How to make friends as a grown up: stop being a victim, start making plans

Updated Jun 5 2017
Best friends shirts by Etsy seller ThePlaidDeer

I got into a huge conversation recently with an old friend of mine. He's in his mid-30s, self-employed, and works from his home in the burbs. He recently broke up with his girlfriend, and is newly single and realizing he just doesn't have the group of friends that he did in his 20s. I've had the same conversation with other friends in their late 20s and 30s (and 40s)… how the fuck do you make friends as a grown up? I was reminded of a question we got recently from a reader asking about making friends, saying, "I'm not cool like Ariel so I can't just meet people out dancing."

Uh, thank you for that adorably vintage impression of my life, sweet reader… but my social life hasn't revolved around going out dancing in over a decade. When I think of the friends I've made in the last 5 years, they're people who've come to me via parenting groups and book clubs. They're people who moved in next door, or who my mom introduced me to. This is not the way I made friends in my early 20s, when it was all pills and back-rubs and speaker-stack hugs. Those people are still my friends too, but these days I make friends like anyone else: through mutual interests, people, or groups. It took effort to make these connections — and continues to take an ongoing commitment to stay connected.

Look: I don't want to dictate that anyone needs to make friends. I've got mad love for the introverts, and serious sympathy for those who wrestle with social anxiety disorders — but for the rest of us who are just dealing with run-of-the-mill social apathy? Here are my common sense tips for grown-up friend-making:

Stop thinking friendships "just happen" (or fall into place for everyone but you)

Maybe friendships "just happen" in your early 20s, when more folks are in a state of joyfully stumbling around exploring who they are and what they like and what they want, but in your 30s and older, friendships take serious commitment and time. Lots of folks are busy with stuff (work, housekeeping, general "being a grownup keeping your crap together" bullshit), and so you have to seriously invest time in finding, nourishing, and maintaining your friendships. Don't let yourself get into a pity loop about how other people have friends just fall into their lives — for most of us, real friendships take real time and real commitment.

Be forward and direct

When I meet someone who I feel like I might click with, I get crazy forward. I have honestly said these exact words: "You seem really cool! Let's try to be friends!" It's like kindergarten: HI I LIKE YOU. PLEASE LET'S TRY TO BE FRIENDS NOW. Making friends as an adult is not a time to be coy or play hard-to-get. You have to be direct and forward. This is notoriously difficult in my hometown of Seattle, known for passive aggressiveness and "The Seattle Freeze" … but I think it's also just endemic of our tech-focused era. (As another Seattleite said, "Apps this good, who's got time to make friends?") So yeah: it's hard to break out of your iPhone bubble and be forward with people you want to be friends with… but it's worth it.

Don't talk about making plans; MAKE PLANS

It's so easy to get into endless loop around "We should get together" and "Yeah we totally should" and "Yeah totally we should maybe do that some time." If you want to be someone's friend, contact them with a pitch: "I'm thinking of going to an author reading at the bookstore this Thursday. Wanna go with me and grab a drink after?" If they can't, then say, "Well, I'd really like to hang out — is there a time that works for you?" Avoid the dreaded "checking calendars" and endless texting back and forth about maybes and bla bla. Pick up the fucking phone, and make fucking plans.

Keep trying, over and over again

My general rule is to try to make plans with someone FIVE times before giving up. (And if I'm trying to make plans with a parent, it's seriously like 10 times!) In my 20s, if a friendship didn't easily click into place, I'd bail. Here in my 30s I've learned that we're all busy and you have to commit to getting over your butthurt when people can't hang out. Try again. Then try again. Obviously, be sensitive to cues that someone isn't interested in being your friend (dude, it happens!), but ditch the self-pitying narrative about how no one wants to hang out with you. Friendships take time. Friendships take effort. This is what effort looks like.

When you want to go check facebook, directly contact a friend instead

This is something HUGE that I've been trying to work this year: Instead of pacifying my loneliness with passive social media consumption (which gives the sensation of socializing, but without actually CONNECTING to anyone)… when I feel lonely, I contact a friend directly. One on one. Even if it's just to say "Hey, you popped into my mind! I hope you're having an awesome day," it's a REAL connection that goes much farther towards maintaining true friendships than passive social media consumption. Everyone likes to feel remembered, and if you want to make real life friends, lurking on social media isn't getting you there.

Consider organized groups or even churches

This is one of those things that I thought was silly when I was younger, but now I really see the value. When you work alone and aren't close with your neighbors, you need to find groups of people who share your interests. I'm so happy to have a book club, even when I don't like everyone in it or hate the book we're reading… because it feels so good to come together and share an experience with people. Do you like taking pictures? Join a local photo walk! Interested in philosophy? Look for a Unitarian Church and go get your agnostic philosophy on! Have a dog? Look for a meet-up!

Remember: most people only have 2-3 close friends

I think many of us have gotten the warped impression that everyone but us has these huge groups of close friends, and it's just not true. Again, it's easy to get into a looping victim narrative — and that time spent feeling sorry about not having enough friends is time you could be dedicating to cultivating a couple close friendships.

These are the things that have worked for me, but I'm super curious — how do you guys make friends? Is it really basically just like dating, but without the sex?

    • Thank you. Some very good points. I need to make, more of an effort, that I have been. Most of my friends are very busy with their lives, and their extended families. And they check in with me via testing, but texting doesn't get me out of the house, doing something. My problem is finding friends that want to do something outdoors, and not sit around and talk or drink all night. Women are so hard to read sometimes, and you don't want to push yourself on someone, who doesn't have any interest in being friends, but not asking, more than twice, is not a great effort either. Definitely going to find groups with similar interests and go from there. Have a great day.

  1. I needed to read this right now! I'm trying to make friends in the city I've lived in for seven (!) years.
    I would've never thought to try to make plans five times before giving up. I would think 2-3 times would be a sign that it wasn't going to happen.
    Joining organized groups is a good one. If not a church or neighborhood group, then volunteering with an organization. I've just started doing that and have found that even if I don't meet anyone I'm interested in pursuing as a friend, I still have a good time and feel like I've done something good.

    • Agreed on the volunteering point: I have met so many people just by signing up to work for various groups that provide services/entertainment that interests me. Eventually, when you end up in the same circle of folks over and over again, it gets easier to branch out to seeing them beyond just your mutual activity of interest.

    • Another "YES!" for volunteering! I work for the National Park Service, and we have a large group of volunteers here at my monument. While it makes my job easier to have them around, it also warms my heart to see how many of them have made such great friends here.

    • I totally agree with the volunteering thing! I just joined a volunteer program where you volunteer at a series of organizations, but with the same group. I just went to the first one, and I really liked everyone who was there! I have a feeling I will make at least a few friendships out of it. I had the same rationale when I signed up. If I didn't like anyone, it would still be doing something to help people.

    • is awesome for this if you don't want to do a churchy thing. I went to ONE parenting meetup and met some lovely ladies who happen to live IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD! We're now planning a 4th of July barbecue. It's awesome!

  2. I second the point about actually making contact with your existing friends. I have moved around my whole life, and my young adult life has been particularly transient. As a result, I have lots of awesome friends, but most of them don't live anywhere near me. Some of my closest, longest-lasting friendships during this time are with people I haven't seen in years, but we have continued to carve out space for each other in our schedules. It can be a little weird at first if you aren't used to actually calling the friend in question, but once you are woven back into the fabric of each others lives in this new way, it's shockingly normal.

    • Agreed! My husband was a military kid who moved constantly, and routinely says he's jealous of the number of friends I've known for multiple years, 10+, or even my whole life. He doesn't realize that the few friends of his that he's stayed in touch with are now going on 10-12 years… even if he only lived in close proximity to them for short periods of time.

    • THIS! My best friend and I have been speaking every week for EIGHT YEARS! The weekly continuity has helped and we try to get together at least 3-4 times a year, even though we live about 200 miles apart!

      But then I need to remember to make friends in-town and not just rely on my 1 awesome phone friend (as well as remember that I don't have to have just one awesome phone friend!)

  3. Lately I've been having luck cultivating friendships with people I only knew very casually.

    That random girl that I met in a meeting at University that I barely ever spoke to, but added on Facebook? Hey, it's been 7 years, but I comment on her stuff, she comments on my stuff, we think alike, I get the feeling we'd be good friends. So we grab coffee and hit it off. Another new friend: the cousin of my elementary school BFF. Haven't seen her in 15 years since we were children; turns out we live close to each other now, and our adult interests are very similar!

    The internet seems to play a role in all my real life friendships, haha…

    • When facebook first came out, people would be weirded out if you commented to their face about something they posted. I think now that we're so used to social media, the line between facebook and real life is blurred. People don't find it strange anymore if you go up to them and start a conversation based on pictures or links they posted, and people will reference things they've posted in face to face conversations. Which is great for me because I don't like having entire conversations on facebook!
      Social media shouldn't be your entire social life, but it sure helps as a starting point sometimes!

