For some, it’s natural for it to occur while others dread it; not knowing what in the world they are going to do. I’m talking about that moment when your friends start to exit your life one way or another. Perhaps they got that job opportunity abroad, or they’re getting married. Maybe they’re having a baby, broke up (and you have to take a side), or focusing more on their education. Or maybe, just maybe, the friendship is naturally fading and they are going their separate ways. Whether the dynamic changed and you talk less with them, things turned ugly, it’s “not goodbye but see you later, or it was naturally ending – the point is, you can’t talk with them like you used to. The moments created and shared are affected, and you lost a partner in crime.
You might tell yourself that you won’t find someone like them, or that it won’t be the same. You’d be right. There is no replacing them. Is this sounding a bit relationship-y? In a sense it is, since you spend so much time with them and sharing things, that are personal to you, with them. And vice versa, as you go on all sorts of adventures with them. Then something happens that creates distance that either separates you two temporarily or permanently (either they’re gone or more of an acquaintance). All that time it took to get to know them, like them and trust them suddenly crumbling under you like a Jenga tower. Now you have to start all over again with someone else.
For some, it’s hard to see people leave their lives while others acknowledge that life happens; people come and go every single day. But whichever side of the spectrum you fall on, it can still be annoying to having to put time and effort finding someone cool and befriend them. Studies have shown that it can take roughly around 4 years to call someone a “best friend”, and that we tend to have 3 of those special folks in our lives. Of course, everyone is different as some have none and other have 4+ besties. It also depends on how often you spend time with said person, and where the bar is for you when it comes to calling someone “best friend”. In my case, some of my best friends are the ones I made in high school; still stay in touch often, though don’t hangout weekly. Some I met freshman year, while another I didn’t really talk to until Senior year and we didn’t get closer until college.
It all varies for each of you how long until call someone a friend. Some might even say “friend” the moment you meet! But right now you’re here because you’ve reached a point in your life where your group of friends has changed. You feel unsure, or ready, about what to do next. We’ll throw in those who have broken up, because they also lose a friend when the relationship ends (which might impact their social circles). And so, for those unsure how to get out there and make friends again (because honestly it can be harder the older we get), here’s some tips that can help you along the way:
Acceptance and Determined
Once the emotions of losing a friend fades, and the courage to socially branch out arises, the first thing to acknowledge is that it might be awhile till new friends come around. It can also happen quickly, but let’s also keep in mind the other aspects of your life that occupy your time, you go-getter you. Maybe it was one friend that walked away, maybe more, or maybe it was YOU who walked away from everyone (moved to a new country?). That void that was made is what you’d like to fill again with some awesome, new person.
But take some time for yourself, though, and process the feelings from before. Whether it’s sadness, anger, appreciation or more just let it all out. Because the next people you add to your group is not the replacement, but a new adventure. Different quirks, interests, humor, and more that you may like if you never surrounded yourself by it before. Which brings up the other thing to consider before going out and making friends: know what your looking for.
Our interests changes over time from childhood to adulthood. So, too, does the type of people we surround ourselves with. Every stage of life is different in their own ways, and the maturity of every person will vary so the focus can’t be on age. Instead, reflect on the type of person you’re interested in getting to know. Would you like a scholarly person who enjoys reading and having intellectual conversations? How about an outdoorsy individual who will always be up to go out in nature? Or maybe someone who’s chill and down to play videogames or watch that TV series you love?
Anyone you meet will certainly have a blend of those interests and others, but it’s best to narrow it down at first when it comes time to go out to places and events. There is no Camping Trivial Pursuit Vintage Gaming Convention out there that will have people with all your interests in one place, so pick one like going out to a trivia night and go from there. Besides interests, also consider personality. Whether it’s a calm, laid-back type of person or someone who’s a go-getter and will nudge you to be active and make the most of life. The saying is very much true: you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Think about who’d you like to surround yourself with.
Cross Familiar Bridges
Remember when I said our interests change over time? Not only do we change, but so do people that we once knew. How many times have you run into someone from your past, and discovered how different they are now than from back then? Yes, even that jerk in school you didn’t like more than likely changed as well; if they didn’t well you know to avoid them at reunion if you choose to go. Sometimes catching up with people from the past, whether acquaintances or old friends, can be quite fulfilling.
