How To Make Friends As An Adult (and especially after college)

About six months after college, I realized that I was hanging on by a thread emotionally. The past six months had gone by in a blur and all that time, I had communicated three or four times with people outside of work and my aunt whom I was living with. I was completely and utterly lonely. 

My mental health was taking a beating (you can read all the juicy details about my post graduation depression/anxiety) and I had no one. So I decided to buckle down and reach out to my old friends but also to try and make new ones.

The advantage of making friends after college is that you get to pick and choose who you want to be friends with and not just talk to someone because we have a class together. I wanted to make the kind of friends I needed and that needed me, healthy relationships.

After college, you will need to actively seek out, approach and befriend people. You can see this as a pain or you can see this as a priviledge. An opportunity to make healthier choices when it comes to friendships. 

A. Seek out friends, not networks

I understand that it is tough to make it out here and knowing the right people makes it easier. However, becoming friends with someone just because they can help your career or relationship is not a healthy way to make friends.

There is a place for networking and it should be friendly and humane, but picking people according to how much personal they can bring to you will turn you into a needy blackhole instead of a genuine friend.

It is like trying to become friends with someone just because they are famous. You can be friends with a famous person, but ideally because you have something that connects you like common interests or beliefs or experiences. 

People often take advantage or rich, famous or influential people even on a micro level at work or in a community. Do not join the band wagon of selfish people who just want to take and benefit from others.

It is okay to find someone you admire and approach them to be there friend. In that situation the stage is set up for a mutually beneficial friendship.

You will offer respect, loyalty and love in return for respect loyalty and love. Everything else such as introductions, opportunities or expertise that flow from that friendship need to be incidental and not something you expect.

The problem with being a social leach is that you will miss out on genuine friendships trying to chase opportunities, fame, glamour or just being part of the cool gang.

B. Avoid social discrimination

As human beings we are pulled to making friends with people who are just like us. That is perfectly normal and okay but we should also seek out people from different cultures and backgrounds.

You will learn so much and have your eyes opened to so much more if you venture out with people who are not of your personality type, race 

That being said, here are five things to keep in mind as you try to make friends:

1. Just like dating

Making a new friend is like courting only less awkward because sex is off the table, at least in most cases. Start by observing the people around you, at work, in your apartment complex, the cool looking barrister etc and pick out someone you would like to get to know. 

There was a girl at my Bible Study who was always so kind with everyone so I started talking to her more. I decided that I would ask her to my house for lunch and then she took my number from the group chat, called me and asked me out to lunch. Just like dating.

Here is a good piece of advise, always be the proactive one, do not sit around and wait. Walk up to the person and start a conversation. Invite them to do things. Do not rush people to open up to you. Give them time. Spend the first few days or weeks getting to know the other person better. Listen and observe and have fun. 

Bring some value to the table.
I am not talking about money or valuable connections. I am talking about genuineness. People are looking for real people to have real friendships with. They are looking for loyal, loving and compassionate people.

There are so many toxic people out here and you cannot be one of them. Work on yourself to become a kind, loving an supportive person. Do not be a doormat, naive or impressionable but be kind and understanding. 

If you are a good person to have around, you will find it way easier to keep friends. People who bring drama and dysfunction generally flop when it comes to keeping genuine friends.

2. Go to places where you can make friends

Get out of the house, nobody is coming to save you from loneliness. The mountain will not come to Mohammed unless he is hosting a party and inviting people over.

Find the places where your kind of people hang and go there. For me, it was joining a Bible Study near me. You should also venture into new and uncomfortable places that interest you.

Just make sure that the places you are going to are actually good places to meet people. For example I dis not make any friends from just attending church on Sunday.

There are too many people and most of them have come with their families and leave immediately after the service.

But in Bible Study, there is only a few of us and we sit around talking for hours. It is a much more intimate and relaxed setting to get to know people. 

It is harder to get to know people in a bar or a club because most people have come with their friends and just want to be left alone to have a good time.

Meanwhile events like cleaning up the beach, work retreats, community meet-ups, neighborhood cook-outs, launches and so on have more potential for striking up meaningful conversations.

3. Approach don’t wait

Look, the stakes are not that high. Muster up enough courage to start conversations with people you find interesting.

A lot of people are looking for genuine connections and if you just say hi, you be surprised at how many people will jump at the opportunity of talking to an actual human being who is interested in them and is not trying to sell them something or to hit on them.

4. Many people are skeptical at first, but give it time and keep showing up. 

Out here it is not likely that you will become friends with someone because you’ve been in all the same classes since freshman year or share a dormroom or have a group assignment. 

If you do not take the initiative, nothing will ever happen. I had a coworker who became a good friend of mine because I asked to lunch one time. 

I never became close to anyone else although we were ‘friends’ and spent most of our days together at that place even though I worked there for quite a while. After I left, I kept in touch with her.

It is easy to think that because you see people everyday, your friendship will just develop overtime. It probably won’t unless you put some effort into it. It entirely possible to be strangers with a neighbor you’ve lived next to for decades.

5. Give it time

Real friendship take more time than the second you need to accept a friend request on Facebook.

Give people time to warm up to you, and when they are warm, give them time to open up to you, and when they open up, give them time to let you into the rest of their life.

Have and respect other people’s boundaries no matter how anxious you are to break down their walls. 

By the time they are adults, most people they have had a friendship that cost them more than they bargained for and so they are incredibly guarded.

People with a lot of money or a certain amount of power always fear that you are trying to get something from them.

Other people are living a perfect life on the outside but behind the scenes things are not so great and so they are really selective about letting anybody in who doesn’t already know the real situation. People are incredibly complex and if you give them time, you will figure that out.