      • I love Facebook! It made my 25th high school reunion easier – not everyone was a stranger that I hadn't had contact with in 15 years, there were already casual relationships in place because we see each other on-line.

        It's also helped me build relationships with cousins outside of my immediate family group. My family moved away when I was in grade school so I didn't grow up with any of them and only saw a handful yearly when we went home to visit. Thanks to FB I have connections to a family network that I wouldn't have any other way – including the young ones that are 30 years younger than me.

  4. I've found you can have close friends for different things in your life. Which is much easier than the dating! When I was younger that seemed like a horrible thing to say. Yet after I came to terms with that philosophy it became much easier to be a good friend and meet new people. The people I befriend are genuinely great people, but not all of them have the interest or stamina to be the coveted "bestie." So I have some friends who I don't go into much personal details but can nerd-out over [hobby]. Other friends loooove commiserating and discussing the difficulties in life. And a select wonderful few just enjoy chilling on the couch and letting life happen.

    off-topic: Why does Gravatar work for some people on OBH&L but not everyone?

    • I've had no problem getting my Gravatar to work. Perhaps the e-mail address you use to post, and the one you signed up with do not match?
      And I think many OB commenters do not use Gravatar.
      But I'm not familiar with all their tech, so perhaps someone can give a better answer.

  5. "Just like dating but without the sex" strikes me as a super-apt description of it β€” ESPECIALLY trying to make "couple-friends" (where it's not just a matter of one person liking one other person and being liked back, but of two (romantically involved) people liking two other (romantically involved) people, and both being liked back by both of them β€” plus you have four schedules to work around).

    In the late-teens / early twenties, if you live in rez at university, friendships (and romances) seem to just happen organically, but as soon as you're out, meeting people can be more difficult, and turning people you've met from casual acquaintances into actual friends can be super-hard. At this point, all of my closest friends are from first-year university (when I lived in rez) and before. This means that I have two close friends (who are married to each other) who live in the same city as I do, and a couple others scattered across the continent β€” plus a large number of acquaintances, both locally and scattered, with whom I basically never do anything.

    My husband and I are trying to turn some acquaintances into friends, but it's slow going between our schedule and theirs. So far, we've done one thing together, and it was awesome. We invited them to do another thing, but scheduling didn't work out, so now we're waiting for our schedules to be a little tamer before proposing another shared activity at some point.

    • I completely agree with you about friendships happening organically in college. If only someone had told me that it's so much harder to make friends in the real world, I may have tried harder to keep the ones I had in college. Nothing like making friends with someone simply because you live near them or take the same class as them.

      I also have had a problem meeting people in the past because I moved to a new state to take a Human Resources job. When you're the HR chick, it's not a good idea to go out socially with the employees, and I used that excuse to stick my head in the sand, stay home, and not actively make friends. I also married someone who doesn't have much of a social circle, so not expanding friends there .I guess it would be a good idea to join the book club at the library to meet people…

    • I agree about what you say about turning aquintances into friends. This is such hard work to cross that line into a real friendship. I often wonder if those people who seem to have billions of friends are actually just counting their aquintances! For me there is definitely a difference.

  6. I have had this conversation (read as: complained to my college friends who I moved away from) so many times. It's comforting to know that other people struggle with this too, and most people already have the tools to overcome this, you just have to use them.

  7. My husband and I moved from within an hour of our childhood towns halfway across the country three years ago, and it's only been in the last six months that I've really started feeling like we're making progress on the friend front. Having a baby has helped…
    I agree with ALL of the above advice, plus one thing: make STANDING plans! One group of friends meets for a monthly pot luck brunch – mostly moms and babies, a few dads. Another two moms who have babies the same age as mine have started meeting me at our weekly farmers market (there's music and ice cream and cool people). Also, my husband and I drop the baby off with his grandparents and attend a monthly event at our local bar (a different brewery rep comes and does a free tasting), where we've made friends with three other couples that always attend.
    Don't give up!

    • I would also add Standing Conversations! If you start to talk to friend X every Wednesday when you drive to work, and friend Y when you drive home on Thursday, whether every week or every few weeks, suddenly your drive is more interesting and you are SUPER down with everything happening in both X's and Y's life. I even do this with my dad!

    • Great suggestion! It's easier for people to show up when they can plan on it happening at the same time, same place each week/month. If they can't make it, no big deal–they already know when the next gathering will happen. The other advantage of standing plans is that it makes it easier for people to invite their other friends, thus broadening your circle.

    • Yes Yes Yes to Standing Plans. I met a whole group of random people in my new city by being invited to Friday Night Dinner. I think it started with a couple of guys who were friends in high school, and everyone just invited other people, who invited other people. Every Friday night we meet at a different restaurant, location sent out by text message. Time stays the same. You come or you don't, depending on your plans and your affinity for the particular restaurant. Even if you never become "besties" with any one person, you still have people to do stuff with, and a social connection outside of work or Facebook. We've made couple friends and individual friends, and have gone to festivals and concerts with "the group". I'm lucky that I wandered into an established group with a main person who sends out the text messages, but there's no reason you couldn't start your own similar group. I barely even talk to the girl who introduced me to the group in the first place, but have a good time with whomever shows up!

  8. I know that right now I am in the "It's easy to make friends" stage. However, when I move back home from being abroad, I am going to seriously think about making friends and feeling like part of a community.
    I am thinking about 3 options seriously: 1) Professional women's group which hosts talks on different subject every month, 2) Joining a dance class – I've never learned to dance, but I know there are many community classes, 3) A local beer & book club that meets at local pubs to discuss book club picks.
    I only know a contact in the first one, the rest I read about on fliers at the local library. So I think "Reading Event Ads" is a significant part of my strategy to meet new people.

  9. I have friends scattered all over the place, mostly my good friends from high school and college. The problem I'm running into now in my new city is that I keep comparing the new people I meet to my old established friendships…and they don't measure up.

    How do I get around this?

    • Try to stop viewing people as competing with each other (A is better than B) and start viewing them as complimenting each other (A is great at X, and B is great at Y!). Try to imagine which of your new friends would get along with your old friends, and try to appreciate your new friends strengths, in ADDITION to your old friend's awesomeness. Friendships aren't zero-sum economies — liking new friends does not take anything away from your old friends, so there's no need to compare.

      • There's a reason certain friendships work for so many years even if you are far apart and go through lots of changes in your life. It takes time and effort to build up that level of friendship! So it's not so much about comparing, it's about effort. For an introvert to maintain old friendships long distance AND actively pursue new local friendships, it requires a lot of effort and energy. A lot of times I would rather catch up with an old friend on the phone than face an awkward social situation with people I don't know.

        My current local friends are ones I've met through clubs based around a shared interest, but outside of that we don't always have a lot in common. We hang out frequently outside of the club in a large group, and the conversation is mainly always about the club or related things. Still, it's difficult to try and develop a broader, deeper friendship with a couple people within the group for all the reasons Ariel mentioned in the post! So, I am good at making new local superficial friends, but I am going to make more of an effort using the tips above to try and cultivate different types of friendships. I was just thinking about this yesterday, so the timing of this post was perfect. πŸ™‚

      • It takes time to develop relationships – which is what you had with your friends from school, but haven't put the time into the new people you're meeting now.

        I had dinner last night with a friend who is dear to me and the conversation flowed naturally. The first year or so of our friendship, however, was comfortable but awkward at times. Now it's easy and flowing.

        Hang in there and give the new people in your life time to have the relationship blossom!

        (Come to think of it, all of my current close friendships had slow starts. So give it time – these new people are just as neat as your old friends!)

  10. Thanks for posting this! I just moved across the country (Florida to Washington) and have a newborn, so I really need a little encouragement in this area. I love your advice! Thanks!

    • Maggie – where are you in Washington? We're new to Spokane, and are having a time of it making friends. Are you close to this side of the state?

      • M! Spokane is actually a pretty friendly place (I just moved AWAY from there after 12 years off and on [mostly on]), but a lot of it can be mobilized around interests. If you're interested in progressive politics, there are a number of groups that have meetups. Auntie's Bookstore has great author readings and First Friday downtown is really actively supported by a LOT of people. There is also a thriving pool league where a friend of mine met a lot of her friends. If you like board games, I'm pretty sure that Chairs still has a boardgame night (coffee shop, kid and sobriety-friendly) and I know a number of bars (if that's your thing) that have trivia nights that end up fostering a sense of community. Oh! There's also a poetry slam community – small and very welcoming. AND! There are two roller derby leagues (and one youth team) that always need volunteers, members, coaches, non-skating officials, etc.

        If there are particular interests or hobbies that you're into, let me know! I might know someplace where you could meet groups of folks!

      • Hey M.
        The Wanderlust Circus is going to be in Spokane on July 4th. It's a great family-friendly act based out of Portland, Oregon. I bet a lot of Offbeat Homies would like to go. Maybe a few will see this and you guys can go together! You can get tickets at Tickets West. I don't really know how to exchange info in order to meet up on a public forum without giving your info to EVERYONE, but hey, it's worth a shot!

