How to Make Friends as an Adult

The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article is Dr. Karin Ryan, PsyD, LP, Clinic Director, Outpatient Therapist.  As children, making friends seems to come naturally. After all, we’re surrounded by people our own age throughout our school years. As TJ Therrien notes on Twin Cities Live, “When you’re in school, at any age, you’re surrounded by a built-in community...but as we get older many of us find it hard to make friends the normal way.” If you have tried to make friends as an adult, you know that it is hard.   While making friends as an adult can be tough, it isn’t impossible. Let’s dive into useful tactics for how to make friends as an adult.  

Nystrom & Associates on Twin Cities Live 

Be Proactive 

First things first, to make friends as an adult, you must be proactive. That means actively making an effort, not simply waiting for a new friend to stroll along. Unfortunately, friends are not just going to magically appear.   One way to be proactive is to find a common interest or event to meet people. Get out of the house or join groups/activities online. For example, here are several ideas to meet new people: 
  • If you like basketball, go to the gym during open court. 
  • Eat your lunch in the breakroom if you go in to work.
  • If you have faith, join a group at your church/synagogue/temple/mosque. 
  • If you are going on a walk, say hello to others along your route. 
  • Go to the dog park at around the same time each week. 
  • If you like to read, join a book study at the library. 
  • Join a golf club, go to pick-up pickleball, or join a bowling league. 
  • If your kids are in sports or activities, sit next to others. 
  • If you are in an apartment with activities, attend them. 
When you are doing something you enjoy, and the other people there also enjoy it, you already have something in common with these potential friends! Use that to your advantage when you interact with them. Related: The 'Stupid Mental Health' Walk Trend

Start Interacting 

Once you're proactive, you then have to be brave and start interacting. You can prepare this ahead of time to reduce some anxiety if you're ex. (This is not silly or weird, it is skillful!) Think about what you might want to say and then start a conversation. For instance:
  • "Which player are you connected to?" 
  • "Which school do you attend?"
  • "How long have you worked here?" 
  • "How was your weekend?” 
Remember that most people are kind and talking to a nice person will brighten their day.

Friendships Take Time To Cultivate 

A few reminders that Dr. Karin Ryan wants you to take note of are: 
  • Know that you are not alone and that it takes time, and if you find people or friend circles "a little closed off" that is not about you, it is about their culture and habits.   
  • Remember that you are most likely going to be liked, so hold that positive mindset.  
  • Consider what you are interested in and start a pattern of behavior.  

Repetition is Key 

Keep interacting - this does involve some vulnerability. Share more about yourself (family, work, travel, other activities). Ask to meet again at a specific time. Ask to grab coffee before or after, or friend each other on Facebook or Instagram. Know that friendships are built from repeated interactions. And those repeated interactions take time to build!  If there is a group of people you know, and you want to turn them into friendships, organize a group activity. Some people feel more comfortable when there is a small group, versus one-on-one. 

Stay Open to New Friendships 

We can also be more welcoming and more aware of the person looking for a friendship or connection. By all means, keep your life-long friends, but also open your heart to new friends.  If you are comfortable with your friends somewhere, remember not everyone has a group of friends there. Make the effort to initiate with someone new.  If you keep bumping into someone, remember that you are likable, be vulnerable, and start talking. 

A Word From Nystrom & Associates  

Learning how to make friends as we age can be hard, but you're not alone. So many others find it challenging as well. If you need support along the way, talking to a therapist can be a great tool. Nystrom offers individual, couples, and family therapy. Call 1-844-NYSTROM or request an appointment online. Related: How to Start Therapy: A Step-by-Step Guide

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