Did your friends move away during the pandemic? Did you get a new job and find yourself among mysterious colleagues you only know through Slack and Zoom? Did you recently move to an unfamiliar city? Are you simply looking to overhaul your existing friend group or add to it? Yes, it’s easier in kindergarten, but adults can still make new friends, even in unfamiliar or uncomfortable circumstances. Here’s how.
First, be receptive to new friendships
Not to go all The Secret on you, but if you’re open to new friendships in your life, they will come.
“Try to be a ‘yes man,’” suggested Bobby Sparnroft, a 30-year-old in Queens. “Be open to trying new things and new places.”
He added you’ll have even better luck if you—and these are his words—”don’t have a dick look on your face.” Sparnroft also noted that you should try to be “easygoing” and realize that everyone you meet, from coworkers to customers, is a potential friend. You’re already building a relationship with them, anyway.
Lorraine T., a 33-year-old transplant from Los Angeles to Austin who moved for work and declined to share her last name, agreed, though she used somewhat less spicy language when she said, “If you want to make friends, be friendly! I know it sounds obvious but so many people move to a new place and don’t try anything new or put themselves out there in any new ways and never make friends. My advice is to be friendly (but not thirsty!). Talk to people you interact with daily. Be friendly to the barista at your local coffee shop. Mention that you’re new to town, ask them questions about the things they like to do. Ask them what’s cool in town. Take the advice and check things out.”
Go to places you enjoy
Lorraine is right: Check things out. This is an easy one, but if you like art and history, go to a museum. If you like fitness, go to a spin class. If you like reading, go to a bookstore. The people there probably like the same things you do. Now you have something in common, so approach somebody who, per step one, looks approachable.
“Go to things, even if it means going alone,” advised Lorraine, who met some of her own best friends on a night she went to a show by herself after a customer at her job told her he was in a band.
“Personally, my favorite social activities are comedy shows and trivia nights. It’s especially nice when trivia nights happen once a week because you can give people a standing invite in a really casual way,” said Annie Rauwerda, a 21-year-old University of Michigan student who saw her opportunity to relocate to New York when her classes went remote in the pandemic. “Another great way to meet people is with fitness groups. There are so many running and biking clubs all over the city, and lots of them are free to join and welcoming for different skill levels. Plus, it’s motivation to work out. Two birds with one stone!”
Rauwerda also created an Instagram page, @depthsofwikipedia, which has quickly amassed 288,000 followers, so she’s been able to connect with lots of people who share her unique passion for the free, collaborative reference site. Don’t forget that online friends are friends just the same.
You’re looking to make real-life pals, though, so Sparnroft says lurking online won’t cut it: “You’re not going to meet people sitting at home. We all are accustomed to that because of COVID, but really, the only way to make friends is to go out and meet new people.” In short, be brave.
Look for other friend seekers
There are social clubs you can join so you know you have a mutual interest with everyone there, and that interest is making friends. You’ve probably heard commercials for the My Social Calendar club on the radio, but did you know that there are even friend-making apps?
Bumble, a dating app, has an offshoot called Bumble BFF that matches you with potential new friends. You can also use a dating app for chum-making by simply writing in your Tinder or Hinge bio that you want friends, hold the benefits. Other apps, like Meetup and Hey! VINA, are designed specifically for friendship-matching. If you’re comfortable going on a Tinder date, consider going on a Bumble BFF hang. It’s not that different.
Be someone you’d want to pal around with
This is a transitional period in your life, whether because you just moved, want to find new influences, or were cooped up too long in the pandemic. You have the power to transform your life into whatever you want it to be.
Not only should you venture out to events and venues that pertain to your interests, but you should consider cultivating a few new hobbies, too. If you’ve always wanted to try a pottery class, go—and make a friend. If you were never that into sports but want to see a basketball game, go—and make a friend.
What kinds of people would you like to be friends with? Think of the traits you value or seek out in a new buddy, then work on building those same traits up in your own personality. Why not throw a little self-betterment into the mix while you’re on this journey?
“The key is, if you want to make friends, be interesting and more importantly, be interested in the people you encounter,” advised Lorraine. “Not everyone will turn into a friend, but if you are active and put yourself out there in a kind and open way, eventually you will find your tribe.”