As children, we were constantly finding ourselves in situations where we’d meet new peers, without making any effort at all. We'd make friends at school, on the bus, at birthday parties and even the local swimming pool; anywhere there were other kids, there would be opportunities to make a new best friend.
But as we get older, making friends becomes harder. Friendship circles become tighter, and people start devoting more time to their families, themselves, and their career. As a result, most of us are not as outgoing or active in the pursuit to meet new people. So if you're an adult who wants to make new friends and expand your personal network, where do you start?
Places to make new friends as an adult
The first thing to remember if you’re looking for friends is that you're not alone. Many people feel socially isolated as adults due to a whole range of circumstances, such as family responsibilities, losing a partner, divorce, moving to a new city or their hours of work. So as adults, how can we connect?
You don't need to go to parties every weekend in order to meet new people (unless you want to of course!), but you might need to move out of your comfort zone to find them. Some of the places you can find new people include:
Does your office hold after-work drinks on a Friday afternoon, hold a lunchtime hobby group or sporting team you can join? If you work at a large organisation, your new best friend might just be working in the office down the corridor!
Meetup is a wonderful tool for finding people who you share similar interests with. There's pretty much a ‘group’ for every hobby or theme you can think of, such as cooking, art, gardening, philosophy..or you can always start up your own.
Not only will volunteering expose you to new people, it will make you feel great about yourself in the process ― and help boost your confidence so that you can be more outgoing in other areas of life too.
Book clubs or writers groups
If you're a booklover or budding wordsmith, there are hundreds of book clubs and writers groups around the country you can join to meet like minded literary buffs. Get in touch with the NSW Writers Centre to find out where there is a group near you.
Sport teams or games organisations
You don't need to be an athlete or even particularly fit to join a sports team; many are focused more on casual games rather than competition. If you prefer something slower-paced, consider joining a club where you can enjoy a friendly match of your favourite game (whether it be pool, chess or even video games).
Night school and short courses
Your local Tafe or community centre will offer a range of adult education classes you can sign up for without any prerequisites. So if there's something you've always wanted to learn more about ― like photography or painting or history ― this is the place to do it, and meet new people with plenty in common in the process.
A lot of people can't get out and socialise due to their work or lifestyle ― but it doesn't mean they don't want to. Online communities and forums are a great option for those who don't have the chance to go out and socialise, or who tend to feel shy around new people. The best part is that technology such as instant messaging, video calling and online group calls mean it’s easier than ever to connect with a friend ― even from the other side of the world.
Finding friendship after loss
If you've recently suffered the loss of a partner or close friend, you'll know how lonely it can be. Especially if that person was the one you would normally confide in and draw support from when times were rough. During the grieving process, it's normal to feel closed off from others ― even when those around you are offering their support.
This period can put strain on your existing friendships. Some friends may interpret your downtime the wrong way and feel ignored, rejected or cut off from your life. They might even respond angrily about it. Others react by suddenly disappearing; unable to cope with the emotional intensity of the situation, or simply because they don't know what to say. Either way it can really hurt.
If you have friends who have responded in this way, remember that their heart is in the right place ― they simply don't have the tools or the experience to understand where you're at. Rather than focus on this, use it as an opportunity to surround yourself with new people and new ideas that inspire and excite you. A change of environment can be helpful when you’re struggling to cope with grief, and will remind you that there’s life beyond this unhappy time.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed following the passing of a loved one, remember that you're not alone. Our ladies at Lady Anne Funerals understand exactly how difficult this time can be and have created an online community. Join us on Facebook by clicking the button below.