        (Also mods, don't delete me/this! I'm not an advertiser and I don't make money off of this. Just letting people know!) πŸ™‚

  11. Your concept of trying five times reminds me of my party invite policy. I invite tens or hundreds of people and expect a 20% return rate. Twenty percent or lower. People think I'm popular because I can get 50 people to turn out, but I invited 300 people (or the entire sport listserv). Maybe there's some inherent one in five law about getting people to come out. You just have to be comfortable with that kind of return. It doesn't mean anything personal about the asker.

  12. I totally agree with the "make plans" thing. I've learned from experience that if my friends and I say "we should get together next week" that it never happens. But if we pick a day, it usually happens or we pick a replacement day if we need to postpone.

    I've been lucky but one thing I've found is that talking about my hobbies with people has been the most helpful in making new friends. If I'm more open about the things I'm into, I tend to discover other people who are also into these things. One woman I've known sort of in passing through work for a while has now become a good friend now that we know we share a hobby. She got me even more into it and we text about it, share things, and bond over the hobby. Likewise another friend I met through work but we bonded over loving stationary and then over needing to visit a bookstore.

    It takes time and effort to make friends. So if you can't find them through work, then it can take putting yourself out there. My dude, who has social anxiety issues, has a very small group of friends but he has met people through school and met acquaintances by being dragged into going to a local sketch jam group. Volunteering is great, hobbies are great, and just getting out there to be involved in your interests. But I'm with Ariel, sometimes you just have to be out there and say you want to try to be friends.

    My longterm friends and I have drifted somewhat. We've all changed and some of us stay in touch, some less. One couple I'm friends with just regularly sends out invites for gatherings at their house. Sometimes no one comes, sometimes a bunch of people come. But doing that and knowing that they are willing to host means I can show up. So if you can be the host, that's awesome. If you know a variety of people, then inviting them and letting them mingle can help too. Become a social network hub (in the non-online way).

  13. Ahh why is it so hard? I moved to an area where it seems like pretty much everyone who grows up here…stays here! Almost everyone I've met in the last 6 years grew up here. Consequently they all have these cemented friends groups that make it hard to get included in anything. My friends are so spread out and all the mom groups in the area meet during the work week. What I wouldn't give for a girl's night! I'm always so paranoid when people are "busy" when we're trying to make plans that they're actually trying to blow me off that I probably give up way too easily on people!.

    • Step 1: Stop giving up!
      Step 2: Start recognizing that sometimes "old school" groups of friends need an injection of new blood… you may spend an unfair amount of time listening to "good ol' days" stories for a while, but eventually you'll be part of the "good new days" stories. πŸ™‚

      • Yup, you gotta be patient with this one! I joined a friend group that was all of my sister-in-law's friends, from elementary school or sunday school or gymanstics growing up when I moved here 7 years ago. It's taken a long time, but I persisted…went to the 'whole gang' activities and then started trying to host a little 1-1 coffee dates with different gals. Just now, after a solid 5 years am I finally feeling like I've broken into the circle and they are MY friends and not just my sister-in-law's friends. But I saw them as people I wanted to get to know and so I just kept at it…and tried to leave my self-consciousness at home.

    • I now live in my husband's home town. He knows everyone, and when they get together they talk about the good old days, and it's hard for me to join in that type of convo when I didn't share that experience with them. Because I'm not part of the "local crowd" I am often overlooked or forgotten when they plan events. It's hard sometimes to remember that I didn't get the invite not because they don't like me, but because I'm not on their social radar being a new person in town. I don't really have any advice to offer, only that you gotta be patient and keep trying!

  14. You are so right about contacting someone 5 times! Even my best friends, geez, it does take that long just to actually, finally, really get together. So new people? OMG, yes. And it feels like they're blowing you off, but no, I do it too. We're all so freakin' busy / lazy / complicated / nervous / weird / worried / whatever. It's hard. Keep trying.

  15. I've found lately that I approach making friends very much like dating, hopefully without anyone misinterpreting my intentions. I'm in my 20s and newly single, and live in Los Angeles, land of disconnectedness. It's not easy to make friends here like it was where I'm from, New York, where everyone is out exploring. LA is a vast land of social isolation, from everyone commuting alone in their cars to being buried in their iPhones.

    I've been keeping myself very busy and socially active in my new singlehood, which has involved both connecting with old friends and making new ones. There are some people I haven't seen in three or four years, who I'll message on Facebook with something like, "Hi! I know it's been forever, but I'm going to [insert event here] and thought it might be something you'd enjoy. Let me know, either way I hope you're doing well and I'd love to catch up!"

    I also make new friends by being pretty blunt about wanting to be friends. What is fortunate about living in LA is that many people my age are transplants from elsewhere and feel like they have no friends, so typically no one looks at me like I'm crazy when I announce my friendship intentions in our conversation and ask the best way to connect with them. I do think they're surprised when I follow up within a few days (many people here are all talk), and since LA is a tricky city to navigate socially, I'll usually give a friendship 5 – 10 hang out attempts before giving up.

    Sadly here it is completely socially acceptable and understandable to respond to an invite, "Oh man, I'd LOVE to see that comedy show in Los Feliz with you, but I'm over on the Westside and on a Friday I just can't bear that traffic." Or even, "Where are you? I'd love to if we can carpool. I have street parking and I got the last spot on the non-street-cleaning side." This isn't an easy place to make friends, but my dating-like-approach seems to be working.

    …Now at some point I'll have to remember how to use these skills for actual dating. πŸ˜‰

    • Haha, yes! I have definitely pulled the, "You want us to meet you in Santa Monica? Are you kidding?! That's gonna be at least an hour in traffic." Darn LA and its absurd sprawl….

      • Stephanie from Offbeat Families visited me in LA this week and I explained to her, while visiting Santa Monica, that once people move to the West Side, your friendship is basically over. It's as if they've moved out of state. πŸ˜‰

    • I'm in LA too! The North Hollywood area (well… soon. we are moving in a week). I've never been that good at making friends and now, staying at home with a baby and not having a car, well… it's impossible.

      We do sometimes socialize with a large group of Mormons, which is nice, but a little awkward since we are SO NOT Mormon.

  16. That last point was a nice reminder for me. I often convince myself that everyone else has a huge group of amazingly close BFFs while I have one really close friend nearby and a couple more scattered across the country. I've also noticed that this just seems to be my default setting… I'm naturally introverted, and I pretty much always have one really close friend (aside from my spouse) and then several other semi-close-friends who I hang out with regularly–mostly in groups with my other friends–but don't dedicate the same energy to as my closest friend.

    Ironically, I seem to do this every time I move to a new place… so I now have several really close friends from different times/places in my life.

  17. Something I don't see mentioned here at all is what I do: Talk to everyone. I know this may only work for extroverted types (and even for me, it's not always easy).

    I have a lot of friends. A LOT. All over the world, all over the country, all over LA. At a party I hosted recently, someone asked me how I knew most of the people there. I went around the room and it went like this:
    -Met in an elevator
    -Met walking my dogs
    -Met behind my last apartment building while cleaning my car
    -Met swing dancing
    -Met at Ren Faire
    -Met at a convention
    -Met while purchasing something on Craigslist
    -Met at the grocery store
    -Met at the gym
    -Met at yoga
    -Met on the beach
    -Met motorcycle riding
    -Met on the side of the freeway
    -Met at a leadership course
    -Met at my store
    -Met at an art gallery

    Etc. Etc. Etc. I just talk to people and ask them questions about stuff, am genuinely interested in others, and BAM, find out we have something in common. I have so many groups of people from so many different interests I have, but it all just comes down to talking to them- even when it's not comfortable or I don't think we would possibly have anything in common. We always do. In fact, the less comfortable I am in a situation, the more it benefits me to talk to people instead of sitting there feeling nervous/weird.

    Again, YMMV, and this might be pure torture for introverts. My hubster is more introverted, so he just kinda waits for me to open up a convo with someone, and then he starts to participate after observing for a bit. Maybe that would be good for the more introverted?

    • I heard on the radio a few years ago about a woman who did a year of 'friend dating,' where she challenged herself to go on a friend date with someone EVERY week. It was a new person each week, I believe, and from it she became really close to several people and found that you don't always click with people but if you keep putting yourself out there you will find friends. But it takes work.

      • I've wanted to do "blind friend dates" where I set up friends of mine who don't know each other but would probably hit it off. Or you could do the same at a party, even being explicit about it: "Everyone bring a friend that you think others at the party would like to meet."

        • I've totally done that… I call it "being each other's people". Like "hey Steve, amy and Seth are going to the beach thing tonight and don't have a ride. I can't make it but you are definitely each other's people; want me to pass on her info?"

          Love it when my circle ends up hanging out/working/starting new things together and I don't even end up having to be the hub of it all. I've connected circles of friends in other cities, moved away, and nowthey are inseparable!

