Growing up, making friends was as simple as joining another kiddo on the swingset or sharing a toy. And even in college, there were countless opportunities to build friendships — from service organizations to residential halls and more. But as adults, making friends seems to be a lot more difficult. 

Why? First of all, we’re no longer surrounded by peers. The transition from college to the workforce is a stark contrast. Sometimes, a cross-country move or new career opportunity uproots us. Or a life change, like adding a spouse or a child to the mix, also complicates the process of making new friends.

It’s clear friendship is just as important now as it ever was. Yet a widespread study by Cigna found that almost half of respondents feel lonely and not known. In fact, the average loneliness score suggested that most Americans are considered lonely. So if you feel like you’re in need of a new friend or two, you’re certainly not alone.

The good news is, it’s never too late to make a friend. Explore our strategies to make friends as an adult and form a new and uplifting friendship:

Be comfortable going solo

When you want to broaden your social circle, sometimes you have to take the first step alone. Friends don’t just appear, magically ready to hang out. You have to become comfortable with going places alone so that you can talk to new people there. Simply spend time enjoying yourself, and you’ll be better prepared for new friends when they come along.

Find an event on the calendar that sounds interesting and challenge yourself to go solo and leave only after you’ve made a connection. Promise yourself that you will say hello to three people. Keep the conversation going when you meet someone interesting. If you want to learn how to make friends as an adult, finding common interests is a great start! 

Get an introduction

A simple way to make new friends as an adult is to talk to the friends you already have. After all, you know you have things in common. Chances are you’ll like their friends too! Just like you’d go through your network when you’re looking for a job, view your current social circle as an opportunity to form new connections. This is especially valuable if you’re living in a new city. Ask old friends who they know in your new stomping grounds!

Go through your network, especially your mentors, and ask if they know anyone who’s also interested in one of your hobbies or something new you want to try. Start by coordinating a happy hour or coffee, and ask everyone you invite to bring someone new. With a little extra effort, you’ll be making new friends before you know it.

Surround yourself with potential friends

How do you make new friends as an adult? It’s not so hard when you surround yourself with people who have common interests and goals. Ask yourself: where do the people who enjoy the things I like hang out? Where do the kind of people I want to befriend go? If you go where interesting people go, you’re likely to make a strong connection.

At Central Exchange, we appreciate the lifelong friendships that come from being a part of this empowering collective of women. Every event is a chance to meet a new smiling face and inspiring woman who, like you, wants to grow personally and professionally. You might find the perfect opportunity to make a new friend at our Midwest Leadership Summit on April 21, 2020. Check it out here!

Invite again and again

Too many connections fizzle when someone fails to make plans. How many times have you given up on someone after you decided it was their turn to make the plans and they never followed through? It’s not fair to decide someone doesn’t like you because they don’t take initiative. Sometimes it takes asking someone to meet up numerous times before they are ready to reciprocate.

Shasta Nelson, author of Friendships Don’t Just Happen!, says, “What you should be thinking is: Did that person say yes? Did we have a good time? Great. Repeat. As long as she says yes two out of four times, keep asking. Most relationships have a primary initiator; the other person may give in different ways — she could be the primary listener.” 

If a promising new friendship has fizzled out, take a long-term perspective and keep showing up. A famous tenet of psychology is the “mere exposure effect,” meaning the more we are present, the more likeable we become. When you’re looking to make friends as an adult, choose to be the initiator and keep sending those invites. 

At Central Exchange, you’ll find like-minded women with open hearts and strong minds. Now is the time to start making new connections. We want to meet you at Central Exchange. You are welcome here! Register for one of our many upcoming programs.