By Meg Crane
Making a life change can be lonely. Deciding to be sober when all your friends have questionable drinking habits and joke a little too much of their drinking problem can lead to many nights in alone. New vegans might find themselves uninvited to dinner parties. Those who reclaim the non-smoker status might be ready to wring necks at the next party, leaving them wanting to skip the next. The waiter in a restaurant in a city freshly called “home” isn’t up for chatting all night about what’s new.
Making friends as adults is not as easy as it is for children.
On my first day of Grade 1, another girl wore a dress almost identical to mine, except mine had heart-shaped buttons. So, obviously, we were best friends. Now, a wardrobe twin in class might lead to a chuckle, but it would likely sputter out there.
Today, I actually do make new friends rather frequently. But it’s over similar qualities that can’t be seen and it takes a little more time to raise them to bestie status. It also takes a lot more effort on my part.
Probably the scariest part about making new friends as an adult is that you have to go out. Alone. All on your own. To places. Where people talk to each other. And you have to talk. To other people. Who you don’t know.
Actually, meeting a new friend is a lot like scouting out a new sex or dating buddy. It’s just as scary, leads to lots of awkward first-dates and occasionally churns out someone you could see having in your life for at least the next few years. Here are a few places you might find a new buddy for non-romantic purposes:
Online groups: One of the best things I ever did was join the Winnipeg Vegan Meetup group on Facebook. I didn’t actually go to more than a few meet-ups, but it connected me to people who think about food and life in a similar way as I do. I made a friend at the meet-up, who invited me to her place for little get-togethers, where I made more friends. I also made a few friends online right through the group. I went from being a lonely vegan in a pool of dead-animal-loving friends to a vegan in a sea of other live-animal-loving vegans!
Learning together: If you’re interested in learning a new skill, you might want friends with the same interest. Instead of hassling your current friends to join you for a cooking or pottery class they’re not interested in, go on your own. Even if you don’t make friends, it’ll be good to get more used to going out on your own, which is ultimately how you’ll meet new friends.
Dating apps: There is nothing wrong with getting a Tinder, Bumble or OKCupid profile to look for friends. Just make sure you specify that you’re not looking for more than friendship. I’ve made a few friends, accidentally, on dating sites and have seen others using it solely for that purpose. I’ve also seen people using it to recruit folks for their rec league teams. Who knew dating apps weren’t just for dating?
Borrowing friends: Maybe you like your friends, you just want more. Like with dating, using your current social pool to hook you up with new folks might be the best way to go. Host a party, potluck or organize a night of bowling and tell each friend coming to bring along at least one person who most folks won’t already know. You might be surprised how many of your pals are also looking to increase their list of pals they can call when they just want to stay in eating ice cream and watching Netflix.
And like meeting a new friend is like meeting a new partner, wooing them is quite similar as well. No one wants to pursue a relationship with someone when they don’t think the interest is mutual.
If they invite you for dinner, bring flowers. If they’re coming to pick you up, don’t keep them waiting in the car. Make sure they’re not always the one who has to initiate a virtual conversation, especially about making plans.
The most important thing to remember about making new adult friends is that many adults are in a similar position. You’re not a loser sitting at home alone on a Friday because your friends are at the bar and you just want to craft. There are thousands of other people just waiting to be your friend, spending their Friday night the same way and wishing for your company.
Meg Crane is the founder of Cockroach. Follow her on Twitter.