For many people, making new friends comes naturally — until adulthood hits. School and extracurricular activities provide plenty of opportunities to meet and interact with peers, but after finishing school many people find their social circles diminishing year by year. Yet, even if you’ve found yourself in this predicament, you aren’t doomed to a lonely life. No matter how old you are, these simple tips can help you reach out to others and make new friends.
- Mix it up.
It’s hard to meet people if you never leave your house or try new things. While it might feel uncomfortable at first, especially if you’re shy or introverted, you’ve got to break out of your routine to make friends. Try chatting with someone from a different department at work, signing up for an art class, or joining a hiking group in your area. Pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone even a little can pay off big in terms of expanding your social horizons.
- Be friendly and positive.
You’ll attract more friends with a cheerful upbeat attitude than you will if you’ve always got something to complain about. Be the kind of person you’d like to spend time around. Treat others kindly and try to find the positive in every situation. You don’t have to pretend to be happy if you’re not, but cultivating a good attitude will allow others to enjoy your company.
- Stay open to possibilities.
Friendship isn’t always predictable. When you were a kid you might have gravitated towards friends who were similar to you, but as an adult you have the opportunity to make friends from every walk of life. Don’t discount the possibility of becoming good friends with someone older or younger than you, someone in a completely different profession, or someone from a different cultural background.
- Be proactive.
It’s all too easy to hold back and wait for other people to initiate a friendship with you. Unfortunately, most other people are waiting for somebody else to make the first move too. It’s never easy to get over the fear of rejection, but if you want to make new friends you’ll probably have to take a deep breath and approach somebody. This can be as simple as making small talk with an interesting stranger and inviting them to get lunch or a cup of coffee with you. Don’t overthink it too much — most people are friendlier than you might realize.
- Take an interest in others.
One of the easiest ways to get on somebody’s good side is to be genuinely curious about them. If you want to befriend someone, you can’t go wrong by asking them appropriate questions about themselves. Jobs, pets, and kids are all usually safe topics when first meeting a new potential friend. Just steer clear of personal or potentially awkward questions until you’ve gotten to know somebody better.
- Be persistent.
Turning strangers into friends isn’t a quick or easy process. This is especially true in adulthood when both you and everyone you meet are dealing with the responsibilities of everyday life. If someone you want to befriend doesn’t return your attention right away, don’t assume a friendship isn’t in the cards — they may just have too many other obligations on their plate right now. Maintain a friendly attitude with them and don’t feel shy about extending a second or third invitation to meet up or get lunch together.
- Find the right balance of give and take.
Once you’ve established rapport with someone, you’ve got to figure out how to maintain it and a healthy sense of reciprocity is the best way to do that. As you get to know your new friend, gradually open up more about yourself. Do your best to gauge your friend’s investment in the relationships and try to mirror them. If they seem reserved, it’s probably best to hold off on inviting them to your wedding or telling them about your deepest personal problems. Of course, if the person seems uninterested in maintaining the friendship, it’s a good indication that you should move on and find a friend who values you more.
Making new friends gets more challenging when you’re an adult, but it’s still possible. Keep an open mind and a friendly demeanor as you start putting yourself out there, and you’ll probably discover that other people are happy to befriend you.