How grown-ups make new friends: handing out coupons

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Making friends as adults is WEIRD. I actually had a conversation with fellow editor Megan about it a few weeks back. We grew up with LOTS of people to make friends with: hey, you like playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, too? I’m gonna be Leonardo, you be Raphael, and we’ll spend all of preschool fighting crime and saving April.

NOW, though — it can be really hard to make new friends. I don’t even have time to see my current friends, let alone make enough consistent dates with new people that we can bond.

The Saminal has a solution!

A New Way to Make Friends

We’re hoping to hand these out to people we meet that we’d like to be friends with. We have trouble transitioning from meeting someone cool to establishing an actual friendship with said cool person.

These tokens are our take on calling cards but a little less formal and a lot more homemade.

What would you do if someone handed you one?

Comments on How grown-ups make new friends: handing out coupons

  1. It’s even harder when you work from home and don’t much like going out in the first place, and then when you move away from the place you had finally made friends…
    I think I’d feel dorky handing out tokens though. Like the coupon book you gave your mom for Mother’s Day that had backrubs and breakfasts in bed, because you were young and poor and she already had too many macaroni necklaces.

    • Yes. 🙂

      I think it would work if you were just chill and authentic. With my latest two adult-friend-additions the Rachels, I think at some point I just said, “OKAY WE SEEM TO HAVE A GOOD RAPPORT WE WILL BE FRIENDS NOW.” Because authentic for me is speaking like a robot.

      Honestly, people LOVE handmade things, too. If you made tokens like these, recipients would largely think it’s really cool that you made something.

      • I did almost exactly that- the last time I made friends randomly (and not by meeting them through friends or work) I basically said “You’re my friends now” which probably sounds totally creepy, but he got it. We’ve become the best of friends, even, over the 7 years since then, so it was worth it that one time. I’m normally so painfully shy that I would be horrified to approach someone, but it worked out.

      • Ha! That’s how I approached my now husband – in a totally robot-way: “I find you very attractive, human. Let me hug you, because I assume you like me too”.

        • So glad there are other ladybots out there. Fact: my husband did an impression of me last week and it went, “HI I AM CAT DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT CRYSTALS? LET’S TALK ABOUT MAGNUM PI. MY FAVORITE EPISODE IS ALL OF THEM.”

  2. Those are awesome. I might have trouble, though, screwing up the courage to hand them out–all of that fear of rejection. I agree it’s tough to make new friends as an adult. I have tried the Craigslist Strictly Platonic section with some results. However, what I really want to do is blind friend dates! I want my friends to “set me up” with their friends that they think I would like. Just like a blind date, but with no motive of romance. Unfortunately the only people who like this idea are my sister and my best friend, both of whom share pretty similar social circles with me already. But maybe it will work for someone else out there.

    • I totally got set up on a blind-friend-date which turned out great; it was one of those situations where the mutual friend kept talking about each of us to the other and it eventually got to the point of ridiculous! So we all had lunch together (so we’d always have the mutual friend to fall back on if it turns out we can’t converse IRL) and it turned out great!

  3. This is a really clever idea. I wish I had the “balls” so-to-speak to do something like this. I’m constantly stuck in that awkward phase of “almost friends.”

  4. Hmm, I think I am at a point where I don’t want new friends. I have already enough trouble keeping the ones I have as it is. I find that next to my full time job, I don’t have the energy to go out and hang with people. The weekends are spend seeing said old friends, so that leaves little room for new ones, I think… But I totally agree, making new friends as an adult is weird.

  5. I love the idea, but whether or not I took them up on it would really depend on who gave it to me.

    I feel like making new friends as an adult is like dating only more confusing.

    • I totally agree! There was a girl at work who is really sweet, funny, interesting, everything you’d want in a friend, but there are differences in philosophy, politics, and other things that are hard for me to get around since I’m so liberal and she’s so conservative. I know that’s a lame reason, but friendships shouldn’t make you put on the ‘acceptable conversation’ filter so feelings don’t get hurt.

      • OFF TOPIC, BUT… I totally agree that it’s super hard to have genuine conversations with people who have alternate ideologies! BUT I think it’s important that we try. I know my parents and grandparents totally had friends that were different in that way, but they were still able to talk about it. (but then there was one thanksgiving that ended in screaming…) I think one of the reasons we are all so far apart is because we disagree then just go ‘GAH I can’t talk to you, you just don’t get it.’ I feel like we as a society need to learn to have calm, genuine convos about politics or we will never get anywhere.

