Making new friends as an adult.
Whenever I do an Instagram Q&A the two questions I get asked most are usually with regard to getting over a breakup (we will talk about that in another post), and making friends as an adult either generally, or in a new city. Admittedly, I am not always the best at this. I can be the life of the party with close friends (in small groups) but get pretty bad social anxiety around new people or with larger groups. And if I’m being honest, I am quite content on my own… a little bit independent to a fault. I can easily spend a day or two without talking to anyone… between reading, working, and just doing life I am happy as a clam. (After two days though I do need people!).
Moving to a new city at nearly 40 years old has been interesting. Back in New York, I had an active social life. Then it slowed down during the pandemic. Then once it was considered safe, I started seeing a handful of people outdoors. It was refreshing to see the same 3-4 people over and over again. I really liked that… I’d definitely rather have just a few really close friends than a lot of acquaintances.
Now, I’m in a new city. To be honest, I have my people and could just say, “I’m good.”
I am really close with my parents. My sister and her family are moving here in August. I have two friends (from New York that live here now) that are definitely best friends. Becca once said on our podcast, “Best friend is a tier, not a person.” I couldn’t agree with that sentiment more… besides my parents and my sisters I probably have 5 best friends? And besides that crew I have two girlfriends from blogging (Liz and Chassity) that I’ve been close with for probably ten years now. It’s really nice to live in the same city as them.
All of that said, it has been important to me to get out of my comfort zone, build a network and meet new people. I’ve found myself going to more events (by the end of my time in New York I was such a brat – I wouldn’t go to anything), reaching out to women I admire, and just overall… actually making an effort.
To be totally truthful, I don’t even know if I am the best person to tell you how to make new friends as an adult.
But it’s something I get asked about a lot, so I do think sharing my own experience and stories could be helpful? So maybe take this as a non-expert’s opinion? Making new friends, new close friends at least, is really HARD. It was even harder during the pandemic… (a new Zoom friendship didn’t exactly sound appealing?). That being said, I really think that as folks emerge from their pandemic cocoons, they are craving new and real connections. So if you ask me, now is a great time to make the effort and put yourself out there.
Also! The whole impetus behind my Facebook group was hearing from you that it’s hard to make new friends as an adult. Women there are constantly organizing meet-ups and get-togethers. There are book clubs. And supper clubs. It makes me so happy. So if you aren’t a member, def head over there and request to join (I’ll let you in – there are a few simple membership questions to keep creeps out, but I go in and approve new members a few times a week). You can search your city or make a new post. I guarantee, you’ll make at least one new friend!
Making new friends as an adult.
Befriend a connecter.
Back in New York, I considered myself a connecter. (Read Malcom Gladwell’s The Tipping Point by the way, he explains this concept more – it’s such a good book with regard to trends and human behavior, even 19 years later). I had (and still have – sometimes I need to remind myself that) a big network and introducing friends made me so happy. I am an introvert and don’t need to be included in the actual plans… just knowing that two friends of mine that I felt would love each other made me feel warm and fuzzy.
Here in Charleston, my friend Molly is such an incredible connecter and an overall DOER. I admire her so much. I had met her casually a few times through friends while visiting in Charleston but when I moved here, she invited me to brunch. Brunch got boozy, and the rest was history: we regularly meet up for lunch or drinks, it’s the best. But she is constantly connecting like minded women and organizing fun things. I feel really grateful to have met her as she’s included me in a lot of local activities here.
Make the first move.
Pay someone a compliment. Ask them out! I was at a dinner here and there was a girl wearing a cute dress. I said hello and told her I like her dress. We got to talking and it turned out she lived in my building. What a small world. I also need to take my own advice. There’s a cool girl with the cutest dog, and I’ve been meaning to invite her over for drinks. Just do it. Say hello. Pay someone a (genuine) compliment. Ask them out.
Invest and follow up.
We all get busy! But when you meet someone you like, it’s so important to follow-up. (This may be obvious but it can be a problem for me!). Here’s an example. I met Laura for a drink a month ago. We hit it off. Both unmarried, both cat ladies (her cat looks amazing). But then I got busy with work and travel ETC. While in New York I was talking to a girlfriend about how I’d met another cat lady. But it dawned on me that it had been nearly a month since I had seen her. I texted her that night and we made plans to get together. People get busy. It’s important to keep the new friendship momentum going!
