This is a guest post for Skills You Need.
Want to contribute? Find out how.
How to Make Friends as an Adult
It was all too easy when we were kids.
All you needed to do was simply walk over to someone else, ask if you could play with their toys and – boom – you had a friend for life.
While it may be true that the same could also be done in adult life, replacing ‘playing with toys’ with a quick drink down the pub, finding friends as an adult just doesn’t seem anywhere near as straightforward. So, why is this?
We’re all the same people, after all. So, what changes in our lives that suddenly reduces our ability to make friends as easily as we could before?
Progressively maturing into adulthood is one of the more obvious reasons as to why finding friends becomes more difficult as we grow older, especially when you consider the number of life decisions and stresses that get thrown at you along the way.
From deciding where to go to university, to which job you want to do to who you want to couple up with, it generally tends to be a combination of lifestyle, geographical and career-based circumstances which get in the way of us being able to make friends in adult life.
However, a lot of the time it can also come down to the inner insecurities many of us feel in day to day life – an overwhelming feeling of dread, stress or anxiety when it comes to approaching others, social situations or trying to make friends.
With social media now firmly embedded in our lives as well, many of us have now effectively created two versions of ourselves: a real-life personality and an alternative virtual counterpart. It’s this virtual version of ourselves which represents the person we’d like to be, but don’t have the confidence to act like in person.
As research widely proves, increased social media use generates greater feelings of anxiety and – in turn – an internal reliance on portraying our virtual selves. This then inhibits our ability to make decisions, value our inner self-worth and gain the confidence to do something new, like make a new friend.
If this all sounds too familiar, then don’t worry – you’re not alone.
This article will look to help you overcome these feelings of anxiety, encouraging you to get out of your shell and learn how to find friends in adult life.
By using the ideas we’ve listed below, you should not only feel a lot more comfortable around others, but you should feel a lot more secure in your own skin as well.
1. Play a Sport
Whether it be yoga, football, netball, tennis, walking or something else entirely, sports are well-known for the social attachment they bring with them.
So, if you have a rusty old racquet in the back of your wardrobe or some gym leggings you bought with the greatest intentions, why not kill two birds with one stone?
Joining a sports club you’re particularly interested in will not only help keep you fit and healthy, but it’ll also allow you to meet other people with similar sporting interests while reaping the clinically-proven benefits of spending time outdoors.
2. Learn a New Skill
If sport isn’t really your thing then, no problem, why not think about learning a new skill instead?
Ask yourself: what is something you wish you had more time to do? Then, once you’ve highlighted a few options, scout around both locally and online to see where you could potentially sign up for a few classes.
If you’ve always wanted to master a new language, learn how to cook, sew, write a book or play an instrument, now is the ideal opportunity.
By surrounding yourself with other like-minded people trying to learn the same skill, you can help each other and potentially become friends in the process.
If you have any causes that are particularly close to your heart, volunteering can be a great way of making friends while also giving back to society.
As with all the suggestions on this list, it’s important to do something that you yourself are interested in so that, when you meet someone, their values will align with your own.
Therefore, if altruism is something you particularly look for in a new acquaintance, then volunteering could be a fantastic method of pinpointing the right kind of people you’d like to surround yourself with.
While volunteering, you could even meet people in need of your help, who you can take under your wing to help improve their lives. This, in turn, could provide you both with a life changing experience that will truly cement your friendship for the long haul.
4. Find a Fresh Start
Is there a reason you’ve held back on making friends where you currently are? If so, it might be time to make a completely fresh start.
Life has a way of falling into a routine, after all, and it can be all too easy to get stuck.
If you’re bored with your current living situation, fancy a career change or, simply have an itch that needs to be scratched, what’s stopping you from changing it?
The sooner you can feel more sure of yourself and your own life, the sooner you’ll allow yourself to feel comfortable enough to go out and find new friends.
5. Use Your Kids & Pets
If you have any kids or pets, why not use their lovable naivety to your advantage?
Playgroups and child-based activities are a great way to meet like-minded parents, giving you the chance to chat while you watch your kids play together.
Similarly, taking part in dog training classes and walking groups will enable you to share stories with other dog owners from around the area, while coming with the added bonus of being surrounded by a lot of cute pups.
Finding friends in adult life is all about getting out of your comfort zone, trying something new and meeting like-minded people with similar interests to your own.
While no, it may not be as straightforward as walking over to someone and asking to play with their toys, with the right level of self-motivation and effort, finding new people to share your life with can be a lot easier than you might think.
The important thing to remember is that we’re all human – everyone everywhere suffers the same feelings of anxiety and nervousness when it comes to making friends. So, don’t be afraid to overcome that.
You’ll never know how great your life could be unless you do.
About the Author
Gemma Hart is an independent HR professional working remotely from as many coffee shops as she can find. Since graduating in 2013, Gemma has gained experience in a number of HR roles but now turns her focus towards growing her personal brand and connecting with leading experts.