When I was ten, twenty even, I remember having so many friends Christmas would drive me to bankruptcy. Friends at work, friends at school, friends in the neighborhood; they were everywhere.
I couldn't even define the feeling of loneliness until I was almost 30. And knowing loneliness isn't actually a bad thing, more people should know that sooner rather than later. Eventually my friend pool dwindled, as does everyone's.
You realize quickly that hanging around on the monkey bars isn't an efficient way to meet new people when you're 40. And monkey bars themselves are a detriment to your back.
It isn't always easy to go out and meet new people, but you have to try. So let's compare strategies.
Redditoru/zehlewewanted to meet some new people for platonic fun, by asking:
How the hell do you make new friends as an adult?
I myself try to take new classes. I take acting, writing and cardio classes. Well I was, then COVID happened. So my strategy has been on hold for a bit. And I hate ZOOM classes.
Stand by...Season 5 Thanksgiving GIF by FriendsGiphy
"Stand near an extrovert and hope they adopt you."
"Find a group even if online (since it is a lot tricky going out now). I joined a forum for parenting because I didn't have friends who were parents and I didn't want to talk to relatives about my worries. Apparently, it is not just me looking to find friends! Not everyone became my friend but having at least 1 who I can really trust made a lot of difference."
Things to Do
"Hobbies. Pursue them and find a local venue for it. Then just talk to people there doing what you're doing."
"Hobbies! This is the big one. I got into Warhammer for a few months before covid and ended up gaining a few friends. Hopefully I get back to the game store after work calms down. Ialso started flying last year during covid. The flying club has a ton of cool people. My flight instructor is same generation as I am and we click pretty well. And old farts at airports love to chat. I made more friends last year than I did in the last 5."
'I'm here to do something'
"Regular accidental contact. Initially this sounds a little like stalking, so I'm going to have to explain a little. You made friends at school/college because you turned up to places to do 'something'. The people that were there were secondary to your main goal or task. Basically you turned up to maths every day and so did the dude sitting 3 seats away. This is the regular accidental contact."
"As an adult, this only really happens at work and the age differences can be problematic. This is why people suggest joining sports teams or clubs that meet on a regular basis. You meet up to 'generic sport' and of the 15-20 other people that do there might be 5 that are potential friends. The non-threatening nature of 'I'm here to do something' is basically an excuse to have the regular contact where you find out more about these people and can develop a friendship."
"Since this friendship business requires regular contact, places like bars are often pretty poor - unless you are one of the regulars. Sports, Hobby clubs, book groups are all the sort of places that replace the classroom of yesterday. Adult life makes most of your regular tasks revolve around a small group of people (workmates/family/flatmates), you need to find regular contact groups outside that subset."
"Lay down on the ground, and pretend to be dying. When people start to circle around you in hope of taking your stuff, sit up and start telling them cool facts about frogs. Bam, friendship!"
I love causing scenes. That last bit would be fun and definitely memorable. Who doesn't love someone with a flare for a bit of drama? The definition of extroverts. And we're fun.
travel our own paths...Fuck You Season 4 GIF by FriendsGiphy
"I'm 35 and my friends have dwindled down to my husband of 16 years. Who just recently told me he feels we want different things in life and should "travel our own paths. FML."
"Work and hobbies usually work. I just stay friendly, joke a lot, ask plenty of questions. I find people really open up when they don't feel judged and they feel you are enthusiastically listening to them. Oftentimes as an adult, other adults aren't "actively" listening to your tales because they're so wrapped up in their own lives."
"If you listen first, really take time to get to know them and have a good time (joke) they generally start reciprocating pretty quickly. Thats how I get along with people. Actual long term adult friends are hard to come by. Always seems like if you aren't convenient, they aren't going 5o make time for you. Ive got a couple now that I can call anytime though."
These Conspiracy Theories Are Easy to Debunk | George Takei’s Oh Myyy
"It's very difficult . You have to be committed to finding friends. It doesn't really happen naturally anymore. I'm so busy these days that even when I make a new friend I don't really have time that I am willing to spend with them. I use my limited free time to be with my wife, relax and finish projects around the house. Scheduling time with friends almost feels forced, like an additional errand lol."
Be Sporty Spice
"Recreational/leisure sports leagues."
"Absolutely no one cares if you're good, no one cares if you mess up, the main objective is to include people who are interested. Its a fun way of getting exercise & you can meet an absolutely vast array of people regardless which sport - slow pitch softball, pick up basketball, flag football, pick up soccer, bowling, billiards, etc. Doesn't matter, people will always be willing to help & its a fun bonding experience shared with random people, you'd be surprised how many people I met through this stuff."
ChatterHappy Season 5 GIF by FriendsGiphy
"Talk to people, I have a few gym friends that I made cause I just asked about their routines and now we chat and workout together sometimes."
It was pool...
"One of the longest maintained friendships from college that I have was someone I met from being "there to do something." It was pool. I was there to play pool and so was he, like clockwork. We would talk and chat and play a lot of pool month to month and year to year, never changing. After a few months we were friends and I'm still friends to this day."