I was thinking about this the other day and realized that most of my closest friendships in New York came out of sharing an experience that was stressful or a little traumatic. I’m not always best at being vulnerable, especially with a new friend, but when I can be, I’ve made some amazing new friends. For example: my friend Alex is one of my best friends now but she was initially an acquaintance/work friend. But then she went through a terrible breakup. I went through the same thing six months later. A mutual friend suggest we talk and oh did we bond! She was my breakup tour guide of sorts and it really helped me to get through all the horrors of ending a long-term relationship: seeing her be okay helped me to get okay.
With three of my other close friends, we met working at a startup. Startups are STRESSFUL… slightly traumatic in a way? We’ve all since moved on to new jobs and don’t really even talk about work anymore, but those friendships will last a lifetime.
Lastly on that front, the other day I met a girlfriend for lunch and she confided some pretty hard, sad stuff she’s been going through. Sometimes, as odd as it sounds, being open with a new friend about the harder parts of life is the best way to bond. Even just talking about someone about how hard it is to make new friends could lead to a new friendship.
With posts like this, I often think that the comments section are more valuable than my actual post. So with that, what about you? I would LOVE to hear your tips for making new friends as an adult in the comments section.
Great blog! I need to get out there more!
I’m going on vacation soon and need your beauty expertise please.
-I really like/love my Julep snscreen, but I never hear anything about it. Am I using the wrong stuff? All the hype is Goop, but this stuff is really good. Thoughts?
-I have been reading about the Hanacure line and wondering your thoughts about it. It looks pretty good, but I am not a person to act on hype alone. What do you think of this line?
Thanks for the note, I believe you’d also emailed me these questions. I replied to your note on Sunday, but pasting my response just in case you somehow did not receive!
1. re: hanacure: https://thestripe.com/all-the-feels-for-the-hanacure-mask/
(you can always search my blog!)
2. I am not familiar w/Julep’s sunscreen but I love Supergoop! Not goop. They’re two different companies! If you love it, use it!
On thank you for answering. I did not receive your Sunday response. Not sure why, but I will definitely look into it.
Sorry, didn’t think to search your blog. Duh! My bad. Sorry
These are all great tips! I’d throw in there to not discount your literal neighbors! I’ve met great women of all ages by being involved in my neighborhood association, and by saying hi to people on walks around the neighborhood. Not all will turn into great friendships, but some will, and there’s just nothing better than walking to a friend’s place for drinks in the yard or on the front porch.
That is SO true!! Thank you Ellie!
Love this, it’s all about being open to possibility!
AGREED – and mom, you are such a good example of making friends as an adult 🙂 🙂 xoxox
Love this post! I moved with my husband 9 months ago from Boston (where I had been for 13 years including undergrad) to Memphis. I am an extrovert, so I have no problem talking to people but COVID made it SO HARD. I’m happy to report that I met my closest Memphis friend in The Stripe Facebook group and I am so so grateful to know her. And bonus, our husbands get along swimmingly and we’re all friends now 🙂
Hi Ellie! I live in Memphis. Message me if you want to meet up! @sarahlizlu
I moved to Charleston in 2013 without knowing anyone and it was SUPER stressful but honestly one of the best things I’ve ever done 🙂 My advice is to start a hobby or take a class! Obviously way easier now that we’re not forced to Zoom to do new stuff, but I think this falls under your “vulnerable” section. Letting your guard down and potentially being bad at something makes it really easy to endear yourself to other people, and you already know that you have at least one common interest. I joined a dance studio a couple of years ago and it’s been so fun! You could also do this with something like improv, or even pottery or calligraphy.
I also totally think it’s OK to be transparent about wanting to make friends- again this can feel super weird, but that honesty can sometimes work in your favor… especially if the people you’re talking to are in the same boat!
I really liked this. 🙂 Moving to a foreign country, taking a language class has definitely helped us bond. Taking a language class mostly during a whole period of lockdown has been quite the experience. We will probably be friends forever now. 🙂
I’ve thought about this a lot! I moved to Minneapolis with my husband three years ago, and we only knew one other couple. I found one question really helpful: If I really cared about making friends here, like really cared, what would I do? For me, the answer was that I would put way more effort into it than I was to start, when I was kind of hoping new friendships would fall into my lap. I decided to think about it like a work goal or part time job and to devote a consistent amount of time to friendship pursuits each week. I tried Vina and Bumble BFF, both of which were out of my comfort zone, and like with online dating involved some misses, but I met two good friends through apps. Like you’re saying, Grace, reaching out first is key. I dm’d a couple people in local facebook groups I was in (mainly the Forever 35 local version) because they’d posted something that made me think we might get along and asked if they wanted to get a drink/coffee. Some people clearly weren’t interested which was ok, but I made two good friends this way. I also have seen people put a general post in these groups basically saying hey, this is me, these are my interests, does anyone think we might get along as friends and want to meet up? The other question (and this I pulled from when I was online dating before I met my husband) that I recommend asking is: Where would the type of friend I’m looking for be? What are they doing? Where are they going? And then go/do those things, plus also if you’re doing any online searching (i.e., apps or fb groups). Finally, once you’ve made a few connections, nurture the heck out of them! I made a list in my phone of the new people I was investing in, and every few weeks would make a point to send a text or set up plans. I even wrote down little notes about things they mentioned the last time we talked to make sure to remember to follow up. Once the friendship is rolling I don’t need those types of reminders, I’ll remember automatically, but early on when I’m still mapping onto the person I find it helpful.
