I’ve been out of college so long now that I’ve officially lost count. It’s either 6 or 7 years at this point, which is mind-blowing. They say college years fly by, which they do, but I feel like the years in your 20’s fly by even faster. Luckily, I’ve lived in the same general area for all of those years so I haven’t had to really start fresh in a new town with making friends; although, I will say my college friend list (who I would regularly keep in touch with) went from like 12 to like 3 or 4. I also started my blog 5 years ago and a lot of my newer adulthood friends came from that… not necessarily just “bloggers”, but photographers and other people who have similar interests and hobbies. I don’t think there’s an age where you can stop making best friends. You can make a new best friend at age 80 and you can drift apart from a friend at age 25.
I know of a lot of people who move to new cities though and don’t know a soul and, unlike college years where friend-meeting happens naturally, it can be challenging and feel a little awk to develop new friendships in your 20’s, especially if you’re more introverted. I think you pretty much have to realize that most people are in the same boat with making friends at this age (or really any age over 22) and get over the idea that it’s awkward. It’s not really awkward, it’s just how it is as an adult.. it’s normal to feel uncomfortable! Great things never came from comfort zones. I truly feel like a better person and more filled up after spending time with other people and that is coming from someone who is able to go days without seeing anyone other than my husband. I love alone time so much and need it very, very often but I’ve also realized that I feel healthiest and happiest with some social balance.
I’m going to share a list of ways that I have made new friends in my 20’s and also some ways that you all told me you’ve had luck making new friends. The best part is, when you’re in your 20’s, you can be picky about your friendships but it’s also important to be open minded and really get to know someone without quick judgement. There’s no more going to organic chem class with people you don’t connect with or going to sorority events where you might experience cliques or feel left out… you truly can choose who is in your life and who isn’t. You just have to be willing to invest time into those people. I’m far from perfect at this and I can be the type of person that loves cancelled plans but I have met a lot of people in my late twenties. In fact, most of my friends currently are ones that I met post-college.
Ways To Meet Friends:
Through Your Pets. Seriously, get a dog and take your dog places.
Apartment complex dog parks are gold mines for adult friendships. When we lived in apartments, we met people who were around our age, had similar interests (dogs, duh), and even met people who we didn’t know we worked with. Even as homeowners now, we’ve met neighbors through our dogs, people at farmer’s markets through our dogs, we petsat someone’s dog through the Rover app and then the owners asked us to hang out with them. It’s just way more comfortable to go up to someone and be like “Can my dog say hi?”. Literally, TJ says that every day. Sometimes I’ll see couples with dogs at our local farmer’s market and want to meet them and, honestly, Colbie is the best wingman/girl. Find dog friendly bars too! And then eventually ask for their number. Bonus points if you have a puppy. At that point, you’re just a friend magnet.
Through New Hobbies
I met most of my friends in my 20’s this way. There’s pretty much a facebook group for anything these days. I joined a group a while back called “Raleigh Bloggers” or something and I met a few girls that way. Then, as I got more and more into blogging, I attended conferences, went to more events, met creative people of all kinds: event planners, graphic designers, photographers, videographers, food bloggers, fashion bloggers, travel bloggers, wardrobe stylists, owners of boutiques and shops, website designers. My blog has evolved some since I started it and now I’ve met more home-focused bloggers and will be attending a DIY conference this summer. Once you find something you enjoy doing, you’ll find more and more opportunities for meet-ups and events with like-minded people.
Instagram and Facebook
It goes down in the DM’s. Speaking of the above, even if you don’t necessarily have a blog, you can still meet like-minded people on Instagram. I’ve heard from a lot of you that you’ve made friends on Instagram with other new mom’s in the area. Join a local Facebook group or even join a Facebook group of a podcast you love to listen to. There are usually subgroups within those groups for local areas where you’ll find info about events and meet-ups. Some people you might follow on Instagram have community facebook groups where you can find others who live near you. Someone yesterday told me that they moved to a rural area where there weren’t any Facebook groups so she just started one herself and have met a lot of people through that.
At Workout Classes or Rec Sports Leagues
This is a popular way for meeting friends as an adult. Find a fitness studio or rec sports league that you love and just start going regularly. I’ve heard of a lot of friendships starting at Burn Bootcamp, Orange Theory, Pure Barre, Camp Gladiator, and through Premiere League or Tri-Sports (if you’re more into volleyball, kickball, or softball, etc).
