As a kid, the art of making friends was simple: all you had to do was ask, “Want to be friends?” But as an adult, who do you ask to be your friend, and how do you ask the question without seeming desperate? We made our first friends in our neighborhood, at school, and at summer camps where we had many potential candidates to choose from. In college and university, we learned to accept differences, play nice, and mostly found our best friends in our roommates or lab partners. But making friends as an adult is difficult. Not everyone in the corporate world is warm and friendly, childhood friends move on, and we lose touch or drift away from some of them. If you just moved to a new place and haven’t started working yet, like me, it is likely that you will find the process even harder. So here are some tips to making new friends as an adult.
- Use the internet
No, I don’t mean dating apps alone. There are other ways to use the internet wisely. Join groups that interest you based on your hobby or profession. Use sites like Meetup, Eventbrite and BigTent to meet new people; chances are you will have similar interests and you will hit it off. Meet-ups and events also offer a casual, low-pressure atmosphere; if you don’t enjoy a conversation, you can slip away.
When I moved to the United states three months ago, I didn’t know anyone except my husband and a few of his friends. So I joined an internship group on Facebook on which I saw a post for a job query in my area of expertise. I connected with the inquirer immediately and asked her for advice. We discussed the job market, moving across the world, and much more. She is among the few friends who calls me consistently to ask how I am settling in and has great advice to offer.
- Reconnect with an old friend
You will be surprised at how easy it is to connect with your friend from kindergarten or your first internship. There is much familiarity so you can pick up where you left off. In fact, despite a “fresh start”, you are almost certain to get along. The first few times of hanging out and catching up is breezy because you are just filling each other up on life after you parted ways, discussing the good times, people you know in common, etc., and before you know it, it goes back to how it was.
During my first week here, I met a high school friend and an old college friend. Those two cups of coffee were the most fun and refreshing times I had. I stay in touch with both of them and try to catch up as often as possible.
- Connect with your friends’ friends
Network to make friendships not professional gains. Think beyond social networking. Sometimes it is easy to connect with people who your friends know. You may run in the similar circles and may have common interests, so when you hang out in a new group, don’t be shy. Your conversation starter is as simple as your common friend. You will not hit it off with everyone you meet, but when you do strike a chord, it will be one of good company.
My first trip to San Francisco was with two people I had never met before. A friend’s friend was driving there to show someone around and asked if I wanted to go along. It was so much fun; we ended up having a lot in common and kicked it off instantly!
- Be open
Making friends as an adult is not easy, so be open. If you meet someone for the first time and you don’t connect instantly, don’t think they are not your type of friend. Some of my most precious friends are ones with whom I got off on the wrong foot. Give it time before you decide to call it quits. It takes more than two times of hanging out for people to open up and become comfortable, especially if it is in a group.
My husband’s friends are all engineers and I was initially apprehensive about finding much in common with them. After a couple times of hanging out with them, I realized that we have more in common than our love for food and fashion.
- Join a class or group
This is probably the most old-fashioned method, but I think it works the best. A chance at pursuing a hobby and meeting like-minded people is the way to go. Opt for weekend classes so you can hang out after the class. People always like to grab a coffee or a bite after an activity; chances are you will sip your strong coffee to stronger friendships.
No matter what method you choose, approaching people is probably the hardest part. You have to be sure not to cross the line. A good way to approach people: be genuine, be yourself and be congenial. It is okay to be the one to compliment their hair, ask for recommendations on the best Vietnamese restaurant, or just ask them to hang out. If the other person also enjoyed your company, they will reciprocate your enthusiasm.
Be confident, cool, and self-assured. Get out and have some fun hanging out with your new friends.
What are your tips on making friends as an adult? Let me know in the comments section below.
Note: Doodle credits: Pooja Haria