If it feels like you’re making fewer and fewer friends as you cruise through adulthood, that’s because it’s probably true. A depressing 2013 review of more than 270 studies found that people’s personal networks and friendship bases generally grow until young adulthood, then decline steadily with age.
Of course, that’s only a problem if you feel like it’s a problem. One of the great joys of growing up is the freedom to whittle down friendships to the few core people you actually need and love. (And yes, I am indeed saying this to justify the fact that I am 31 and my social life increasingly revolves around my six month old and, like, 2.5 good girlfriends — one of whom is my sister.)
But if you are happen to be a grown woman who is looking to make new friends, whether it’s because you’ve moved, or fallen out of touch or just want to surround yourself with some new faces who totally get where you’re at in your life, here are a few tips, several sourced straight from HuffPost editors who’ve somehow managed to do it themselves.
It’s obvious, yes, but you’re not going to make new friends sitting alone in your apartment, watching Netflix and getting down with a pint of Chubby Hubby. Real adult women I spoke to said they’ve successfully picked up new lady friends by joining book clubs, taking Zumba and yoga classes and playing intramural sports.
…but only things you’re actually into.
One of the reasons why book club friendships tend to be easily formed (aside from, you know, booze) is that women generally join because a) they, like you, like to read and b) they, like you, are looking to socialize. A shared interest + a genuine desire to make new buddies = friendship city! But forcing yourself to join clubs if you’re just not a joiner, or take classes you detest in the name of expanding your social network is the worst. And now you’re a grown-ass woman, so you no longer have to — huzzah! If the idea of a book club makes you ill, skip it. If you’re terrified by the thought of cardio-dance-whatever, don’t go. Find your thing, then (and this is the real key) actually do it.
Work somewhere awesome.
This one’s easier said than done, of course. But if you are lucky enough to have at least one co-worker you find relatively kind and interesting, don’t take it for granted. Make friends, and not just because it’s good for your career, but because it feels good to develop bonds with the people you spend hours around. That doesn’t even mean you have to go to group happy hours if you’re an introvert, or just don’t want to. Grab your beloved work wives for lunch every once in a while, or even just initiate bonding over Gchat. Then make an effort to stay in touch if one or both of you moves on to a new gig.
This is in no way to suggest that being childfree, by choice or otherwise, is an impediment to making friends. It’s absolutely not. If you don’t have children, or can’t have children, or hate the word children, skip this tip.
But several women I spoke to did say having kids is one of the easiest ways they’ve found to make friends with other women. One described connecting with another mom at her kid’s soccer game who was the only other woman also working on her laptop. Another echoed that she’s found it pretty easy to make mom friends — with the caveat that it can be heartbreaking when your kid breaks up with a friend whose mother you love, meaning it may be over for you two as well. (This can also happen when you befriend a friend’s partner and they split, and it’s the pits.)
Co-opt your friends’ friends.
Getting to know your friends’ friends better is an easy way to meet new people you’d probably get along with. Presumably at least one of your current lady friends is a decent judge of character with pals in other areas of her life with whom you’d be simpatico. When you meet one at a birthday party or concert or whatever, glom on and never let them go! As a bonus, it’s relatively non-awkward to establish a follow-up date — just include the friend who brought you two together, et voila.
Revisit your archives.
Don’t bother with friends you’ve broken up with for good reason, or who refuse to acknowledge that you’ve lived and changed a lot since you were a nerdy 13-year-old. But one of the glories of social media is that it’s a pretty painless way to reconnect with faces from your past who you actually miss — you know, the college friend who you fell out of touch with for no good reason other than life happens, or the non-mom friend you unintentionally blew off after you had a kid. If something went wrong between you, rehash your sh*t if you feel like it’s important for successfully moving forward. Or don’t. That’s the awesome thing about making friends as an adult woman. It may be hard to do, but you get to do it fully on your own terms.