How to Make Friends as an Adult
Posted on December 8, 2012
So you’re five (or ten) years out of college. You’ve moved to a few new cities, had a couple of jobs, dated some people. But lately you’re starting to feel like you need a little energy infusion in your life. A few new listeners for your craziest and funniest escapades who won’t say “YOU’VE TOLD ME THIS ALREADY” thirty seconds into your awesome story of how you got put in a paddy wagon for stealing street signs in Topeka eight years ago.
So what’s the solution? How about the most elusive of grown-up acquisitions – the new adult friend. Rarer than a unicorn, more slippery than a chupacabra, the following are strategies you may choose employ as you begin your quest:
1. Join a Club
It’s fairly simple to decipher whether or not you will enjoy a certain type club. Do you like to read? Book Club. Do you like to cook? Cooking Club. Do you like to kill baby seals? Club Club. It’s the makeup of the particular group that will determine whether you will form lasting bonds with any of your club-mates or drink too many mojitos and puke on your host’s bathmat. A book club that reads a 1,000-page romance novel every 2 weeks might provide you with the perfect excuse not to work during your day job. A group that exclusively reads historical fiction and then acts out fan fiction sex scenes with all the male characters might not be your cup of tea. Attend your first meeting and just listen – do the members of the group chat easily about their greatest sources of anger and disappointment while cutting up sashimi, or could the passive aggressiveness simmering in the room cook that miso soup on its own? One hour within a group dynamic should tell you all you need to know about the potential friend yield (PFY).
- Look out for: any group that a) enforces strict deadlines and b) does not involve cocktails. These people are actually former English majors who need to feel in control of one aspect of their lives.
2. Pick up a New “Sport”
Twenty-eight is probably too old to go to the Olympics in anything other than curling, but you can still get out there and stretch the ‘ol body in a fake adult sport. These include, but are not limited to: ultimate Frisbee, bocce ball, kickball and LARPing. A vast majority of these rec league teams will include beer and/or pizza, and as a general rule of thumb no more than 15% of the three-hour session should involve running.
- Look out for: people who refuse to believe sports can be anything other than a dominance contest. You will know them because they will be taunting the 4’9” girl for missing a killer Frisbee throw or complaining loudly about the lack of “hustle” from all the team members drinking beer and wearing shrunken graphic tees. These are not your new adult friends – these people are out for your blood.
3. Go Out of Your Social Comfort Zone
Talk to people at the gym. Accept your neighbor’s casual invitation to grab a drink. Tell strangers in the park how cute their dogs are. Loudly and happily exclaim, “Wow, it’s nice out today!” anytime you’re outside. Open up your social bubble, and you’ll be surprised how many people reciprocate with friendliness (and weirdness, but that can’t be helped). The majority of people who respond to these random entreaties will be marketing managers who work from home.
- Look out for: the usual – rapists, serial killers, people who don’t own plates.
4. Get a Pet
As a fairly new adult, you likely don’t have too many obligations. Sure, you need to go to work most days, but you also have the option of calling a mulligan and day-drinking while watching that entire Prohibition documentary on PBS instead. You can choose not to go to the gym for a year. You can pay your bills a few months late and nothing too bad really happens. But once you have a pet, there are certain things you can’t opt out of unless you want to end up a hoarder after Hoarders is canceled. You must walk the dog, clean the litter box, go to the vet, and knit adorable animal sweaters. Participating in these activities constantly brushes you up against others who share a pet – whether it’s the dog park, the pet food aisle at the store, or that person at puppy obedience class who thought it was a good idea to foster three pit bulls in the same month his wife gave birth to twins. You have a kinship with these people – you have all anthropomorphised the shit out of your pets and will do anything to talk about him/her with others.
- Look out for: anyone who claims that they physically gave birth to their animal. That’s too far.
5. Listen to Others and Ask Questions About Them
People are interesting. If you’re only in friendships to hear yourself talk and have a positive feedback loop for your own life choices, then congratulations – you’re a sociopath. As interesting as you might be, it’s guaranteed that you can meet someone more interesting, more likeable, and more adventurous than you. Someone who’s traveled the world in a canoe. Someone who owns a pet teacup pig and has since before it was quirky. Hell, you might even meet someone who comes from a family full of pirates and has casually used a machine gun. But you’ll never know if you insist on dominating all conversations with terrible non-stories about your co-worker refusing to clean up the microwave after her Lean Cuisine explodes. Hint: Ask people who their archenemy is – that’s always a good way to get at the core of their interesting-ness.
- Look out for: people who repeatedly demur from answering questions about themselves and turn everything back on you. They are either intensely judging you or planning to take your kidney.