        Plus if she’s cool, maybe she will just be like ‘to each their own’ and not be baited by conversation that is left leaning. No one friend fulfills all hats, maybe she is your crafting buddy (or whatever you have in common) and you talk politics with someone else.

  6. My husband and I are actually thinking of joining a progressive church (like the Unitarian church) even though we’re atheists to make friends in the faraway city we’ve relocated to (spoiler: notoriously socially chilly Seattle). Our problem is working from home and not really even meeting people. We’ve been here a year and the few acquaintances we’ve tapped haven’t resulted in anything more than an awkward coffee or dinner. Or — worse — an invitation to a party where we didn’t know anybody! We’ve also seen this new service — a website that helps adults meet other adults for platonic dinner and conversation in Seattle and a few other big cities, and are going to try that. Food > church. It is sooooo hard to make friends as introverted adults.

      • A friend who’s super-shy has been really digging Grubwithus in Chicago. It seems like a cool way for adults to socialize. I know here in Seattle they actually bring in guests of honor to sup with, too, which I think is cool. Prices are kinda high (25 – 30 bux for a meal), but it’s all inclusive.

    • Seattle! That’s where I’m from! Currently living on the Southern East Coast but my husband and I miss it so much (and The South is horrible) that we are planning on moving back ASAP. I am a more introverted person but my husband is definitely an extrovert and that has worked well for us. Most of our Seattle friends started out as roommates in a big house I lived in before I met my husband. We met a few people through work and playing disc golf, but there seems to be cool people everywhere in Seattle. The site you linked to sounds cool, I have often thought it would be fun to get something going around meeting new people and making dinner (I enjoy cooking). Anyway, as a fellow atheist (former bible-thumper), I feel your pain. Churches have a unique selling point in that they promote community and social interaction.

      If you want any tips on Seattle or just want to connect and possibly have a platonic dinner and conversation, you can find me through here:

      • Thanks for the invitation! I think I’ve had an entirely different experience than you — we moved up from Portland, where we had a really tight community and lived on on First Hill, which felt pretty faceless and urban. After living in big lovely old houses ourselves, it was a pretty big shock to move into a tiny apartment in a huge brick apartment building. Plus, last winter was the coldest winter on record and it seemed to make everybody just hole up. I’m open to Seattle turning around this year! And definitely open to your insights.

    • Oh, the INFAMOUS Seattle freeze — we’re so polite, but will never EVER call you back.

      If I might, I suggest coming to the Salon of Shame. It can be hard to get tickets (easy if you know how!) but the crowd tends to be super fun and chatty. It’s a great way to meet people — and I’ll be there to say HIYA!

    • I’ve found churches to be one of the easiest ways to get to know people in your neighborhood.

      If traditional religion isn’t your bag, the Unitarian Universalists definitely might be more your speed. I have some atheist friends who are active members in a UU church.

  7. I’d be too chicken to hand ’em out- it’d be just as hard asking some new folk out for dinner, really, haha. But I agree- especially working from home, it’s damn hard to meet people and it sucks when most of your old friends live somewhere else entirely 😛

  8. I’m not sure I get it. So you hand the poker chip thing to someone you’ve meet at a party, or the bar, or a protest, or wherever you meet people and they can redeem it for like a friend “date”?
    Getting one would probably completely creep me out but I’m an introvert who prefers to quietly evaluate a person over the course of a few meetings before determining whether I want them to be my friend or not.

    • That’s sort of how I felt… depending on the personality of the person giving it to me, I would feel a little strange.

      That said, making grown-up friends is hard! As a kid we moved a LOT and my mom says it takes 3 years to really establish yourself with a new group of friends in a new place. I’ve been in Delaware for a bit over 2, and I’m starting to feel like I have a legit social circle.

        • HA! I just read that and thought, “Hey – I’m in DE too!” But it’s DE as in Deutschland NOT Deleware. Sad…

          I’m so lazy about making new friends, but then every so often I get really sad about not having any. I’m glad I’m not the only one out there with friend troubles! 🙂

          • I’m in Deutschland! And new here too. I was so proud of myself for inviting a girl from my German class up after she missed her bus but she declined. Oh well… I’ll keep trying. Making friends is even harder when you don’t speak the local language

  9. I think that they are very clever and I would like it if someone gave me one. Although I am married, we have no children and most of my friends do. So, we have grown somewhat apart and we rarely see each other anymore. I find it really difficult to just meet friends in the DC/Baltimore metro areas. It seems that people wonder what your motive is or if there would be some advantage to being your friend.

