During my senior year of college I had a four-hour class one night a week, where we talked explicitly about conflict. “Communication and Conflict” on Wednesday nights, in the West Building.
My professor, an expert in communication with a doctorate’s degree in counseling and 30 years of marriage mediation experience, had recently gotten a divorce. He told us this within 15 minutes of our first class. He wore the irony less like a disclaimer and more as a lesson. Even when you pretty much know everything, you don’t.
During one class, he gave everyone a little dose of reality. “Who here has a partner,” he asked. Everyone else, he said, better get busy and take advantage of being a college student. “This is most likely the last time in your life that you will be surrounded by a concentration of people with so much in common with you—you are students, undergoing the same level of education, living in nearly the same place, all around the same age. Additionally, you have opportunities every single day to interact and see one another. This is the best chance at a dating pool that you will ever have.”
Dating as you get older, it appears, is not quite as easy as sitting next to someone in class or bumping into them at the campus coffee shop and later asking for their Instagram handle.
Making friends, too, is not quite as easy.
I have a best friend with me every day. I’m married to him. And our connection is easy, effortless. When you add in my status as an introvert, you get a recipe for friend-making apathy.
We moved to a new city after graduating college, and I’m going to be honest: we have not made a ton of new friends. Like my professor said, it’s hard. It’s difficult to put yourself out there, and it can be tricky to start over fresh. Every few months we are able to travel a few hundred miles or host our buddies in our new home, but as far as day-to-day friendships, we are still making strides to get out of our comfort zone and connect with new faces.
Rest assured, there are ways to make friend-making as an adult a little easier.
How to Make Adult Friends
1. Join Meet Up
Meet Up is an excellent resource for friend-making. It’s a website and app that allows you to join groups with people that have similar interests, and then meet up in real life.
The catch: it all depends on your location. If you’re in a smaller town or rural area, this might not be as effective. When I first joined Meet Up, there were several hiking groups (not my favorite activity, at all) and not very many groups that reflected my interests or hobbies. This led me to creating my own group, which requires a monthly payment.
The other tricky variable is involvement. A Meet Up group is only as good as its events. If no one is scheduling—which was my case, I’ll admit—and there aren’t opportunities to get together, you won’t meet anyone. Sometimes events are planned and no one shows up. Mostly, I recommend either choosing a Meet Up that has a full calendar or being an active member that brings ideas and suggestions to the table to ensure that the group always has opportunities to connect.
Volunteering is good on so many levels: for others, for yourself, for connection, for the betterment of the world.
Whether you pick up trash or decide to sign up for a community event, you have opportunities to meet others that are also there to do a little good. Meeting those kinds of people is never a bad thing. Plus, you already have a common interest. I’d recommend scanning the newspaper, local Facebook communities, and using the good ‘ol Google machine to find options near you.
3. Join a Rec League
Even if sports and athleticism aren’t quite your thing, joining a recreational team is a surefire way to get in some social bonding.
This last fall, Chad and I joined a volleyball team through his work. Comprised of many engineers, our focus was much less on being expert athletes and more about having fun. And it was, especially when we came together to get drinks after.
Most places have traditional sports or bowling teams, while bigger cities might think outside of the box, with skeeball or kickball leagues. Sign up!
4. Start with the Office
One of the best and easiest places to make friends is at your place of work. Face it: this is where you spend most of your time, besides at home. You might as well reach out to the people around you and get to know them outside of 9 to 5.
Ask to go grab drinks, lunch, or coffee. Invite your desk mate, or invite an entire department. You really can’t lose when you get to know the people that inhabit your professional life and space, as long as you have clear boundaries.
If you’re married, also get to know the people that your spouse works with, and be sure that they also have access to the new people you’re getting to know. I really enjoy spending time with my husband’s coworkers, and it’s so nice when he knows exactly who I’m talking about when I share events and interactions from my day.
5. Go to Events
Not only are community events fun and diverse, they are also a great way to meet other people.
Is there a trivia night at a bar you like? Check it out! Does the hot springs pool have a themed night? Go! Music in the park, holiday event, free writer’s workshop, film festival, book club, board game night? Yes to all.
Try saying “yes” more, and going to new and exciting events. The more you leave the comfort of your home and your routine, the more likely you will end up with a few more contacts in your phone.
You Can Do It
College is an opportunity to make some of the best friends in your life. Once you’ve graduated or moved on, however, it doesn’t mean that your chances to grow and meet new people—whether its your platonic soul mate, a group of brewery hoppers, or love of your life—are over.
You might just have to get a little resourceful, and put in a little more effort.
Speaking of which—if you want to be friends, let me know! 🙂