I already posted on five things not to do when trying to make friends. Ironically the post was very popular. This time, instead of being a negative Nellie I thought I would look on the bright side and write a (very non expert) guide on how to make friends as an adult. Making new friends as an adult is hard work. Really hard work. I have often met people who are funny, interesting and great to be around but the timing in our lives has just not added up, so no new friendship has developed.
There are different friends for different times, places and purposes. My goal is to never give up on any of them.
But how to go about actually making new friends when you need them? Here are my top six tips.
1. Never say no to an opportunity.
If you say “yes” people are likely to ask you again and you will have more opportunities to meet more ace people. This is my number one rule and I have written before about how it does not always turn out well. Some of my more adventuress examples include.
- attending a poetry recital on my own in someone’s house, with basically their extended family present.
- Hanging in a bustling room of adults with only my children talking to me. (Thanks kids xx)
- Going on a 4WD trip and sleeping in a tent, in Winter, in a 4WD that no one would let me drive. While hating 4WD-ing.
Honestly, I have endless examples of how annoying this rule can be. For more read here. But there are also a lot of examples of when this rule did work. And the friendships that have developed with new, interesting people, are generally very much worth the effort. Plus the poetry recital was kicking!
2. Be open to meeting new people every where you go. Like a puppy dog, basically be like a puppy dog. This way you will look cute, you’ll get treats and people will invite you into their lives without even realising it. Warning. You
might, maybe, definitely will sometimes look daft.
3. Be friendly, say hello. Be that person that you wish would walk up to you. This is one of my favourite ones. It gets me out of my own head and helps me think about other people instead. So at my sons new kinder, I was thinking it odd that the adults never acknowledged each other. So now I smile and chuck a loud “hello” into the wind every time someone walks past. People generally return the favour = happiness lifted. You can even use a little visualisation here, “I am Madonna at the music awards” type thing. Or read about channeling Jason Statham to overcome shyness, here. Or just think of that one person you do know who is great at making friends, and copy them.
4. Take the next step and ask someone to do something with you. I am a massive failure at this one. It is the hardest part of making a new friend for me. I sometimes think about doing it for weeks, months, years. But really, you will never get to have coffee with a new friend if you do not ask them. That simple.
5. Hang out where the people you want to be friends with hang out. Alert! I do not mean this in an overly literal way. DO NOT go around to someone’s house uninvited or turn up to Advanced Zumba if you have never done Zumba before. I just mean that you need to actually meet people to make new friends. Look people in the eye, be present, smile. Don’t hang around in the library every day and wonder why the basketball kids are not your friends.
6. Don’t stick to your crowd. We all have a crowd, although for some of us this crowd might be very small. Poetry people, music people, foodie people, goths, Katmandu shoppers, 4WD magazine readers. You will have people, I promise, once you get out into the big wide world and explore. But, don’t just stick to your people.
Bush campers should pop on their beanies and climb down from that ravine they have been hiking and then and say “hi” to the Bed & Breakfast/ short black drinking crowd every now and then. Urban hipsters should pop down their selfie sticks and go find the crafter in a cardigan sitting quietly while “people watching” at the back of the room. Sia fangirls should stop imagining being “Titanium” for five minutes and get chatting with the Andre Reieu fan over the back fence who remembers to put everyone’s bins out. This can be so rewarding as you learn more about life and the world, and it also gives you a better chance of making a new friend.
Just be prepared that this kind of scenario is bound to happen:
“I had such a wild night last night, I was meant to have dinner in the City with friends but instead we spent so long over cocktails that we just went straight to the club. What did you get up to?” Silence, crickets chirping. Should I admit it? “I ate Maltesers and watched Agatha Christie, again. And I loved it, again.” Right then. More crickets.
So that is it, my non expert advice. Are there any tips that you would add? Any startling failures or dramatic success. A big thank you here to everyone who ever adopted me as their new annoying little puppy dog friend. And a huge high 5 to those of you who puppy dog-ed me (that’s a thing now). You know who you are.
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