A lot of people (myself included) often wonder how to meet new people as adults. As a child the interactions were facilitated and it seemed easier, but as adults it’s still possible – we just have to do more work to get the same results.
Here are some things you can do to facilitate friendship:
One thing I’ve learned about meetups is that to make the lasting friendships there, you can’t just show up and leave. You have to stay until the end, see who’s still around, and then ask them to go get a beer or a coffee afterwards. In that way, you’ll create a much deeper, longer lasting relationship with someone that could become a friendship.
Pick one habit to change such as your drive home. For example, instead of driving straight home, stop at a park and walk around. If you see someone there, talk to them. If you are the first person to leave work, be the last person to leave and engage in a deeper conversation with one new person. If you always take the same streets home, purposefully take a different path and pay attention to what you see. You might find a new place to hang out (and meet new people).
Or, instead of driving to work, see if there is a way to carpool, walk, or ride a bike to work. You could also wake up one hour earlier than normal and be the first person in a local coffee shop in the morning. If you don’t know the name of the barista or checkout person at the gas station, ask them their name and tell them yours. The next time you are there, greet them by name.
By making slight changes to your daily habits, you can cause unknown, unintended, changes (like the butterfly effect) that will lead you down a different path than the one you’re on now. In addition to small changes in your actions, here are some pretty standard things you can do to “meet new people” and “make friends.”
- Be thankful for the life you already have.
- When someone asks you to do something you wouldn’t normally do, consider doing it this time.
- Join a local church.
- Find a local meetup on meetup.com.
- Start a new habit and do something consistently to see who else is doing that same thing consistently. Talk to that person.
- Help someone younger than you or older than you without expecting to get paid.
- Look for ways to volunteer.
- Join a coworking facility.
- Consistently visit a bar or coffee shop at a certain time.
- Be the friend you want to have – invite other people to lunch with you, tell other people what you are doing and invite them to join you, throw a party at your house or apartment, rent out a gym and play some dodgeball, join a softball or kickball league, play a pick-up basketball game at the local park.
To do the things you’re not doing now, you’re going to have to do the things you’re not doing now. That means taking a different path through life, doing things a little bit differently, going places you normally don’t go, doing things you normally don’t do – and being consistent about it.
People who don’t have a clue what they want in life usually don’t know themselves very well. We all like to live in our comfort zones. Same life, friends and activities for years. We think that when we are more comfortable that we are more happy. But the key to happiness may be in getting out of your comfort zone.
The key is to throw yourself in situations which are out of your comfort zone. Go on a trip somewhere obscure, preferably alone. Take some odd job, Do crazy stuff. Break your barriers. Don’t just sit and think about what your passions are. Go find them.
When you do things that normally isn’t you, you will discover what truly is you.
It can be very difficult to get out of our comfort zones – they are comfortable after all. But comfort does not equate to happiness. I think we tend to believe that we know who we are, when in reality we have settled for what we are currently because we are afraid to get out of our comfort zones.
The best part about getting outside of your comfort zone is that it gives you one of the greatest feelings that money cannot buy: Appreciation. We are all aware that we don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone, but that understanding hits a lot harder when we experience it first hand.
Why is it so hard to make friends as an adult?
As one New York Times article stated, “As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other”, which are things school and college are perfect for. The people at work would be the next best thing, but aren’t always the pool of people you’d necessarily want to be friends with (sometimes).
But there are other ways to get these types of interactions – frequenting a coffee shop or bar, church, or meetups that other like-minded people also frequent – all take care of those points. When we are little we make friends where we find them. Do you live next door? You’re my friend. Do you sit next to me at school? You’re my friend. Generally we have similar, but limited interests. But as an adult we filter out the people we don’t agree with politically, socially, or for other reasons. By the time we get to the few people left there’s a very small pool of potential friends via self-selection.
It may not be that it actually gets any harder to make friends as you get older, rather that you get better attuned to what you want in a friend.
As an adult I only hang out with people that I actually like and who I feel a mutual sense of value with: they bring something good to my life, I feel I bring something good to theirs. It takes time to find people like that, but it’s worth the effort.