Maybe you moved to a new city by yourself. Or all your friends have new significant others that monopolize their weekend nights. Or you just need a change of pace.
You don’t really need a reason to make new friends. Being nice is cool, you guys! But as you may have already found out, meeting people as an adult proves to be far more challenging than it was as a kid or a college student. Time to get creative. These are our six favorite ways to step out of your comfort zone and meet your new BFF—and have fun doing it.
Take a class
About a year after you graduate from school, a funny thing happens. An itch to learn something new—literally, anything—crops up. Whether it’s improv comedy or art history, jumping into a beginner-level class will introduce you to a bunch of people who are interested in some of the same things that you are. Just make sure you pick a course that requires you to interact with other people … online classes don’t count for this, guys! Check out your local university for continuing education classes, museums for their free class offerings, and local comedy troupes to see if they lead workshops.
Join a run group
If you’re active, odds are pretty good that you’ll enjoy chilling with other people who like to get a little sweaty, too. But making a new friend at your usual spin class can be a bit complicated because you’re not technically supposed to talk during class and there’s limited time before and after the workout to introduce yourself. Solution? Join a social run club. For most groups, you don’t need to be an experienced runner—just someone who enjoys being active. It’s a great way to get to know your hometown a little better, and you’ll bond with other runners as the miles pass.
Plus, most run clubs end with happy hour! (More on that in a sec) So you’ll be rewarded with a drink and get a chance to chat with friends while you’re not trying to keep up the pace. Speciality running stores often have their own weekly run club events, as do many Nike and Lululemon stores. If you’re lucky enough to live in LA or New York City, Electric Flight Crew is worth checking out. The group has meetups throughout the week at different locations throughout the city, pairs with local studios for free cross-training classes, and always has a no-shower happy hour when the workout is over. It’s a super-friendly group, and they welcome new members with open arms.
Attend a strategic happy hour
I’d like to make a case for why you won’t make new friends just by heading to your watering hole and sidling up to the bar. First, this is is impossibly awkward—have you ever tried it? It’s the worst. People don’t know if you’re waiting for someone else, a weird loner, or just want to enjoy your drink in solitude. Second, it’s pretty hit or miss that you’ll find someone who you have enough in common with to continue a full-on, intimate friendship (we’re talking wine-and-Netflix level intimacy, people).
A strategic happy hour, though, is where it’s at. Think about it. Post-run drinks or a wine hour to celebrate an art exhibit opening are going to attract a specific group of people—like you! So you already know you’ll have something in common. And it’s less weird to fly solo at events like this, so you’ll feel less self-conscious. Plus, you have a built-in conversation starter—you’re practically guaranteed to make a new buddy!
Real talk for a second: I’m a hardcore introvert. Walking into a room of more than three people gives me serious anxiety—but I know getting out there is a great way to meet new friends and network, so despite how uncomfortable it makes me feel I’ll begrudgingly do it anyway. But you know where introverts thrive? The internet.
It might sound a little crazy, but social media might be one of the best things that’s ever happened to introverts like me. On platforms like Instagram or Twitter it’s easy to find cool girls who like the same things as me—working out, eating all the food, and LA. I’ve met tons of people simply by leaving a comment on a photo and asking about the new workout class they’re posting about or what to order at the vegan place they just checked into. Funnily enough, this usually ends up with us trying a new workout or restaurant together … which is uncomfortable for like, five seconds, and then you get over it and it turns into an amazing friend-date. Try it out—I promise, it’s way easier than you think!
At dinner parties
Yes, dinner parties. Food + wine + multiple hours + small group = the perfect formula for meeting new friends. You’ll always know at least one person (whoever invited you), and because the other attendees are friends or acquaintances of the host, they’ve already been vetted as good friend material.
Don’t have friends that own matching plate sets? That’s ok—dinner parties don’t need to be fussy. In fact, throw one yourself. Make it potluck style if cooking overwhelms you—or do Postmates, which usually makes everyone happy—and ask participants to bring someone new to introduce to the group. All you need to do is make sure everyone’s got a drink, and you’ll end the night with lots of new potential BFFs!
By being the third wheel
Find a friend or couple that you love hanging with, and tag along on their next outing. Ideally, they’ll be heading to a party or event that extends beyond your usual social circle—work-centric events are always good—where they feel comfortable enough to introduce you to most of the people in the room. If you’re playing the third wheel, don’t cling to your friend like a baby koala holding on to its mother. Circle back every once in a while to touch base and take part in a conversation, but be confident that you can hold your own when talking to strangers.
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