Thank you to Rachael Warren for contributing this article to GenThirty!
If you feel like you have a hard time making new friends in your 30s, you’re not alone! We don’t spend a lot of time or our free time in ways that introduce us to new people anymore.
Making new friends isn’t very difficult for most of us when we’re kids, in high school, in college, and so on. Most of the time, new friendships form naturally when you join a sports team, start a new job, take classes, or join an extracurricular group with like-minded individuals. It’s almost standard that when you’re in school, at work, or part of a new community that you’ll meet people who share similar interests and hobbies as you and that, over time, you’ll form new friendships. You usually meet your best friend in class or your neighborhood, right?
But what happens when you’ve graduated? When you’re working full-time, but you’re not close with your coworkers? When you move to a new city where you don’t know anyone? Or when you still live in the same place you’ve always lived but all of your old friends move away? What happens when you start a remote job and your colleagues live all over the country? Or when you’ve outgrown your childhood friends and need to meet people who are in a similar place in life as you? How do you meet new people?
What do you do when you realize you’re 30 and don’t have any meaningful, fulfilling friendships?
For starters, don’t fret too much about lacking rewarding and quality friendships at this point in your life. To be honest, it happens to a lot of us.
We lose many of our friends after high school when we go to college. In college, we meet new people and form new friendships, but by graduation, we lose many of those too because life gets busy when we land full-time jobs, focus on our careers, get married, have kids, and so on. It’s perfectly normal to lose touch with friends over time, even when you didn’t mean to.
But, how do you start over? How long does it take to establish new friendships? How do you make close friends? Today, we’ll explore great ways to expand your comfort zone and make new close friends in your social circle!
The Rule of 3
Something to note here is the “rule of 3.” This un-offcial rule is that to establish new friendships you need at least 3 touch points, over 3 months, in 3 different scenarios to form a close friendship with someone.
For example, say you meet Amy in April at the apple orchard. You make plans to hang out in May at a concert. In June, you have a picnic together by the lake. You’ve established a close friendship!
Once you’ve gotten to know someone, invite them to make a plan with you for sometime in the next few weeks. Don’t be flaky! Follow up. It takes time to form meaningful relationships. The next time you meet someone, foster those new connections by taking the next step.
How to make friends at 30:
Join a new community.
The most practical way to make good friends is by putting yourself in situations where you’ll meet new people. A great way to do this is by joining a new community where you can introduce yourself to people who share interests with you. And the the most important step in doing this is just getting out of the house!
Do you love music? See if your city or a nearby town has a musical group you can join. Interested in playing sports with other adults? Research adult sports teams in your sport of interest and see if you can join a team to play with fellow adult athletes – even if it’s just for fun and you don’t care about winning.
Many towns and cities have all kinds of communities and organizations that you can join for free or for a fee to meet people who share your interests.
The first step in expanding your circle is to check out a new place. Especially if you aren’t meeting people where you are spending your time now! Look on social media for social events in your town. Intimate events will also help you meet people with common interests a lot of the time!
Research shows that bonding over a shared interest can help build real friendship that lasts a long time.
Take a class.
Even if you have earned all the degrees or certificates you care to earn in your life, you can always take more classes just to keep your education top of mind and meet with like-minded individuals.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn a new language but never took the plunge. See if your city or town has an adult ed program where you can learn a new language with fellow language learners!
Perhaps you really enjoy writing but need to work on your craft. See about taking a writing class where you can polish your writing while also networking and building relationships with other writers.
There are adult ed classes for pretty much everything: learning a new instrument, cooking, building a garden, painting, poetry, barre, dance, and so on! It’s a great opportunity to work on your social skills and establish new relationships.
Download an app.
We all know technology isn’t going anywhere, so it should come as no surprise that you can actually meet new friends on the internet. There are so many apps these days that were designed for people to make new friends. A few that come to mind include MeetUp and Bumble BFF. MeetUp is great if you like to attend events happening in real-time to meet new people. You simply create an account, find groups based on your zip code, and then attend the events that interest you.
Bumble BFF, on the other hand, is the friend version of online dating. You create a profile, enter your location, then Bumble will match you with other people looking for friends based on your location and interests. When you and another person both swipe right on each other, you’ll receive a notification that you’ve matched and then you can start chatting in a private message to get to know each other better.
I personally have had a lot of luck with Bumble BFF in the short time I’ve been using it. I’ve connected with a bunch of women so far who are around my age and I’ve even met three of them in person to have lunch, meet for happy hour, go shopping, and things like that. I even went to one girl’s house for game night where I met a group of women she met off of Bumble BFF! If you want to meet real people and form new friendships, apps like these really do work – just be safe and be smart.
Approach people out in the world.
As difficult and uncomfortable as it might feel, another way to meet new people is to put yourself out there and approach people when you’re out and about in the world.
Maybe you’re at the gym working out and see a girl lifting weights who needs a spotter. Don’t be shy – approach her and offer to help! Perhaps you’re out shopping and see a girl looking at purses next to you. Make small talk about your favorite bags and see where it goes.
Putting yourself out there to start a conversation with a stranger might feel odd at first but you will be surprised to see how successful it can be when you have the confidence to start.
Making new friends can be such a daunting thing but it also can be really fun and exciting. I’m currently chatting with a handful of women who are around my age, in relationships, starting families, and who are looking for like-minded friends too. It has been so fun to meet these women, hear their stories, and hang out with them to get to know them better.
As we get older and wiser, it’s important to have relationships that serve us and meet us where we are in our lives. Making new friends is an awesome way to do just that. Be confident in who you are and open to meeting new people and the rest will follow. Once you start opening yourself up to making new friends, you’ll be surprised to discover how easy it is to form new friendships.
Potential friends are everywhere and it’s easy to expand your friend groups with like minded people once you put yourself out there. If you feel more comfortable, start with happy hours in a public place.