I just moved to Minneapolis from Portland OR 2 weeks ago with my husband, dog and 3 yo. Would love to pick your brain more about making friends in your late 30s in this city. Let me know if I can email you?
I’m a big fan of the tip to connect with connectors, and I think it’s really important to become a yes person. Go do activities that put you out of your comfort zone, even if the people you initially meet aren’t lifelong best friends they may put you in a place to meet people who are. Also, it’s a numbers game. The more people you meet & interact with the better chance you’ll have of making those meaningful friendships.
I haven’t done this in awhile but when I was younger I used to organize a happy hour every few months with my friends where everyone had to bring a “new to us/new to the group” friend along. It was so fun and a lot of new friendships got fostered that way!
I love this idea! Thanks for sharing!
This is all great advice! I would add that it’s helpful to bring your hobbies outside (couldn’t think of a better way to say that). I’ve made connections with people by reading or needlepointing at a coffee shop or restaurant. While it doesn’t always lead to friendship, it’s another way to put yourself out there and find people with shared interest. The Facebook group has been wonderful, too. The Stripe Boston book club is still going strong!
Hi Alex! Is it through the stripe Boston meetup Facebook group? Maybe I’ve missed posts but would love to be involved.
Hi Samantha! We started out that way, feel free to post on there and we can let you know about future meetups. We’ve been on Zoom for most of the past year, but trying to venture out soon!
Awesome! We have an active chain going in that group right now trying to arrange for a meet up soon. Hope to get to meet you IRL!
Love this and especially the following up part–I always struggle with that! I’ve moved twice in the last 4 years and it helped to join a volunteer group in both cities and commit to going regularly. Usually people will grab a coffee or beer after and even if they don’t turn out to be your BFF, I’ve always met really nice people that way!
I’m a military wife so have moved about a lot. For me the best ways to make friends have been at the gym (I do CrossFit and it’s always really sociable) and having a dog! I often get chatting to people when out with the dog and it’s really easy just to suggest meeting up for a joint walk. As you say I think being vulnerable is key. I always remind myself that most people are always keen to meet new friends, and are flattered if someone likes them enough to suggest hanging out! I am quite happy just to be honest and say “I don’t know many people round here, would you like to meet up?”. Even if it doesn’t end up happening I’ve never had anyone be unhappy about me saying that and I’ve made lots of lovely friends over the years.
Your advice is really great. I spent my entire life until about age 40 making friends and acquaintances, joining clubs, volunteering, befriending neighbors and it was fun and occasionally stressful. Now that I’m officially “over-the-hill” I just want more me time. I say no to pretty much everything and I don’t even feel left out anymore when I see a group of friends out to dinner without me. I am tired. This is my season in life to rest and I’m enjoying it more than I thought possible. I think we all need to follow our intuition. I just want people to know that it’s okay to be a loner too. : )
I LOVE that so much. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Just wanted to say that I can relate to this so much. TY!!
Yes to this! As a fellow introvert and loner, I appreciate this comment so much! I love/crave my alone time ( I am also grateful for my introverted husband and my handful of close friends – I just don’t need to see them often to feel fulfilled). I have more hobbies and interests than time for, and generally enjoy doing them solo. Rest, activities, hobbies on my own terms is my preference. It certainly took me a few decades to be proud of my introversion and not thinking there was something wrong with me for not being as interested in socializing as others – I have learned so much (through SM) about all of us introverts out there doing our own thing.
