In our fast-paced world of scrolling through Instagram and dating apps in search of genuine connection, more women feel utterly alone than ever before. We long for the satisfaction of authentic friendships, meeting new people who share our values and interests, or finally finding a relationship that feels right. If you’re seeking guidance on how to make adult friends, or tired of online dating, this post is for you. Join me as we discuss how to meet new people, how to make adult friends, and where to make friends as an adult!
It’s Time to Look Within: Nurturing the Relationship with Yourself
Our society heavily emphasizes our relationships with friends and partners. However, if you’re thinking about how to meet new people, it’s important to remember that the most important relationship in your life is the one you have with yourself. Before seeking an authentic, deep connection with someone else, you first need to embark on your own journey of self-discovery and self-love.
Before moving forward, ask yourself a few questions:
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What makes you feel happy, fulfilled, and passionate?
- Is there a reason you might not have been able to open up to others or maintain healthy relationships in the past?
Why Does Meeting New People Feel So Impossible?
There’s a reason that the most common gripes in adulthood are dating and making friends – you are certainly not alone! Growing up, creating friendships and connections seemed so much more natural than they do in adult life. Throughout childhood and college, we are constantly surrounded by our peers with similar interests and backgrounds. However, when we enter careers, many of us lose contact with friends and family as jobs take us to opposite ends of the country or globe. On top of this, there is usually a much smaller pool of peers at our workplaces, if any at all. In the post-pandemic world, remote jobs have become more common, further isolating us in our own homes away from social interactions.
The Downfalls of Apps
If you’re tired of online dating, you’re not alone. Dating and friendship apps have become the standard for meeting new people. Whether it’s Tinder, Bumble BFF, Hinge, MeetUp, OkCupid, or Plenty of Fish, you’ve probably heard of or tried at least one. There are a few issues with apps – starting with the fact that we are basing our judgments on someone based on their appearance and sometimes only a few words. There’s no way to gauge the chemistry you might feel in-person or within a natural conversation. Furthermore, potential dates or friends can easily misrepresent themselves and their values. On some apps, there’s an attitude of “hook-up culture” where dates might say they are looking for a long-term relationship, only to actually act on the opposite.
How to Use Apps More Effectively
While I encourage you to also try to meet new people outside of apps, there are ways you can use apps more wisely.
- Be Up Front: In your profile, be honest about who you are, your interests, and your intentions. This will allow you to start the relationship off in a healthy, authentic place.
- Be selective: Take the time to read through each profile instead of swiping right away. Choose matches that are looking for the same thing you are searching for.
- Engage in meaningful conversations: Don’t wait until the date to ask deep or hard-hitting questions. By going beyond small talk, you can learn more about the other person and understand how you might get along together.
- Maintain Healthy Boundaries: Speak up to set expectations or let them know you aren’t comfortable with certain conversations. Keep your messages or calls to times when you are able to be fully present, instead of looking at your phone all day waiting for a conversation to start. Communicate when you will and won’t be available.
- Take the pressure off of the meet-up: The ultimate goal is to move the relationship to in-person, so don’t put off the meet-up for too long. Take the pressure off by meeting in a public place and doing a low-risk activity where you can easily leave the situation if needed. A coffee date is a great example of a first date that is in public during the day and doesn’t take much time, so you aren’t wasting hours if you don’t enjoy yourself.
How to Meet New People and Cultivate Authentic Relationships IRL
While you might meet a new friend or spark a connection on your way to visit the coffee shop in the morning, the chances are pretty low. It’s not as effortless as you see in the movies—building your social network takes intention and planning! (But trust me, it will be worth it.) Here are some vital steps in learning how to make adult friends.
Grow Your Interpersonal Skills
Creating and sustaining connections is easier with certain abilities – including active listening, honesty, dependability, and trustworthiness. Genuine relationships thrive when we take the time to truly understand and empathize with others. Practice active listening by focusing on the speaker, maintaining eye contact, and asking thoughtful questions. Embrace your own uniqueness and vulnerabilities, as honesty and authenticity attract like-minded individuals and build trust. When you decide to attend an event or meet a friend, show up on time and be present. Try to take an interest in the people and situations around you instead of living in your own head.
Do you know how you come off to others? Sometimes what we need is the feedback of a non-biased outsider to help discover what might be getting in the way of creating the meaningful relationships you’re looking for. Connect with Kirstin today to schedule your first session.
Pursue Your Passions
There’s a reason people make friends in college, on sports teams, and during club meetings – these are all circumstances that put people with similar interests in the same place consistently, multiple times a month or week. Over time, people are bound to bond together when they see each other on a regular basis sharing something that interests them. So, it’s time to finally schedule the hobbies you’ve been wishing you could find the time for or revisit an old pastime. Register for a pottery or painting class at a local art studio. Join your city’s running club or sign up for a recreational sports team. Attend the next professional development networking event. Find out if there’s a club near you that strikes your curiosity – whether it’s hiking, reading, bird-watching, photography, cooking, kayaking, trivia, or bowling – these are all opportunities to hone a skill and spark new connections! Facebook Groups and Meetup.com are great places to find clubs like these.
Another way to meet new people is by volunteering for a cause you feel passionate about. Supporting your community by giving back in a group setting guarantees that you’ll be spending time with people who have similar values. Local meal centers, homeless shelters, humane societies, senior centers, and hospitals are usually in need of volunteer support. Check out VolunteerMatch.org for opportunities near you, or ask around at your place of worship for group volunteer events.
Nurture Existing Relationships
You might be so stuck on the idea of “making new friends” that you’ve forgotten your existing relationships, or even past connections that fizzled out. Reach out to your friends and express gratitude that they’re in your life. Contact old friends and share a fond memory you have with them. Catching up over lunch or coffee could lead you to find that you have a lot in common in this season of life. By investing time and effort into cultivating these relationships, you may find that they naturally expand your social circle and introduce you to new acquaintances.
Where to Make Friends as an Adult in California
It’s time to physically get out of your routine (and possibly your comfort zone) and explore what your beautiful state has to offer! I’ve put together a list of ideas to spark your sense of adventure as you embark on the journey of building community and relationships.
- Join a relaxing ocean adventure with Explore North Coast Sea Kayaking Club.
- Take a stained glass or ceramics class at the College of the Redwoods.
- Find your zen with a yoga Meetup group.
Sacramento and Sacramento Valley
- Try self-defense or martial arts classes at Sacramento BJJ.
- Spin some clay at Sincere Ceramics.
- Become fluent in a second language in adult group classes at Casa de Espanol.
San Francisco and the Bay Area
- Volunteer for a beach cleanup.
- Play in an adult sports league – there’s co-ed soccer, women’s flag football, and many more options!
- Join the Bay Area Chapter of the California Art Club.
Los Angeles and the Southern Coast
- Check out one of the Best Book Clubs in Los Angeles!
- Join the L.A. Hike Club for a scenic walk.
- Sign up for a game with one of these quirky intramural sports leagues.
- Take a ride with one of these bike Meetup Groups.
Building quality connections and relationships takes time. If you step outside of your comfort zone to strike up a conversation or try a new activity and it doesn’t turn into an instant friendship, try not to take it personally. Look at every interaction you have as practice for interacting with others and learning more about what you want in a relationship!
Finding and maintaining healthy relationships can be a long and sometimes disappointing process. Therapy can provide support and guidance along the way, and I am ready to embark on this journey together with you. Reach out to me today.