or as many groups as you like and control the number of notifications you receive about upcoming events. So don’t use your phone or tablet to hide from the world. Instead, rely on it to connect with new friends!
Making new friends as a young adult can be a challenge. But it is far from impossible.
With a little ingenuity and the courage to step out of your comfort zone for a bit, the friendships you make as an adult can last you well into your golden years. Your new best friend is waiting, so take a chance and get out there to meet them today!
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