        • When I started grad school, our department sponsored a bunch of "speed friending" events. It was structured like speed dating, but with the intention of getting to know people and finding shared interests. A bunch of us realized that we like to cook and ended up starting a monthly potluck group, which has given us all the opportunity to become much closer.

      • I got similar results with this method doing it for orientation fortnight at university. Best 'grit-teeth-and-do-it' time ever.

  18. The idea that friendships ever "just happened" -blows my mind-. I can recall back in junior high psyching myself out to make friends and talk to people (okay, self, go in there talk to that girl who mentioned Star Trek, your opening line is "I really like your Pochacco shirt" ask if she wants to see a movie with you).

    Making friends -is- like dating, I don't do it often and I have a hard time doing it casually (You like this thing I like AND you laughed at my jokes? TELL ME ALL YOUR HOPES AND DREAMS).

    As someone who is socially anxious I know it's a truly terrible idea to compare your social life to your perceptions of other people's social lives (for me the spiral starts with "normal people do x" and let me tell you nothing good ever comes out of this spiral). Social media is terrible for this because it offers a curated view into other people's lives; when you're looking at people offering up the best versions of themselves it's so easy to compare yourself and find your life lacking (gosh my life isn't as beautiful/organized/happy as this collection of photos! …. What's wrong with me?!).

    I'm never going to win a competition with my facebook feed and that's okay; I am totally capable of having (and do have) a small but rewarding social life. My husband is similarly anxious and instead of using this as an excuse to never leave our house, we, knowing each other's limits, push (gently, but firmly) each other to meet people and do things.

    • Can I just say, I would kind of love it if a new friend blurted out TELL ME ALL YOUR DREAMS in the middle of a convo. So much of new friendships feels like repetitive small-talk, which can get old fast.

      Once, when I met someone new, after a bit of chit-chat she asked my age (I was 24, she was 18). And rather than just moving on, she said, "24? What's that like?!?" It was the craziest question, because I'd never really thought about it, but was totally great, and really got us both talking about our lives.

  19. Bookmarking this…
    I moved countries a while ago, and while it's been a great idea, it's hard to make good, new friends (I was bad at it when I was a kid, too, so retro neurosis ahoy!) – I like my partner's friends, but relying on them or on work people is not a good strategy. I'm going to try as well and bear your tips in mind!

    • Sometimes being bad at making friends is a way to actually make friends.
      One of my best friendships came about because we didn't like each other at first, but were forced into a group to work together. Throughout most of the project we were fighting against each other, being a bit mean, etc. Then we realized we would never get anything done if we were being so standoffish with each other. By the end of the project, we were BFFs!

  20. Oh dear me, this is so relevant to me at the moment! Going through a lot of life transitions (basically revolving round finishing my PhD and getting a real job), I realised I didn't have that many close friends any more, because all my school and university friends have moved to London. Now, I can visit them and all, but it's a bit more of an effort.

    As I was resolving to socialise more, I went out to a university event and really hit it off with a girl seated across from me at dinner. I messaged her the next day and said, "Hey, it was great meeting you yesterday, want to get coffee some time soon?" When we did meet up, she said she was really glad I'd got in touch, because she'd really liked me and had been worrying it would be weird if she "asked me out"! So that worked out well.

    Similarly, I met someone I liked on a training course for work, and we discovered we had some friends in common – so I was like, "Hey, how about you and me and our two mutual friends go to the pub after work on Friday?"

    What's been lovely about this is that, now that I got the ball rolling, these new "friend-dates" have snowballed – both new people have invited me to parties, housewarmings, more coffee dates… it was so worth it.

    I'm also moving to a new job soon, where there will be lots of new people, and I'm vowing to be more proactive than I've been in the past… and maybe try to work from home less… Watch this space.

    • Ooh, I just remembered another tip. When you see someone ARRANGE THE NEXT TIME YOU WILL SEE THEM BEFORE YOU LEAVE.

      I ran into an old friend at a party recently, and he started doing this, literally got his diary out. I thought that was a bit weird, but he explained that it's what his parents always do, and it works so much better than just saying 'so let's do this again soon'. He was so right.

  21. This is all great advice. One other thing – don't shy away from having small "parties" when you do meet people. I feel like its less stressful on the new friendship, because you can talk for 5 minutes or 30 minutes without it being weird. They can hang out with their significant other I'd they're shy , or meet lots of new people if they're not. People can come for 45 minutes or 3 hours. Especially if you have kids, even 8 adults feels like a "party" and it's a nice way of mixing old and new friends and squeezing everyone in on a packed schedule.

  22. The timing of this post could not have been more relevant! I moved to Denver about 3 years ago and spent SO much energy trying to meet new people and make friends (friend-making takes a LOT of energy when you are an introvert). I eventually ended up with a couple pretty awesome friends!

    Then over the past year the new friends have all moved out of the State πŸ™ Now I feel like I am starting from square one and this post just made me realize that I have been spending a lot of energy feeling sorry for myself when I could be using my energy trying to do something to change my situation. Thanks for the advice for my friend-making adventure v2.0!!

  23. I have a hard time making friends where I live. We have the Mister's friends, but they're more his friends than my friends. My friends live all over the world, so it's not like we can get together for coffee or have a dinner party. I love when they visit! We have a great time and get to do things we don't normally get to do. Playing tourist is always a great reason to explore.

    I keep thinking, "When I do THIS, I'll make friends with my interests." I have volunteering friends and work friends, but none of them feel like my actual friends. My friends from college that live here…it's like the LA thing. You don't make an effort to get together because of traffic. I need a hobby that doesn't start before 10:00 am on the weekends πŸ™

  24. Such a helpful post. Planning a wedding with little to no help from my friends has been hard. I admit it is challenge sometimes thinking about planning a wedding where most of the guests are my parents friends…but I am trying to take the time to find myself instead. I do like stalking Pinterest though and seeing what people like similar things hahaha!!!!!!

  25. I actually have met a lot of people that I like and hang out with occasionally, which has really helped with loneliness. However, I miss truly deep friendships. I do think that friendships are like relationships without sex, meaning that you need chemistry! You know how with some people you're discussing the weather, and with other people you feel like you will never run out of things to talk about? I miss those friendships. Fortunately, I do regular skype dates with my best friend who lives on the other side of the country.

  26. Ariel, didn't you say that soon there will be a forum (like the OBB Tribe) for OBH? Maybe a part of the forum could be "Homie Area Meetups" where people from certain areas can get together, be offbeat, and be friends? It seems like so many people commenting here are feeling such similar isolation, many of whom live in the same areas.

    Also, think about all the "Steal this offbeat party idea"s y'all would get with that…. oh man…..

  27. This post was great to read, and it definitely applies to my life right now. I've had some success with, and I wanted to recommend that site. I joined a bunch of groups, and then as meetups were announced, I left the ones that didn't interest me or fit my schedule. In the past six months, I've met two awesome people with whom I really clicked, and we now hang out regularly outside of meetup events– so you never know! If you have a community interest, joining a local group is also a great way to meet people. For me, it's a local choir and a local "terrible orchestra" (no rehearsals, just show up once a month and sightread), and I've made a few new friends there too. Sometimes you find yourself in a group that's vastly different from your age group (my choir's average age is about 60, and I'm 28, for example) but sometimes there are a few people you can really connect with. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you for that! I've never heard of and looking at it, there are a few interesting looking groups for my area!

  28. Fabulous article! I've found finding friends particularly when I moved for my current job. I was used to hanging out with my colleagues – and suddenly I was in a place where my colleagues do not socialize very well. I just wanted to echo: PERSISTENCE. When people can't get together the first or second or third time, that doesn't mean they don't want to! It wasn't an easy lesson for me πŸ™‚ But it was a good one. Also – don't be afraid to move to another neighborhood or nearby town where it might be easier to build and maintain a network.

  29. Making friends at church depends a lot on if the church that works for you as a church also works for you for making friends. I realized in college that although I'd been raised in a Presbyterian church (that I had already quit because it had become clear that the church was heading in a direction far more conservative than my personal interpretation of what my religion meant to me), I'd really always been more in line with the United Church of Christ at heart. So I looked up my local UCC, went there for a while, decided that the UCC was in fact for me, and joined the church and the choir. My parents followed me. But while it is great for me as a church, I do believe that I am the only child free woman under forty and out of high school in the congregation. Which isn't to say that child free women can't be friends with parents, or that somebody in the neighborhood of thirty can't have friends in her mother's generation, but when the personal conversations in groups inevitably circle back to children, grandchildren, caring for parents that are far older than mine, or medical problems of the sort that I won't have experience with for several decades more likely than not, then I'm going to wind up rather on the margins.

    I've come to the conclusion that for some bizarre reason, people I find in a group based on one interest I have very often don't share enough else in common to make likely friends outside of that group. So I go to the groups, enjoy them for what they are, and put more energy into actually getting together with the old friends who are still reasonably local.

