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11 Things I Wish I'd Known About Making New Friends As An Adult

It can be a difficult process.

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1. It's completely normal to struggle at making friends, no matter how old you are.

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Some movies and TV shows (*cough*Friends*cough) make it seem like having a good, close group of friends is just a given. But it's hard, and sometimes it's even more difficult for adults. For many people, leaving school and entering the workforce (especially if that involves moving to a new place) means it's more difficult to connect with people on a personal level. You're not a freak just because you're having a hard time making friends.

2. It's important to learn to be comfortable by yourself.

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This may seem counterintuitive, but it's true, because during the process of trying to make friends, you're going to spend a lot of time by yourself. If you spend all that time hating being alone and hating yourself, you're going to have a much worse time. Figure out activities you can enjoy doing alone, whether it's a Netflix marathon or an actual marathon, and learn how to be okay with being alone. You don't have to love it, but just be okay with it. Alone doesn't have to mean lonely.

3. In order to make friends, you'll have to start trying new things (but you don't necessarily have to leave your house).

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Determine a new hobby or pastime that you haven't tried before — something that has a community associated with it — and try it out. Yes, this can be terrifying, and social anxiety and general nervousness can make it seem that much more daunting. But on the bright side, if you want to try new things but not go outside, there are plenty of internet communities that will allow you to talk to new people without leaving your house.

If you try a new hobby and you find you don't like it (or you don't like the community), that's okay! Move on and try something else. The important thing is to keep trying stuff until you find the right thing for you.

4. Eventually, though, you will have to step outside your comfort zone (but just a little!).

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Now, the scary part: Choose someone in the community you've joined and ask if they want to hang out. Actually use those words: "Hey, do you want to hang out?" Be specific with your offer, with a time and activity; saying "let's hang out sometime" is too vague. If the thought of doing this in person is just too much, that's all right, too! A quick email or text or DM works just as well.

"But they might say no!" Yeah, they might. And that's okay! Not everyone has to be your friend, and you only want to make friends with people who want to hang out with you. So just accept it and ask someone else who seems neat. But more people will accept your offer than you expect.

Well, for one, other people don't know that you're on a quest to make new friends. And two, while the ultimate goal is to make some close friends, at first your goal will simply be to get more comfortable with inviting people to do stuff with you. The more often you do this, the easier it will be. It will become important later, I promise.

6. Not every friend you make has to be a friend forever.

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Maybe you'll hang out with a person once, have a nice time, and never see them again. Or you'll meet people who you'll be friendly with for a while, and then you'll go your separate ways. This doesn't have to be a big dramatic thing; it's just that as you got to know each other better, you figured out it wasn't quite the right fit.

This might seem like a failure, but it's not. In the process of finding some good friends, you're also learning more about yourself and what you really want from a close friendship. People can come into your life for a short time and still have an important impact.

7. You don't need to have a group of friends; one-on-one friendships are just as important.

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Again, pop culture often makes it seem like if you don't have a solid group of at least five friends who all hang out together regularly, you're a loser. But just finding one or two people whom you only hang out with one-on-one is a big accomplishment! It means you've found someone you really connect with, and who will help get you out of the house every once in a while.

8. Be patient, and don't force yourself to become someone you're not.

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In your search for friends, you might come across some groups of people who could be your friends, but something feels a little bit off. They're not bad people, but you can just sense that they're not the right people for you. Listen to that voice! Just because you're looking for some good friends doesn't mean you have to accept the first people who come along, because you might find yourself trying to change aspects of who you are in order to fit in. When you find the right friends, you'll just know.

9. Finding a group of friends is a combination of luck and preparation.

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There's no tried-and-true way of finding a group of friends, but the most likely thing is that you'll make a one-on-one friend who will be your gateway into their group of friends. How do you find this person? Well, once you've gotten out of your comfort zone, met new people, and learned how to take the plunge and ask them to hang out with you, you'll be ready when this person comes along. There's no way to know when they'll show up, but you can make sure you're prepared.

10. Making friends is a process, and can take a long time.

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You could find your true best friends in a few weeks, a few months, or even a few years. But don't let that discourage you! That doesn't mean you'll be friendless the entire time; remember, you'll be meeting new people and making temporary friends along the way. As time passes, you'll understand yourself better and you'll be better at figuring out which kinds of people you want in your life, which is just as important.

11. And always remember to be a friend to yourself first.

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No matter where you are in your friend-finding journey, don't beat yourself up for not having everything figured out yet. You're learning and growing, and you should be proud that you're trying new things and expanding your horizons. Whether you're totally alone or have a packed social calendar, the most important relationship you have is with yourself, so do your best to be kind. After all, you're an awesome person, and your future best friends will be lucky to meet you.

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