    • Hi Chelsea,

      I recently moved to Baltimore and I’m a married with no kids person. Perhaps you can brainstorm some meeting people ideas with me. AND – (FYI) one advantage to being my friend is that you would get to witness a nice lady drinking multiple glasses of red wine whilst eating massive amounts of cheese. Score! 🙂

  10. I simultaneously think this is cool and creepy, LOL. I definately wouldn’t have the confidence to hand these out, but I would love to meet the person who does! My problem is that, as an adult, most new people I meet either bore me or freak me out. Still, free food is rarely bad 😉

  11. These are such a great idea because it leaves it up to the receiver whether they want to cash in.

    My husband and I love going to small crowded cafes and sharing tables with strangers. Sometimes it can be awkward and weird, but most times it is great practice for conversation, and it’s over a meal which makes people relax.

    Calling cards need to make a comeback, digital stuff just doesn’t cut it when it comes to visiting, etc. It’s sad that most people just think they are useful as business cards and nothing more. I would probably make mine out of old seed packets, or seeded paper for a garden, that way they’d go into the compost instead of the landfill!

  12. I gotta be the weirdo but i like my internet friends. XD I make friends FAR easier through the net than say at parties, but with the bonus of depending what site i’ve made these friends through, they may BE local and therefore i also get face-to-face contact.
    Other than the friend-date above one of my really good friends i first started talking to through facebook – i’d seen her around and thought she was awesome (lolita!) but never had the guts to talk to her. I mentioned this to a friend who turned out to be a mutual friend and voila, she pointed me to her facebook and we started chatting through there for a good couple of months before we actually talking IRL, despite the fact that most of the time we were chatting we were working in the same building! now we get coffee every couple of weeks.
    The thing i have the most trouble with is keeping track of old friends, and again, i use Facebook and twitter for this – not quite the same as seeing them all the time, but better than not hearing from them at all!
    If people have hobbies that have organized internet communities it can be surprising how many people you can meet locally – i’m a knitter and have met a lot of local knitters through Ravelry, some of whom meet up with me weekly for a knitting group. Not all hobbies have sites quite as organized, but something a lot of people forget is that people on the internet can be anywhere – even right next door!

    • This!

      I joined a forum for my new favourite band a few years ago, originally just because I wanted to talk about them and no one I knew in real life gave a crap.

      But they happened to have a really great online community, and well…it’d be weird to go to the same gig as people you talk to online all the time and not say hi.

      Now we get together for totally unrelated things as well. Several of them even came to my wedding (to a guy I met on the same forum).

      Not all of them are local of course, but that can work out as well. When I got sick of regularly changing planes in New York and never seeing the city I booked a trip with a 2 day lay-over and stayed with a friend from the forum who showed me around the city.

  13. I’m a very shy person at first, so I definitely wouldn’t be able to do this type of thing.

    I actually leave all the friend-making up to my husband…which I know is totally lame. But my husband is a big extrovert and makes friends super easy (both male and female), while I take a LOOOOONG time to make just one friend. I prefer to be gradually worked into friendship.

    • ARGH! My husband is the anti-social one (I know you didn’t say you were anti-social and my husband didn’t either, but i say he is!) and I’m the extrovert, or used to be anyway, and it’s so so difficult to make new friends when he never wants to risk spending a boring evening with new people. I used to get invited to lots of hang-out sessions, etc, until I basically turned every single one down, because he would never go, and it’s pretty darn awkward to be in the same circle of coworkers or students as your husband but be the ONLY one showing up to anything social. So frustrating! I have gradually accepted my fate as a hermit with my husband, but hopefully once we have more free time I will strike out to make my own friends anyway….

  14. I feel like making friends as an adult is exactly like dating, and the top thing I’ve learned about dating is that someone is either on board to be dated by you, or they’re not. So, I’d think if you gave one of these chips to someone already on board to become friends, it’d be “Wow! This is fun and creative and quirky!” and if you gave it to someone who wasn’t already on board to be friends, it would be “Wow! This is weird and creepy!” It’s not going to convince anyone.

