Making friends as an adult can be super tricky. When you transition into adulthood, it’s not unusual for the friends we saw all the time—and for ourselves—to get busy with “life stuff” like moving to new cities, getting hitched, or family demands. And with careers in the mix, it’s easy to sacrifice social time in favor of an evening at home.
Although solo time is important, your connections with friends are an integral part of maintaining your health and happiness. In fact, according to the former US surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy loneliness is “associated with a reduction in life span similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”
So how do you make sure you’re not steeped in social isolation, and making those new connections? Well, it’s all about taking advantage of the best thing about adulthood: freedom. You get to make decisions about where you go and who you spend your time with, which means friendship opportunities are in your hands. It’s up to you to make and maintain them. A blessing and a curse, I know.
The bottom line is this: Friendship takes effort. You have to work at it. It may not be as easy as it once was, and it may be awkward, but it’s worth it in the end. Especially when you connect with like-minded people who share similar values, interests, and goals. Here are some ways to push yourself into new social situations.
Go To Events…Alone
It can be easy to skip out of fun events if you don’t have a plus one. But sometimes, that’s the best position to be in. If you’re into live music, make it a point to scope out local venues and catch a show. If you love to read, find an indie bookstore and attend an author Q&A. Of course it can be scary, but you already have one thing in common with the rest of the audience, and going alone will force you to talk to somebody you don’t already know.
Attending a professional workshop or conference (like *ahem* our Girlboss Rally) is a great way to meet other career-oriented women. Not only will you come away with knowledge that will move you forward in your career, you’ll be in a room full of other people who are looking to improve themselves, too. Plus, networking helps you work on social skills as you increase your list of contacts.
Sweat It Out
Sign up for classes at your local yoga studio or boxing club and start going on the reg. Eventually you’ll start recognizing faces, learning names, and becoming a part of the community. You could even ask your classmate who set up their mat next to you if they want to grab a juice after shavasana.
Put The ‘Social’ in Social Media
Even though Facebook is not what it used to be, it can still be a useful tool for finding friends. Spend some time sleuthing around and see if you find a group of like-minded users you can join. Into true crime? Look for fellow fans in your city to share scary stories with. Like looking at pictures of cats? There’s definitely a group for that. Also peruse Instagram: find people you think are cool, and don’t be afraid to leave comments or slide into their DMs.
Accept The Invite
If you get invited to coffee or lunch, say yes! Don’t limit yourself: they could be your next good friend. And if they aren’t, at least you’ve gotten the practice of hanging out with someone you don’t know that well, so it will be less nerve-wracking the next time you do it.
Your friends have friends, and if they’re not already, they could very well be your friends too. So next time a friend is celebrating a birthday, make it a point to talk to one new person at their party. Exchange numbers and/or social handles, and you’re well on your way.
Volunteer Your Time
Homeless outreach programs, animal rescues, or food banks in your area can always use an extra hand, guaranteed. Find a cause that you are passionate about and see what you can do to help. Focusing on serving your community will get you out of your own head, and keep you from sulking about how lonely you are while you watch the same show on Netflix for the third time.
Log On To The Girlboss Professional Network
We couldn’t resists name-dropping the ~brand new~ Girlboss professional network. Join thousands of women who are just as ambitious as you are, and get real in the comments section about work, money, and life (and maybe even take your connection IRL). Whether you’re looking for a new co-founder, mentor, or a friend to support you along the way, Girlboss is just the place to connect. We have weekly digital firesides with our Founding Members, including incredible women like Elaine Welteroth, Jen Rubio, and Aimee Song, provide you with exclusive work resources, and create a space that takes the nerves out of private messaging someone you admire. We’re all here with the same purpose, after all: To see each other win.
Don’t Get Discouraged
Friendship takes time. Don’t get bummed if someone flakes on you, or the connection just isn’t there. As your mom has probably told you, there are plenty of fish in the sea, and that adage doesn’t just apply to dating. Keep putting yourself out there, and eventually you’ll find someone who can offer you exactly what you’re looking for in a meaningful relationship.