Making Friends As An Adult


There has been quite a bit of commentary on blogs and twitter recently on making friends as adults. As someone who is in the middle of a major career change (with many of my close friends moving away) this is an issue I've dealt with recently.

How I got here:

Kid Factor:
I'm 36. My husband is 41. We don't have children. This is the first "friend drop off" I noticed years ago. Sure, we still see our friends who have children, but our lives and schedules are different. They aren't as available to meet up for dinner on a Tuesday night. The mommies have play dates and such and if I had kids, that's exactly what I would do too.

Not having children, we have always been conscious to broaden our friend base to include people of all different ages and backgrounds. We are not dependent on just one group to fulfill our lives. We have single friends, marrieds w/o kids, friends w/ families and friends whose children are already grown.

As I said earlier, I've recently switched careers and many friends have moved out of the area. Having someone to run to happy hour with wasn't as easy as it used to be.

Making New Friends.

1. Get involved.
Get involved in your community, join organizations with people of like interests. Volunteer. Join a book or supper club. It's a bit hard at first. Everyone knows each other and you know no one. It can be intimidating. People naturally tend to split into groups. This can feel very clique-y. It's easier for 3-4 women to have a meaningful relationship than 7-8. At that point the 8 naturally form into 2-3 smaller groups. This is normal.

2. Keep going back.
Sure it's hard when you are the new person. Your first outing in an organization can be overwhelming. If it's a cause you're interested in, keep going back. You can't possibly get to know people the first time out. Don't expect to be immediate BFFs. They just met you and you just met them.

3. It's a bit like dating.
No one is going to share their crazy on the first few dates. I think it takes about 3 months for the real, true person to come out. Everyone puts their best foot forward. It's natural.

4. Be true to yourself.
Don't try to fit into anyone's mold. You don't need to change who you are to fit in. This will not get you the true relationships you're looking for anyway.

5. Just let it happen.
You can't force someone to be your friend. And you can't be everyone's best friend. It's ok to be acquaintances. I have different friends for different things. I cannot be everything to everyone and to try would be exhausting. Sometimes you may spend more time with one group and then a few weeks later with another. There is an ebb and flow in life. To go with what you need at the time.

6.Get over yourself.
Try not to take things personally. Be supportive. If you are close to Friend A & B and A & B do something without you, don't feel entitled. Next week you might all get together or perhaps you and Friend B have time for lunch. Friend A will not be offended. This is how true friends act. You cannot be invited to everything all the time, nor can you invite everyone. 

I don't know what I would do without my girlfriends. Having strong, happy, independent women in my life is a blessing. True friendships don't feel like work. They just work. So put yourself out there. It might be scary at first (it will!), but it will be worth it!

::I'm not an expert. I don't claim to have all the answers. These are my recent observations and what worked personally for me::


Crystal @EatDrinkClev said...

Love this "True friendships don't feel like work. They just work!"

CLEshopaholic said...

Great post! Friendships evolve and change- you can't take these things too personally. Good friends are always around even if you don't see them/talk to them for a long time : )

Amy said...

LOVE this post!!!
I have moved a lot in my life, and I was really surprised that Cleveland was the most difficult place for me to meet people and make friends. Most Clevelanders I met were native and established in their social circles. They hadn't ever moved out of state and didn't know what it was like to be the new person. It was a really hard process for me, and I really identify with your struggle!

I am happy to say that I have GREAT friends, and I also have a personal mission now as a result of my own experience: I want everyone to have a favorable impression of greater Cleveland and its (welcoming) residents! When I meet someone and I learn they are new to the area, I do my best to help them get connected...including recommending some Cleveland-based blogs I enjoy!

alexa @clevelandsaplum said...

this is great :)

Modern Musings said...

This is an insightful point. Many Clevelanders are natives or boomerangs and many still have childhood friends or people they've known forever. Because of people like you who recognize this, we now have some great organizations, like Global Cleveland, who work hard to make newcomers feel welcome and connect them with others who have similar interests.

Anonymous said...

I think you missed a very important detail - you must BE a great friend to HAVE great friends. Be nice to people and you will have nice friends.

Of course you can't include everyone in everything but it's important not to pull your friends so close to you that you become a clique.

Don't look down at those new folks who want to be your friend - be flattered and try to include them! That's how you got your new group of friends - they included you. Pay it forward.

wearingmascara said...

Lovely post, my friend.

Modern Musings said...

I'm not 100% sure but you might be my first anonymous comment!

Anonymous said...

what a fabulous post!

Mom said...

Great insight! Makes me want to bloom where I am planted. How do you handle the "needy" friends that seem to need constant attention?

Modern Musings said...

First off, don't you just love that my mother posts as "mom"?! Too cute.

Mom - That's a hard one. It depends on the level of needy and if this is a random person or one who has strong connections to other friends. Distance yourself in the hopes they will get the point. If not, you might just have to say you don't have the time right now for something or someone new. Some days we barely have the time for the immediate people (spouses, children, family) in our lives. Don't feel guilty. Just be true to yourself!

Amy said...

I totally love that your mother posts as Mom! I was wondering if Mom was actually YOUR mom or just had the "screen name" of Mom. Ha! Go Mom!

Allison M. said...

I was just reading an article in the NY times about how it's harder to make friends after the age of 30. I love your recommendations!

Jen @ Why CLE? said...

I love this post (and you)! It can be so difficult to realize that old friendships have evolved into less close, less fulfilling ones. You tend to either just stick with them or give them up but not fill that gap at all. Your suggestions for making new friends as an adult are wonderful and I think you can attest to how they've worked for you. Thanks for sharing your insights!

Jessa said...

You're so wonderful Kimberly - cheers to you and keep smiling ;-)

Heather said...

I was directed to this post after seeing @WhyCLE Jen post about it on Twitter. I was particularly interested because ALL of the friends I have now I made as an adult. My three best friends all came in to my life when I was 25 (and I'll be 39 tomorrow!). There are many reasons for why all of this has happened, but I can say with 100% certainty that what you've written here is spot on. It can be a challenge to make friends as an adult, particularly good friends, but if you do it properly you may find that they're the best friends you've ever had. :)

Kristian said...

Awesome post, Kimberly.

Thought provoking, insightful and inspiring. I absolutely love it.

Put in the context of all the great people I've met through the Blogging Association (including you), it's been a breath of fresh air to find not only a support group, but fascinating, interesting and sincere people who share many of the same interests! - fantastic people I hope to see more of, know more about, and spend more evenings out with (three phrases all ending with prepositions would be my English profs' nightmare).

Looking forward to more developing and strengthening friendships!

Dina's Days said...

Its hard making friends as adults, I've struggled with this before. One thing I have learned is being able to accept the differences in the dynamics of old friendships. People change and that's ok sometimes. Just because my friend of 14 years is now into things I'm not i.e extravagant weddings and country music concerts, that's ok bc she's still a good person. I had to do a lot of growing up before I was able to Find that balance. With that being said, Im so glad you're my friend!

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