    • I found this interesting because I did the same thing. I started attending a UCC church instead of a Catholic church. Thank god I did because it is where I met my husband! But anyways, I think it depends on the congregation. Many of our closest friends are from church and I am one of the only people with no kids and out of high school also. I am 42. I am part of the choir and most people either have kids, have kids that are grown and on their own. They are male and female. Some of the best times we have are with these people and I actually have a lot in common with them even though our life paths are quite different. I am also disabled and don't currently work but yet, the friendships work.

    • "people I find in a group based on one interest I have very often don't share enough else in common to make likely friends outside of that group"

      YES. I can only talk about the sport I play or dog training, etc. for so long with someone. Sometimes you can branch off into other topics, but either you run into major disagreements (politics) or run out of things in common. Or you just don't like to do the other things they like to do. (Example: 4 hour board games are not for me even if I really like the people playing!) A party setting with a bigger group helps with this because you can go talk to someone else for awhile. It's hard to find "multipurpose" friends like I used to, so sometimes a "multipurpose group" works.

      I am finding as we get older that it's okay to have friends for specific purposes. Just acknowledge it- "Hey, you're my garden friend. Want to go to this plant sale?"

  30. Living in Phoenix, I have felt the "I'm busy doing my own thing" vibe from people I've met. I am not sure if it's the desert heat keeping everyone indoors and sequestered or if people here tend to be more standoffish but I know I've commiserated over this fact with people before (and these are patients of mine so not really an appropriate group of people to ask to hang out and discuss friendship more in depth!). I've done a few meetups but I've run into a "core group" who tends to keep to themselves and random outsiders (like me) who leave after attending one or two meetups. I'm definitely going to keep searching – maybe it's volunteer work next for me!

  31. So the pattern seems to be: lots of people are hungry for new friends. If we all want it to happen, it just takes one of us to be brave enough to initiate and "ask someone out." Odds are they may say yes, because look at how many of us are eager to have that very thing happen!

    I think it's also important to be kind to ourselves, to be patient when it takes time to feel close to someone else, and to not take it personally when it doesn't happen. Like Ariel said, most of us think everyone else has WAY more friends and WAY more fun than we do when that just isn't the case.

    I know for me, I'm usually quite content with my friendships until I want to go to a particular event and there's no one to go with (and it's something I don't want to do alone). That's my weak spot. In fact, this conversation has gotten me motivated to reach a little further into the edges of my circle to find a companion for an event this weekend. Just be brave about it!

    • Totally! But does anyone have any suggestions for that "asking out" to be clear as a FRIENDS thing? I have that confusion a lot just because I'm so friendly… people assume I must be interested in fucking them just because I'm interested in talking to them. Any things that consistently work?

      Maybe we need a new post for that one …

      • Hahaha, yes. It's very disappointing when you were looking for a friend and they were looking for a way into your pants!

  32. Reading through all of these comments has been very encouraging. I don't drink alcohol and never have. Either consequently or coincidentally, the last time I had a wide circle of friends was in high school. I love that very few of people's friend-related activities involve going to a bar. I don't mind going to bars, but it's not my go-to locale for socializing, and at times when I've been with just one or two friends, they have commented that they feel weird drinking since I (and my partner, if he's there) are not.

    I always assume that I'm not going to be a very exciting friend for someone because of this non-drinking aspect of my life. But it looks like that's not the case at all. I seem to know a lot of people whose socializing continues to center around alcohol at 30+ years old, but these comments indicate that there are plenty of people who enjoy socializing in other ways too. I'm quite encouraged.

    I'm a huge introvert, but I wouldn't mind some friends to do things with once in a while.

    • Oh, there are totally ways to hang out outside of bars! I have friends who don't drink and I never think of them as boring or uptight or anything like that–the choice whether or not to consume alcohol doesn't determine how fun and awesome someone is. I'm always happy to hang out without alcohol being involved, and that's probably true of most people out there. I think the media sometimes gives us distorted images of what "grown-ups" do for fun, since a lot of TV shows, movies, etc. rotate around hanging out in bars.

      In addition to all of the other activities that people have mentioned, you might also find some ideas/events within the recovery community. Those are definitely people who know how to have fun without drinking. I know that many folks in the community are very welcoming, though I'm not sure how if you'd feel weird plugging into that if recovery isn't actually part of your story.

      • In addition to all of the other activities that people have mentioned, you might also find some ideas/events within the recovery community. Those are definitely people who know how to have fun without drinking. I know that many folks in the community are very welcoming, though I'm not sure how if you'd feel weird plugging into that if recovery isn't actually part of your story.

        Yes, I'm not sure about that since recovery is not part of my story. But it is interesting to think about. And thanks for the other thoughts too. One of the closest friends I made at a summer intensive language class was a recovering alcoholic, and we definitely bonded over our nonalcoholic beverages during larger group outings. πŸ˜‰

    • I feel like as my group of friends has crossed 30, drinking has been a lot less integral to our socializing. Which isn't to say we've stopped drinking… it's just no longer the focal point. And there are usually a few folks who aren't drinking.

      Bar outings are usually pretty boring for the teetotalers, but activities like bowling or playing board games or dinner and a movie are perfect. People who want to drink can, and those who don't aren't left out.

    • I fall into the "I love me some wine" group, but it's just that- SOME wine. I love having 1-2 drinks max. So it's also difficult for me to socialize with people who are intent on getting DRUNK. I haven't always been this way, but I've come to realize that it's more fun remembering last night and not having a headache the next day…

      I don't know you, but if you are standoff-ish about not drinking, that's why it can be awkward. People don't want to be judged for how much they drink. I remember people in college who were like this, and I always just wanted to say "Just say no thanks and leave it at that!" At the same time, getting annoyingly drunk around sober friends or friends having 1 drink is also awkward.

      I've also never liked going to bars because I'm short and not very loud, so it's really difficult to communicate with people there!

  33. This post and all the comments were amazingly helpful. I'm in my late 20's and have a nice core of friends now where I'm currently living but will be moving to another state to live with my boyfriend. I have already mentally worried about not having any friends outside of his friends. I've already told him that while I love his people, I need people of my own. But its not going to easy.

  34. I'm shy in person, so the name of my game is "meet, make small talk, add on facebook, and interact indirectly until you feel comfortable enough to invite them to things." The idea of asking someone "hey be my friend yaaay!" is totally mortifying to my awkward introverted soul…but I do want to keep in touch with people and occasionally invite them to dinner parties ;-P

  35. Like everyone else said, there's a lot of really helpful advice here. The older I get the harder it is for me to push out of my shell and stay out in the face of what feels like rejection. But hearing how you handle all of this in detail is inspiring. I would have thought trying 5 times (or more) to make a friend date would make me look desperate (which is the ultimate shame in this whole friend-finding thing for me) but if you're doing it, then I'm gonna do it too.

  36. Great tips! I'm a shameless friend stealer – my roomie works with a lot of young nerdy people (which we are) and I don't, so I happily tag along to parties/hangouts with them. I am hoping to make some of my own buds soon…luckily, I work on an event calendar site, so I'm trying to make an effort to get to new and interesting events in my area. Hopefully there will be interesting people there!

  37. So at what point do you finally give up on someone? Because constantly trying and getting nothing in return for years is the exact reason why I don't have any interest to try again. You just feel pathetic.

    • As I said in the post, I tend to try about 5 times with a new friend before I give up.

      As for "feeling pathetic," it's up to you to decide what's worse: feeling pathetic and empowered, or feeling lonely and powerless. I'm not saying it's easy to make friends — I'm just saying that if you want meaningful friendships, you have to keep trying, even when it feels "pathetic."

      Come to think of it, I feel like this is true of anything you have to work for. Sometimes you work for something, and it doesn't fall into place. Then you have a decision: keep trying, or release the goal. If you decide you still want it, then you just keep working toward it, even when it feels uncomfortable.

      Then again, if you're asking about giving up on a specific PERSON? That's an easier decision. If someone can't commit to keeping in touch in the ways you're asking, then it's not a good use of your or their time.

      • I know this isn't a super recent comment, but I'm just wondering if at any point one should call their potential new friend out on not making plans. Example (and why I'm asking): I have this almost-friend that I've been hanging out with on and off for about a year. Because she's been agreeing to hang out for that long, I think I can safely assume that she actually wants to hang out, but I'm never 100% sure since I'm the one who always ends up reaching out to her to make plans. Do you think it would be appropriate to ask her why that is, and do you think there's a tactful and non-dramatic way to ask?

        • Just ask! But you can also judge based on how she is when the two of you are together. I have a much loved friend who once said, tearfully, that we were still friends because I kept in touch with her. She's just not able to sustain friendships over time on her own. That doesn't meant that she doesn't love me or doesn't want to spend time with me, and when we're together, it's beautiful girl friend time. She's just not as socially adept as me, which I've known for a long time in other areas of her life.

