Just Some Really Good Advice on How to Make Friends as a Grown Adult

·7 min read
Photo credit: hannah kaplan
Photo credit: hannah kaplan


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It’s hard to argue the joy and feeling of true safety and support that a real friend can bring. Humans are wired for connection and that happens easily when we’re growing up: We have playdates, then school, then college. We’re surrounded by people our age with so much in common. Friends, therefore, just happen.

But how do you make friends when there’s no longer a supply of people eager to snuggle on the couch on random Tuesday or enjoy Taco Fridays or help us endure heartbreak when it hits?

Maybe your crew was part of one of the largest geographic shifts in recent memory, with nearly half a million more people moving to a different county in 2020 than in 2019, per the Wall Street Journal. Or perhaps you're moving into a new phase of life and looking for friends on your level. At some point, we'll all find ourselves asking the interwebs "how to make friends?"

Because life is dynamic, opportunities crop up, and people move, our situations can change at any moment. Making new friends is a skill, and you never know when you might need it. Basically, it's normal to need to make new friends. (BTW these are the best friendship apps, if you're looking to do it dating-app style.)

And it makes sense if you're lowkey intimidated by that fact. As a celebrity life coach and bestselling author of Let It Be Easy, I've coached thousands of people on how to allow more ease and confidence into their lives, including creating new friendships at any life stage and the value of finding a local "family" wherever you live (something I've gotten pretty good at after living in five different countries)! The good news is, it's easier than most people think. Here's what I've learned and what I teach my clients.

Start a low-stakes conversation.

Friendship finding can feel a bit like pre-app dating. If you want IRL pals, you have to get “out there” a lot! When I moved to Miami from New York two years ago, I made two friends separately at the same Pilates class.

It followed the same formula: We sweated out in the studio as strangers, then afterward got talking as we slipped on our sneakers and sunglasses. I asked, “Do you come to this studio a lot? I’m new to it!”

A simple opening question like that as a newbie is enough to open an entire conversation about local workouts and what a person likes and recommends. People love being an expert and sharing what they know. And, hey, you'll get great advice too!

So if you feel comfortable being around new people in real life (a true feat in These Times), you can start by going places where people with similar interests are (workout classes, open book clubs, nail salons, a friend's social gathering). Any common ground, like a mutual friend, a love of a fall nail polish, a book, or a coffee shop is a great starting point for a new friendship.

Just ask if they want to hang out.

As in all potential relationships, someone has to take the initiative! Why not let that person be you? You can start low stakes by asking for a coffee or a casual lunch. I know it can feel uncomfortable at first, but if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

If it doesn't work out the first time, that’s OK! Life is busy. When I first moved to New York I met a girl I liked at a work event and asked her to lunch with me. She was getting married around that time so she turned me down. I asked her again a few weeks later, and 12 years later we just celebrated her birthday with a fun girls trip.

You can follow up and ask one more time if you get an initial rejection, don’t be afraid to hear no. There’s so much more to gain than risk. The initiative is easy when you realize life is just kinda full and you don’t need to take “no” personally.

Actually choose a time and place.

It’s kind of annoying and frankly unsuccessful when people say, “We should hang out sometime!” That's often what we say when we never mean to do it. (I mean, raise your hand if you do it too!) The ball is in no one’s proverbial court, and I don't have to tell you that the majority of time nothing happens without specifics.

If you listen and pay attention when another person is talking, you get great insight into what they care about. Is someone a vegan, for example?

You could ask, “I heard a great vegan restaurant just opened up in Greenpoint, are you free next Thursday to try out their happy hour? I think it starts at 6 pm!”

Being specific brings ease to the meet-up, meaning it’s far more likely to actually happen. You'll make it simple for the other person to say yes.

Check-in with them.

A new friend I made recently affirmed to me the power of good memory and the kindness of checking in. I met her at a mutual pals’ housewarming barbecue and told her about my upcoming book launch. She then DM’d me a couple of weeks leading up to it to tell me that she pre-ordered my book, wished me luck, and asked if she could help with anything.

I was truly touched. Most people don’t bother to remember things other people have coming up, like birthdays, career moves, marathons they’re running. Why not remember and ask about it? It goes a long way because it shows that you care—and if you’re reading this, you probably do.

This is the “give what you want to get" principle. If you want kind and supportive friends who check in on you, be that person first.

Try to keep it chill.

When it comes time to hang out with your new buddy (yay!), it's refreshing to be nice and easy to be around. For example, try not to reschedule your first *date* or be late or be too fussy. I’ll always remember a date with a new friend who was 25 minutes late and had so many dietary restrictions that we didn’t end up eating much and the date was cut a little short. It made me kinda reluctant to hang out again. Honor your personal needs, of course, but respect, flexibility, and ease make a great foundation for a second date! This is why it can be helpful to adhere to #3 (especially if you’re picky)!

Don't rule them out based on your differences.

Part of being an adult is accepting others for being who they are. A friend doesn’t have to be perfectly aligned with you on all things to nurture a great relationship.

Differences of opinion on politics, for example, don't have to be a dealbreaker. Nor does having or not having kids, or being a wine-lover versus sober curious. Focus on the remaining 90 percent of what you have in common! Someone can have similar ambition, travel interests, love of sushi but might not be identical to you on something that’s significant in your life right now. That’s OK. Often people who think differently can teach us things too if we have an open mind. A live and let live attitude is a friend magnet.

Ask to be included.

Just like many people ask if you have single friends when they’re looking for a partner, you can do the same thing to find new friendships! A simple, “Hey I’m looking to meet more cool people this year, and I’d love to be included on any group stuff you’re doing!” is simple and effective. It comes across as confident and honest. People don’t know what we want if we don’t tell them. And when an invite comes your way, remember all of the above!

Being self-assured in seeking out new friendships has endless benefits. We’re more likely to say yes to change. We sometimes create connections that can land us in new careers. We learn more about the world and ourselves with fresh friendships entering our lives over the years. Just remember this is supposed to be fun! And a person having fun is someone we all want to be around.


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