We all know we need friends; it’s good to be social, having friends has good mental health benefits, nobody wants to be the weirdo eating lunch alone, blah blah blah. Having friends is a good thing.
But the truth is, making friends outside of school is hard. Apart from the friends we make early on in life, many of us rarely ever expand our friends circles. You’ve probably had the same friends since you were in high school.
Ok, ready for some bad news? Half of your friends don’t even think of you as their friend.
In what may be among the saddest pieces of social-psychology research published in quite some time, a study in the journal PLoS One recently made the case that as many as half the people we consider our friends don’t feel the same way.
I know, it sucks. Even worse? Once you turn 25, you start losing all your friends.
According to a joint study from Aalto University and the University of Oxford, published in Royal Society Open Science, men and women hit peak friendship at 25. Researchers found that men at this age had more social contacts than women, though it was downhill for both genders once they entered their late 20s.
Last piece of bad news, I promise: all your friends have more friends than you.
Most people tend to think that they are better than their friends when it comes to intelligence, memory, popularity, and other personal traits. This perception is false…In reality, our friends really have more friends than we do, on average. Moreover, our friends are more active and are more influential.
That was the bad news. Here’s the good news: it’s actually possible to make new friends as an adult! It’s not as easy as when you were in kindergarten (nothing is anymore), but it’s definitely still possible! Here are some tips.
- Get (more) active on social media. Twitter is a great place to meet new people without ever having to leave your house! You can also use Instagram and Facebook, or whatever other social media platform is popular among your age group. I personally prefer Twitter because it’s super easy to search by hashtag and join the conversation without having to friend someone first. Are you following someone really funny who you’d love to meet in person? Strike up a friendly conversation and make a new bestie! One minute you’re complaining about the latest Game of Thrones death to your timeline, and then before you know it, you’re planning a viewing party with your followers!
- Stop waiting for friends to find you! This article is called how to make friends, not how to magically attract new friends. Making friends is hard work, and you can’t expect to suddenly have an extra lit social life without putting in any effort of your own. Make the first move, and text someone with plans to hang out. Invite someone to go to a play or show with you. Or if you’re feeling extra brave, go alone and start a conversation with someone you meet there. After all if they’re there, at least you know they share the same interest as you! It might be awkward at first, but it’ll definitely pay off in the long run.
- Look in new places. Your future bestie could be your coworker, someone in your church, or even a distant friend of a friend. You never know! Open yourself up to new friend possibilities. If you’re on a strictly “good morning” basis with your coworkers, try asking more questions about their weekends and sharing about yours, to see if there’s a possibility for a new friend there.
- Remember: friendship takes time! It’s possible that after just one conversation, you’ll be instant friends. But it’s probably not going to work out that way, and that’s fine! It might take months to go from casual acquaintance to friend, and there might be some lulls and dry patches in between. Don’t let it discourage you though.
And if you’ve tried all those things, and you’re still only hanging out with the same group of five friends every weekend? Well, then it might be time to invent a new app: Tinder for friends maybe?