Figuring out how to make friends as an adult is hard. A recent national survey published by Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and the Making Caring Common Project found that more than 60% of young adults have felt lonely in the past 4 weeks. Further, 43% reported increased loneliness since the onset of the global pandemic. Add in struggles with anxiety or depression, and the motivation to continuously sacrifice your time and energy to make meaningful social connections drastically diminishes. The desire may be there, but at this point in your life, there are countless obstacles getting in the way.
Obstacles to Making Friends as an Adult
As a young adult, it feels like there is just no time. The majority of hours in your day are likely consumed by work and other obligations. Further, the social infrastructure that was present in school no longer exists in young adulthood. Without built-in opportunities to make friends organically, the task can feel intimidating and overwhelming. And let’s face it – making plans with busy friends is difficult and requires compromise. Your free time is valuable, and it feels much easier to make your own choices about how you spend it.
For many, forced isolation throughout the pandemic created a very real sense of familiarity. Now, staying in on the weekend feels like an easy choice over having to navigate post-Covid social environments. There is also the added convenience of being able to order food delivery, put on sweatpants, and watch your favorite tv show from the comfort of your couch. Venturing out means sacrificing the comfort of your own space and routine.
Relocation and Starting Over
Compared to older generations, there are countless more inflection points in our social lifespan. Today, it is not uncommon to live in multiple cities before age 30. Even if you plant roots in your city, you likely have friends who recently moved to or from your area. This necessitates some combination of intentional distance communication with old friends and starting fresh with new ones. In reality though, repeatedly having to reinvent your social life can feel discouraging.
Who Wants to be my Bumble BFF?
Reviews on the impact of new technology aimed at helping people meet friends online are mixed. While apps such as Bumble BFF significantly increase access to and convenience of making friends, the process can take some getting used to. The stigma that once existed with meeting romantic partners online has shifted to forming platonic friendships. It is frustrating that the process can’t happen more organically, but some believe it is the only option we currently have.
Busy work life, the convenience and familiarity of staying in, the exhaustion of trying again, and the discomfort of yielding to new formats of friendship making are all logical reasons to resign in your efforts to develop lasting friendships. Yet, while today’s environment for friendship development is extremely challenging, the desire for human connection is innate. Further, forming deep and meaningful relationships often offers genuine fulfillment, purpose, and joy. Thus, it is up to us to decide whether or not to pursue this path, despite the resiliency and courage required.
Tips and Strategies for Making Friends as an Adult
When pursuing friendship, there are a few things to keep in mind that may provide some relief throughout the process.
Engage in Positive Self Talk. Repeat to yourself that you are capable and deserving of connection, even if you don’t believe it. Observe your thoughts with compassion.
Develop Realistic Expectations. You may not experience an intense connection early in the relationship, but that is likely given the amount of time and energy invested thus far. The more pressure you apply, the more forced and unnatural it will feel.
Enjoy the Process. Find activities that bring you joy and invite others along. Approach new experiences with curiosity and an open mind.
Seek Care. If you notice that underlying symptoms of anxiety, depression, or another mental health condition are impacting your friendships, consider looking for a therapist. Symptoms might show up as extreme worry, low motivation, fatigue, or not finding joy in activities you typically look forward to. Mental health therapists can partner with you to process difficult emotions and work through interpersonal stressors. If you would like to set up an appointment with a therapist today, please visit our practice’s website at moderneracounseling.com.
How to Make Friends in Charlotte
Sometimes riding solo to group events can be a great way of meeting people organically. Odds are, there are others just like you who are also looking to form new connections. Below is a list of groups and activities in Charlotte that may provide some social infrastructure and ease the burden of making friends.
Join an Intramural Sports League
- Sports: Volleyball, soccer, softball, bowling, football, ultimate frisbee, kickball, broomball
- Recreational to competitive levels
- Pickup games and tournaments also available
- Can join as a team or as an individual and get put on a team
- LGBTQ+ / Ally friendly
- Sports: Bowling, cornhole, dodgeball, kickball, volleyball
- Beginner to advanced levels
- Community outreach opportunities available
- Demographic stats: 33% identify as female, 41% are persons of color, 79% identify as gay or lesbian, 73% are 35+ years old
Attend Weekly Community Events
Listen to Live Music / Attend an Intimate Concert
Join a Silent Book Club
- Rotating locations around Charlotte (https://silentbook.club/blogs/events/charlotte-nc)
Go to an Art Showing
Volunteer for a Cause You Feel Passionate About
- Habitat for Humanity – Help build affordable housing for underserved populations
- Second Harvest Food Bank – Sort and distribute food to adults and families in need
- Timeout Youth – Support LGBTQ+ youth in the Charlotte communityAge minimum: 25 y.o.Must volunteer at least 2x per month
- Heart Math Tutoring – Tutor elementary students who are 1-3 years behind in math and don’t have alternative access to private tutoringTime requirement: 30 minutes per week during school yearAccepts volunteers on a rolling basis
- Humane Society of Mecklenburg County – Care for rescue dogs and cats at your local animal shelter