Here's the Thing: Everyone is Looking for Friends

Ask friends on dates.

A CUTIE PIE:

Hi! I’m single, 29, and all my friends are in relationships and some have kids. My question is how the hell do adults get friends that aren’t from childhood, work, or school? Another question that kind of goes along with it, at what point is it cool to go to a bar by yourself? I like the bar atmosphere, but I’m too self-conscious to go alone.

SOPHIA:

I’m gonna save the bar question for later this week because someone else asked me about it and I think it deserves it’s own answer, but let’s get to the first part of your question: making friends as an adult.

I think the first thing you should do is figure out why you want friends; I mean OBVIOUSLY we all want friends for love and intimacy and instagram pictures but what in particular are you imagining when you long for friendship? Is it deep conversation with one person? Fun trips with a group of pals? Someone who will go hiking with you? Nights out til 4 am doing cocaine? A lot of people lament not having friends, as if friendship is a singular experience.

Once you have a mental image or loose idea of what you want, here comes the hard part: effort! (And sometimes admitting to yourself that what you want is not manufacturable; you can’t conjure up a large group of friends who have known each other for years). Few movies or TV shows or songs have prepared us for the fact that friends take effort to make. Some books talk about this, but still idea that friendship is automatic, binding, and unending persists. You have to put in some real vulnerable,, excruciating effort in to become friends with new people as an adult. You have to ask people to hang out even if your heart is saying “YOU WEIRDO!!! IT’S TOO SOON, WE’VE NEVER HUNG OUT BEFORE!” Ignore that voice.

Be bold (but casual). Approach seeking out friends the same way you approach dating. Ask people to hang out and do things that you think you’ll both enjoy. You might be wrong; you might hang out three times and then you’ll realize they suck. Things may fizzle out. But there is one near-universal truth that is on your side here: EVERYONE wants to make friends. Some people will not have time right now. Some people won’t like you as much as you like them. Some people will like you too much. Much like dating, you’ll have to feel out what works and what doesn’t. But it does require effort.

The days of making friends easily and naturally is over (it ended sophomore year of college). Find people you like a bit, that you have a good feeling about after meeting them once or twice in a group/public setting and then ask them to do something. They can say no if they want to, but they probably won’t. We’re all looking for friends as adults.