Whether you have a small circle of friends or a full-blown squad like Taylor Swift, friendships are important – especially in our 20s. Friendships are the defining relationships of any young adult, and well into old age.
Close friends made in our 20s can remain friends for life, so choosing the right tribe is important. It matters that you have close people you can turn to for help, people who love you no matter what and would always support you.
The post-grad years should be a great time to make new friends, but it isn’t always that straight-forward, because life just gets in the way.
Your 20s can be fast, chaotic, and exciting – and they should be all those things, but not at the expense of solid friendships. How can you make sure you still have someone to call last minute when you feel like getting brunch or simply need to have a good rant?
Don’t worry! Here are the 8 best ways to make friends if you are in your 20s.
1. Start from scratch.
Forget everything you know about your former tribe (which you’re probably missing a lot), and put your efforts into creating a new social circle – one that fits your life here and now. It doesn’t mean abandoning old friends, but rather expanding your circle.
This is important for a number of reasons:
- It gets you out of your comfort zone and forces you to meet new people.
- It helps you stop relying on old friendships which might not be serving you anymore.
- You have the opportunity to bond with people over similar interests, careers, hobbies, etc.
- You should look for people you’d get along with as you are now, and not who you used to be – perhaps with similar personality types.
There are multiple ways to tap into brand new networks, including signing up for a meetup group, volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about, trying friend apps, and more.
The key to finding friends with similar passions is to focus on what you love doing and see who you meet along the way. It means putting yourself out there and admitting to yourself, first and foremost, that you want to find new friends.
2. Balance work and friendships.
When you’re in your 20s it can pretty quickly start to feel like a race to climb the career ladder. At times, you feel like your job is taking over your life – and you need to keep proving yourself. There’s a stigma that comes with age in the workplace, particularly when you’re young .
Working hard doesn’t mean you should never have fun anymore, though. In fact, the workplace is a good friend-making territory. People with close friendships at work are a lot happier and stick around in the company for longer.
There are downsides, of course, including every conversation outside of work still being about work drama, which can be pretty draining. Make sure your friends aren’t all workmates; it’s all about the balance.
3. Be a connector.
One of the sure-fire ways to make more friends is to act as a connector within various groups of people and be intentional about it. That means being laid-back and confident about inviting different people to different events – instead of keeping friend groups separate out of fear that they won’t get along.
There’s an art to being the gel between people, and the more you practice it, the more you’ll find that others want to mirror your behavior and will invite their friends too. Meeting new people via your like-minded friends is one of the easiest ways to expand your network.
One of the best ways to do that is to organize a party and encourage your friends to bring a plus one, whether that’s their romantic partner or another friend that you haven’t met before. Parties are more casual and people can talk to whoever they want, without feeling like they need to belong to a certain circle.
You might not click with everyone, but you surely won’t feel alone when you do it more often. You’ll see yourself getting invited to more events, too. All you have to remember is that friendship requires effort – and if someone isn’t inviting you around often, you can break that pattern and invite them instead.
As they say, be the change you want to see.
4. Balance your romantic relationships and friendships.
When you’re in your 20s and in love, all you want to do is hang out with that person all the time. You want to tell them everything and seek their opinion on everything – so much so that it can actually hurt your friendships.
Your friends might quickly feel like they’re playing second fiddle to your relationship or that you don’t want to see them anymore.
It’s important to find the right balance between having a boyfriend and still spending quality time with your friends. That also means not inviting your boyfriend every time youre out with them, no matter how well they get along.
You should respect that your friends sometimes only want to hang out with you.
5. Approach a stranger.
This might not be for everyone, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t make the list of best ways to make friends in your 20s. Meeting a completely random person can turn into an amazing friendship – but you can’t do it unless you keep an open mind about it in the first place.
It often means doing what you love and trusting that the right people will find you. Sometimes, it’s as easy as starting a casual conversation with someone new. Whether you’re waiting in line for a concert, shopping for clothes, waiting for a doctor’s appointment or simply sitting across from someone on the train, what’s the worst that could happen if you said “hello”?
If you’re getting good vibes from a stranger, simply smile and introduce yourself. Of course, you have to accept that this person might not be ready for an impromptu meeting or even welcoming of your interaction.
You’d probably sense straight away whether you should just leave them alone – but most likely 1 out of 10 will respond with natural enthusiasm and chattiness. You never know; they may be your next best friend.
Making friends in your 20s is tough, so you just have to dive straight in and not be afraid of rejection.
6. Download a friend app.
Apps aren’t just for dating. In fact, there are plenty you can use to make new friends, as long as you’re open to it. Here are some of the most popular ones to try:
- Meetup: joining a like-minded social circle has never been easier.
- Bumble BFF: a free app helping women make friends.
- Nextdoor: a private social networking app to help you get to know people in your area.
Like any app, it takes some time swiping through people and connecting with them. Start a few chats and share interests and hobbies until you find something you can bond over. Why not make the first step and suggest a coffee meet-up?
Another way to use friend apps is for business purposes, freelance work, and networking groups. It’s a win-win; you can advance your career and make new friends at the same time!
7. Fight your anxiety.
Researchers say that as we grow older and get busier, we also tend to get more anxious. That anxiety spills into every part of our lives, including personal relationships and friendships.
Therefore, if maintaining a friendship feels more like hard work than actual reward, we grow more and more distant – and put in less and less effort as a result.
The day we realize we have very few close friends left and we don’t even interact with them on a regular basis, the idea of making a new friend seems incredibly daunting.
What if they think I’m weird?
Can I just ask for someone’s number so we can hang out? Seems odd…
What if we don’t click?
I bet they have enough friends anyway…
You’re probably coming up with multiple reasons why it’s so hard to make friends, but the truth is, in 9 out of 10 cases it’s all in your head – and your anxiety is to blame. Remember that others in the same situation feel those things too.
We’re all equally awkward as we make it through the tumultuous 20s, and feeling self-conscious shouldn’t guide your decisions to make an effort with new people. Check out these tips for building your self-esteem, and get to work!
8. Be comfortable with being alone.
It may sound counterintuitive, but there’s a lot of science behind it. It all starts and ends with you – and making friends is no exception to that rule. You need to be okay with being on your own, working on yourself, and chasing your dreams.
Do what you love and your tribe will soon find you. You can’t make and keep new friends by being desperate, clingy and needy. On the contrary – you need to exude confidence and positivity.
Plan some adventures and solo dates just to reconnect with yourself and who you really are, and when you’re in the right frame of mind, download that friend swiping app.
The Bottom Line
The older and busier we get, the tougher it is to maintain friendships. While school provided consistent time together, we enter adulthood – and it takes time and effort to maintain or even build new friendships.
Friendships seem to compete with everything else in our lives, including romances, work, kids, and more. Making friends in your 20s isn’t impossible, but it may often look that way.
Set yourself a challenge to make one new friend this year. Start small – and prove to yourself that you can do it!