There’s Nothing Wrong With You, Making Friends in Adulthood is Just Hard. Here’s a Place to Start.

By Rachel Puryear

When we think back to childhood, we recall that friendships happened so easily and organically then. We could go to school, or the playground, and make fast friends. Even kids who were shy or different could usually find like-minded kids and make tight, if not large, social circles.

By adulthood, though, most childhood friendships fade. People grow apart, move to different areas, or simply lose touch. Friendships which start early in life and last until one of them dies are very rare nowadays. In adulthood, though; between the demands of juggling work, family obligations, and more; many people find it difficult to make lasting new friendships. As a result, loneliness is a common and serious problem.

What Goes Into Making Friends?

In making friendships; having a good rapport, enjoying one another’s company, and a sense of companionship and trust is very important. However, there’s another, almost equally important aspect of making new friendships: circumstances and geography.

Two young adult men hugging each other closely, with a dancing crowd in the background, inside a club. By Thiago Barletta.

What Role Do Circumstances and Geography Play in Making Friends?

We all know that it’s easier to make friends with people we have things in common with, and that we need to like each other. Chances are, however, if you’re having trouble making friends, your likability and worthiness as a friend is most certainly not the issue.

Regular, repeated interactions with other people are also necessary in order to form a solid, lasting friendship. The odds of becoming friends after one brief interaction with someone else (as an adult) is low. However, with each follow-up interaction, the odds of developing an ongoing friendship increase.

If you’re having trouble making friends, then chances are, it’s because of a lack of the regular, repeated interactions with other people which are essential to forming friendships.

When you were a child, you probably went to several different places regularly where you saw the same group of other kids, every time. School, day care, church, playgrounds, and activities like sports. This provided the kind of regular, repeated interactions necessary to form friendships – so when you were regularly placed together with kids you had a good rapport with, and had things in common with, friendships formed quickly and effortlessly.

What’s Different Now?

Now that you’re an adult, you likely are in fewer situations which are conducive to forming friendships so naturally.

People are much less likely to know their neighbors now than they used to. It has a lot to do with people driving more rather than walking or riding public transit (you meet people around you much more readily when you all walk places than when you mainly drive), and the way modern homes are designed (front porches are much less common than they used to be, even though these greatly enable neighbor-to-neighbor interaction). Furthermore, many people aren’t home much of the time, due to long working hours.

Workplaces can provide opportunities to people to meet and form friendships, although this will vary depending on the type of workplace. Some workstations are more isolated than others, and some jobs provide more opportunities to meet people you have something in common with and can talk to as a peer than others. For instance, working for a large company where lots of different people are within a few cubicles/zoom calls is conducive to meeting people. However, if you instead have a job where you mainly meet with clients all day (whom you must remain professional with) rather than interact with colleagues, your work will likely feel more lonely. Indeed, many new friendships are formed in workplaces – but that’s not the solution for everyone. Furthermore, jobs with little down time will reduce interpersonal interaction, and people who freelance or switch jobs frequently will likely not stay in a workplace long enough to make many lasting friendships there.

Adult friendships are more emotionally complex than childhood friendships. This is another factor adult friendships needing more interaction to acquire. In childhood, you just want someone to play games and share your toys with. In adulthood, however, you want shared vulnerability and trust – which takes time and effort to build. For instance; as a child, you knew that the kid who hogged the legos was being selfish and mean. As an adult, however, it takes time to build trust that someone will not smile in your face but stab you in the back later. With adult friendships, the stakes are higher.

What to Do?

Participating in communities in essential to developing lasting friendships in adulthood. There are likely plenty of untapped potential communities nearby you, and these could be a rich source of friendships for you. Looking for communities of people who share your interests, values, and lifestyle is key – so, what to look for depends upon what you want.

For instance, I met my husband at a cuddle party – this event brought us together because we both value connection and touch, and were both looking for more like-minded people. Outside such a community, it can be difficult to find like-minded people, given the inherent vulnerability involved. Since then, we have met and made friends with many other wonderful people, who are also part of this community and other related ones. I was at a very lonely point in my life before going to this cuddle party, and had very few friends. I was looking to change that by seeking places I was likely to find others like me, and certainly I did!

Where might you find the kind of people you are looking for? Take time to brainstorm, and think it over. Ask other people around you for ideas. Look for groups sharing your interests on places like Meetup online, and choose groups you’d like to meet in person (that’s where I found the group that hosted the first cuddle party I went to). Find gatherings of people who share your values and lifestyle, and where you can see them on a regular basis and get the know them over time. This will greatly help you make more friends. You are already likeable, you are already good friend material – the only thing that’s needed is a little intentional action in order to make it happen.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to making new friends, and meeting new communities. If you enjoyed this content and want to see more of it, please hit “like” and subscribe, if you do not do so already. xoxo

2 responses to “There’s Nothing Wrong With You, Making Friends in Adulthood is Just Hard. Here’s a Place to Start.”

  1. […] Geography and circumstances also play a huge role in who we meet and connect with socially. (See here for more about that.) […]


  2. […] discussed previously, forming close relationships is adulthood is challenging. However, there are ways to do it. Such efforts, though, can help find good new romantic relationships, as well as new […]


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