September 27, 2018

Remember how easy it used to be to make friends when we were younger? All it took was a simple:

“Hey! I like your shirt.”
“Want to be friends?”

And just like that, you made a new friend.

As we get older, that all begins to shift as we search for more meaningful friendships—and ones that can fit within our already hectic lives.

It's not an easy thing. It can feel nearly impossible to make friends as an adult. People tend to interact with fewer people as they get older, according to the New York Times. And they tend to develop closer relationships with the friends they already have instead of branching out.

Why? It gets harder to meet the three conditions sociologists discovered are key to making new lifelong friends:

●︎Proximity

●︎Repeated, unplanned interactions

●︎A setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other

Instead of stepping outside of our comfort zone, we stick with what makes us feel comfortable. We make time for the people in our lives who have been there through everything from heartbreaks to successes. And that's great—but by doing this, we unknowingly limit ourselves from meeting new people and experiencing new things.

Even as an adult without the networking power of recess (aka the original LinkedIn), you have the power to create a new friendship as an adult. All it takes is a little putting yourself out there and an openness to meeting new people.

Not sure where to start? We got you. We asked 15 Shine members how they made friends as adults—and their tips are gold:

Gillian Wilson, @gillian_hannah

“Join a co-ed sports team! I’ve met great people through my volleyball teams!”

Lisa Rogoff, @launch.project.

“When I moved about seven years ago, I was struggling to meet friends. My husband encouraged me to ‘hit on’ friends and to make the first move. It felt super awkward to take on this mindset AND I made five of the best friends I've ever had. Obviously they all know this now and we laugh about it. I'm so grateful to my husband for this weird advice!”

Erin, @coffeemeetspolished

“Go to an event and introduce yourself to one other person who also looks like they’re solo.”

Deja Dalina, @dejadalina

“I’ve built friendships with others through the arts. We work together and as we’re working, we connect. Then, we do the 'hang outside of work' thing and sometimes it creates genuine relationships with other creatives. It’s dope and so simple lol.”

Elizabeth Gentry, @elizabethcgentry

“I shared my food 🍰🍫🍦🍨”

Rowena Winkler, @rbwinkler16

“Signing up for an account at meetup.com was a great resource when I moved to a new area a few years ago. I was able to join groups based on shared interests, which helped spark conversations with strangers since we were already engaging in an activity that we all know we like!”

Jackie, @pricelessbreaths

“I made friends in a Facebook group with other people who follow the same bloggers.”

Kristin Kessinger, @rockthekessbah

“All the strongest friendships I've built have been based on being genuine and vulnerable. Approach people and be GENUINELY interested in the ways they are both different and like you. Don't ever judge people before you have more information. Don't be afraid of the things you don't have in common with someone. Seek to understand them. Explore what makes you both unique as you build upon your base interaction. As long as you stay true to yourself and your identity and create room for another person to do the same, you can't go wrong.”

Paasché Nicole, @paasche

“Through my kids. I’ve friended their parents”

Valerie Noseck Papachristos, Shine Squad

“In my experience, sharing a hobby indicates some level of friend worthiness. I did a 30-day trial at a fitness studio and shared nearly every ballet and barre class with someone who was so kind. I was compelled to exchange information and stay in touch. Turns out we have other interests in common too.”

Sonali, @sonalinyc

“Trying new things like improv or volunteering with dogs”

Liz Michelle, Shine Squad

“I answered an all-call for people to read their childhood diaries in a staged reading. Cut to me, depressed and unemployed, trying to rediscover myself, driving to a stranger’s house for a first reading circle and meeting some of the strangest, most incredible people ever. I ended up reading my private diary in front of an audience of 250 people. Three times. It gave me the confidence to start dating again. I went to one girl's wedding. I helped another friend through ankle surgery. I reconnected with an old childhood friend. Doing that got me through a really tough year of my life and helped me remember who I am.”

Alana Jenkins, @alanafrew “The gym. I’m becoming friends with the people in my classes!”

Renee, @rad.reads.books

“I’ve joined my local Rotary Club to meet new people and give back to my community”

Joanne, @heyjomachin

“I invited coworkers over to play board games or by playing co-op video games.”


Read next: How to Make Friends as an Adult (Even If You’re an Introvert)

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