In my early 20s, I used to complain to my husband all the time that I didn’t have any close female friends. And his reply was always the same. He told me I would make friends with the school mums when we had children.
Fast forward about ten years, and I have a few best friends and a wider friend group that I consider to be my close friends. And funnily enough, they aren’t other school mums.
A few things you need to know before making friends:
- You will need to put yourself out there with an open mind (this is the most important step)
- It’s highly likely you will need to make take the first step. So be ready to get out of your comfort zone.
- Making friends can be hard, regardless of your life stage
- Decide what you’d like to get out of your new friendships (social life, improved mental health, a few common interests, a larger group of friends)
Join a book club
A book club is a good way to make new relationships with people that also like reading. Plus you will likely broaden your knowledge through different authors and genres.
Try a new coffee shop
Not only does a new coffee shop have a different vibe and a different menu (my favourite part!), but it will also have different people.
And if trying a new coffee shop is not your thing, make some small talk with the barista and other staff at your current fave cafe.
Did you know there is a scheme in Australia called the Chatty Cafe scheme? It aims to get people chatting to encourage social interactions within the community and building friendships.
Nurture older relationships
One of the easiest ways to create a real friendship is to nurture your relationship with old friends. Is there anyone from your past you can reconnect with? Perhaps someone from primary school, high school, or even your first job.
Join common interest Facebook groups
There is no shortage of Facebook groups, so you really do have your pick. And if you are a mum it really is the easiest way to connect with other mums with young children in your area.
I’m personally a member of a local mums group, a few cleaning and organisation groups, blogging groups, and a craft group.
Meeting people at library events
Libraries offer a number of events for a range of interests. From author talks to Lego club, book-themed quiz nights to craft tutorials, sign language storytime to social media, and technology classes for beginners.
Host a party or event
Host an event or party for some people you’d like to get to know better. After having my daughter I wanted to form closer relationships with my friends. So I decided to host a girl’s night. Since then we have become a lot closer. And now we meet up regularly in real life, not just through a social network app.
Get to know your work colleagues
There are a lot of differing opinions on whether you should get to know your work colleagues. But in my opinion, anything that can make a workplace better is a good thing. You don’t need to go so far as catching up outside of work, but building relationships with the people you spend a lot of time with can pay off. Sometimes you need someone to cover for you, or need a little extra help. Building those relationships can really help with that. And who knows? You might make such great friends with people from work that you become lifelong friends.
Reconnect with high school friends
If you’re in your early 30s, you might’ve had your 10-year high school reunion recently. And that is a great way to connect with people you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s interesting to learn where everyone went after high school and see how the different friend groups have changed.
Meet like-minded people online
I have friends who have made lifelong international friends during their teenage years while playing video games. The bond that is created while working towards a similar goal (or mission) and working as a team can make for some true friends.
Look after your physical health
Gyms, sporting clubs, and fitness groups are one of the best places to try new things and meet people. I know when we were younger, my husband took more than twice as long to do his workout. He spent most of his time catching up with the friends that he had made at the gym.
Bring your pet
Why not help a man’s best friend also find a new best friend? The dog park is also a great place to meet great people with similar interests. And a great way to help your dog with their social anxiety.
Get involved with your parent group
If you live in an area that facilitates a parent’s group, it’s a great way to meet other new parents that are also experiencing the same things as you. You already share a common interest, your newborn baby. And while some babies might be a slightly different age, there’s a chance your child will share a birthday with someone in the group.
Council-run parent groups are often created when five to ten people living in the same area have newborns within the same five-week period. So it’s also highly likely that your child will go to childcare, kindergarten, and maybe even school with the other children.
Get to know your neighbours
Getting to know your neighbours can have many benefits besides a good friendship.
- keep an eye on your house while you are away
- you won’t have far to go when you visit for dinner
- they can collect mail and put your bin out when you are unable to
- you can borrow things from them
- mutually help each other maintain your properties
Immerse yourself in your local community
Local communities have a number of events for so many different interests. On top of the local cafes and restaurants, there are sporting clubs, outdoor enthusiasts, religious groups, markets and festivals.
One of my closest friends is a family friend. Her dad and my dad grew up together in the 1960s and have kept in touch. So I’ve actually known her my whole life! We lost touch during our childhood because our families had different things going on. But we were able to catch up again in our late teens, when more freedoms became available, like driving. And no we live about 20 minutes away from each other, so it makes catching up in person so much easier.
Friends of friends and mutual friends
Just like family friends, friends of friends and mutual friends are a great way to make real world friends. There’s a good chance you have similar interests, even if you come from different backgrounds. After all, you’re both friends with the same person.
I actually met my husband through a mutual friend!
Family and In-laws
Not to harp on about my group of friends, but there are three sets of sister in-laws. And two more are cousins by marriage. When you’ve got in-laws and cousins that get along and form friendships it makes those often dreaded family gatherings much more bearable.
There’s an app for that
There is an app for absolutely everything now. So an app can be a great way of meeting others, especially when you are in a new city or even a new country.
- Bumble BFF
- Meet my Dog
If none of the above work for you, start something new. There are a lot of things you can start to get the ball rolling to make friends
- social media profile for something you enjoy
- walking group
- hiking meetup group
You might come across a few problems when it comes to meeting a lot of people.
Adult friendships are hard. We all have our own lives. We work different hours. Live in different areas. Have different hobbies. Then maybe add kids into the mix. And we often have many friendship circles to keep up with. So you might need to lower your standards to begin with, yet also put in maximum effort to make the first move.
If the lack of free time is your main issue, try getting to know the people you meet in public places. Your barista at your local coffee shops. The attendant at the petrol station. The checkout person at the supermarket. Or start investing a bit more in your work friendships. You are at work anyway, why not do your best to make it a better place to be?
It’s one thing to get nervous in new situations or around lots of people, but sometimes it can be more than that. The fear of rejection can run deep in some people and it may take quite a few goes speaking to new people before you feel comfortable and more confident in social circles.
Be cautious at the beginning about the personal information you share. It is so easy to give away too much when you are trying to find common ground in the early days of a friendship.
What makes a lasting friendship?
A number of things go into maintaining a lasting friendship. You may have even seen a recipe for friendship that includes things like one cup of kindness, one cup of honesty, one cup of common interests etc. But I think the most important thing when making new connections is to find a common interest. After that, the conversation often flows naturally. And be sure to keep the conversation going. Get in touch with them regularly. Make plans to meet up in person or online.
And if the friendship is making you uncomfortable, consider getting out of that toxic friendship.