You think you’ll be BFFs forever, but life changes drastically in your twenties and thirties, and the evolution of your friend circle is totally normal. The unraveling of ties can be sad, but it’s also a chance to bring new influences into your life who are more aligned with where you’re going than where you’ve been. That said, making friends as an adult can take a lot more effort than it did in college. Here, 6 strategies to keep in mind.
The first step: What kind of friends do you want? Ideally people whose lifestyles, values and pastimes align with yours or serve as an ideal for you. If you're no longer interested in partying, for example, avoid people who spend most of their time out on the town. If you're looking to settle down and have a family, spend time with people who've already done so, who can help keep you on that path. If you ache to quit your law job and pursue an artistic career, seek out creative types who'll inspire you.
Bonds form through consistency, so joining a weekly group can be a great way to form a new friendship—but keep in mind that the relationship needs to exist outside of the group as well. Otherwise, it'll end when the group ends. Anyone who's quit a job and suddenly found themselves immediately out of touch with co-workers they'd considered friends for years knows this well.
Volunteer groups, night classes, book clubs and networking organizations are great examples of opportunities that can foster relationships.
Ask For Introductions
If you’ve recently moved to a new neighborhood, had a baby or are looking to switch careers, asking your network for introductions can be a great way to meet new people. Everyone knows what it's like to be the new kid in town, the first in her friend group to have a baby, the last to get married, etc., so your friends and family should be happy to make these kinds of connections for you.
Being uncomfortable fosters bonding, so while you don't have to jump out of a plane with someone to become their new bestie, it can be helpful to choose activities that take you both out of your comfort zone.
Don’t Lose Momentum
It might feel awkward or unnatural, but courting new friends isn't all that different from courting a romantic partner. You'll need to be consistent and sometimes even a little aggressive in your outreach, or the friendship may have trouble getting off the ground or evolving.
Whenever possible, introduce people! It'll help foster goodwill that will make them want to reciprocate. It also enables group hangouts that can potentially bring new people into your life, or spice up a tired dynamic between you and an old friend.