Friendship blog post

How to Make Friends as an Adult

George Grombacher January 31, 2022

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How to Make Friends as an Adult

I’ve got friends I grew up with, friends I went to college with, and I met some of my best friends as an adult.


But it can be a struggle for grown-ups to make new friends.


It’s harder to develop deep relationships when we’re grown up. We’ve got a lot more obligations and a lot less free time.


While it’s a lot harder as an adult, it’s certainly not impossible.


Keep in mind we all feel that way, and most of us like making new friends.


I want to share some of my insights into how to make friends as an adult, because I’ve had success doing it. Along with that, I spent almost 20 years in a leadership capacity for an alumni association. Through that, I’ve observed many new friendships begin and flourish.


Here’s what we’ll talk about:


  • Start with the end in mind


  • What not to do


  • The right mindset


  • Affinity groups


  • How to actually make friends


Let’s get started.


Start with the end in mind


When asked why he robbed banks, famous bank robber Willie Sutton replied, “Because that’s where the money is.” A brilliant answer.


You’re reading this because you’re an adult and you’d like to make new friends. I try to be as intentional as I can in every aspect of life, and I encourage you to approach your friend search this way.


Here are some key questions to ask yourself:


What kind of friends do you want? Are you looking for people to go to dinner with? To watch a game with? To play a game with? To grab a drink with? To go hiking with? Really think about the activities you’d like friends to do things with.


What kind of people are they? You’ve heard it said that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Because that’s true, you need to create a criteria you want your friends to have.


What not to do


I was listening to a podcast and the host was talking about how he meets most of his friends at his favorite bar and how others should do the same. This is terrible advice.


Unless of course you’re interested in spending a lot of time at bars. If that’s the case, go ahead and follow that advice.


Before I go any further, I spent a lot of time at bars in my 20s. So, while it’s not the end of the world if that’s what you’re into, it’s also not the fastest path to becoming the best possible version of yourself.


Going back to the previous section and how we become the average of the people we spend the most time with, be careful of picking up too many new friends where the common thread is alcohol or drugs.


The right mindset


On a scale of 1 to 10, how do you feel about meeting and talking with new people? If you said anything below a 7, you need to change your attitude.


We’re not wearing signs that indicate if we’re open to new friendships. That being said, it’s been my experience that the vast majority of people are open to them.


Whenever I meet someone new, I try to be positive, engaging and curious. I honestly love meeting and learning about new people, so this comes naturally to me.


We’ve all met people who are a little too excited, and people who are a little too reserved. You know yourself, but as you’re getting into the mindset of making new friends, shoot for something in the middle.


Affinity groups


Back to “Because that’s where the money is,” affinity groups can be a wonderful path to new friendships. An affinity group is a group formed around a shared interest or common goal, to which individuals formally or informally belong.


These groups are great because everyone is on the same page with at least one thing, and it gives you an immediate connection.


Examples include:


  • Alumni associations

  • Industry groups

  • Hobbies

  • The arts

  • Fraternities and sororities

  • Sports/physical activities

  • Volunteering

  • Travel

  • Parenting


I strongly encourage you to get involved with an affinity group, particularly if you’re passionate about one.


Throughout my adult life, I made countless new friends through my fraternity’s alumni association (in two different states). I’ve made friends through my love of tennis, and my wife and I have done the same with yoga.


Think about what you like to do, and odds are there’s a group you can join and meet people.


How to actually make friends


“Hi. My name’s George. What’s your name?”


Sounds easy. Does hard.


But that’s the first step in this process. Simply walking up and introducing yourself.


While I’m no lover of surface-level small talk, it’s the starting point of any relationship. I’ve found many people struggle with this because they don’t know what to say.


Here’s a helpful tool.


If you gave a child a piece of paper and crayons, and told them to draw their family, what would it look like? It would have a house, with the family standing in front of it, a blue sky and the sun.


When you meet someone for the first time, think about that picture and ask:


  • House- Where are you from? What part of town do you live in?

  • Family- Are you married? Do you have kids?

  • Sun- What do you do for fun? Are you going anywhere this summer?


You can always ask what someone does for work, what they’re reading or listening to, or what’s been on their mind.


Once you’re engaged in conversation, you’ll uncover common interests and can get past the surface level.


Depending on the scenario, you can end the conversation with, “Great meeting you, I’ll see you at the next event/meeting/etc.” A new friendship is like any other relationship, it will take time to develop.


At the next meeting, you can now engage more with your potential new friend. If you continue to get along, you can talk about getting together outside of the current context. You can ask if they’d like to meet for a coffee/lunch/beer, or get together with one another’s families.


In closing


Remember, if you feel like it’s hard to make friends as an adult, there are also a lot of other people feeling the same way.


Spend the time to think about what kind of friendships you want, what you’d like to do with your new friends, then research affinity groups in your area.


Then it’s making a commitment to yourself to get out there and start meeting people. While you could meet a new friend immediately, it could also take time. I’ve personally found, and observed, the most successful people are the ones who show up most consistently.


You’re someone who can have great friendships if you put in the effort!

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