Having a weird job (Foreign Service Officer) where I move to new cities every few years, you’d think it would be hard to make new friends. But actually it’s really easy because my American co-workers have also moved within the last few years and are generally seeking new friends at that place too. Plus there is always some terror of a boss or some tough circumstance to bond over, which helps speed up the process of moving from acquaintances to friends. And the wider expat communities tend to also be welcoming and open to newcomers. It’s much harder to make local friends though. I feel like people rarely feel you’re worth the effort if you’ll leave in a couple years. I’ve truly only succeeded in one city, and it was a mix of putting myself out there a lot and a culture that was more social (versus some countries I’ve lived in where people spend most time with family).
Love this post! I talk about this all of the time too. It is so hard to make friends as an adult. Most adults makes friends either through work, social events, kids, etc. Covid really put a cabash on that!! Now most of my friends work from home, outside of the city. They fear coming back in too.
I just made a new friend this past weekend and of all places at my cousins baby shower. She was by herself and looking to sit at a table. I was there with my mom, niece, and another cousin. I told her to please join us. Turns out we are the same age, both married, and no children. Her and her husband love coming to the city. But again have been hesitant. I reassured them there are still great places to go and see, etc. we have exchanged a few texts since last weekend. I look forward in seeing where this new friendship goes. One never knows when or where they may make a new friend. Don’t be afraid, say “Hello”!
Grace this is always great perspective! I’m pretty social and I love meeting new people! With the pandemic I had realized I was so out of practice of meeting new people and making new friends. A great thing that has worked for me when I was in my 20s was I started going to the same church a lot and it was a very social place. People would just talk to people after mass on the steps and it was very fun to be a part of. Now I’m in my 30s and I’m just starting to go back to that church so it will be interesting to do this all over again! I also had met lots of friends through my current friends which has been very fun!
This is such a great topic! ( making friends as adults) I have found that actually being there for people who reach out initially and following through with plans helps. Example- through a local alumni club I have found a good friend who we plan get together with ( pre-pandemic and post pandemic- fully vaccinated) and just joined a local winery membership so am sure we will meet up for their seasonal member events as well. Also, just connected with another Philaelphian on Clubhouse ( she is not ready to go out in a post pandemic world yet due to medical conditions, but it will be fun to see how this transpires, we have a ” foodie” connection and belong to some of the same clubs on Clubhouse.
I have 4 great friends scattered around the US and I only see them about once per year on our girls trip. In the new-ish area I moved to 6 years ago, I’ve not made any great friends that “stuck”that I see regularly. I’ve made a couple of work friends, but we don’t see each other very regularly. Some people have been relegated to the “good acquaintances” level. I think people in certain areas and at certain stages in life are just very busy, or they have the friends they need and don’t really want to extend themselves to many more. I go through phases where I would like one good friend in my area that I see and talk to regularly that share the same friendship and communication values. I miss that. I live with my boyfriend, but I still need and I believe most women need girlfriends in addition to that romantic relationship to round out life. The pandemic didn’t change my friendship realm much at all. It made me realize though, how much I would like a good girlfriend in my life. At times I am fine with it, others I really want a good friend to just get dinner, drinks or coffee with, or just bond over a girls movie/wine night. I had two circles of friends prior to my move and I was not in a relationship, so I was with friends often. I miss that friendship foundation and socialization.
Here’s what worked for me! After college, I relocated across the country for a job and I knew not. a. soul. My coworkers skewed older (think, my parents’ age) so I had trouble making friends through work. I decided to get a job at a local retail store for a brand I loved, only working 8 – 12 hours per week. It was totally manageable (since my social calendar was empty, lol) plus I loved having some extra cash and a discount. I met so many great, like-minded people working there and really expanded my social circle that way. Obviously a second job isn’t for everyone, but it was the best decision I could have made at the time. 10 years later and I’m still in touch with some of the friends I made there, even though I’ve long moved away from the area.
I’ve made friends at my local bars/restaurants. I go alone and sit at the bar and talk to the staff and other people at the bar. It’s scary at first but people sit at the bar because they want to talk to people (unless they have a book or something).
Love this post! I was really lucky that when I moved to LA I knew a lot of people both by virtue of being a Very Online Person who had randos reaching out to me that I took a chance on and I knew a lot of other people who moved here from NYC. I love your point about befriending a connector—when I first moved to NYC after college, I did know a bunch of people from growing up outside the city, but I wanted to make my own friends. I had an ex who I was on good terms with who was absolutely a connector. I asked him who I should know in NYC and he intro-ed me to a friend of his—she brought her roommate, and I asked them how they knew the ex. The roommate said “oh, I dated him” (neither of us had serious relationships with him), we had a huge laugh and became really good friends. I consider myself a connector, too—I LOVE introducing people to each other.
