Building and maintaining friendships can be hard as an adult. It’s true. Trying to navigate this myself, I thought I’d share a few tips.
It’s easy enough in school, you easily bonding over a love for the same colours, or an interest in dinosaurs, football, singing; whatever your hobby is. Moving through school you might fall out and change friendship groups, but chances are the bickering has been forgotten about by lunchtime and you’re all smiling again in the playground.
The later school years roll into sixth form/college and you’re in that angsty teen phase trying to decide which social group you want to fit in with. For me, I was never one of the cool kids. Simple jeans and tee kinda gal.
But fast forward to the post-university days and no one tells you how difficult it can be to make friends. Yes there’s people in university who you click with and some people meet their partners during this time, we’ll skim past the fall outs over so-and-so’s new girlfriend/boyfriend which is inevitably what seems to happen during the sixth form and college days, well into university too.
So how do you make friends in your twenties?
Firstly, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing things alone. I’m an advocate for going to the cinema alone, taking myself out for coffee, going to gigs alone. Hell, I flew to the other side of the world alone and I was completely okay with that. But there are times when you want to do things with friends, y’know like bbqs, gigs, events and to share experiences with them. So in that sense and to sort of paraphase a favourite movie of mine (I Love You, Man) you’re thinking “So what do I do? How do I make friends?”.. it might not be as easy as going up and asking them for casual lunch or after work drinks… especially if you’re more reserved around new people.
Become a local. Chances are there’s certain haunts you hit up for coffee (or something) regularly. Next time take a second to look around you and see who else is there. If there’s someone sitting on their own, smile. I’m not suggesting you go over and share your life story, but little things like smiling at someone can make such a difference to your day; and to their day. Next time they might remember you and maybe you’ll have a chat.
Joining a gym or taking up classes is a way to meet new people. Chances are you’re not going to make friends instantly, but if you give it time and have the confidence to approach a few people then you might just find someone you can get coffee with after body pump, or someone else who wants to see the latest film you’re interested in. It doesn’t have to be a fitness class, it could be a reading group or volunteering with a local charity. Something you’re interested in and you’ll meet likeminded people there too.
Sometimes it’s worth reaching out to friends you’ve drifted from. Yes, I know you’ve probably clicked on this post and thought “ooh she might have some ideas how I can make new friends” but hear me out…or rather keep reading, for just a moment. Sometimes catching up with someone you know can be less daunting. You already know the person, chances are you had some common ground so try and meet them for coffee or something and see how that goes. Arguably if you drifted away for a reason, then let that lie. I’ve learned that you will drift away from people and there’s not always a significant point where you fell out and had a huge argument; sometimes interests and loyalties start to shift and that’s okay! And also a topic for another post…
Go on an organised group trip. To some this might sound like the worst idea possible, but if you’re in a new area it’s the best way to meet people. I went on a few group trips in Australia with what were total strangers at the beginning; by the end of it I’d made a few new friends and I still keep in touch with them regularly now. Okay, so you’re not planning to fly halfway around the world anytime soon, why not see what’s going on in your local city and sign up to the trips.
Attend an event? As a blogger I attend events and will sometimes be in a room of strangers. That no longer phases me as much as it used to, as it’s a great opportunity to network (I sense you groaning – networking doesn’t have to be boring and clunky, honest) if you spot someone wearing something you like, go compliment them and ask them where it’s from etc. or see the person next to you and ask them their thoughts on the new bar/product/whatever. If you’re a blogger too; next time that event invite arrives in your inbox, head along and speak to some new people.
Ask other friends! If you’ve got a few friends, why not ask them if they know anyone and can set you up – or in a less daunting and date kind of manner, you could all go out together and see how you get along. Making friends through other friends can be one of the easier ways! I recently went bowling with one of my closest friends and their friends who I hadn’t met before and y’know what, it wasn’t awkward at all. If anything I think we all got along pretty well. Which, for the host, I’m sure was really satisfying to see.
Remember, you’re not alone – chances are the other girls you spot by the bar at that launch event, or the guy hanging around the coffee shop alone are all in the same boat. So what have you got to lose? Oh and if you’re someone who’s managed to maintain friendships you formed when you were in school – then let’s chat, how have you managed that?!
Let me know your thoughts around making friends in your twenties and any tips you have!