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Moving to a new place is scary, especially when you don’t know anyone. You have to use your GPS to get to your bank, find a new doctor, dentist, hair stylist (just as serious as your choice of doctor), nail salon, figure out the best place to shop for groceries, oh, and last but not least, make new friends as an adult. I thought that online dating was bad… Until I had to make new girlfriends. Now that, my (Internet) friends, is bad. Like really bad. V V bad. And awkward. And difficult. And intimidating.
Why is it so hard to make friends as an adult? I brought this topic up on Instagram over a year ago and I’ve never seen so many women relate to something. Maybe you haven’t moved recently but you are finding that your past friendships are slowly dissolving. Early adulthood is strange like that. We go from being surrounded by close friends every single day to living completely different lives. People get married, have kids, move away and start moving into different life stages.
There is no book titled, “How to Make Friends as an Adult,” although there very well should be. It’s so hard to tell who is even interested in expanding their social circle. At least it’s obvious to tell if someone is into you romantically. Last I checked, I’m not sending googly eyes at the girl working out across the gym in hopes she might ask me for my phone number. I mean, wouldn’t that be creepy if I walked up like, “Can I get yo number. Can I have it?”
I get why so many of us are lonely. After months of struggling with isolation, I almost threw in the towel when it came to making new friends, but I was so sick of watching my husband grab a beer (or three) with his buddies after work that I kept trying.
Tell People You Are Struggling
The first thing I did was start talking about my struggle. To who you might ask… literally anyone! I told the Internet, people at the gym, people sitting next to us at the bar, my husbands’ friends’ wives. People in real life were surprisingly empathetic and often invited me to their social gatherings. People online were like “OMG ME TOO.” If they were local, I was quick to invite them to grab dinner or a drink. All of this terrified me. I hate new things, which leads me to point number two.
If You Get Invited, GO
New people and places can be terrifying. Especially if you are like me and suffer with social anxiety. I am extremely outgoing and sometimes the life of the party, but that’s only when I’m with people I know and love. I am scared to death of new people. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells and that they aren’t going to like me. All of those fears make it super easy to come up with an excuse and turn down an invite. If someone asks you to come to half off wine night, get your ass up and go. I can’t tell you how many events and social gatherings I’ve went to in a total panic. It’s always worth it in the end.
Be Blunt About It
After a little push from Instagram (and probably some liquid courage), I made the decision to just go for it. By going for it, I mean, ask a complete stranger in the TJMaxx shoe isle 45 minutes from my house for her number. Yep, I did that. Turned out she wanted me to join her pyramid scheme and when I said, “no,” she quit talking to me, but hey, that’s not the point. The point is, you have to just get uncomfortable and go for it.
What the Heck to Say
For months, I didn’t know what the heck to say to people that seemed like good, potential friends. Now, it’s like second nature to ask an Internet stranger to go get coffee or a cocktail. For people in person (like someone at the office or the gym), I find it’s so much easier to invite them to a group gathering. Like, “Hey, we are having a bonfire on Saturday night. We would love for you to come.” And, if it’s another couple, throwing out the suggestion of a double date is always easy, like “We are grabbing dinner and listening to live music at ___ on Saturday night. We are going at 7:00 PM, Want to come?”
Let Go of the Lies
My husband really is the definition of the total package. He came with an AMAZING group of friends and their wives have been so welcoming to me. I feel like I hit the jackpot on that front. That said, the relationships didn’t just blossom overnight. We all had to warm up to each other, and at first, I felt like the awkward outcast of the group because I was the newb, which is a great point to bring up! I think part of making new friends as an adult is letting go of all the lies you build up in your head. It’s so easy to have thoughts like, “They think I’m weird.” Or “She isn’t going to like me,” and so on. Let that shit go! We are so quick to create these stories of what other people perceive of us and most of the time they are SO far off.
There are lots of other ways to make friends as an adult, but I found many of them didn’t fit into my lifestyle. I work full-time and run two businesses. I wasn’t trying to join a club that meets every Wednesday or commit to hours of volunteer work. If things like that fit into your life than they can be a great way to meet people! Go on Facebook and check out what types of groups, clubs and organizations are in your area. You can also find TONS of events on there that might fall into your hobbies and interests where you could connect with someone.
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The best advice I can give is to just be open. Be open, say yes, have courage and don’t let your preconceived notions get in the way of a potential relationship. It’s highly likely that someone else out there is lonely and also looking for someone to grab chicken wings with on a Wednesday night.