The HUD Love Club

How the hell do you make friends as an adult?

By Mikayla and Siobhan

Have you seen those wedding TikToks where the bride is posing with her 10+ bridesmaids and thought, “Girl, how do you have that many friends when I’m sitting home on Friday night with my ramen and my cat?” Us, too.

Life has its ups and downs, triumphs and dramas, and through it all, our friendships and platonic relationships are the ones that tend to withstand the hardest moments. Romances end, but friendships endure. Except when you’ve moved to a new place, or your friends have moved away and you’ve stayed around somewhere, or you’ve outgrown your old friend group, or you’ve just… Changed. Then you might be left wondering where all those potential new friends are, and how you can find them.

On our Good Girls podcast episode “Good Girls Don’t Know How To Make Friends”, we’ve taken a deep dive into how you make friends when you’re a grown-ass adult.

How we made friends when we were kids

Think back to your childhood. Friendships were much simpler, right? Even through school, when friend groups shifted as the social hierarchy swirled around everyone, it seemed much easier to know where you stood with other people.

Chances are your first friends – and the people you spent a lot of your formative years with – were people you met at school, or at a particular group you belonged to, like a sports team or even your church youth club. Those were friendships that existed for two main reasons: Forced proximity and temporality.

Forced proximity means you were in each other’s space – the classroom at school, the field at sports, picking up trash by the side of the highway while singing hymns or whatever your church youth club did – and you didn’t get a choice about it. (Almost) everyone has to go to school, right? And all of your friends are growing up and dealing with puberty and crushes and acne etc at the same time, which are all bonding experiences.

Temporality means you were together for a LOT of time. Five days a week for school. A month at soccer camp. And when these activities go on for years and years with the same group of people, friendships develop and friendship groups form.

Then, suddenly, you’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy

During school and especially those all-important teenage years, your friend group was probably your life. You vowed to be friends forever post-graduation but… You lost touch. You all went to different universities. You got new friends. You started jobs. You might have moved to an entirely new town or state or country. Then what?

Making new friends isn’t easy, and you might be wondering what the hell is wrong with you when you had this great group of peers in high school but haven’t had that since. News flash: Almost no one has that, except those brides on TikTok and why are they making a point to post that anyway? Are they *trying* to make us feel like shit?

No, you’re not a social reject

Take it from us: You’re not the problem. But at the same time, other people aren’t the problem, either. The problem is that you’re moving in a new world where you’re not forced to share the space-time continuum with the same group of people every day.

Post-high school, the social hierarchy doesn’t mean nearly as much as it did to the jocks vs band kids. You can be friends with whomever you want to be. You’re not that high school kid you were – you’re an adultier version of yourself, a few years older and wiser, with some life experience and the ability to discern your own motives. Why do you want friends? Are you lonely, or are you bored? Are you looking for people who share your interests, or do you just want some casual hangouts with people who also like trying the iced chocolate at a new café every single weekend?

It's hard to go from seeing the same people all the time to making adult friends, but it’s a transition you can handle if you just remember that this is normal, and that everyone goes through it in their own way.

Redefine what friendship means

Do you *really* want to go back to high school and keep up with the dramas of 11 other people all the time while wearing braces and pining over someone who didn’t even know you were alive, PLUS have 20 hours of homework a week and chores and drive your parents’ car? Do you even need to answer that?

Look, we’re all busy and we all have multiple demands on our time. Friendships don’t have to mean you’re in each other’s pockets 24/7. It can mean seeing someone once a week for coffee. It can mean catching a movie together when they’re in town and sending memes when they’re away. It can mean you see them at your fortnightly D&D group and don’t know what the hell they do with the rest of their time.

It’s okay to have low-maintenance friendships. It’s okay to be a low-maintenance friend. Do what works for you and your life and don’t be ashamed of it.

How to make friends as an adult, really

It all boils down to this: You have to put yourself out there, and this may mean stepping outside of your comfort zone.

Think about some of those people you were once super-close to. You probably still keep in touch with them on social media, and you’re kind of bystanders in each other’s lives. Is anyone doing stuff that looks interesting? How about getting in touch and telling them you’ve enjoyed watching their journey and you’d love to catch up and see where you’re both at? You might find a deeper reconnection with someone who has also grown up to be quite cool.

Work friendships are an actual thing when you’re in the adult world, and lots of workplaces have social stuff going on – a volleyball team that plays against another branch, or after-work drinks one Friday a month. Check these out with an open mind.

Tap into your current social networks – we’re not just talking about Insta, but the actual social networks that exist. Do you have a friend who seems to have a LOT of friends? Maybe she can intro you to one of her friends – and maybe you can do the same and help your friends become friends with each other. “Friendship blind dates” are much less risky than actual blind dates.

You might cringe, but taking classes or joining clubs as an adult are a great way to find people who are into the same things you’re into. And volunteering is a wholesome way to connect with other people whose morals and ethics are aligned with yours from the start.

If you’re living somewhere that there aren’t a lot of physical places to go to meet people, online friendships are super valid. There are lots of special interest Facebook pages, Discord groups, and niche online hangouts for any interest you can think of. You can still have fulfilled friendships with people you don’t see in person.

No f*cks to give, just vibes to live

Adult friendships are about authenticity, effort, and intention. You have to put yourself out there, step outside of your comfort zone, and give it a try. It’s the exact same thing as dating, only with a much lower risk – you’re not setting yourself up for potential heartbreak, you’re just looking for someone to vibe with.

It doesn’t matter where you find friends – work, clubs, volunteering, classes, online – you’ve got limitless opportunities even though your time and resources are limited (welcome to adulthood!). Wherever you find your community is valid. Put yourself into a new situation or environment and give it a chance. If you’re nervous, remember that people do this every single day and it actually works.

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