When we’re young, in school, playing sports or what have you, making friends is pretty easy. But when we find ourselves in adulthood, not happy with our social circle, it can be a bit trickier to meet new people and develop solid friendships. Maybe you recently moved to Los Angeles, and don’t know anyone yet…maybe you’ve grown apart from your high school or college friends…maybe you're in recovery and need to make sober friends...or maybe you are just uninspired by your current crowd, feeling like you’ve fallen into a rut you can’t get out of. Whatever the case may be, you’re not alone! I hear all the time from psychotherapy clients that they don’t know how to make new friends, or that meeting people in L.A. is so hard. If you feel this way, and have been wondering “how in the world do you make new friends as an adult?” the following list is for you:
1 | Use MeetUp
I recommend MeetUp to my psychotherapy clients all the time! What I love about MeetUp is that it kills two birds with one stone — you get to participate in an activity that you're interested in and you get to do it with other people. Both of these aspects are wonderful for one's overall well-being and sense of belonging. The cool thing about going to a MeetUp event is that people are there specifically to engage in enjoyable activities with new people. So going alone or not knowing anybody there is not some weird, stigmatized thing — it's actually optimal! You can download the MeetUp app on your phone or use the website here. There are groups for just about anything you can think of. And on the off-chance they don't have a group for your niche hobby? No worries, because you can create your own group. Boom!
2 | Go out to an event alone
There's no better way to meet people than to go out solo. Whether it's going to a coffee house and chatting with the person next to you in line, grabbing a snack after yoga with the person who practiced next to you or going out to a concert and dancing with the group of friends next to you, there are infinite opportunities to make friends, especially if you live in a big city like Los Angeles. Does this sound kinda scary? It can be at first, but like anything, if you do it often enough you'll become more comfortable with it.
3 | Volunteer
A great place to meet good quality friends is through volunteering. Think of it this way — anyone who's willing to give their time for free to a cause they care about already has several characteristics of a friend: generous, caring, engaged, helpful, etc. The other positive is that you already have something in common with this person to talk about and do together. Volunteering, in addition to being a good place to meet friends, also provides a host of benefits to your overall well-being. Try Volunteer Match to find local volunteer opportunities that strike your fancy.
4 | Build on your current network
Chances are — even if you're not thrilled with your social life at the moment — that you have a friend or two (or more.) Build on this! It's easier to start where you are than to start from scratch. The best way to do this is to put together a small group of people to hang out and ask each of them to invite a couple of their friends (obviously with activities that are conducive to large groups.) Repeat as often as necessary. This way, you begin to expand your social circle simply through the law of exponential growth!
5 | Hang out with coworkers
An easy place to make friends is with the people you work with. You can casually ask a coworker if they'd like to grab lunch with you or dinner after work. Words of warning, though: if you're not happy with your current employer, it can be tempting with coworkers to talk badly about the aspects of work you dislike (i.e. your boss, the bureaucracy, etc.) and commiserate. Although it can be great support to be friends with people who understand your situation well and it can feel good to vent out frustrations, keep an eye on this. You wouldn't want this friendship to be mainly based around negativity. The cure? Be curious! Ask your new friend about other areas of their life. You may figure out that you have other things in common other than where you work!
6 | Join a club or league
Get involved in a local soccer league, join a running club, hike with the Sierra Club or find a book club. Your imagination is the limit! These opportunities can be found on social media groups or even a quick Google search in your area. The aspect of consistently meeting up with the group will make it easy to develop friendships over time. And once again, these types of groups often provide benefits to your physical, psychological and emotional wellness as a bonus!
I hope this list has given you some ideas for how to get started in the process of changing or building your network of friends. If you’ve had trouble with this in the past and have found certain strategies or resources that have helped you, please share them in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
about the author
Hi! I'm Natalie. And my passion is helping people live more peaceful, meaningful lives. Through holistic therapy in Pasadena and here on the blog, my mission is to provide people with the support and tools they need to live their best life.