How To Make Friends After College, Because It Gets Harder As You Get Older

It seems like after college, everyone just decides they have enough friends and they’re not interested in finding any more. Once you begin living the 9-to-5 lifestyle and taking on adult responsibilities, it becomes harder and harder to connect with people, but it’s not impossible. You can totally find new people that you have tons in common with, and with whom you develop a real connection — you just have to be creative about it.

  1. Don’t be afraid of going online.  Sadly, I had a much harder time making friends in school than I did once I got out of school. As the school’s outcast, I ended up having to get creative when it came to meeting people who were like me. Most of the time, I ended up online, chatting away with like-minded individuals across the globe. To this day, a large portion of my online friends still maintain contact with me… even though they’re oceans away.
  2. Hit up clubs. The other large portion of my friends in college came from my nights out at clubs. The problem with this, at least for most people, is that it can be intimidating to go out to a club alone. However, if you go with the same person or people over and over again, you’re not going to meet anyone new. Trust me on this one! Being alone in a club can lead to a lot of fun happenings, new friends, and crazy after-parties.
  3. Do mix business with pleasure.  If you’re lucky, you’ll find a job that allows you to really connect with people in your industry. I’ve met a lot of people who later became friends because of an introduction that happened at work. As long as you keep any potential drama out of your work lives, your work friends can become some of the most loyal, down-to-earth people that you’ll ever meet!
  4. Assume familiarity.  People get weirded out if you come up to them and talk to them, and they act strange because you’ve never met them before. This is usually the biggest problem I’ve seen people have when they’re meeting new people. The best way to overcome that mental block that typically makes you feel like you shouldn’t talk to someone is to pretend that they’re already your friend. As one of my friends used to put it, “Random strangers are just friends you haven’t hung out with yet.”
  5. Join activity groups in your area.  The best way to meet friends is to meet up with others who have a similar activity interest or lifestyle as you. After all, like attracts like, and it’s the easiest way to find people who will want to hang out with you. The key thing to remember here is that you’re going to need to actually invite them out after the activity in order to get them to befriend you.
  6. Never hesitate to chat with people whose businesses you frequent.  Not going to lie, I’ve ended up befriending a number of people at local restaurants, gas stations, and bars because of this habit I have. The funny thing is that if you’re really nice to them and ask them how their day is going, you usually end up being the highlight of their work shift.
  7. Know that it’s no longer quantity over quality.  Back in middle school and high school, the kid who had the most Facebook friends was always viewed as the most popular, but nowadays this just isn’t true. During your 20s, you’ll quickly realize that you’re going to need to cull your list of friends, and if you’re in my situation, it might happen way more than once. You’re literally at the prime of your life, and you simply do not have the time to devote to people who are fake friends, or people who drag  you down. It’s better to have two friends you can count on instead of 40 that you can’t.
  8. High school still happens at times, but you don’t always have to play that game.  The truth is that, in a way, high school never ends. People still will be attracted to people that they deem as cool, it’s just that the definition of cool has changed. Instead of cool kids being the ones who are hot messes, the cool kids in your 20s are the ones who are financially and mentally stable. People will still like a person who has “the right packaging,” for lack of a better term. In many situations, there’s also still going to be that competition to be in the coolest circle, or to be the one who is the Queen Bee. Of course, you don’t have to play that game if you don’t want to, since you now have a lot more freedom and social mobility than a high schooler. It’s often best to just call people on their crap when they start turning your life into a high school drama club. After all, high school sucked because of things like mean girls. Why continue to support that dynamic?
  9. Be patient. Just like the way it was in high school and college, making friends does take a little bit of time. There’s also some trial and error to it, too. So, if you want to make friends, wait a bit. Eventually, if you two exchange numbers, it’ll happen.
Ossiana Tepfenhart is a New Jersey based writer and editor with bylines in Mashed, Newsbreak, Good Men Project, YourTango, and many more. She’s also the author of a safe travel guide for LGBTQIA+ people available on Amazon.

She regularly writes on her popular Medium page and posts on TikTok and Instagram @ossianamakescontent.