"Same with a guy from math class. we became friends because we both had the same ugly weird shoes (gray and yellow color combo just made no sense lol) but we had multiple math classes together. He actually got me the high paying job I have today and would be nowhere without him. Regular accidental contact is a blessing."
"I'm definitely an introvert with a dash of social anxiety. My roommate and best friend in college was a huge extrovert. I went to so many parties, bars, events and made tons of friends that I probably never would have otherwise if he didn't drag me along with him. I also married an extrovert so keeping the theme alive!"
Later in Life
"I've probably got more friends as an adult in my 30s than I ever did in my early 20s and teens. I do exactly the same, just have a genuine interest in people and getting to know them, so long as they aren't me then I find them fascinating. Even if you don't agree with all their views it doesn't really matter."
"I agree with being positive and jokey as much as can be, I think a lot of people are looking for someone to offload on and it can be a lot to take in for anyone who isn't prepared. If you keep it fun and enjoyable though I think it creates a bond where they will want to be supportive comes later."
"One thing I notice too is I have a weird thing for faces and details about people, I used to have to pretend I didn't remember people when I was young because some classmates told me it was creepy. Now though I find if I recognize people and ask about an event or hobby they told me about, then they normally are fairly happy to chat."
Knocking PinsSport Lol GIF by TikTok FranceGiphy
"Join a bowling league. It's easier to make friends with a bowling league because you see these people weekly. I've made a lot of good friends through bowling. They might be weird friends, but they'll be fun."
25% success rate...
"Dude. I've realised. As an adult you have to say "you are my friend now". We are all so unsure of if someone is a friend. I legit say "bruh. We are friends now." 25% success rate. Mostly I'm bad at texting so i lose out on friends. Still, every 4 people you make friends with, 1 sticks. That's a lot."
"Don't compare your adult friendships to adolescent friendships. They will be different because you are different, your commitments are different, priorities etc. Like when I was late teens early 20s if a close friend needed help I'd drop what I was doing and give them a ride, help them move, finish a project etc. we were like that for each other. Can't do that now. In part this is because I have my own family, 3 other people that depend on me for things."
"After they're all good, then there's time for friends. In a few years it'll just be one other person mostly as my kids grow up and start families of their own. I suspect that then friendships will change again and be more similar to those early almost familial bonds I made. I think media has built up unrealistic expectations of what friendships can be (well for most of us anyways)."
"Also you may not fully realize it at the time but if you want to have those storied, long term, since grade school sort of friendships you have to pretty much not move away from your hometown. Sounds kinda duhhh... but if your goal is to get outta dodge you will lose touch with those still in dodge and while you may be able to pick up where you left off later, it's still not the same because you left off."
"Met my two best adult friends when we were apartment neighbors. I have a city garden next to a nice person every summer and we've become friends. This winter i will mall walk and might meet someone. It seems to me that you have to routinely be in close proximity to someone and eventually greetings become conversations."
"I have this same question, but as a "homeschool" kid. Never had any friends in my life, and now I'm nearing adult, never had any dates or experience, never had any friends making experience, never had any fun in my childhood, and now I figure out adults have hard times making friends too?? Imma be single and lonely forever y'all..."
"I usually find people at work that I vibe with. I also add random people on facebook who seem interesting. Most of the time it doesn't lead to anything. On rare occasion it leads to friends for life, including one Colorado bartender who has told me I get free drinks for life if I'm ever at any bar he's tending. I'm not a heavy drinker and I live on the opposite side of the country, but it's the little things like that which matter most to me."
All you can do is try. Go say hi to a stranger, in a safe setting of course. If it doesn't workout, it wasn't meant to be. Lead with a smile and maybe a song. Something from Lady Gaga perhaps.
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With the responsibilities of careers and family and children, it can feel tough to make friends when you're over 30. The days of running up to randos on the playground and saying, "Wanna be friends?" might be far behind us, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to make friends.
NOTE: Remember to follow this advice in a post-COVID world, as safely as possible.
"How do you make friends when you're 30+?"
Just Be More OpenHomer Simpson Hug GIF by Animation DominationGiphy
"Join clubs of activities you enjoy."
"Talk to the people at your job."
"Write a message to your old classmates or friends."
"Meet your neighbours."
"I think about 80-90% of friendships are formed based on circumstance. They're coworkers, frequent customers, or neighbors. The other 10-20% are the familial friendships and friends from the past"
Look For Any Kind Of Connecting Thread
"My story; I recently switched jobs and I hadn't met any of my coworkers due to corona."
"I saw a coworkers Volvo V60 (my dream car) was up for grabs and I was the only one who showed interest in taking it, so I went by his house to see it; We started talking and it turned out we shared a lot of common interests; BBQ, Beers, Whiskey & [cigars]. He mentioned that he and some other coworkers had a little club and they got together for slowcooking sessions! I instanly became best friends with half the management at my company!"
"Started therapy this year and that seems to be going well. I bought a bass guitar which makes me interact with people at the music store because I have no idea what I'm doing with it yet. I also get my car washed twice a week so that I can tip the car wash person $5 and ask them to put my other mirror in because I can't reach it."
