making friends as an adult
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Making Friends As An Adult is the Worst

Think of some of the worst things in your life. Some of the things you hate. Going to the dentist? Your idiot boss? Rush hour traffic? The slimy film on pre-packaged cold cuts? All of these things are pretty bad–especially the latter. But there’s something plaguing your social life, too, and it’s not your subpar karaoke skills. It’s the realization that making friends as an adult is hard. In fact, I’d go as far to say that making friends as an adult is the worst.

The Beginning

Who knew it’d be this difficult? Back in the grade school days, friends were part of the package. You’d go to school, bring a kick-ass lunch (thanks, dad!), and see all your friends. Your friends would be waiting for you to arrive. Sure, they were your classmates, so they had to be there. But you knew they were excited to see you. You’d throw that quirky and totally-you lunch box by your desk and start chit-chatting it up with your buds. Life was good. You had a toast-and-cream-cheese sandwich awaiting your stomach come lunchtime, and you had some people to talk to about what’s in your lunch. Maybe, when the teacher wasn’t looking, you’d even barter snacks, because Jenny always had those brownies your mom never buys.

The same scene played out in middle school, except you had to choose a “clique.” You never thought of yourself believing in the barriers of cliques, yet you desperately wanted to be in the cool one. You wore too much eyeliner and somehow tricked the cool kids into thinking you were one of them.

 

The Middle

Then came along high school. Your middle school clique suddenly seemed like a small fleck of glitter struggling to shine in a crazy cat lady’s craft closet. Your clique dispersed, and it was every man for himself yet again, each of you trying to find where you belonged. Was it the jocks? You did play sports, after all. But you were in AP classes, too. So does that make you a nerd? What about the party crowd? No, no, you definitely didn’t fit in with the party crowd. The stoners weren’t your style either. You settled with your fate as a sporty nerd and figured things could be worse. People knew who you were, so you never really had to introduce yourself. A small setting like high school is only a 1-gallon fish bowl.

Then, if you went to college (if you didn’t, you can skip this paragraph and head straight to the next one), you found yourself in a 30-gallon fish bowl. Struggling, yet again, to find people who shared similar interests. This time, you were really “finding yourself,” so you wanted to establish yourself once and for all. College friends are supposed to be the ones for life, right? So you did what any college kid does and made immediate friends with your roommate and fellow dorm-dwellers. Your friendship was solidified when your dorm-friend held your hair after a toga party that landed on the same day as your birthday and, you know, #shotssssss.

Friendships always start with a commonality, and you all lived in this weirdly sanitary hotel-like building that divided girls and boys on different floors. Your common ground was literally that you shared the same ground. Perhaps that’s where the phrase comes from?

 

The End As We Know It

And then you got out of college. And this is where the sinking realization really hits you: “I have no idea how to meet people.” Sure, you have a couple friends that have lasted since college, maybe even high school, but post-graduation, everyone lives in different places. People get job offers across the country; people join the army and get sent across the world; people pack up and move to a random city with no plan. People scatter. And then all that work–the snack bartering and hair holding–was erased as if none of it ever mattered.

Where do adults make adult friends? Some might say they met their friends at work. Work. Since when does work control our lives so much that it’s the only place we can find real human connection? Meeting people at work is the worst because you spend months, sometimes years, tip-toeing around the subject that you maybe want to hang out but don’t want to make the first move. What if he/she is a narc? What if he/she doesn’t think happy hour starts at 4 p.m. like you do? Crossing that work-friend boundary is almost not worth it when you think about the implications. However, you also flip-flop back-and-forth, thinking that being fired from your job wouldn’t be the worst, mostly because you hate it.

But what about non-work friends? Where do you find them? Do you join a gym or barre class and start chatting it up with the people that go on the same days as you? Do you pretend to know things about lats and squats and macros and quinoa? You can’t talk about your less-than-healthy extracurricular activities while you’re at the gym actively trying to erase them.

Do you find adult friends at the grocery store? Perhaps in the Pasta aisle or the Confections section, because let’s be honest, adults can’t eat salad all the time like they wish they did. Do you strike up conversation next to the sugar display, warning your friend-to-be about the dangers of Equal, suggesting Splenda instead? Do you casually slip in the fact that you like wine with your dessert? Do you oh-so nonchalantly ask if maybe your sugar friend wants to come over for wine on Wednesday and divulge all her secrets?

Making friends as an adult is very uncomfortable, especially when adults already have their adult friend groups. The cliques of middle school creep back for vengeance, just this time with receding hairlines and crows feet. You try to invite yourself to someone’s barbecue, and they get all, “Who are you and why are you petting my baby?” Ugh, talk about non-inclusive.

 

Hope for the Future

But there’s hope. You can do what I did, for example. You can cash in on all the hard work someone else put into making friends as an adult. All of my current friends (besides my scattered college friends that I actually earned) are secondhand friends. I took them from other people like my family and my boyfriend. It’s not the most revered route, but at least I don’t have to pretend to know what lats are. And if that’s not a win, well then I don’t know what is. Care to barter that bag of Doritos sitting in your pantry?

making friends as an adult

Article written by:

Alyssa is The Lysst’s creator and ultimate ruler. She’s a freelance journalist, copywriter, and editor passionate about living her best life and helping others do the same. She’s kind of an ass, but sometimes she can be hurt-your-teeth sweet. Depends on the day and whether or not you came bearing gifts (queso blanco or wine will do). Find her professional portfolio at alyssaruane.com.

Join the discussion

  1. Newc

    Best one yet girl wonder!?