  38. I am kind of struggling with this right now. College activist groups made making friends easy, and then the last three years after I graduated I was working at outdoor education camps in semi-remote areas. When you work full time AND live full time with all of your coworkers, friendships form VERY FAST and can get very close and/or intense. Now that I've "settled down" in Madison, WI, I've found myself confused that I am not making friends quicker. My partner and I have made a couple, and it's definitely becoming evident that we just have to keep at it. We all really like each other, but with such busy and conflicting schedules it takes a lot more effort to hang out. :/

  39. 1) Thank you for posting this. I'm a lot more socially awkward now that I've been out of school for a few years, and now all our friends are moving away (guess that's what happens a few years after high school!). Fiance and I both find ourselves basically loners (at least we've got each other!) most of the time. It's hard to find people with mutual interests, because mostly we don't like talking to other people lol. But we did meet some people this weekend that I was thinking I really want to make an effort to try and become friends with!

    2) I really like the call-to-the-audience question at the end. I feel like it really encourages commenting (and since there's two pages of comments I'm going to assume it does work!)

    3) I don't feel like friendship is dating without the sex, but maybe that's because I haven't done the "go out and make an effort" part!

  40. The easiest way to make friends is to be nice, and actually listen. Ask your colleagues about their family, crack jokes with the guy who sells you coffee every morning (he's more important to you than your siblings anyway, as long as he's got caffeine, right?), do the neighbors a favor (or thank them for doing you a favor by bringing cookies). First, you can practice your social skills, second you get to know people better, and third there will most definitely be one or two among them you would want to keep as friends.

    Tonight I am having some friends over for Disney movies, and have asked a colleague I like to come over and bring her daughter, since she has a hard time finding a babysitter. If nothing else comes from it, there will be food and movies, but I am almost sure we'll all enjoy ourselves. ^^

  41. One other suggestion for meeting awesome people who have all different interests and personalities is Couchsurfing! I know to some people it sounds like a sketchy way of traveling for free but it is really so so so much more. There are group events all the time in people's home cities for both locals and travelers. Here in Istanbul they do language practice (Turks practice English, foreigners practice their Turkish), cooking lessons, huge parties, etc. You can also set your profile to show if you have a couch to host or are just interested in meeting people for coffee. You can meet other people who live in your area who are looking to meet other people, and the profiles are pretty detailed so I can usually tell if it's someone I will get along with. By hosting people we've met amazing, long-lasting friends from all over the world who now we can go visit and travel with again.

    The community is definitely focused on travel, but people have many other different interests too. Give it a shot! I was actually just thinking about writing a post on here about my experiences with CS because we've had such a great time and it might be of interest to other homies πŸ™‚

    • YES! Couchsurfing is amazing and I would love that post. Two years ago I had a goal of making friends in 10 new countries. CS helped me do that! We have hosted people from all over the world and been hosted both domestically and internationally. Think about it- nobody knows the cool things in your area better than YOU, even if you just stay home and do stuff, and when you travel, you don't want to usually do the touristy stuff as much as interesting secret local stuff, right?

      A few of the things I've learned from my experiences with my hosts: how to make jewelry, how to make cheese, amazing facts about Eddie Vedder, how Google helps its employees work, how much Australians can drink, etc. etc. Oh- and we got engaged while CouchSurfing in New Zealand πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    • Please do write!. Couchsurfing is awesome. We've been 'surfing for over a decade, even though we're stay-at-homes and not quite the demographic. Met some great people, some of which we've still kept in touch with.

  42. I LOVE this post. I have some good, very dear friends but most of them are an unfortunate combination of busy working and studying as well as being slack at arraniging to spend time together. I know they still like me because if I say hey let's have coffee they will come, but they rarely contact me and suggest it (social anxiety analysis here haha). Thankfully I have some other friends I've met through Twitter and a shared interest (feminism) and they are much better at arranging to hang out! Still, I want moar friends, so this is handy

  43. Organized groups: this is huge. It was a game changer for my husband's and my entire life. We have a really awesome, tight-knit group of friends who all live in the same 'hood, and every single one of them we met through our homebrew club. We discovered while talking about beer that we all also like cooking, and baseball, and hockey, and camping, and all the girls like to go running, and the guys like to play poker, and people are willing to babysit one another's kids (for free!), etc. etc. etc. Basically our homebrew club just does everything together now and it's awesome. But we never would have known them, had it not started with that one shared interest. That's the great thing about organized groups: you KNOW going in that the majority of the people in your knitting club/gardening club/book club/church group/ whatever share AT LEAST that interest and you can bet there are likely to be MOAR shared interests if you just get to talking.

  44. Everything changed when I thought about making friends as a skill to be developed like working on that one yoga pose that always makes you grind your teeth. It's tough as an introvert, but when I compare it to an intense stretch, I can "hold" being outgoing and proactive for a while without stressing out.

    Last week when I found out this woman I just met likes the same kind of tv, drinks, and critters that I do (BBC, hard cider, and cats for anyone else in the Florida Panhandle looking for friends) I blurted out, "I like you! Let's be friends!" The trick was to actually follow up on it. We're hanging out one-on-one for the first time tomorrow. I hope it goes well…

  45. Thanks for the mention of Unitarian churches! I've met almost all of my friends in Seattle at one… Don't think I'd have friends after moving here without it!

  46. As a board game and other game geek, my husband and I have been going to a local game shop on Wednesday night for open board game night. We've gone three weeks in a row and it has improved my mood dramatically.
    We are new to LA and have no friends here. All our social interactions came from folks visiting. I've gone out with folks from work, but that didn't work out too well.
    After 9 months of loneliness, I decided we needed some geek time. We have a huge bookcase full of games and open gaming seems to be the perfect solution.
    I'm also pushing to go to Local Goth Industrial night, because dancing can really be the greatest cure sometimes. (Even though I hate the Cure)

  47. I am a hair stylist and have some pretty awesome clients that I thought should be my friends. I hosted a "my favorite things" party in my home and invited some, as well as my sister and her friend, some friends I already had and some daycare moms. When we went around the group introducing ourselves, each one pretty much said I'd forced them into becoming my friend. Every. One. Sheesh… I harassed these people over and over to hang out, even found a dog sitter for a lady's new puppy. And you know what? It worked. Yay for new friends!

    • This is so interesting! I was actually recently wondering if hairstylists want to be friends with the people whose hair they cut and how one would go about doing that. I generally don't like talking to the stylist cutting my hair, but once in a while I end up in a pretty cool conversation, and it does seem that stylists must learn so much about their clients, some of whom they'd probably want to get to know even more outside of work!

      • Kind of related, but I'm a librarian and there are so many times when I want to tell a patron, CAN WE BE FRIENDS I LIKE THE SAME BOOKS AND YOU SEEM COOL, but being at work, it's kind of awkward. πŸ™ Sometimes I just wistfully dream about the fun times we would have, reading Gaiman together, laughing over salad. (I should edit, a coworker and I have thought about launching a book club for twenty-thirty-somethings in our retiree-heavy city precisely because we want to be friends with these patrons and need a venue in which to be friends!)

  48. The flip side of asking people to do stuff is saying yes to people who ask you to do stuff! I found it really awkward at first to make friends when I moved to a new state. I made it a rule: "Never turn down an invitation." If someone invited me, I went, regardless of how I felt or how interested I was. I wanted people to invite me to things, so I "rewarded" them by saying yes, no matter what. Once I was established as someone who liked to do stuff and was friendly, I started to be more choosy about invitations. But if someone else was brave enough to ask me out, I needed to be brave enough to say yes!

    • This! For the first summer after I moved to my current city, I had a policy of never turning down an invitation unless I truly couldn't make it. It meant that I did a lot of things that might not have been my cup of tea but, I tried some new things, met some new people, and wasn't sitting at home alone all summer. Seven years later, I'm still friends with a few people from that summer.

  49. I seriously love and can't thank you enough for this article. I'm in my later twenties but, honestly, I've always felt that I've had a hard time making friends. I always had lots of acquaintances but I've really only had one best girlfriend(she was seriously like a sister to me) but I was burned really bad by her completely ditching me for another group of friends. Since then I've had a couple of close friends but it seems like I am ALWAYS the one initiating contact and I just feel like I deserve better than that. This article is perfect because now I'm thinking that maybe we've all just become too lazy in our personal relationships which is why it's hard to maintain friendships. I'm also in a long term relationship(10 years) and really he's the best friend I had been waiting for all along. We love each other for all of our weird traits and genuinely enjoy spending most of our time together. Some of our friends even tease us because we both like each other SO MUCH(ya know, because in a lot of couples there might be 1 person who loves the other person more.) Now with age and perspective I think that it might be ok to have your partner as your ultimate best friend while also nurturing your other friendships.

