How easy was it to make friends as a kid? All you had to do was bond in the bathroom over the runs in your tights, swap cheese sandwiches at lunch, put your favorite Pocahontas stickers in their notebook, and you were soul sisters for life. Now, though, it's a whole different story.
We meet loads of people on any given month, yet it's hard to make any of them stick. In coffee shops, dinner parties, bus stops, work elevators - there's an endless supply of potential friends, but most of the time we can't work up the nerve to say hello and make a new friend. Why? Because the atmosphere needs to be right. Just like when you were in the second grade, you need a space that encourages mingling and potential follow ups for coffee dates or beer sessions. Below are seven ideas on just how to do that.
1. Join A Class, Any Class
Back when you were in school it was super easy to make friends because you were in an environment where, quite frankly, it forced it on you. You saw the same people over and over every day, experienced everything they experienced, giggled over the same inside jokes, complained about the same stresses, and eventually became friends without really realizing it. So create the same environment for yourself as an adult by joining classes. Whether that's signing your name up for a book club (that wine will make everyone friendly!), joining a workout class (you'll bond over your hate for that perky barre instructor,) or getting your hands messy at a weekly cooking class (your flour-y noses will bring you closer together,) all of these options will allow you to meet the same way school used to: Now it's just up to you to say "hi!"
2. Find People With Similar Hobbies
Do you really love your schnauzer? Join a dog walking group. Or do you love to binge on sushi? Go to a sushi making class. Are you a big literary buff? Go to poetry readings or book discussions. Are you crazy about Harry Potter? Go to a Quidditch match. If you seek out groups that are just as nuts about the subjects you're into, it'll be really simple to make like-minded pals. Think of how easy it'll be to talk about how Bukowski changed your life, or going over all the tricks your dog Theodore could do. You'll be talking for hours.
3. Steal Some Of Your Friends' Friends
Your friends are some of the sweetest, most amazing people you know. So it would follow that they'd hang out with like company, right? Let your buddies know that you're looking to expand your social circle and see if you could tag along to some of their events or hangouts. Whether it's crashing a party as their plus one, tagging along to a class they're in, or coming out with them to a bar when they're hanging out with people you haven't been acquainted with yet, it's a great way to meet new people in a non-stressful setting.
4. Actually RSVP "Yes" To A Couple Of Things
Chances are you aren't a total recluse and get invited to hundreds of things on a monthly basis without even realizing it. Just sign into Facebook and take a gander at all the events happening in the next 30 days that you wouldn't even have thought of glancing at. Concerts, house parties, birthday bashes, neighborhood events - these are all potential friend hubs! Or how about events that get sent to your email, networking parties you constantly bow out of, work happy hours you rain check on - they all hold possibilities.
5. Reconnect With Acquaintances
Who says you have to start completely from scratch? Chances are you have plenty of acquaintances you know well enough to say hi to and exchange three minutes of small talk with, but haven't taken the time to learn more about. If you remember someone being particularly interesting, reach out to them and see if they'd be interested in grabbing coffee or doing something low-key together.
It might sound random, but who cares. I have a case in point: Recently a girl from my high school (who I haven't seen in about eight years now) reached out to me on Facebook and asked if I wanted to grab coffee and talk about my travels. It turns out she has just as many visa stamps in her passport as I do, and we spent hours swapping stories over lattes and almond croissants.
6. Set Goals For Yourself
Even if you show up to all the right places and meet all the interesting people, there are times where you leave not knowing anyone any better. To make sure that doesn't happen, set yourself some goals before going to an outing. If you're going to a dinner party, promise yourself you'll make at least one new friend there. Or if you're going to a meetup, plan to talk to at least three people you don't know, or learn three personal things from three people (to keep you from sticking to small talk.) Setting yourself small goals like this before leaving the house will amp you up to actually stick to your "now accepting new friend applications" mindset.
7. Take The Initiative
Have you met a couple of people you really enjoyed hanging out with? Then take the initiative - don't wait for them to invite you out, you do the asking! Ask if they want to come over for a happy hour at your apartment, or invite them out to beer and trivia night. See if they'd like to grab tacos after whatever activity you're currently at, or if they want to meet you and your friends up on a Saturday night. Don't be shy and don't let fear of rejection take over. Making friends takes risks, and if you clicked the way you think you have, there's no reason for them to say no. You've got this!