Shift Up The Meeting Priorities
"I'm not 30+ yet (28), but I've had good luck with just dating. We're all pretty lonely and if you go into the first date with the attitude to find a friend rather than a life-long companion, you'll usually have some pretty good luck."
Go On. Learn Something.
"If you like languages, a language group/meetings may be a good way. They usually also include foreigners who are also looking for new friends."
Let's All Go To The Sports Ball Games
"Post-COVID advice, of course."
"Check out meetups first your hobbies. Even if they seem like solo hobbies. Book clubs, running clubs, etc. most of my friends now are from a running club. They are amazing and really fun folks."
"Get new hobbies. What I like as an older adult is different than what I liked as a teenager."
"This is an important note : I HATED sports growing up and was terrible at them. But I just decided to go for it But I started playing sports where no one cared if you were good (running is good since it literally doesn’t hurt anyone else if you’re slow) and other sports with a lot of adult beginners. Aka, adulthood is a bad time to start playing soccer, but great for curling, hockey, running, cycling."
"Like other said, say yes to invitations."
You Don't Even Have To Talk At First
"get involved in activities were you will see the same people on a regular basis. You have that activity in common at least and maybe create friendship from there."
"to paraphrase C.S. Lewis "lovers stand face to face but friends stand side to side". You find friends in common interests and activities."
You Only Hang Out When Your Kids Hang Outhappy homer simpson GIFGiphy
"I feel like the catch 22 is this: Being a parent makes it easier, because you have a natural connection to others - kids the same age, play dates, etc. Buuuuut being a parent means you have so little time and energy for friendship, so it's kind of a wash"
Aw, I Have To Go To Classes To Better Myself?
- "Exercise classes (note - I suspect this works better for females than males): any class which is not expressly aimed at a certain age group, eg. if you’re 30, joining “Fab After 50” or “Mature Bums” (OK, I made that one up) isn’t likely to attract your direct peer group. However, general classes advertised as for all abilities tend to attract all manners of shapes, sizes, ages, experiences, etc., and it’s difficult to NOT find yourself chatting to people, which can turn into a friendship over time. For dudes, I’d recommend team sports as opposed to classes."
- "Educational classes: veering towards “discussional” courses, such as the social sciences, humanities, arts, etc., where classmate interaction is encouraged, or even required. Or hobbyist classes such as pottery, painting, wood crafts, and so on. You’re (probably) less likely to pick up firm friends in classes aimed at a particular professional accreditation - as the students are just there to get that under their belt - but it’s obviously not impossible."
- "Volunteering and/or picking up a small extra casual job, if your “real” job isn’t giving you the interactions you desire."
Oh Yeah. Jobs.
"Co-workers you really get along, can have fun, and have things in common with are hard to come by it seems, but it happens. 3 of us had been going to the bar for a beer or 2 before heading home after work most Fridays for a bit before Covid forced the bar by work to cut its hours and open later."
Go With A Book And Be Ready To Put It Down
"My boyfriend works at a local brewery, he's 30, I'm 26. A lot of the regular customers there are in their 50s, a lot of single men and women who would just go there, bring a book, order a beer, sit at the bar, and chat with people who sat by them. Some of our best friends are regulars there."
"I spent a lot of this summer at backyard fires at a 50 something year olds place talking about his army days, and he's just a guy who was bored at home so started going to his local brewery for a beer every weekend."
"I know it's hard with covid right how, but there's nothing wrong with going to a brewery or pub alone with a book and chatting with anyone who's down to chat."
Never Say No
- "If you have at least one friend, or know any other humans that you feel you can stand for longer than a few hours, find similar interests you have and this can lead to them introducing you to other people with the same interest (music, sports, gaming, etc.)"
- "NEVER turn down an invitation. Even if you're not feeling up to it, or feeling lazy, just go. You can always leave if you're not feeling it. But perhaps you might end up meeting someone who has the potential for friendship!"
"Its obviously hard now with COVID and so many social restrictions, but hang in there!"
Learn From All Age Groups
"Don’t limit yourself to an age group. Older people in general and who have nothing to prove can end up being your most supportive. They can also mentor you. And you can give them energy and cultural updates to keep them in the know. I’m 68 and my fiancé is 81 and we often have more energy than those under 50. And we have lots of stuff, good stuff, we want to share or give away and we have. A win for each other. And we don’t judge as we have probably been there."
Reciprocate The Effort
"If someone makes an effort to get to know you better, reciprocate the effort and find out what they're interested in. If you find something in common, then do whatever it happens to be with them (ie gaming, working out, etc...) and use the common interest as a bridge to do other stuff together."
"Honestly way better at making friends now than I was in my teens or 20s as well because I've basically accepted I am who I am as well instead of trying to be someone who I'm not"
When You Give Back, The Universe Gives To YouGreeting Season 3 GIF by The SimpsonsGiphy
"I felt lost when my Marriage ended. So I volunteered in the community , And found myself, found new friends, and found a sense of purpose for my spare time. Now, three years later when I go walking in the neighbourhood, I can say hello to a great number of people and I never feel alone. More than that, I'm hanging out with great people that also want to help the neighbourhood. In conclusion, Try volunteering."
Be bold, be brave, and don't be afraid to let someone new into your life.
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