    Oh also, I'm a Unitarian so thanks for the shout out!! I really love our church because it's not really about spiritual worship, it's about being humanist and truly accepting people from all walks of life. We're pretty much awesome πŸ™‚

    • Wow. Sounds like me. My husband is my best friend too. He can't relate to the guys he meets who seem to want to get away from their families to do "guy stuff." We're a very weird match and he's much older than me but he really is my best friend. When I think of developing a relationship with someone new, I always have him in mind and struggle with how that person could integrate with us. I don't want someone (or a couple) to go away and spend time with. I want someone he would be comfortable around if I wanted to hang out at my house (and the flip side – I have yet to meet anyone new who would feel comfort ale hanging around us!). I'm ok with us not having a lot of friends. We're home bodies and theoretically pretty antisocial. He would rather garden or chop wood then sit around a bar. But we aren't really antisocial – we just long for the persons who are kind of like us! Maybe someday we will find people who fit the bill! And on the Unitarian note – we often push people way because we make harsh comments and seem judgemental. Heck we are judgemental sometimes. But what frustrates us most is how much we feel judged by "open minded" people we meet or how much we find they do not accept people who are not like the . At least we will admit our feelings, despite our harsh words think we're really some of the most open minded people we know!

  50. I love this post. I'm due to move back to the city I went to university in soon. I've been away from 2 years and while I've kept in touch with a few people, I've grown apart from a lot of people. I don't think I want to try and rekindle old friendships, because a lot of them have died away for a reason. However, this leaves me with most of the people I know/hang out with being my husband's friends, and while they're awesome in lots of ways, I don't want to be *that* wife, and I don't have that much in common with most of them. So some new friedns would be good! Because of the nature of my job (rotating every few months) I don't tend to make friends with colleagues a lot either. Plus I've always preferred having a more eclectic group – if you hang out with a lot of medics, you end up talking a lot of shop.

    Some of the meetups on that site look really good! Book clubs and coffee clubs in particular. You may have saved my social life!

  51. OBH!!! This is why I love you so! I just sent out three very specific invitations to hang out with a cousin that I'm trying to get close with (coffee), a friend of a friend that lives in my area (play-date), and a couple that my husband used to be roommates with (BBQ) . It's so exciting! : )

  52. What about friendship breakups? Have any of you ended a friendship (by choice or consequence) or been the dumpee?

  53. Thanks so much for this! My fiance and I are moving to Austin, Texas in a month from our small hometown in Louisiana. We've both lived in our hometown most of our lives, save for leaving for college, and have strong friendships there. Now that we're moving, I've been terrified of the processof making new friends. He is notorious for substituting social networking for real human interaction, so I'm hoping that showing him this article will open his eyes!

  54. I was so glad to see this post – I have recently been feeling really down about the lack of really good friends in my life. As I approach 40, I am noticing that I have been drifting away from my "friends" because I feel like our views in different areas of life are changing and instead of really enjoying each others company I am annoyed by their comments about "this or that" or by the way they or their kids act. I have been completely passive in reaching out to anyone new – expecting something to just happen. This has given me a good push to get creative with inviting a group of ladies to do something – especially with the summer weather to enjoy!

  55. This article seriously almost made me cry. Ever since a traumatic event in preschool (yes, it was that traumatic), it's been painfully difficult for me to make friends. In high school and beyond, it was a little easier, but it's been hard to keep the friends that I make. We always seem to drift apart. Now I realize I haven't been putting any effort into these friendships. I don't call my friends, I don't suggest we hang out, and I just don't see them on a regular basis. I've always left that part up to them because I didn't realize how integral that was to our maintaining a friendship. I can see why they would stop calling if I never called them. I could see how they would interpret that as me not wanting to hang out with them or talk to them, even though I always jump on it when they initiate.

    Thank you again, Offbeat Home, for shedding light on what is a sensitive issue with me.

  56. I've been living in a new city for 8 months now, and while I'm still struggling to make friends, I'm learning I really do have to TRY. I'm not in college anymore (and hell, even THEN I had to try a little). I did some initial scouting of the Unitarian church and discovered unfortunately it's all people who either have kids (which is fine, but I'm facing infertility, so not the social hangout club for me!) or are 60+ (retirement boom city). So, I moved on, and am now starting to volunteer at a horse rescue farm. I also kind of clicked with a fellow at a local bakery and we exchanged numbers because, as I put it, 'dude, I'm trying to make friends, give me your number, let's be friends.' It's not like I've made a million friends (I wish!), but I'm working on it, slow and steady.

    I guess my main point is, it's hard, but if one thing fails, keep trying. Unitarian church failed for me, but I refuse to give up without a fight.

  57. Ariel,

    I knew I loved you and now this! You seem really cool! Let's try to be friends! πŸ™‚

    People often ask me how I have such a wide range of friends and I shrug. But when I think about it it is because I follow up with, certain dates and I give people quite a few times before I stop trying.

    I am in Seattle too and moving here in my twenties was hard. People are friendly but not open. I found activities to be the best way to meet people, mom's group, book clubs, sports and now west coast swing and blues dancing.

    I approached dating this way when I was single and I loved dating.

    I think that one thing to remember if that if someone you thought you wanted to spend time with doesn't respond, it is probably them. Don't worry about it, they may just be in a place that has no room right now, but be open to them showing up later.

    I could talk about this for a long time, will shut up now.

    πŸ™‚ Rose

  58. This IS good advice! We recently moved to Austin and I have realized I wasn't sure how to make brand new friends without any of my old friends around!

  59. "Look: I don't want to dictate that anyone needs to make friends. I've got mad love for the introverts, and serious sympathy for those who wrestle with social anxiety disorders β€” but for the rest of us who are just dealing with run-of-the-mill social apathy? Here are my common sense tips for grown-up friend-making:"

    Ok, so I was initially upset by the title but as usual you fixed it somewhat with this ^. I really appreciate that you do that Ariel. I think it's one of the things that make Offbeat Empire AWESOME. It did bring up this thought for me though. As a formerly gregarious out and aboutster with a bad case of the Pollyfuckinannas I once was all about getting out and making the dates and turning up and spreading the friendship mojo. Now I'm not able to spend the same amount of energy and effort on friendships that I once did and it's upsetting to see how people just drop off or become uncomfortable with your circumstances so they spend their energies on others. I'd just like to mention that there are HOARDS of truly awesome people in this world (who you will often find socializing on the internets) who perhaps aren't able to get out so much to maintain friendships. IF I had unlimited energies I'd be off making friends with those people if I could. As in going to see them, turning up with cake for a tea party, bringing my friendship to them. It's great that you are suggesting that people get out and join groups and put effort into making friends outside of their homes by making dates and networking. I guess I'd just like to put it out there that some of the more housebound or those limited by illness/disablity or carers, some of those people REALLY would benefit from an understanding friend or two who were able and willing to take on that aspect of cultivating and maintaining a friendship. I do believe it would be well worth it though.

  60. Thanks so much for posting this. I tend to go through spouts (read YEARS) of depression, and am truly an introvert, so between being truly UNABLE to connect with people because my brain chemistry makes me truly believe I'm X. Y, or Z and completely incompatible with other people and really needing alone time when I'm not depressed to recharge… I have a hard time really connecting. A reminder that other people have insecurities about meeting people and hearing about people who find ways to make it work is great.

  61. I love the advise! I've recently moved though to a super rural area, everything I like doing in groups…everyone is 50 years old minimum and polite and lovely though they are, they don't want to hang out! (not quite 30 and no children or partner). Anyone been in a similar situation with any ideas?! πŸ™‚

    • These are great suggestions. But what do you do when you are in an environment where there are truly few people you can identify with, or who can identify with you. If you are not in a position to move away, it can be very difficult. I have always tried to maintain my long-distance friendships, but I feel you do have to meet up at some point to make it work, and that is not always possible. Like Elle, I'm not sure what to do.

    • I hear you. I'm rural too and there are a multitude of activities for people over 50 or people open during the day during the week. The only things meant for my age group are directed at parents, of which so far I'm not. Not that I'm on for lions club get togethers anyway … But I know what you mean.

  62. I have a social disorder and all, but this article wasn't directed towards people of my age so that's irrelevant. My parents – 36 and 45 years old – on the other hand have a lot of close friends. This is because of their affectionate – and sometimes creepy – ways. They hug all people and say "I love you." to everyone they meet. Seriously. We go to a random mechanic shop to get the car fixed and by the time we leave they're laughing and hugging while making plans to go eat at our house. At a store downtown as they leave it's "Bye! I love you!" or "Tomorrow at our place?". My dad's even made two or three friends through random numbers always ending a phone call with I love you. I'm sure it's made someone's day. They dance and skip through organic grocery stores, museums and fast food restaurants singing and don't think for a minute that it's awkward. I find that so awesome. I wish I could be like that…

  63. Thanks for posting this article! I've been in my city for a long time, and after being busy with my dh and two kids, have realized my local friends have dwindled down to one. I love your tip about trying to make plans five times before giving up. I'm determined to make some new friends this year.

  64. Oh MAN. I live in Seattle too, and thought that the idea of the Seattle Freeze was totally ridiculous (after all, *I* had friends… yeah, I see the faulty logic there). It wasn't until I found myself saying, "It's not that I don't want to meet new people, it's just that I really, really like the people I already know…" that I realized I was a part of the problem. Oops.

