Making friends as an adult isn’t always easy. At school and university, you’re surrounded by people of a similar age and probably with similar interests to you, making it the perfect environment for forming friendships. As you get older though, things get a little more difficult.
People spread apart and other priorities, such as a career or family, take over. Making the time for friendship is important given the huge impact the quality of our relationships can have on our health and wellbeing. Studies have shown that people with weaker social ties have a 50% higher mortality risk than those with strong relationships, and that loneliness carries the same health risk as a 15-a-day smoking habit.
If you’re reading this and are starting to worry that your social circle could do with a few more occupants, have no fear. We’ve put together our top tips to get you making new friends in no time!
How to meet people:
The first step to making new friends is finding some people you think you could get along with. Luckily there are lots of ways in which you can do this.
1. Reconnect with old friends
The simplest way to make new friends is to get back in touch with old ones! As you get older it’s easy to let friendships drift, but if you have an old friend you’ve been wanting to reconnect with for ages it’s never too late to pick up the phone. Perhaps you feel guilty or embarrassed about how long it’s been, but chances are they’re feeling the same way and will be pleased to hear from you.
If you’re not sure how to start a conversation when you haven’t spoken in years why not try sending them an old photo of the two of you together with a message harking back to old times? Alternatively, you could use their birthday or Christmas as an excuse to send well wishes and ask them what they’re up to these days. If those don’t work for you a simple ‘Long time no speak! How’s life?’ will often do the trick.
2. Reach out to your neighbours
Proximity is important when it comes to forming friendships. The further away you live from someone, the harder it is to meet up regularly enough to stay friends. With that being the case, where better to look for new buddies than right on your doorstep?
Research shows that people in the UK are some of the least likely in Europe to know their neighbours, with more than 6 million adults not knowing a single one of their neighbours by name. This is a shame as we’re missing out on a great potential source of friendship. So next time you bump into your neighbour, why not try inviting them in for a cup of tea? If you’re feeling more adventurous you could even try organising a street party for your neighbourhood or block of flats to help everyone get to know each other a bit better.
3. Socialise with your colleagues
Most of us spend more time around the people we work with than we do our family. You sit next to your colleagues every day so why not make the effort to get to know them better? You could try asking a colleague to join you for a lunchtime walk on a sunny day, or going to sit with people eating lunch in the staff kitchen.
If you don’t get on well with the people in your office try making friends from another department. Many companies organise social events for employees and some even have company book clubs, sport teams or other hobby groups. See what you can get involved with socially at work and if there’s nothing there already why not try and organise something yourself?
4. Friendship Apps
Online dating and dating apps are a common way to meet potential partners, and recently developers have started to create apps to help you find platonic friends as well. Apps like Bumble BFF and Hey! Vina allow you to match with people in your area specifically to make friends. It can make it a bit easier to put yourself out there when you know that the other person is actively looking for new friends too.
5. Volunteer, join a social club or start a hobby
When it comes to building a friendship it’s important to have things in common or it will be difficult to keep conversations going for long. A great way to meet like-minded people is to start a hobby or volunteer for a cause you believe in. Not only will having a shared interest give you lots to talk about, but also the regular activity meetups will give you an excuse to see someone repeatedly over a long period which will make it easier to establish a friendship.
If you’re not sure where to start, Meetup has lots of groups you can join covering a huge range of interests. For guys, Men’s Shed is a great way to hang out with other men whilst developing practical skills and if it’s volunteering opportunities you’re looking for, Do-it.org is a great place to start.
6. Get a dog!
Dogs are great way to make new friends. They get you out and about on walks where you’re likely to regularly run into other dog owners. They also make you more approachable and provide an easy talking point. Research by the Big Lunch showed that people are 55% more likely to start a conversation with somebody who has a dog, with the average dog owner having three friends as a direct result of their canine companion.
Of course, not everybody can afford the time or money required to own a dog, so please be responsible and only get a dog if you can commit to them in both time and money! But don’t worry if you aren’t able to have a dog full time, you can still benefit from the sociable aspects of dog walking. Why not try out a site like borrowmydoggy.com to find animals to walk in the local area? Alternatively, you can volunteer at your local dog shelters, which are always looking for people to help them walk their rescue dogs. Just do a search for dog rescue centres / shelters in your local area.
7. Say yes
Often when we’re feeling lonely we start to withdraw and cut ourselves off from other people which only serves to make us feel more isolated. Instead, we should try to be more open to opportunities and get out of our comfort zones. Saying yes to one social opportunity will often lead to more. So next time a group of colleagues ask you to come to the pub after work, swallow that excuse and say yes.
So you’ve met all these new people – now what?
Meeting new people can be scary but if you put yourself out there you’ll soon see that the world is bursting with potential new friends. Finding people you get along with is only half the battle though. Check out part two of our blog for tips on turning your new acquaintances into amazing friends that you’ll be able to rely on through thick and thin. You may also want help with building your confidence or dealing with loneliness.
Remember: If you’re feeling lonely and are struggling to make new friends, Ben is here to help. We support those who work (or have worked) in the automotive industry, or are dependent on someone who is. You can ring our free and confidential helpline on 08081 311 333 or use our online chat.