How To Make (and Keep!) Friends as an Adult

friends at a dinner party
It can be difficult to make friends as an adult, but it's not impossible! Here's how to form new friendships, and keep them, too.

Meaningful relationships are an important part of life, and we’re not just talking about the romantic kind. Friendships shape a large portion of our lives. Here’s the catch, though: once you get into adulthood, it gets harder to keep those friendships going. And for some, it’s even harder to make new friends.

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If you feel like your social circle is shrinking, you are not alone. It happens. After you get through your mid-20s, friendships start to dwindle. A lot of times, it’s because everyone goes through a lot of life changes. We’re changing jobs, having children, or simply moving away. It makes it hard to form and maintain meaningful relationships.

Having friendships is pretty important, though. Even if you don’t have a whole yearbook’s worth of friends, having a handful of trusty companions boasts a few benefits. Your relationships can have a profound effect on your daily well-being. They provide an important support system to help you through the lows. (Did you know that having friends is linked to reduced day-to-day stress?) And your true friends can help you reach goals and dreams.

Related: The Best TV Shows to Binge-Watch With Your Friends

That’s why it’s so important to continue forming friendships (and maintaining them!), even though it’s hard in adulthood. Even if your schedule is packed, and you don’t have a lot of free time, there are still ways to build your circle of friends. 

Focus on Quality Over Quantity


Before we get to anything else, we have to talk about quality over quantity.

As a kid, you may have had a ton of friends. Obviously, this isn’t always the case, but it’s the case a lot of the time. That’s because kids will be friends with literally anyone. For instance, my kindergarten-age daughter came home and told me she had a new best friend – but when I asked what her friend’s name was, she said, “I don’t know.” It’s funny how kids can be besties without even exchanging names, right?

Clearly, as an adult, this isn’t really the way to go if you’re hoping to make friends. We’re not looking to create a big collection here. We’re looking to form meaningful relationships! That’s why it is more important to focus on quality over quantity. I would much rather have a handful of friends with whom I share common interests and enjoy spending time.

Get Involved in Your Community

Getting involved in your community is already an important way to make an impact, improve feelings of gratitude, and be a responsible member of society. However, it is also a significant way of building relationships with new people. Think of interests that you have and can devote some time to doing. It could be volunteering at a local animal shelter or collecting donations for the food pantry. While volunteering, you are bound to find people who share some of your core values.

Getting involved includes more than just volunteering, too. Communities also involve workplaces, places of worship, neighborhoods, and more. Join a book club or start singing in the church choir. If your work does a monthly meetup, check it out! Or help organize a crew of neighbors to plant a community garden. You’ll find plenty of like-minded people from your community that you can build friendships with.

Don’t Fear the Follow-Up

Cropped shot of an african-american young woman using smart phone at home.Smiling african american woman using smartphone at home, messaging or browsing social networks while relaxing on couch
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For many, meeting new people isn’t the difficult part. The hard part is actually turning those small meetings into genuine friendships. You can small-talk your way around a bar all you want, but that won’t turn into friendships without any follow-up.

Once you have met a new person and they are an acquaintance, it’s your turn to reach out. Bring up something that you talked about before or remember something about that person and ask them about it. Reveal something similar about yourself or send a link about something related to what you talked about. In each of these cases, you’re showing that you were paying attention.

If you have exchanged numbers, this follow-up can be as simple as a text! If you have become friends on Facebook, Instagram, or other social media, do it there. Or perhaps you have run into them again at the bar, and you’re following up in person!

Accept Invitations

Aren’t we all tired, busy, overworked, and looking at packed schedules? It can make it really difficult to accept invitations. However, if someone invites you to do something, try to make it happen if you can. If you turn down every invitation, you’ll find it difficult (or impossible) to create meaningful relationships.

If you are unable to accept the invitation – let’s say you are sick or it’s during work – do your best to make other plans instead. Reschedule for another time or make an effort to do something different together. And if you find it difficult to accept invitations from people because of social anxiety, just try to remember that they are reaching out because they like you. They want to hang out and get to know you better.

Be Present


If you want to have friends, you have to be a good friend. And a big part of being a good friend is being present. This doesn’t necessarily mean being physically present, although that is important, too. But I mean that you should be mentally and emotionally present.

Be a good listener. When your friend is talking, take interest in what they are saying. Do more than just nodding your head to acknowledge that they are speaking. Follow the conversation, ask questions, or offer some advice. 

And never, ever, ever sit there looking at your phone during conversations. Give your friend the attention that they deserve! People like to feel like they are being heard, and they like to have others pay attention to them. If you’re not the best at it, here are some tips on becoming a better listener.

Prioritize Your Friends

Friendships are kind of like plants. If you don’t water them regularly, they’ll eventually die, right? Without the proper attention, your friendships won’t last. Once you have established those connections, it is important to stay in contact. Make your relationships a priority in your life.

Reach out to your friends regularly. Call or text to see how they are doing or ask about their lives. Show an interest in things they are doing or things that are important to them. Set plans to hang out again soon!

Put It on the Calendar

circling a date in the calendar

Speaking of making plans to hang out again, you actually have to make the plans. We have all done that thing where we say, “We should get together again soon!” And then a few days go by… and then a few weeks… Everyone is busy, and if you don’t actually schedule it and put it on your calendar, it likely won’t happen.

Drop the “soon.” Instead, say, “We should get together again,” and then go ahead and come up with that next time. Pick a date and commit. Once you have actually made plans with your friend, put it on the calendar. Despite being busy, we have to make our friendships a priority.

Don’t Always Rely on Technology

I know I just mentioned calling and texting to see how your friends are doing. I also know a lot of people keep up with friends on social media, too. And while technology plays a big role in many aspects of our lives these days, including in our friendships, it’s important not to rely solely on technology.

Spending all that time doom scrolling and hitting the like button on your friends’ posts isn’t very personal, and it isn’t a great way to make true connections. Social media can start to feel generic or superficial. It all goes back to being present and prioritizing your friends. You don’t need to avoid social media altogether or anything. It just certainly won’t feel like you’re being present or prioritizing them when the only interactions they receive from you are Facebook comments. Make sure they’re getting phone chats and in-person hangs, too.

Learn to Let It Go

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The idea that we keep our best friends from grade school to the grave is completely made up. Okay, I’m sure that there are some people out there that have managed to maintain a life-long friendship. While that’s great and all, it’s not exactly common for everyone. Friendships come and go. It is just a part of regular life. And by the time we get into adulthood, it’s pretty common to have fewer friends than you had as a kid. You should never feel rejected, ashamed, or hopeless! 

Life transitions play a big role here. From moving to new jobs, having kids, or going through a divorce, relationships will come and go throughout the years. It’s important to remember that this is normal, and it happens to every one of us. It’s okay that we don’t keep life-long friends as the movies romanticize.

Just remember that it’s okay if you don’t stay friends with everyone forever. And remember that it’s normal, acceptable, and fun to make new friends – even as an adult!

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