Sometimes a blast from the past can help the present and future.
Not only do they mature some more, but also come with their own unique experiences. Another good reason to try and catch up with folks from the past is that there’s already a base to continue building off of. Rather than starting new with someone, here is someone who already has an idea of who you are. Sure, you may have changed over time but it’s something that can be updated when you see them and vice versa for them as well. You won’t have to worry about the anxiety of approaching random strangers if that’s a concern, since they are already familiar with you. There may be nervousness about contacting someone from the past, but when it comes to reconnecting sometimes you’d be surprised how open they are to getting back in touch too.
So if the chance to rekindle a past friendship occurs, whether bumping into them or through social media, then take a chance and get to know them again in a more in-depth way. More than likely, it will be like getting to know a semi-new person based on how much time has passed. Then you’ll see that sometimes it’s just about timing for meeting people, like when you look at them and say “Why weren’t we best friends before?!”. However, there can be opportunities to reflect on the past and maybe share a funny moment or two. You might even slip into revertigo. . . hopefully in a good way.
Find Your Passions
So you’re ready to get back out there, and find new friends and create that badass duo or group you imagined. You have a mental idea of what to look for: not a jerk, funny, cares about others, driven, etc.. Now comes the time to figure how you’ll go about meeting them. Again, totally understand if this all sounds date-y but, remember, we’re talking relationships in general. You’ll need to put effort in relationships, and stay true to who you are. The right ones will gravitate to you, but only if you’re willing to put yourself out there as well.
Earlier, it was discussed about the type of interests you’d like in a person; whether personality traits or social interests. Now turn those interests outwards, and think about it in an environmental aspect. What sort of hobbies are you interested in doing or getting back into? When you have an idea, try and find such opportunities through events in your city or nearby. Chances are high that you’ll find like-minded people who have the same passion for that hobby. But remember that terrible convention metaphor from earlier, you may not find that one-size-fits-all person there. If that former friend handled many of your needs like concert buddy, gym partner, foodie taster, etc. this new person might not be the same. They might be movie partner, roadtrip buddy and foodie taster. You’ll know when you start getting to know them better.
Not only do these opportunities provide a chance to know some new people, but also possibly rediscover old hobbies that you once loved. Or it could open doors to new ones that you never tried back then. It’s interesting how sometimes it takes someone/something leaving our lives, vice versa, or something extreme for us to step away from our comfort zone and doing it. Sure, it happens in normal life as well but the urgency to do it seems far less. But while searching for new friends, it also provides excellent moments to pursue your passions. Enjoy these moments as well while searching, even if the friend part comes a little later.
Think of things you want to do that you know will incorporate others. Maybe you want to be more outdoors. Try joining a hiking or Nordic walking group, go play in the park, or join a class at the gym. For the foodie and drink-lovers, maybe a tour of a brewery or food festival is more up your alley. Love music? Try a concert that involves rubbing elbows with fellow metal-heads or pop lovers. Notice an art event happening at the museum? Tie your shoe laces and get going! There are hundreds of other things to do that not only explore your interests, but provide chances to mingle with others. This is where researching is key!
The greatest adventures can start with just a simple conversation.
Kindle The Courage
The next thing, which may be the most difficult for some, is actually approaching new people. Unlike catching up with the friend from the past, there is no foundation to build upon. Nothing to lean on from the prior experiences shared. This is like a pop-quiz in front of the class with eyes watching. First thing to do is know what calms you in times of stress in public. Whether it’s breathing, music, looking at photos on your phone or whatever else helps try to do it before approaching. Perhaps the very activity you went to can help.
Like if you joined a sports league in the city, say it’s basketball, and you’re playing a game with someone who seems cool. Maybe complimented the basket they made or offering pointers when they’re in the post can break the ice. No cheesy ice breakers are needed in any situation! Or if you’re at a concert (totally okay to go alone), and you’re next to someone who you heard was their first time seeing this band. Maybe offer what to expect, if you’ve seen them before, or talk about what song they’re hoping to hear. Where the conversation goes next is up to you. If you’re not at a specific event, maybe at a park, then it can be other things to discuss. Having a pet can do wonders for breaking ice ( I probably don’t have to tell you that), so if you have one then that’s a great way to open talks with other people about a mutual interest. Maybe you don’t have a pet, but like to run and see another runner constantly. Notice they’re wearing a Superman or Hogwarts shirt? Let them know you’re a fan too or ask a question about their thoughts on the newest DC or Fantastic Beasts movie.
