When I was younger I always thought everything in life would get easier with age because I'd have complete control of my life. Being underage meant my choices were limited when it came to making decisions. I always felt I fell into things rather than picked them especially when it came to friendships. As I got older I thought building friendships would be just as easy as it had been but better because I'd be making a decision based on shared interests instead of location. Personally, that wasn't the case for me at all when it came to making friends as an adult.
The truth about making friends as an adult is that it can be disappointing if you don't have the right mindset.
From grade school through college, finding your crew and becoming instant best friends was easy, but those were simpler times. Although there are plenty of apps and websites that make it easier to make friends as we get older, forging and maintaining friendships will take a little more effort. After I made a cross-country move, I knew I had to put myself out there if I wanted to make my new city my home.
If you're on the market for new friends because of a move or just want to expand your circle of influence, keep these three lessons I've learned in mind:
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Although you get wiser with age, "stranger danger" doesn't just apply to children. Unlike school, your future friends haven't been vetted by the admissions office. On apps that connect you directly with other people looking for friendships, the proposed meeting place is usually in a bar or club, so be careful.
When I first heard of Bumble BFF, I was excited to try it but I quickly decided it wasn't for me. With girls that I had great conversations with, I nor the other person would ever suggest meeting up. I realized unless I was open to friend dates, the app was pointless, so I began considering taking the leap until something in my gut changed my mind.
The people who were immediately open and persistent about hanging out always had a similar story: They were solo-traveling women who were only in town for one day and wanted a partner to go clubbing with. It could've just been anxiety clouding my judgment but something about that always seemed off to me. Even though going out for drinks sounds fun, I joined the platform for long-term friends so it didn't seem worth the risk.
Many people have made lifelong friends on the app so I still suggest others give it a try despite my experience. Just be smart and trust your instincts!
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Apps like MeetUp that allow you to join social groups and clubs are a great no-pressure way to meet new people. After setting up an account, you can browse hobbies and groups that pique your interest.
Don't immediately filter your search results. Try doing something outside of your comfort zone or that you've been meaning to do.
For years, joining a gym has been on my to-do list but after a while, getting in shape wasn't enough of an incentive to keep me going. I found a jogging group in my area on the app that meets up a few times a week in the morning and evenings. I didn't initially love the idea of exercising outside but the sense of community from the group kept me motivated.
Staying open-minded doesn't just apply to your interests but where you're open to meeting friends. I met one of my best friends at my first job in Los Angeles. At work, I had a tendency to be introverted and preferred to keep my personal and private life separate, but ditching that rule proved extremely beneficial for me.
Don't Force It
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It's great to get out of your comfort zone but there's nothing wrong with stepping back inside of it. If you feel out of your element or lonely, you might stay in unpleasant situations for longer than necessary.
I've never been much of an athlete but a friend from home recommended amateur sports teams as a way to socialize. I joined a soccer league and although the people were fun, I was absolutely terrible at it and didn't have much in common with them except our love of after-game drinks. I quickly realized amateur players may have less patience for beginners than the pros so despite wanting to fit in, I knew it wasn't going to work out.
Thankfully, I found options that were more my speed. It didn't matter whether I joined Meetup, Bumble BFF, a book club, meditation group, or an amateur sports league. I know that the most important contributing factor to finding my core group of friends here was not an app, but a great mindset.
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