    It didn't help that, actually, I did not want to meet new people.

    But I started a grad program with no desire to make friends whatsoever. And then, slowly, I discovered how cool some of the people in the program were! I went from being totally uninvested in making friends to being almost creepily calculating about it. "Oh, she seems so cool! Yes, yes, I shall talk with her at lunch!" It worked out. ALL of those people on my "wow, she seems cool" list REALLY ARE COOL. It's great!

    When talking about this making-friends-post-college challenge with one of my college friends (with whom, yes, I did become friends with 0 trying, Back In The Day), she sighed deeply. "It's so stressful and hard," she bemoaned. "It feels like you're asking, 'Do you want to get coffee as long as we both shall live?'"

  65. Thanks for writing this! I find myself to be a "pushy friend-maker" compared to some of my friends; I'm always the instigator (the one who texts, messages, finds fun events to go to, etc.). What a lovely, concise article for me to share with some of my pals who have hard times finding new friends!

    And, yes, I think making new friends is TOTALLY like dating, only without the smooching. Many times, I "date" new friends once or twice, and realize that we're not all that right for each other. Unlike my early 20s when I seemed to have all the time in the world, my time at age 30 is a little more limited, so I have to really pick and choose who gets my love and attention. Sometimes, my new friend "date" and I really hit it off, and I want to spend ALL my time with them (just like "New Relationship Energy" for those up on polyamory terms). But we all got jobs, kids, lovers, volunteerism, etc. to schedule around.

    And, dang, I still have a love of going to dance parties, late-night shows, alley cat bike races, etc., that a lot of my older friends just aren't into these days. But some of my 30-something+ pals still are, and it's GREAT to meet other "old folks" at these generally-20-something venues. If we're 30-somethings going to dance parties and shows, well, dang, we already have something in common! πŸ˜‰

  66. I find that part of the problem as an adult is the need to have an activity or a reason to get together, especially when trying to make "couple" friends. No – I don't particularly want to go out and eat dinner with two people where it's awkward and we waste money. I could cook something better at home and were more comfortable. Thinking about this, I realize the thing I love most about our few good friends (which we recently moved far away from) is that we can just "hang out." We can bullshit while we watch tv. Then maybe decide to go to dinner or do nothing. It doesn't have to be planned because it's about the persons company, not the activity. I don't know how or even if I can get to that point with a new adult friend (especially when your spouse needs to be comfortable with it too). It seems that on either side, with new friends as adults were just not willing to invest that amount of time. I say willing, because I now I am able (I would MAKE the time for those few good friends). I also require a lot of energy from friends – to some degree. I'm not content to just go to someone's house for dinner every 3 months. I need more. I give more. That's not to say I would see them often even, but there needs to be more than a get together now and then or what's the point? I also realize I'm kind of all in or all out. We're tight or we are just acquaintances. I emotionally invest myself in relationships and need others to do the same. I abandoned some relationships I developed in college when I realized I was ALWAYS the instigator. It might be a personal hang up but it made me feel needy- I want someone to reach out to me too. Lastly – I don't really know how to navigate with social media. Facebook for example can be problematic. I purposely keep my list of friends small. Like 30 friends and family. I often have extreme, harsh or otherwise offensive things to say. The people who really know me get it – they can tell the difference between a true rant and sarcasm. They know not to take it personal and to take it up with me if they do. New people? That acquaintances who wants to be friends on Facebook? They don't get it. They don't know how to interpret me yet. You don't know me and shouldn't be privy to that level of my social circle – that takes years (not to mention the confusion of then being exposed to the personal comments etc of my spouse – not understanding us that well it might further scare someone off!) I feel like you skip a lot of the "getting to know each other" phase and delve right into the good and bad when you haven't made the emotional connection that allows you to excuse things because you really value someone. And good luck explaining that… You're just the asshole who wouldn't accept their friend request! Now I've lost my train of thought. Oh also, I can't open up at work. I work in a supervisory capacity and frankly don't think you can ever let that fully go – or if you do open yourself to trouble at work. Fraternizing should not be taken lightly!

  67. Standing dates is something I rely on heavily to keep connected with friends, instead of falling into the "we should totally get together" spiral. I have a standing lunch date on the first Saturday of each month with one close friend. Sometimes the first Saturday doesn't work, stuff comes up, but because it's a standing date, I have to at least check in and say, hey I got called into work that day, but can we reschedule for next Saturday. I also had a really fabulous coworker, who ended up moving on to another job. Another coworker and I fell into the spiral with her, and were always going to get together "sometime" for a solid year. Finally my coworker's birthday rolled around and we managed to make it out to a happy hour. Before we left, I suggested we put another happy hour on the calendar for the following month, and we've been meeting up for a happy hour once a month since, and set a date for the next meetup before we leave. Now the other coworker has a new job as well, and I'm so glad we have this standing date as we might never see one another otherwise.

  68. Hey, you ask if it's really dating without sex. My experience is that all relationships are built in the same ways. They are exchanges of service -usually relief of loneliness- and only the content of the exchange varies. An exchange needs to be negotiated and in some cases, one party wants something the other will not give, as in the case of the unrequited love we now call the friendzone. Violating the conditions of the exchange is perceived as a personal attack and as such, increasing the demands via aggression fosters resentment while decreasing the reward by failing to meet expectations fosters disappointment. It often startles me how simple relationships are. It's easy to build an entourage by giving freely without expectations, but do so with the understanding that without expectations, a friend is in no way dependable; an exchange of equal value is the hallmark of a good friendship.

  69. I also live in a notoriously cold, unfriendly city, and my experience has been that people already have all the friends they want to have-I'm a hanger-on, not someone who gets invited to go places unless I'm a plus one for my significant other. The people I used to be close to had kids and quickly stopped communicating more than 1-2 times per year (either they don't have time, or perhaps we don't have enough in common anymore.)
    I stay at home and read a lot, or do hobbies solo, when my partner is out with his friends (they have their own hobbies several days a week.)
    I'm not happy about it, exactly-I've been feeling deeply lonely for several years-but I'm tired of being friendly and trying to extend invites and being brushed off. I've grown more fragile and sensitive to rejection than I was a few years ago back when I had a handful of people I could talk to or meet up with once a month or so. I don't know how to push past feeling lonely, but being ignored over and over gets old, so for the past year I've just stopped trying to get past the "people I say hi to" stage, and tried instead to focus on hobbies or activities that I can enjoy solo aside from those that I do with my partner.

  70. Hi Ariel

    Thanks for this excellent article.

    It really struck a chord with me as i'm in this situation at the moment as a 30 year old male. I model for a living and alot of my work is disjointed and not in one place. It can get lonely as your past f'ships dwindle as they get into long term r'ships, marraige, kids etc..So, your article, really hits the mark among a pool of many average articles on the net about friends.

    It's fantastic that you wrote this relating to a male friend of yours. Nearly every articles I've read on 'f'ships are from a women's perspective(good work and credit to women for being aware of the importance of 'f'ships) and it's sad to read that many women (and men sing along, probably scared of being smacked down with the 'oh you're a bit sensitive' or' unmanly' tag!!) think that men (i find this mostly this case with a western mindset on male f'ships) do not care about friendships or that they live in some perfect friendship utopia where they speak about sports and everything is just fine and dandy. Well, this is not true. Us guys get lonely for platonic f'ships just as much as women.

    I love that you say it takes alot of effort. It really does. Takes alot of strategy and effort ! It's so worth it in the end, because i feel as you get older, f'ships become even more important.



  71. great information… for the general population….

    but there are those rare, unique people who are the exception.

    i try to make plans, i try to talk to people… i get ignored, forgotten or put off entirely.

    I've actually LOST friends while trying to make friends.

    but no one can understand… no one cares to listen anymore. i'm told to just learn how to "cope" with being alone…. i've been told to try and not give up (which i have several times and failed). i've been told i'm worthless; not worth the time.

    months of reaching out anonymously…. extremely rare i get a message; everyone gives up on me.

    but i'm glad this helps for some.

  72. I turned two acquaintances into good friends one day by throwing all "caution" to the wind and treating them like the friends I wanted to have. These were a former colleague of my husband and his wife. We'd meet them at social occasions with a group of other people, at birthday parties and the like. But there always remained that distance and politeness, making it decidedly not a friendship because everyone was just too polite and not forward enough.
    I managed to change this completely unplanned one day when I'd just found out my company was going out of business. I was very disappointed and emotional and then I just texted them something like "I had the worst day at work today, can I come over tonight and cook for you – I need to fry something!" this was so much more direct and emotionally vulnerable than I had ever dared to be with those two. But when I turned up at their place that day I was met with the concern and care I wanted and needed and I realised that they had considered me a friend / wanted to be friends already. Sometimes you don't feel like you have a friend in someone until you allow that person to prove that friendship.

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