Friends come and go, you could see that especially during the pandemic. While children quickly find someone new, it’s not so easy later on. Where and how to make friends as an adult?
In this article you will learn:
- Why being an adult is a good place to start friendships.
- Where to make friends.
- How to help others.
In the classroom, in the lecture hall, or at a vacation retreat, it was straightforward: Just chat up the person who happened to be sitting next to you, and – wham – you sometimes slid into a friendship that lasted for years without much effort.
In adulthood, things are different: time and mental capacity to engage with new people are in short supply for many people. "At this stage of life, life shifts toward partnership, family and career", says Wolfgang Kruger, psychotherapist and author.
Is this the end of the road for new friendships?? Not at all, says Kruger: "The older you get, the more potential there is for good friendships – after all, you then have more knowledge of human nature, a sense of humor and more of a friendship with yourself." So there are good preconditions, but how do you find the right people?
Clarify: Friends for hobbies or against loneliness?
Psychologist and author Natalie Wintermantel says: "It makes sense to ask yourself in advance what friendship actually means to you." Is it about escaping loneliness? Or about sharing a hobby? This can help you gain clarity about what expectations you’re approaching the challenge with.
But there remains the question of where to find potential friends. In fact, it’s not all that different from childhood. It’s still true: common interests connect. Adult education classes, guided hikes, reading circles, sports clubs, volunteer activities, Facebook groups on specific topics: There are many places and activities where you can strike up conversations with people who tick similarly.
Sometimes it works – sometimes not
But there is no guarantee that new friends will be recruited in this way. Eva Mell, an editor and blogger, also experienced this when she was looking for new friendships in the course of a self-experiment: "The Spanish course and the sewing course at the Adult Education Center, for example, didn’t work out for me – there was simply too little interaction before and after the course dates."
More successful were the language tandems with two native Spanish speakers, where first good conversations and then good friendships developed. "However, the most effective thing to make new friends was to have a child", Mell reports with a wink. She remembers well how she gathered all her courage to ask the sympathetic roommate in the hospital for her phone number. Still both are friends.
Keyword courage: you can’t do it without it. Of course, there is the risk that the other person, when asked "Let’s meet for a coffee sometime soon?" refers to the busy schedule and no appointment can be made. However, there is no way around jumping over one’s own shadow and taking the initiative. Because at least then you have a result.
"In general, it helps to have good self-confidence, the basic conviction that you yourself are a gift to others", Kruger says. But to build a friendship, you should also show interest in the other person. "We are all susceptible to this", says Wintermantel.
Friendships require patience
Last but not least, patience is needed: "Friendship is something old-fashioned in a positive sense. We always want everything fast these days, but friendships have to build and prove themselves over time.", says Wintermantel.
And when it somehow doesn’t work out with the new friendships? Patience helps here, too: "You may have to approach people 20 times before a deeper friendship develops, says Kruger. If you want, you can switch to more creative strategies.
Why not set up friendships yourself?
Eva Mell, for example, has established herself in her environment as a kind of friendship matchmaker. "Whenever I’ve heard that people in my circle of acquaintances are moving to Berlin or Paris, for example, I’ve tried to put them in touch with people I know there.", she tells.
"In the meantime, other people did exactly the same for me when I moved." The advantage of this is that people who are starting out in a new place are usually open to new people – and the first topic of conversation has already been established through mutual contact.
Regularly visiting the same places
Another strategy for meeting new people recently spread through the video platform TikTok. In a short video, the user" connorthemiller" I’ve been planning to go to the same places regularly, such as a certain cafe.
This text is part of our new #neo section, which is aimed specifically at young readers. More information and all texts can be found here.
His argument: in school days you made friends with others because you saw them every day, then it can work out in adulthood too. The video has been viewed over six million times so far. A sign of how many people are preoccupied with this question and how good the chances are of meeting people in everyday life who are also looking for new bonds.