Once again, TV has deceived us. Once you reach adulthood, friendship is nothing like what you see on “Friends,” “How I Met Your Mother,” or even “Orange is the New Black” [Taystee + Poussey + Black Cindy + Suzanne 4eva].
You don’t just sit around and sip coffee/beer with your pals all day at the local coffee house/bar/prison.
I learned this pretty quickly after I graduated from college and moved to Ohio. I was super bummed because I was having trouble forming solid relationships outside of my family. I would go to work, go to my grandma’s house to crush some delicious food, and then head home. Every. Single. Day. And what I saw on Facebook exacerbated it all: I would feel even worse about my friendless life when I saw photos of my East Coast pals going to concerts and enjoying happy hours together.
Even though I felt like an anomaly at the time, I know now that lots of people go through this. A December 2015 study from Not4Dating.com [a website dedicated to helping people find platonic friends] found that one-third of Americans find it increasingly difficult to make friends as they age. The barriers to friendship?
- Not having enough time to meet people
- Difficulty finding pals with similar views on politics, religion and culture
- Social awkwardness
On the surface, it might seem like finding other humans to interact with socially is an insignificant problem. But it’s really not. I’ve seen so many studies showing the direct impact between friendship and happiness – regardless of age.
So what do you do about it? You try. You put yourself out there and try. It was easy when we were in school. We just had to show up for class or open the door to our dorm rooms, and voilà – friendship would just happen. That’s not how it works anymore.
I know trying is hard, but it’s worth it. Here are a few options for making pals that actually work:
- Bumble BFF. When I decided to move to Florida, I was concerned about making friends. Being a liberal New Yorker, I figured I’d have a hard time finding people with similar views here in the South. Still, I wanted to give a shot. I’d heard about Bumble BFF, but wasn’t sure what to expect. My first week here, I downloaded the app, and started swiping right and left to find my new BFF. Within 10 minutes, I matched with a girl named Nicole, who’s originally from upstate NY. We met up a week or two later, and really hit it off. I’ve hung out with her pretty much every week since. She’s kind, funny and reminds me of some of my friends back home.
- Meetup. This site is hit or miss depending on your city. In Cleveland, it was kind of a bust. In New York, it was amazing. However, you won’t know until you browse the site, and see what kind of groups you’ll find. A tip: Stick to groups dedicated to certain topics and interests [e.g. stargazing, classic literature, surfing]. General groups [e.g. “Single Young Professionals Under 40!”] are a hodge-podge of people, and you won’t make it any easier on yourself to find good friends.
- Take a class. This puts you right back in that setting that was so ideal for making friends. People connect with others when they’re struggling to make their piece of pottery look flawless, or can’t nail a certain dance move. Think of something you’re interested in, and go for it.
- Volunteer. When you volunteer for a cause that’s near and dear to your heart, you’re putting yourself in a position to meet others who feel the same. There ya go – something in common! Plus, you’re knocking out two birds with one stone: saving the world while meeting awesome people.
- Work, work, work, work, work. Some of the best friends I have right now are people I’ve met at previous jobs. We connected on things outside of work, started hanging out, and became pals. The one caveat: You should always be careful when you mix your personal life with your work life. Be careful about complaining to your new work friend about other people in the office.
Please, keep in mind – if you’re struggling to make friends, you’ve still got yourself. And you are not chopped liver. You are fantastic and awesome, and you can provide yourself great company. As you work to build up your friend circle, do cool stuff: read, meditate, discover all of the amazing music, explore your neighborhood, start a blog, work out, clean your house, etc.
Do you have any other tips on how to make friends in this very digital age? Please share ‘em in the comments!