Sunday, November 5, 2017

How to Make Friends as an Adult, Part 2: Where to Meet Potential Friends

Last week I introduced the Friendship Funnel and how you need to continually meet, filter, and invest in people to make new friends. In this article, let's focus on the "meet" part of the equation – how do you intentionally encounter new groups of people?

Top Places for Finding Friends as an Adult

Top 4 Places for Finding Friends

There are a ton of situations and gatherings where you can meet new people, but the groups where I've had the most success had these things in common:
  1. An area of interest for you
  2. Regularly occurring meetings that happen at least once a month (or are supplemented with active social media channels, chatrooms, or forums)
  3. Growing membership with both new and longtime participants
Here are a few examples of where I have personally found and made friends despite not knowing anyone:

Church

Churches encourage fellowship, community, and love for your fellow man, so usually members have a culture of being very open to making new friends. (If not, try another church.) Upon finding a church to call home, I quickly get plugged into one of their Bible studies to meet individuals in a smaller group setting. After regularly attending for several weeks, suddenly you'll find people calling out your name after Sunday service and asking how your kids are doing.

Serving in a ministry is also a great way to get to know a subset of people at church. A friend of mine attends the local megachurch, and when I asked if she ever felt lost among the masses, she said that she and her husband serve with 20 other adults in the Sunday school class for first graders, and she has become very close with the other volunteers. (Oh my goodness, how many first graders are we talking about??)

Kids Groups

Speaking of kids, I made friends a lot faster once I became a parent. You have an automatic commonality to connect over and everyone likes to talk about their babies, the latest milestone, the troubles they're having, and such. I met other stay-at-home parents through my church's moms group, but there are plenty of community playdate groups, library reading times for toddlers, children's museums, and playgrounds to visit. And if your kiddos are in school, it's easy to run across other parents during pickup times, sports games, or when volunteering for your son's Halloween party. I just tell other moms, "Hey, our girls seem to get along so why don't we have a playdate?" and then you have the perfect opportunity to exchange phone numbers.

Baby wearing and drinking tea with moms and their sleeping newborns and infants
Don't you love drinking tea and bonding over how much you miss sleeping and taking daily showers? (Source: Suzanne Shahar)

Community

If church or kids aren't your thing, not to worry – there are loads of community groups and activities. I mentioned the library before, but there's also your home owner's association (HOA), service projects to clean up the town, neighborhood block parties, local alumni groups, classes and group outings for senior citizens, and much more. I know a family guy in his late 20's who wanted to make a difference in his city's government, so he attended a few political rallies and town meetings and now is running for office for the first time with the backing of his local representatives. Whatever you're passionate about, go for it!

Hobbies

Speaking of interests, join a club that supports your hobby. Want to get in shape as your New Year's resolution? Attend gym classes, find workout buddies for accountability, or partner up with someone to train for a 5K race. Adore cats? Volunteer at the nearby humane society to find fellow feline lovers. There are knitting groups, tabletop gaming enthusiasts, sports bar regulars, dog parks, fish keeping clubs... pretty much something for everyone.

As for places where I haven't had as much luck, they include:
  • Work: When I was fresh out of college, I made lots of friends with other recent grads. However, once people got older, they were generally less free with their time due to family commitments. Plus, I worked in a male-dominated engineering company and didn't feel like being super-friendly with married men. Afterwards, I joined an all-female marketing company, but by then I was a remote worker from home and everyone else lived in other states. Them's the breaks.
  • My Spouse's Friend's Spouse: Mr. Gamer has some buddies that he hangs out with on their guys' nights out. As of yet, I have not really clicked with any of his friends' wives. I just find that the odds are low where both husbands and both wives get along. So he has his guy friends and I have my female friends, and we just don't hang out as couples.
  • Family Functions: Friendships are kinda hit or miss with extended family since you can't really choose your relatives (or how far away they live). I've been very fortunate to bond with my mother-in-law, whereas I rarely see the other female relatives outside of holiday and birthday parties.

3 More Tips on Meeting Potential Friends

Before we end this article, here's some general advice and things to consider when looking for potential friends
  • Second Time's a Charm: Think about the most valuable friends you've had in the past and what they all had in common. If you only have a limited amount of time to spend with people at a party, try talking first to the ones that most resemble your BFFs personality-wise.
  • Opposites Attract: Yes, your odds of finding compatibility may be higher when you seek individuals who are very similar to you. However, don't forget the adage that "opposites attract." Your next hangout buddy doesn't necessarily have to have the same viewpoints, experiences, or even life stage as you (such as in mentor and mentee relationship). I love learning something new from someone who has traveled a different path in life. Remember that variety is the spice of life!
  • Never Say Never: Don't automatically talk yourself out of trying a friendship. We often form assumptions about individuals after meeting them once, and then presume that a relationship with them is doomed to fail. Case in point, Mr. Gamer didn't hit it off immediately with a fellow coworker, but after working together for several months, they later on became close friends with much to geek out about.
In Part 3 of the series, we'll continue our series by talking about how to develop friendships and invest in the people you care about. Now go forth and meet new people!

Question:
Where have you had the most success meeting potential friends?

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