High school years are the best of your life, right? I would disagree, but I know many believe this, and a big portion of that belief stems from the sheer exposure to good friends. You were learning about yourself and your interests, plus activities were rampant. You had to try not to engage. Also, people your age were all around you and doing those same things. Now though, how does someone make adult friends?
Now, as an adult out of academia, we’re released into a structureless world of career-building, family-planning, and just experiencing life. It’s easy to fall into the routine of wake-up/go to work/come home/sleep/repeat. Unlike school, we don’t have that revolving table of people spinning around for us to pick at our leisure. The swamp of daily life can lead to a comfort-zone mentality, an insidious habit that keeps you locked in your comfy cage.
Relationships can be the most fulfilling part of our lives.
Is there any hope?
Of course, there is; you’re already on the right track reading this, but what’s the first step?
“Follow your dreams. They know the way.” – Kobi Yamada
The first step is to be comfortable with who you are. Are you lonely? Are you bored? Or are you just wanting those good vibes from making new adult friends? Whatever it is, be honest with yourself about why you want to start this journey. With your intention set, you’ll have a good anchor to fall back on.
Expanding on this, know what you like to do, and what fulfills you. If you’re someone who loves talking about the latest Netflix shows, then that’s already a great start. You’ve got a million people that can connect with you on that alone. Compound this with starting a fitness regimen, and you have the ability to meet someone who wants to go to the gym with a buddy, and you’ll have lots to talk about.
If you have goals like finishing a book or climbing Mt. Everest, then you’ll most likely meet similar-minded people along the way. These are the people to reach out to. The old saying remains true: be yourself. If you are honest with yourself about what you are looking for and what interests you, your relationships will start on a solid foundation at any age.
Be Ready to Eliminate and Be Eliminated
It’s tough getting rejected, even on the friendship level. Let’s be honest though; if you don’t have much in common, how fun are future meetings going to be?
Not everyone is going to like you, or vice-versa. Accept this and focus on those that do.
Find someone fulfilling and listen to them. Sure, it’s going to be awkward at first, but it’ll become easier over time. Remember the earlier step? If you go in knowing what you’re looking for with adult friends, you’ll be calmer and more ready to accept someone. For those harder conversations like sexuality, here is another guide to deepen that story.
When you’re vulnerable like this, you’re showing a side willing to connect with someone. When you listen to them, you’re reaching out. Be patient, and let them meet you halfway.
And I stress this: be discerning. Not everyone out there is a good match. If you find yourself putting more energy into the budding friendship than the other person, it may be a good time to let that prospect go. There are tons of people out there wanting to connect and willing to meet halfway.
Use the Tools We Have
We live in the future! It’s never been easier (at least technology-wise) to meet someone new. Our phones, computers, and tablets connect people all over the globe. Here are some powerful tools:
Need to find a social group? MeetUp provides a huge list of activities to peruse. Just sign up, click on your interests, and the app will do the rest. It finds events for you nearby and lets you sign up for those you’re interested in. Go and focus on enjoying yourself for the first few times. Adult friends will come.
Yes, there’s an app even for this. Bumble is specifically for making friendships. Although, I have heard people using it for dating as well. Be specific in your profile about what you’re looking for, and tell people this when you meet them to keep things clear. When you write your profile, be a little different, and real. Hint at your true colors, but keep them wanting more. You’ll find interesting profiles are the ones that stand out exactly because the person is being honest.
I know what you’re thinking, but it doesn’t have to be a university. Community centers or even coffee shops offer classes, so take a look around. You don’t have to seek a degree, but remember those goals from earlier? If you’re following your dreams of being a master mechanic or planting the perfect garden, you’ll find similar people enrolled in classes for those skills. Seek those that will support you and learn together.
This means Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. These are popular places people talk about their lives, even trivial things. If nothing else, you can build up confidence by engaging with people here. Be positive and encouraging to others on the Internet, and you may find adult friends nearby.
Besides MeetUp, you can search for conventions, parties, and other fun things to do in your area. Like MeetUp, go with the express purpose of enjoying yourself/ learning something new. Your openness and confidence will be attractive. Don’t worry about finding that clique right off the bat.
A Warning: Use your best judgment when you expose yourself to new people. Information like your email or phone number are traditional ways to communicate, but be wary with whom you give them to.
I didn’t want to put it on the list because they aren’t tools to be used, but still important are your old friends. Mention that you’re wanting to meet new people. The friends you’ve had for a while have their own social circles. So why not reach out to them and invite new people in? As a bonus, you’ll be maintaining the friendships you already have.
You can do this. Focus on being interested in others rather than being interesting.