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The Challenges of Making Friends as an Adult


Growing up can feel like one of the loneliest things you will ever experience. It’s not just because that as an adult, you have a to-do list of responsibilities that fall on you to take care of, or that your job or career could move you hundreds of miles away from the place you used to call home, but because making friends, after you leave college, is really hard to do.

It felt like dating, all over again, except this time it wasn’t for love, it was to find a loyal, kindhearted friend, who would be there for me if I needed a 2 am vent session or a plus-one to see a new rom-com at the movies.

When I graduated college, I moved back home to my parent’s house, in Boca Raton, Florida, where I found solace in my childhood twin size bed and N’SYNC posters that lined the walls. Most of my friends didn’t move to their parent’s houses, but instead, to big and bold places, like New York City, London, Los Angeles, or Chicago. A lot of them went to grad school, some of them got married, but most of them figured out their lives quicker than I could figure out what a 401k was, and why I needed to put a chunk of my paycheck in one, every single month.

As we spread out all over the country, and our lives were no longer floating down the same linear path (their marriage and kids, mine job after job), I realized that my once booming circle of friends that looked like Kim Kardashian’s entourage was now sparse. I didn’t have a squad of BFFs to turn to when I wanted to meet for Sunday brunch or escape the woes of my 9-5 and head to happy hour. I had one or two local friends, who I saw every so often. But, it wasn’t the same as the good old college days, when you’d roll out of your dorm room bed, walk ten steps down the hall, and sit beside a crew of five to ten other people, on someone’s bean bag chairs.

I realized, by the age of 25, that I needed to make new friends, and I needed to make them fast.

Mainly because all of my friends were married and started to have kids by that age, and I was beginning to see them only if they needed a Saturday night babysitter. But it wasn’t so easy to stumble upon a new friend group or even just one or two new friends; it was hard.

I would try to strike up conversations with other women everywhere I went. If I were out shopping, at a coffee shop, or in the waiting room at the dentist, I’d talk to the person next to me, find out if we connected, and if we did, find a way to awkwardly ask them if they wanted to hang out.

It felt like dating, all over again, except this time it wasn’t for love, it was to find a loyal, kindhearted friend, who would be there for me if I needed a 2 am vent session or a plus-one to see a new rom-com at the movies.

My method of “talk to anyone” to find friends didn’t work. Most people I met would agree that we should hang out sometime, but then would ghost me when I texted them, never replying to my message. Others would commit to plans, only to break them off later.

I began to realize that making new friends as an adult was a challenge for many reasons.

The first is that people seem to get busier the older they get. The more responsibilities and loved ones in their lives, the harder it is for them to hand over time for friends. When you have a stack of bills to pay, a husband, and three kids, you no longer are at liberty to just throw your hands in the air to spend Saturday afternoon with your single friend, Jen, who wants to split a bottle of wine and some tapas.

I also noticed, that the older we get, the more we kiss hello our comfort zone, meaning that we don’t regularly do things that satisfy our hobbies and instead, spend our free time, just relaxing, and brushing off a hard work week. Adults, I feel, do fewer things in big groups of people and more things solo, or with their family and close friends.

Because of that, you almost have to get lucky to meet a new friend as an adult, until you have kids, and their friend’s parents become your new friends. Until that happens, I’ll continue striking up conversations with strangers whenever I’m out, asking them to hang out, even if that means we just Netflix and Chill, as we plot ways to take over our responsibilities to-do list.

This story by Jen Glantz originally appeared on Ravishly, a feminist news+culture website. Follow us on Twitter & Facebook and check out these related stories:

I Lost A Friend Over A Comment I Didn’t Think Was A Big Deal
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