Once the ice is broken, and you get to know them better, you’ll know if they’re someone you can see yourself hanging out with again. If you’re a part of a sports league, dance class, or something with a scheduled routine then it makes seeing them again so much easier. But if this is a one-time thing, then either you chance that you’ll bump into them again at a similar event or ask if they’d like to hang out. Whether it’s the one-time scenario or the weekly routine one, there will be a point where the “hang out” question will arise. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Just pick your comfort zone; literal comfort zone I’m talking about here. If you met on the basketball court or soccer field, because that’s your turf then ask that person if they’d like to play or practice together sometime. If your zone is at a coffee shop, then maybe after walking your dogs you both get some coffee. Enjoyed an afternoon of rocking out together at the festival? That’s probably going to leave you starving, so going to that restaurant with other music lovers might be a great idea. From there you can work your way to getting their number or social media, and continue talking about hanging out again; you can do it earlier if the comfort level is high already. After that, just keep doing fun things and perhaps incorporate your other friends to get everyone familiar with each other.
Remember the whole “research is key” thing? This is the final thing to consider when exploring how to make new friends. Unless you are deeply connected to other people around town to know what events are happening, it can be tricky to know what opportunities exist! This is where the internet can be a helpful ally in your search.
I’ve already mentioned in a prior post about Meetup being a great way to find out local events happening near you that are tailored to your specific interests; of course there’s Facebook too. However, also look into the magazines and newspapers of your city. Typically, they will have a calendar section or blog page that will list upcoming events that will be happening. Some might even be highlighted and discuss more about what to expect. If Meetup or the periodicals aren’t as specific, then consider exactly the type of experience you’re interested in.
Not really into the big crowd concerts, and more into the personal and intimate scene? Look into websites for the bars and music venues that are smaller with the music you’d enjoy. Sometimes events aren’t published online for periodicals, and require you to actually visit their specific site. Something like museum exhibitions, sporting events, or niche events at cafes and such are some ideas that you may not see unless you visit their own website. The same goes for those specific classes, like at the gym or sports league, so take that into consideration when browsing. Likewise, another niche thing like Camp No Counselors offers those who love being outdoors, socializing, playing games and/or drinking a way to do all that over a weekend with other adults looking to have fun and meeting others. Keep an eye out for events in your area, and remember to not only search broadly for them but also narrow your searches.
While the main search is for events, if you’re interested in searching for friends online that can be done as well. However, doing it through social media can be difficult due to trusting a stranger we can’t physically see in front of us (which is completely understandable). But it can be done if approached properly! Another option, though, is to go through apps that are designed for networking. LinkedIn is one idea that is specifically meant for networking with others. Though it’s meant for business purposes mainly, it is possible to extend that into a friendship. You can always grab a coffee to discuss how to succeed in a certain profession, and realize that you both have much more in common. A more direct “I’m looking for friends. Let’s hang out.” approach would be through Bumble. Yes, that Bumble. The popular dating app among singles not only focuses on romantic relationships, but also business and platonic relationships. For this post, Bumble BFF is designated for those who are looking to find friends in the city they live in. You’ll see other’s profiles with some info about them, and let the swiping left and right begin! Although it is through a dating app, you don’t have to pay attention to that side of it; unless you’re ready for that too.
It can be a mix of emotions when a friend of yours leaves your life in some degree, or you leaving your friends behind. What they contributed can’t be replaced, nor should it. While those memories remain with you always, though, it’s okay to create new ones with new people. Don’t be afraid to open yourself up to it, because there are numerous amazing people out there who share similar interests and have unique qualities that might even open your eyes to new things. And when the day comes that you two are great friends, and they meet your other cool friends, your group will grow from the bonds made and adventures shared together. Sure, it can be harder as we get older to make friends, but it’s still possible to get out there and do it. No matter how old you are, or where you live, you’ll find those good people. You just have to be willing to put yourself out there again, start a conversation, and see where it goes.