How do Adults Make Friends?

This past Saturday, I met the one and only Culture Monk in Chicago. Ours is a friendship forged in the blogosphere and withstands elegantly off-line. I’ve always been a bit jealous of Mr. Monk. Culture Tour aside, he is the kind of person who is comfortable striking up a conversation with anyone. If I hadn’t known a soul in that café, I would have sat down at an empty table and not spoken to anyone.

Chapter TK - Making friends as an adult is way different than gradeschool

While there are plenty of solo activities I enjoy while in a cafe atmosphere, it dawns on me that I would be delighted if someone dared to engage me in conversation. All it would take is one person asking about my book or my writing to make my day. Why, then, was I so afraid of doing the same to someone else?

Making friends in the adult world is hard. How do you connect with someone if you’re not in a class with them?

I will sing the praises of MeetUp.com as that is how I met the great friends I have today. I joined a 20-something’s social group, attended some events and met some wonderful people. They have become some of my closest friends and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. That said, why did I have to join a group and attend an organized event to meet friends outside of a classroom environment?

If I were to move again, I fear I would do the same thing. Mr. Monk often talks about a lack of natural community in Western culture. I never noticed this absence until reading his blog. Perhaps I am used to a world with few people. My youth wasn’t full of a lot of random encounters that resulted in friendships. In fact, I can think of only one such encounter.

I believe it was the summer before seventh grade. Much to my dismay, I was mowing the law. I loathed this activity for the bugs it through in the air, the ugly sweat that coated me and the repetitive back and forth of the chore. My one relief was in my portable CD player, tucked lovingly in a fanny pack. Shania Twain sang in my ear as made my neat rows in the lawn. The world was lost to me as I entranced myself in the music, living in a fantasy beyond my understanding.

 ♪ ♫ Definitely found my self esteem
Finally-I’m forever free to dream
No more cryin’ in the corner
No excuses-no more bruises*  ♪ ♫

*tap* *tap*

I was startled out of dreams by a nudge on the shoulder.

“Hi, I’m **Anna. Wanna be friends?”

No joke, I think I looked around to make sure she was talking to me, as if tapping me on the shoulder wasn’t enough of a sign.

That was it. We went on to be great friends, sharing secrets at sleep overs and running around town.

Can that still happen as an adult? How do people meet each other and suddenly become pals? Certainly I’m not the only one who moved away from home and had to find a way to make new friends?

I wouldn’t give up the friends I have for the world, but I still wonder… can I make a true connection in a café, a bookstore or a library? How does that happen?

I must be a product of the times. I can’t even make friends without the assistance of technology.

How do adults make friends? I’d like to call upon the advice of people who are older that the world wide web*** and ask, if you moved to a new area where you didn’t know a soul, how would you make friends? Was it something that happened naturally, or did you have to seek out friendship? For those who are younger than the world wide web, do you know how to make friends without the hesitance of technology?

* I know this is a song about domestic abuse, but as a child, I related it to emotional bruises.
**Not her real name

***The world wide web is 25 years old. True story

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270 thoughts on “How do Adults Make Friends?”

  1. I wish I knew. I have four close friends…whom I have known for 11 to 14 years. (one for 14, one for 13, and two for 11). Other than that, I have acquaintances. Nothing more. But I’d rather have a few close friends than a myriad of surface “friendships.”

    1. Hey, four good friends is a lot. If I count my boyfriend, I’d say I have about the same number of really close friends, then about four more good friends who I just don’t know that well yet. Quality not quantity.

  2. In the 1950s through the 1970s in Australia, I made friends through school, through the neighbourhood, through family, and then through university, through amateur drama groups, through work, through going out with friends … You had to be brave, and busy. Find something you like doing FACE to FACE, and join a group doing it, whether it’s crochet or anarchist politics.

    And thanks for the like!

    1. Sounds about right. I’m just interested in so many solo activities that joining a general social group was the best plan for me.

  3. It’s very difficult to make new friends as an adult, especially, when like me, you move to a new country and you find everyone already has their clique of friends or boys’ and girls’ networks. This has actually given me the idea of starting a poetry project called “exclusion”

    1. Yeah. Moving anywhere can do that. Thank God for the internet. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t find clubs in my area online.

  4. This is a very interesting post, I had never really thought about it before but out of all the friends that I have, I don’t think I have met any of them in for example a café.
    They are all either school friends, friends from university or friends from work. I even met my fiancé at work.
    It used to be much easier to make friends, even during my time as a student it was quite easy as everyone was essentially in the pub, so it was quite easy to start a conversation.
    But as you get older you lose touch with the people that you bump into in a bar and only the true friendships really last.

    1. I’m not really close with most of my friends from college and I’m not close with anyone from high school. It’s been a relief to have MeetUp.com because otherwise the only people I would know are from work. That’s fine depending on where you work, but I tend to work with much older people who are harder to make good friends with. That and it’s not super great to complain about work to a co-worker. Sometimes you just need someone to complain to just to vent.

  5. Life is too short to wait around for someone to engage you. No doubt there are others wishing someone would engage them? It really isn’t difficult. A smile and a simple hello can melt ice. Here you would say bonjour or bonsoir but it is the same thing. If you want a friend you have to be a friend. Be the kind of friend you would want. If someone doesn’t respond, it doesn’t mean they are not interested. Perhaps they have been hurt or rejected in the past. If you really want friends, they are out there and what you invest can determine what you find. Bon courage et bonne chance!

  6. I guess I never had an issue making friends as an adult – I joined social circles like Mensa in the UK – or just to the local bar, or poetry readings or night classes within the US – when I moved to the small town I’m now in, you only had to go to a couple community events and you knew half the town, and the rest of town and you had at least heard of each other. I soon had a support network that I was happy to be a supportive part of. No technology involved.

  7. I love this post! I join groups IRL. Like local bible studies, writing guilds, gyms, supper clubs, book clubs, MOPS. I strike up conversation in the park with other moms. I go to church. I am friends with my employees although that can be a bit tricky. I am friends with my husbands boss although that is a bit tricky as well. I play the bells. That is a group musical endeavor so I find a local group and join that… We have moved a lot and I have friends in every town!

    1. I think attending church is a great way to make friends in real life. It’s easy because chances better you can find like-minded people there. However, if you don’t got to church on a regular basis, I think finding clubs to attend as an adult can be hard, depending on where you live.

  8. I have a different issue. I don’t do hobbies that are popular, yet I have many interests and activities. I rarely go to social venues like pubs and clubs as I don’t drink alcohol and value good sleep, yet I spend a lot of time outdoors. I have a handful of close friends but they, like me, are all out in the big bad world pursuing their dreams, unreachable. Sadly, I am not close with my friends from high school or university. I probably sound like a boring cold person, but if you get the chance to meet me, I promise I will prove you wrong. I am just a deep thinker who looks for people who vibrate at the same frequency as me, said in a sentence. I often approach people directly on the spot, on the street, in action, any time and anywhere, as long as the person radiates positive energy that I’m attracted to, and then hope for the conversation go proceed well and a good friendship to form…

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