Two smiling friends side by side on the beach.Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Humans are social creatures, and studies show these social connections lead to more happiness and better health.

But what do you do once you're out of school and some of your connections start to fade? You may find that you're ready to make new connections!

Without the built-in community that school provides, you may need to work a little harder to forge those new friendships.

Try some simple (and fun!) steps to find your new bestie.

Get Out There!

To make new friends, you’ll need to meet new people (and we can't all meet friends at work).

What doyou love to do? What have you always wanted to try? Find activities that will help you see the same people on a regular basis. You'll have built-in time to get to know each other and build the friendship from there.

Some examples of activities you can join:

  • Sports teams — soccer, ultimate frisbee

  • Exercise classes — dance, group fitness, kickboxing

  • Community Centre — events or groups

  • Courses — new languages, sewing, art/ theatre, coding, cooking

  • Volunteering — community garden, local organizations

Cartoon dog sits at chair. Sign at empty chair beside reads 'reserved for you'. Text 'you can sit with me' above  image.

We get it, life is busy... if you can’t commit to joining a long-term activity, consider just being in public spaces more often, where you have the opportunity to meet people:

  • Read a book in a coffee shop

  • Join a co-working space

  • Go for hikes or walks in busy places

  • Join a pick-upsports game in your area

happy cartoon crab furiously types at keyboard

Or you can look for new friends online. There are a few sites dedicated to meeting new friends, similar to dating sites, but for adults looking to make non-romantic connections. Check out:

  • VINA

  • Bumble BFF

  • MeetUp

Initiate Contact

Dog wearing wig shakes human hand. Text overlay reads

Now what?!

Strike up a conversation to connect with people and get to know them.Whether it's a stranger on the subway or a fellow gym-goer, comment on something they're wearing, doing, have shared in class, said in passing — anything!

Share something relevant of your own on the topic. People may feel more comfortable engaging in conversation if they see you're willing to add your own thoughts (this isn't an interview after all...).

Quiz

Tess is looking to make friends. She's at the gym and notices as someone accidentally drops their headphones on the ground, and begins to walk away. What should she do?

Yell out and point to the headphones.

Return them and ask about the quality.

Take them to the lost and found.

Do nothing. Continue with her workout.

Build The Friendship

Two cartoon characters race towards each other and meet with a high five.

Some tips for going from acquaintance to friendship:

  • Invite them to an activity you already have planned.

  • Find common interests. Uncover something you both like to do — suggest doing it together! For example, ask about their favorite restaurants in the area and offer to join them for a meal.

  • Ask them questions about their life, and actively listen. Gauge how willing they are to share.

  • Embrace your inner extrovert — and put your most chatty self forward (but don't forget to still be yourself).

  • Be upfront. Tell them that your friendships have started to fade over the years, and you're looking to make new connections. Many people are in the same boat and may appreciate the honesty.

  • Celebrate their successes. Did they recently get that job? Ace a test? Get a new pet? Suggest an activity you can both do to celebrate!

  • Share things about your life (if you're comfortable). It's often much easier to build a meaningful connection if it isn't one-sided.

Keep In Contact

Two small children run towards each other on a sidewalk and embrace in a hug

So you've hung out once or twice. If you sense that they're enjoying your time together too, suggest a regular meetup based on your shared interests:

  • Weekly lunch

  • Monthly movie

  • Start a book club together

  • Take a new class or course together

  • Set up a "try something new" night together

Whatever it is, try to keep in touch. Reach out occasionally with suggestions to hang out if a regular meetup doesn't work for you. Always continue to gauge their interest. Remember — they're getting to know you too.

As you both get to know each other and become more comfortable, you can start to share more meaningful conversations and connect on a deeper level.

Don't Get Discouraged

Man on ground looks up to two men looking dire. Text overlay reads 'promise me you won't give up'.

If it's not meant to be, it's not meant to be...

Don't let rejection get to you — we're all busy and it's hard for everyone to make time for fun. Don't take it personally if your attempts to strike up a friendship aren't successful — we're not all destined to be friend-soulmates. Just get back out there and try again!

Remember: it's quality over quantity!

Take Action

Photo of three friends, from behind, holding up hands while facing a sunset.Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash

Are you ready to forge those human connections?

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This Byte has been authored by

RH

Robin H

Volunteer Learning Designer