Creating healthy relationships

Making new friends (as an adult)

July 29, 2020
Posted by Karen Strang Allen

Several years ago, a series of events happened that caused a huge shift in my social circle. Overnight, it seemed, I lost several key friendships, my mom and my boyfriend.

I felt very alone.

At first I beat myself up about it, thinking I must have done something wrong for so many relationships to be ending.

But in doing some research and talking to friends, I realized it was just the normal cycle of life. People enter our lives, stay for a while, and then sometimes leave. The older we get, it’s common for our social circle to tighten, as we get clearer about our boundaries and the types of people we want to have in our life.

And if you’re a growth-oriented person like me, you may cycle through your friendships faster because you’re changing a lot. I’ve found that I seem to have a significant shift in friends roughly every 7-10 years. There are some friends I’ve had for decades, while others I’ve gained along the way as my interests and consciousness has evolved.

Long story short, it’s normal for your friendships to change over time, and to lose some people along the way. The question is…how can you find new friendships that suit you better?

How adult friendships are different

Making friends as a teenager or in your 20s is pretty easy. As you go to school, go to work or attend social gatherings, you organically bump into people like you and decide to “hang out.” It happens rather naturally.

Fast-forward a few decades, and suddenly making new friends doesn’t seem as simple. We have jobs, families and responsibilities that often don’t leave us a lot of free time. We know more about what we like and don’t like, so are less open to just choosing anyone. And many people already have established social circles and aren’t looking to make new friends.

So how, as an adult, can we begin new friendships?

The starting place isn’t taking action…yet. It’s actually deciding what kind of people you want to meet…in other words, what is important to you in a friendship?

Your list of what you want in a friend might include:

  • Warm and friendly
  • Outgoing (or maybe you prefer quieter)
  • Open-minded
  • Good communicator
  • Consistent (e.g. in responding to texts / emails)
  • Generous and thoughtful
  • Fun / open to new experiences
  • Good sense of humour
  • Athletic / outdoorsy
  • Cultured
  • Smart – able to share ideas
  • Spiritual
  • Likes xyz activities (whichever activities you want to share with someone)

There are many other things you may want in a friend…give it some thought and create your own list of what’s most important.

Then ask yourself the question: where would someone like this tend to hang out?

Where to meet people

Unfortunately, there’s no one magic place where all the good people hang out (either for finding friends or finding dates).  😊

Typically, the best way to meet people is to put yourself out there and go somewhere new. Some ideas for where to go include:

  • Social gatherings organized by friends (e.g. BBQs, house parties)
  • Organized activities that you already enjoy (e.g. MeetUp events, sports events)
  • Events in your area (e.g. outdoor concerts, wine & food shows)
  • A park in an area of town you don’t usually go to
  • Religious services or charitable events
  • Business networking events

The current pandemic does make social gatherings more challenging, so other ways you could meet people without going to larger events include:

  • Joining online groups (there are many on Facebook)
  • Attending online events (look on MeetUp or Eventbrite or do a Google search)
  • Asking existing friends to introduce you to people in their social circle

The more you focus on and talk about finding what you want (e.g. sharing with others what you’re looking for in a friend), the more likely you’ll be to find it!

How to begin a new friendship

So let’s say you’ve met someone interesting, either online or in person. How do you reach out to initiate contact and possibly begin a new friendship?

Often we forget how to start relationships because we’re so out of practice. Here are some ways to get things started:

  1. Comment on something they said (e.g. either say you liked it or mention if you have the same thing in common).
  2. Ask a question to get to know more about them (people love talking about themselves).
  3. Once you’ve established commonality, ask if they’d be interested in getting to know each other better.
  4. If yes, exchange emails and/or phone numbers, add each other on Facebook, etc.
  5. If you met online, set up a time to talk on the phone or on Zoom.
  6. If you live in the same area, set up a “date” to meet for coffee, a drink or a walk.
  7. If that goes well, continue planning regular outings! The way to build a friendship is to invest time and energy in the other person.

Many times, we sit back waiting for someone to initiate contact with us. But if you’re wanting to make new friends, don’t wait passively – take the initiative to reach out to someone else. You’d be surprised how many people are sitting back wanting someone to reach out to them too!

The worst that will happen is they won’t be interested (or you’ll discover there’s not enough in common). The best that can happen is you gain a new wonderful friend!

Five years ago, I reached out to a number of people to connect, and today several of those people are now good friends. I’m so glad I took the risk, and you will be too! 🙂

Share your thoughts

Have you been struggling to make new friends? What is the first step you will take to move out of your comfort zone?


  1. Anonymous

    Thanks for all the information. Love to join your two groups.

    Take care,
    Sheila G. Richardson

  2. Marica

    Very uplifting & practical suggestions.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks Marica! 🙂

  3. Marics

    Very uplifting & practical suggestions.



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About the author

Karen Strang Allen

Karen is a love and empowerment coach for single women. Widowed at 22 and separated at 35, Karen’s mission is to help single women feel great about who they are and create a life they love so they attract their dream partner. 

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