Here’s something I wrote for Talkspace on making friends as an adult: https://www.talkspace.com/blog/how-to-make-friends-adult
I moved to Chapel Hill from Philadelphia about two years ago. I’m married with a child but have never had a lot of luck with “mom friends.” They’re kind of like coworkers. I knew one person here. I tried to make specific goals for how to build the life I wanted to have here and one of those goals was to get back into tennis. I joined a local tennis group on Nextdoor ( that app is a blessing and a curse!!) and asked if there was anyone who was really just an amateur like me looking to hit some balls. I met up with a woman my age from California and she’s now one of two close friends I have here! We just clicked! We’re both politically active and enjoy cultural events that my partner wouldn’t enjoy and she’s not partnered. We see each other almost every week! I probably put a handful of feelers like this out there. I volunteer with a mutual aid group, just joined a community orchestra and network in my industry. I still get lonely, not being able to travel home during the pandemic was devastating, but I have a couple friends worth savoring!
Really needed this. Thank you for sharing these tips, Grace!
I found myself in the position of having to make new friends as I was going through a divorce, didnt matter it was in a town I lived in for over 15 years. Friends take sides, friends dont know how to react, it’s unfortunate. What is fortunate are the friends that double down and are there for you, to support you in a time when everything became uncertain, those few friends were certain and I am so thankful. I didnt press to make new friends, that is still evolving for me.
I’m in the same boat after the break-up of a decadelong relationship. The loss of the relationship was difficult, but the loss of friendships was something I wasn’t prepared for and has hurt me to the core.
Does anyone have tips on how to get yourself in the mental shape to put yourself out there to make new friends again? I feel like I’m in a vicious circle of loneliness and feeling sad that makes it hard to make new connections.
Hi C! Currently finalizing divorce on a 7 year marriage/13 year relationship (I didn’t see it coming, and it was triggered by the disclosure of an affair 2 weeks before stay-at-home order went into effect). We were in the process of moving into a new house and starting to try for kids, and as hard as all of that was to process and grieve, the friendship changes/losses hit me harder than I would have imagined as well. I’ve been lucky to have a few longtime friends that have been there for me in an incredible way, along with my mom and sisters. I’ve leaned on them to build the confidence to start making new connections in my own city. I’ve started out with things that feel safe and structured—I joined a neighborhood book club I found on NextDoor, and after years away from any kind of religion, joined a 20s/30s women’s group at a church I once attended and was pleasantly surprised with how progressive and welcoming everyone was. Both of these groups meet regularly and have a “topic”, so I’ve found them less intimidating, especially on days when grief is hitting me harder. I also got a dog and have become friendly with so many neighbors as a result. No solid, deep friendships yet, but the sense of connection and belonging from each has been great. Also regularly attend an outdoor yoga class and will be starting up at my favorite art studio again soon. I will be thinking you of you! ❤️
Great blog post!
I have made a lot of good friends among my kid’s friends parents. I know, I’m on a different life stage than you, but I’m impressed how easy it has been to meet people, without really trying that hard. Must be that we are all in the same place and that we have a common interest (kids starting school). I’ve met amazing moms and dads, super open and kind. I’m glad to belong to this community where everyone is so helpful.
And also the pandemic has a silver lining: I’ve met and befriended many of my neighbors from my gated community. We have been living in this neighborhood for 5+ years and we really didn’t know anyone, until now.
This comment section and the main article have been awesome! I have amazing friends all over the country, but I recently moved back to San Diego (where I grew up) but everyone I knew here has moved away. It’s like starting fresh but in an area I know fairly well. I don’t have the energy for too many more friends because I invest a lot in the friendships I do have. I would really like to make 2-3 local friends and I LOVE the idea of being intentional about selecting those friends based on what I want my “fresh start” to look like. Thanks for all of the advice, ladies!!
Girl I am glad I am not alone x
Love this topic! I recently moved from a big city to a smaller city where I didn’t know anyone. I have two toddlers so while I meet a lot of people through preschool, activities, etc. it’s hard to actually find people that I like to hang out with beyond just talking about kid stuff. It’s also hard to actually talk and get to know people when toddlers are hanging on you, so I like to plan things without the kids too. I consider myself to be a “connector” – and I’ve always loved to plan things. The pandemic made this very difficult, but now that we’re vaccinated it’s been so lovely to start hosting again. I’ve found that most people LOVE to be invited to things, and just don’t have the time/energy to plan. So long story short, don’t be afraid to initiate things and don’t always wait around for people to reciprocate because you might be waiting for awhile.