Adulting 101: A Helpful Guide to Making and Keeping Friends

Remember when finding friends was as easy as sharing a pack of crayons, or simply asking “Hey, wanna play with me?” to someone on the playground? 

Those were the days! 

While making and keeping friends as an adult isn’t quite as effortless, it can still be as fun and worthwhile. 

If you struggle to make meaningful connections with people outside your innermost circle, we’ve got some practical tips on making and keeping friends to help you find your tribe:

Why Is it So Hard Making and Keeping Friends As An Adult? 

According to a recent survey, most adults in America don’t have many close friends. In fact, about 49% admit to only having three or fewer. The struggle is real – but why? 

Here are a few of the challenges adults face with making friends:

  • Less exposure to a variety of new people: Adults can have the same job, and live in the same house and neighborhood for years. This is opposed to kids who change classes every school year, are involved in sports, and attend different schools and colleges. Adults are also less involved in extracurricular activities as they age.
  • Fear of rejection and being more picky with friends: Experience has taught adults to be more cautious because of past betrayals and offenses. Kids are much more open and curious to friendships because they haven’t been hurt as much yet. As kids, we want to be liked by everyone but as we get older, we understand that it’s ok and we don’t need to be friends with everyone. Therefore, we become more choosy with who we are close to. 
  • Less available free time: Adults have way more demands on their time vs kids, with work, marriage, children, PTO meetings, community service, travel, etc. Adults have to prioritize time for friends and make those few and infrequent social engagements count.

If It’s So Hard, Then Why Are Adult Friendships So Important?

Did you know having adult friendships not only benefits your mental health (less depression and anxiety) but also your physical health? Say what?

Friendships have been proven to:

  • Help you live longer
  • Improve your heart health
  • Relieve stress
  • And help you stay mentally fit as you age

  • So now that we know the challenges we face as adults with making friends and how important those friendships are, we have six helpful tips and tricks for making and keeping friends:

    1. Know Who You Are and Embrace It

    Be confident in who you are and be willing to share your uniqueness with others. If that means letting your weird flag fly, go for it! Adults are drawn to passionate and genuine people. 

    Vulnerability is also key here and vital for lasting adult friendships. Life is hard, but being able to open up and share your struggles with others provides necessary emotional support. After all, humans are social creatures – we’re designed to need each other. 

    PROTIP: Try having a growth mindset when it comes to making and keeping friends. See opportunities for new friendships as ways to help you expand as a person, gain new perspectives, and learn more about yourself. 

    2. Get Involved in Activities that You Love

    Make a list of your likes and hobbies and join groups for those things. You are bound to find like-minded people there who share your interests. Kids bond over doing activities together – the same is true for adults. 

    But also, be open to new experiences as well. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone to finally go to that music festival or try that aerial silk fitness class you’ve thought about. You never know, your new bestie may be there. 

    PROTIP: Sign up for a class in something you’re interested in: like a pottery class, a book club, hiking, or joining a gym. If you’re feeling really brave, try attending a multi-day retreat doing something you love (like yoga or self-help) with new people and opportunities for making and keeping friends. 

    3. Be the Initiator

    If you always wait for an invitation, you may not be attending many events. If you often feel left out, don’t be afraid to be the one to make the plans and issue the invitation. Psst.. we have a secret for you: Most adults are like you and just want to be invited. 

    Being the initiator signals to others that you’re interested in friendships and provides the chance to create memorable experiences to foster a bond. And bonus, it helps you practice leadership skills, too! 

    PROTIP: If you have social anxiety and the thought of hosting a big event sends you into a panic attack, relax – keep it small and simple. Think a game night with a few neighbors you want to get to know better or even a potluck dinner. You can also invite a mom and her kids to meet up at a community pool or a local park. Making and keeping friends doesn’t need to be a big or complicated affair every time– we promise

    4. Celebrate the Big and Small Things

    Whether it’s a job promotion, achieving a personal goal, or even surviving a rough week, take time to celebrate and support friends. Life as an adult can get stuck in routine and monotony, so it's always beneficial to take time occasionally to inject some fun and spontaneity. And often, it's those little mindful things that make all the difference in making and keeping friends as an adult. 

    For example, say you have a friend who is a huge Swiftie – seize the opportunity to organize a karaoke party complete with sequins and friendship bracelets, where you can belt out T-Swift hits. Life is too short; make the most of those everyday moments. No doubt your friend will be thrilled and appreciate your thoughtfulness. 

    PROTIP: Celebrating the big and small achievements shows that you care and are invested in that friendship. And usually, you get what you give – your friend is likely to reciprocate that same level of support for you, too. 

    5. Be a Good Listener

    Remember, friendship goes both ways – don’t monopolize the conversation and focus solely on yourself; actively listen to your friend, show empathy, be present, and offer support. We all need a good, nonjudgmental friend to lean on and a safe place to express our feelings. Be that for someone and, in turn, they can be that for you too. 

    PROTIP: The easiest way to show you’re listening and care about the conversation is to be curious. Try asking open-ended questions that dig deeper into the topic, like “How did that make you feel?” or “Why did you make that choice?”. Ask with the intent to understand and learn more about your friend and their experiences.  

    6. Stay in Touch and Cherish Your Friendships

    Being consistent and making time for friendships as an adult is tough, but it means everything. We prioritize what we value most in our lives and the same can be said for making and keeping friends. Pencil in some time on your calendar for regular catch-ups over a lunch date or a quick phone call.

    Express and show gratitude for the friendships you have often. Tell your friends what you appreciate and admire about them, along with why you’re thankful for their friendship. 

    PROTIP: When you’re super busy and finding it hard to make time to connect with friends, even something as simple as sending a quick “thinking about you” text, or sharing a funny meme shows intention and that you value the friendship.

    Stay Connected With Mentionables

    Friendship and support go hand in hand, just like the perfect lingerie set. Join our Mentionables VIP Facebook group to share your thoughts, get advice, and connect with a community of like-minded women. Follow us on Instagram for updates, tips, and a dash of daily inspiration. We can't wait to connect with you and be part of your journey in making and keeping friends for life!

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