  2. karen

    Ya know, you’re right. Its tricky to make friends as adults. I think each age (as you mentioned – and as I laughed at all those GIFs!!!) has its trials and tribulations. But, adulthood friends is another piece of discovery in that process, right?

    • Alyssa Ruane

      You’re so right! In a way, it just makes life more interesting… even if it can be frustrating at times. Thank you for reading (and laughing at my GIFs)! 🙂

  3. Kiley Smith

    Making friends as an adult is difficult–especially when you have kids. You are so busy chasing them around that you forget about yourself!

  4. Kim

    I love that you call them second hand friends. That’s such a creative way to say it. Sometimes it is hard to make new friends as an adult.

  5. Heather

    So true! It is really difficult making friends as an adult. Lately though I have really learned that quality over quantity is key. As long as you have a few great friends you are good!

  6. Terri Steffes

    At the ripe old age of 57, I can tell you that making friends as an adult has been my best thing ever. I have lived or worked in five cities, making friends in each area, some connected to work, some connected to our neighborhood but most connected to a couple of organizations I am in. They rock.

    • Alyssa Ruane

      That is awesome to hear. You go, Terri! I definitely need to try to get involved with some organizations outside of what I do for work.

  7. Debra

    Ha ha!! There are so many more layers when you are adult and then especially when you have a spouse and kids. So many people who have to mesh – it’s crazy!

  8. Ana

    Well said. I find many friends are made through work but some are found in the most unexpected of places!

  9. Heather

    Yes, this is difficult for sure. We recently joined a new church, so that is how we are making friends right now. It seems so much easier for the kids!

  10. Shelby

    I can relate to a lot of this. It was so easy as a kid, and now it’s so much harder. It’s good to have friends as an adult though, so this is great to think about.

    • Alyssa Ruane

      It’s so important to have friends.. which sounds so silly, but they add great value to your life, even when you think you have it all!

  11. CourtneyLynne

    Omg making adult friends is hard!!!! I made friends so easily when I was younger and now?! Ughhhhhh…. lol

  12. OurFamilyWorld

    This is true. It is more difficult to make friends as an adult. It’s a good thing I play in the bowling league. That’s where I meet people.

  13. Reesa Lewandowski

    *sigh* I really didn’t realize this would be a problem until my mid-twenties. It is worse than dating!!

  14. Brittany

    My best friend and i were just talking about this! My husband and I have moved around a bunch and making friends each time is horrible! It’s awkward at first, but when you get through the first part its great!

    • Alyssa Ruane

      It can be frustrating to move a lot and repeat the process all over again, but you’re right, after the first part, it’s great!

  15. Taylor MObely

    I have my best friends from high school and college still, even though we are now all married and starting our families. They are my people and I don’t ever feel like making new friends. I have 10+ years of history with those guys…it stresses me out to try to do that with other people.

    • Alyssa Ruane

      Haha that is such a great point. My problem is all my college friends are in different states so I don’t see them as often as I’d like!

  16. Dana Vento

    Making friends as an adult was really difficult, Thankfully I play a sport game

  17. HilLesha

    I couldn’t agree more! I agree with Reesa that it is worse than dating. LOL! There’s always hope, though.

  18. Angela @marathonsandmotivation.com

    I totally agree that it can be tricky making friends as an adult! I think part of it is being so busy with work & family, but it’s important for us to take time for friends too!!

  19. Rose Sahetapy

    Children are more simplier than the adult, that’s – I think – how it influences the process of making friends. I have friends from work and we remain as good friends for over decade. We even consider ourselves as a big family.

  20. Mandy Carter

    I think making quality friendships is the challenging part, even as a child. What kids think are friends are mostly what adults would call casual acquaintances. I have found that joining groups of personal interest are the key to finding valuable adult friendships. So my best adult friends have been found through volunteer work, gyms and parenting groups.

  21. Suzanne Spiegoski

    Which is why I love my dog more than most people at times, ha ha! I think it all depends on what you’re comfortable with- and timing, too

  22. Jessica

    Ha! This gave me a great laugh, mostly because it rings so true! Unless we’re thrown into situations together as adults, we really don’t look outside ourselves much to get to know other people! I feel blessed to be in the situation I am where I do have a few really good friends, but it’s really only recently. Thanks for sharing this. It provided some great humor, and was also awesome to see how I’m not the only person in this boat!!!

    • Alyssa Ruane

      Thank you for reading! Love when I can spark a little chuckle… the truth hurts sometimes, and all you can really do is laugh about it. 🙂 Glad to hear you’ve found some great friends!

  23. Renee @ The Good Hearted Woman

    Making friends as an adult is tough. I’ve found most of my dearest (grown-up) friends while doing volunteer work. I guess I’m lucky too – I still live in the same city that I grew up in, and have more than a few friends that I’ve known for decades.

  24. Leslie Hernandez

    I think it can be a difficult thing at any age, I am lucky to have a few friends that have been there for me always but I am always meeting new people too so you never know sometimes friends come and go and those who are meant to be part of your life forever will stay in your life through thick and thin!!

    • Alyssa Ruane

      Yes, I will always hold onto my dearest friends. Even if they are states away, we still pick right back up where we left off as if nothing has changed. I love that!

  25. arin

    so incredibly tough as adults to meet friends! it’s possible though! i met some amazing girls through blogging and local events — remember: quality over quantity! xo

  26. Tahnee

    You are soon right! i feel like it is hard to make friends as an adult! Especially now that we have kids it is much harder because we both have to like the other couple to do anything! hahah

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