At Work (if you’re lucky)
This is another most popular way to make friends, but only if you’re lucky. I’ve had jobs where I worked with older people who I probably wouldn’t hang out with outside of work and I’ve had jobs where I was obsessed with every person I worked with and they became my best friends during that time. I’ve met wives or girlfriends of people that TJ works with and he has met husbands/bf’s of girls who I’ve met. If you’re more introverted, make friends with a social butterfly who can then introduce you to his/her friends and invite you to things where you can meet more people.
Neighbors or Community Events
When we moved into our neighborhood, we were like 10 years-ish younger than most families. Now, there are more people our age moving in which is exciting but we do have this neighbor who we LOVE and he is about to become my website hosting guy and we might even make some youtube DIY/home improvement vids with him in the future. You never know how much in common you’ll share with your neighbors so take every opportunity to get to know them if you can. Most neighborhoods will host events at the pool during the summer which is a great way to get to know your neighbors without having to go out of your way. Halloween/trick-or-treating is actually also a great time to take advantage of getting to know your neighbors.
Friends of Friends
When a friend of yours invites you to a baby shower, bridal shower, or gathering of any kind, say yes. Those are great ways to meet new people who might live in your area and chances are you will get along great since you both like the same person!
Local Run Clubs
There is a local run club near us that I always see drinking at the bar inside of the grocery store (lols) and TJ is always jealous. The only way I know it’s a run club is because of their t-shirts. He could easily just go up to them and say, “Hey, can I join your run club?”. Anyways, you can find run clubs through Facebook.
Church or Small Groups
If this intimidates you, you can start small and just start going to a church where you feel welcome. Eventually, you can sign up for any young adult groups they have where you can meet someone you like. Then, you can learn more about their small groups. Or, you can just dive right in and show up to a small group. Most churches have ways to find small groups that are a good fit for you, especially the larger churches like Hope.
If you’re in Raleigh or Durham and you love trying new restaurants, you can sign up for Offline Premium (12ish/mo) where you will gain access to preview parties, get gift-cards to try out new restaurants, and have opportunities to connect with others who have this same interest. I love Offline’s mission of “helping us rediscover and reconnect with the amazing world around us”.
Mom Groups, Playgrounds.
Okay, I’m not a mom but apparently motherhood is very welcoming and community-focused. I’ve heard from SO many of you that you made so many friends since becoming a mom whether it was at playgrounds or mom groups. One of my friends recently joined a mom group where they meet at different local parks and walk/exercise together and she said it was the greatest change she has ever made.
One of the most popular ways that I’ve heard people make friends in their 20’s/30’s is joining your local Junior League. I’m not a part of the Raleigh Junior League but after I graduated, I strongly considered joining when I felt a lack of community in my life. They are always planning events in the community, there are so many volunteer opportunities, and it sounds like a great organization.
I’ve heard SUCH good things about Bumble BFF. One of my friends mentioned she recently moved to Charlotte and struggled with making friends up until she started using Bumble BFF and that changed everything. The great thing about this app is that everyone on it has a desire to make new friends just as much as you so the awk factor isn’t really there.
If you do freelance work or just have a work-from-home job, I definitely know how lonely it can feel. More and more coworking spaces are popping up which I think is so cool and such a great place to meet others who clearly are interested in meeting people. Some coworking spaces in Raleigh area include: Spaces, HQ Raleigh, Loading Dock Raleigh, The Locality (for women entrepreneurs).
Going to local places regularly.
If there is a local coffee shop near you, go to it regularly. As soon as we moved 1.5 years ago, I started going to a local coffee shop and it immediately felt like home. Now, I’m actually working every day with one of the girls who work there (she joined me last week to work for PITP!) so you never know what will come from those places.
A few other ways that come to mind are: college alumni groups, friends of family members (my cousin has the coolest cul-de-sac on the block), start a blog about anything (the blogging community is honestly so welcoming), and just start saying yes to things that scare you.
If you have any questions or stories or if I missed something, let me know! I’ll go in and edit this as time goes on. Just remember, you’re not alone at all if you feel like you don’t have as many friends as you did years ago, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to connect with others.