    But the people in the second group weren’t going to be friends with you anyway. So, where this seems golden is that it declares that you are on board with being friends with the person who is already on board with being friends, and facilitates the clarity of friendship commencing.

    • Also if you’re the type of person who loves this idea and the person you give it to also loves the idea then you clearly have similar personalities and there’s a good chance you’d end up friends.

  15. I’d probably take someone up on that! But I’d be too terrified to hand them out myself.

    Someone once in the comments mentioned having an offbeat meet-up, and I got super excited, and then I lost the thread and/or nothing ever came of it. Can we make this happen? (I’m in Boston, but it should totally happen in lots of cities, because offbeat empire readers should all meet each other!)

    • Nothing came of it. Unfortunately, it’s just not in scope for me to organize regional meet-ups, which means it’s up to readers to organize them. (Which means sometimes nothing will come of it.)

      • If there were a single post that we could all comment on to try to organize meet ups maybe that would help solidify things? That way we know where to say “Hey I’m here who wants to chill!” Or go “Oh look they are doing a meet up the next town over!”

        Just a suggestion…

        • I know this is an old post, but I support this idea majorly. I feel like it starts to happen just a little bit in some comments already – why not make a whole post devoted to it?

      • Well, if any OBB/OBH/OBM(though I’m not a parent) live in the Dallas area and want to meet up, even if it’s just one person, I’d be down with that. I like coffee, wine, and food. Not necessarily all at one time 🙂

      • Okay! So as long as you’re cool with us organizing offbeat meetups, I’ll start a group, then!

        I’ll get on that after my honeymoon, for which I leave ON THURSDAY (eeeeeeeeeee)!

        • Hey, I’m curious (and a little ashamed because I would probably be too lazy to ever actually spend the time it takes to set this stuff up), but did you ever get around to this? (Hopefully you had a lovely honeymoon, too….)

  16. Totally. Even when you’re getting to know someone through an avenue like school or work, it’s weird to just say, “Hey – let’s be friends now!” Although I find my boyfriend and I both talk about the same things to make friends as we did when we were kids – action figures, video games and (in my case) clothes. If anyone is new to Portland, likes tasty drinks, gaming, and art, and needs an introduction, I can set you up!

  17. I’m not sure how I’d feel about receiving one of these, but I’d probably love it!
    In my case, I feel like I need some more online friends. Sometimes I need to talk with someone who can get me a bit of perspective, someone removed from my usual social circle.
    Also, I work from home, so the online thing works great for me! The thing is, I don’t know where to go. If only there were forums here, like in Offbeat Bride! I was so busy planning the wedding I didn’t have time to follow up on people there long enough to cultivate a friendship…
    I need a forum for offbeat workers-from-home who have no friends but need some! If I knew how to create one, I totally would.

  18. If I want to be friends with someone I meet, I usually invite them to one of our movie/cooking sit-ins at home. We’ve got all kinds of crazy people coming over, serve chocolate penises and watch Disney and horror movies on the “big screen” (projector) – whoever survives such a night and agrees to come over again deserves our friendship. ^^

    (For the records, I am 29. And work in a real office. Where I have to wear business clothes. And yes, I will occasionally bring chocolate penises for special colleagues.)

  19. I totally would have used something like this!! Me and my fiance moved to Australia 2 months ago and we knew no one over hear. It was so surreal having to actively make friends again. Its taken a while but we now have a friendship circle. The best way we found was to force ourselves into talking to people at events, as you automatically have a common ground (the Rugby world cup was awsome to meet other rugby lovers).
    I give a high five to anyone who has the guts to start a new and start a new life! Next time Ill use coupons for sure!! One free beer/meal is great

  20. I admit I’d be amused if someone gave me one, but then I was thinking of creating something similar for when I meet other role playing gamers I like. (Which is my adult way of making friends – organized gaming groups!)

  21. i adore the idea of calling cards, so of course i adore this combination of calling cards and pretty wood things. not that i would use them; i am not so forward.

    anyhow, i have found that the biggest hurdle to keeping adult friendships is actually keeping our house clean. i often pass up hanging out because i’m cooking dinner at home (and adults’ only social outlet seems to be “wanna go get some dinner?”) – and i would gladly cook for more if it weren’t embarrassing to have them over…

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