How To Make Friends Post-Grad
Originally written November 19, 2019
HOW in THE WORLD are you supposed to make friends when you’re an adult and don’t have school to force you to interact with other people your age?! This is a topic so many of my friends have struggled with post-grad, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot as I try to make new friends in Boston. If you don’t work in an environment that is conducive to becoming close to your coworkers, or there are not many people your age, (or maybe you’re a blogger or any other self-made job where you work by yourself), it can be hard to create close friendships once you’re no longer in school. Even if you do have work friends, how does one go from being officemates to friends that hang out on the weekend?
Making friends as an adult requires a lot more effort and generally takes a little more time than it may have in college (which makes it sound like a lot of work, but it definitely doesn’t have to be!) After some reflection, I have broken down the friendship process into four steps.
Step One - Find someone you would want to become friends with
This could potentially be the hardest part - if you are in a job where you work by yourself, where do you find potential friends? Go about it in the same way you would look for a romantic partner. Go to places that you like to go to, and do things you have an interest in and see who else goes to these things. Is there anyone there you would want to be friends with? Friendships are formed on mutual interests and connections. For example, if you enjoy going to pilates classes, is there anyone who goes to the same classes as you that seems nice or that you could see yourself being friends with? Or what if you have a favorite bar you go to every Friday; is there anyone else who is also there every Friday? These are the people you should become friends with because you already share a common interest.
Step Two - Friend Flirt
This step should definitely not be overlooked. Making friends is so similar to wooing someone romantically. You can’t just go from seeing someone in a workout class to asking them to get lunch with you without ever speaking to them. That is just not how you make friends. That would be considered a social faux-pas. You have to get some banter going, engage in the playful dance of friend flirting. Similar to romantic flirting, the goal is to entice the person into wanting to engage with you. Continuing with my pilates example, if I want to become friends with someone in my workout class I could sit next to her in class, or comment on the fact that we have the same water bottle. I could strike up a conversation about the intensity of the class we just endured or if she has experience with different instructors, gone to a different type of class, etc. Just start talking to them. Make it small, relevant, bonus points if you’re funny (who doesn’t like funny?). After a bit of this, maybe once you start having more substantial conversations feel free to exchange numbers! You can text them asking for them to hold the doors for you because you’re running late, or ask them if they’d like a pre-workout pick me up from Starbucks if you’re going before class.
Step Three - Invite them to do something outside of whatever setting you’re in
Once you’ve exchanged numbers, or you feel like you’re at the point where you could exchange numbers, ask them to do something with you outside of whatever setting you met in/have been hanging out in. I would advise to choose something neutral like lunch/coffee/drinks or a relevant activity to them (trying a new workout class for the workout friend). Or maybe you aren’t feeling that and you live in a city with cool attractions, invite them to whatever attraction you’ve been dying to do (go to a Christmas market, see the new Friends pop up, see a new art exhibit). Again, think of these activities like dates, you want to pick something that is interesting and fun for both of you but conducive to talking and getting to know each other better.
Step Four - Persistency (but also know when to not be too persistent)
After you have hung out in different settings, let them make the next move and invite you to hang out. If they don’t reach out in a week or so, feel free to ask them to do something again (it can be small, like getting coffee). In a healthy mutual friendship (or relationship for that matter) both parties will make an effort to see each other. Ideally you are still seeing each other in your regular setting (pilates class once a week to continue my example), but every now and then you can do something besides that. Even if you’re not hanging out a lot outside of your regular setting, by this point I’m sure you’ll notice a change in your dynamic, from joking more on the job, to increased texting. If you have reached this point, I think it is safe to say you are friends and just continue to grow and maintain this friendship as you would any.
If for some reason after you have hung out with a potential friend outside of your usual setting and they haven’t made plans to see you again and seem to keep avoiding any future plans, know when to let it go. Some people are just not meant to be friends, and that’s okay, those are not the people you want in your life anyways. Accept that they will just be your pilates buddy you can smile and grit through class with and leave it at that. Better friends will come your way.
To inspire you, as well as myself, I’ve compiled a list of ways people have told me they’ve made friends as adults. These are all good places to go friend scouting:
-Work out classes (spin class, pilates, yoga, barre, orange theory, barry’s bootcamp, etc.)
-Local clubs (book clubs, cross stitch club, etc.)
-Recreational sports teams
-Become a regular at your favorite bar or local coffee shop
-Church (Or any religious/spiritual activity or group)
-apps! (Tinder, Bumble, etc. even though they are traditionally used as dating apps, you could definitely use these as a way to meet friends. I know Bumble has bumble friends, but I’ve never tried it, maybe I will. If you have used an app to make friends, let me know, I want to hear to hear success stories)
-blogger communities (a number of bloggers have facebook pages or some sort of online community where followers can arrange meet ups in their hometowns, also going to blogger meet and greets is a good place to meet other followers/potential friends)
One last note- take advantage of opportunities to meet people or get to know them in a different setting. An office holiday party is a perfect example of a setting where you get to talk to your coworkers more and get to know them in a relaxed environment. (please don’t drink too much, I may or may not be speaking from experience). Ultimately making new friends takes time and you need to put yourself out there and friend flirt a bit. Be patient and they will come.
If you’d like to hear more about making friends, Lauren and Anna Marie, from the GRL Vibes Only podcast, have a great episode about making friends as a young adult and making friends in the workplace (“You can totally sit with us” season 1 episode 4).
Epilogue to this post:
This is so funny editing this back because I literally met someone at a Lululemon yoga class months after I wrote this post, and this is almost exactly how our friendship began! I went to the class because one of my instructors from my usual pilates studio was teaching and I wanted to support her. Of course, I arrived late and the staff kindly set up a mat for me as I took off my shoes and put away my bag. If you have ever walked into a work out class late, you know everyone looks at you and it’s kind of awkward (also side note- always be nice and friendly to newcomers at a workout studio, even a smile goes a long way for someone new). Well I walked in and the girl whose mat was next to mine gave me a big smile. During class, the instructor (who I knew from my pilates studio) shouted me out and after class we chatted. In the locker rooms the girl who had smiled at me was packing her stuff up and because she had smiled at me I figured she was friendly, so I commented on how I had the exact same workout outfit as her and almost wore mine to the class (which was true). She asked how I knew the instructor and I told her all about my pilates studio and she told me she had always wanted to try pilates and immediately we exchanged numbers and planned to go to my studio together for a class. It was crazy how quickly we connected! I feel like I manifested this friendship or something!