Making friends as an adult is hard. Finding how and where to make friends as an adult is harder! Especially if you are anxious, have some social avoidance and maybe a history of feeling different, left out or rejected. Or maybe you are trying to figure out this “adulting” thing and staying in your fuzzy socks feels easier. No matter what the reason – feeling that connection, the zing, the flood of joy to meet someone like you with similar interests is powerful and we crave it.
When we struggle with anxiety and past rejection, having an excuse to interact with people and to find people with shared interests is key. Having a job, a role and something that gives you an excuse to reach out, chat, and connect makes the quest for new relationships easier. Hands-on participation and having a role that is clear also eliminates one of our other pitfalls, where you feel so physically awkward and don’t know what to do with your body.
Many of these activities make your physical and psychological role clear so you don’t have to think about every move you make, you have activity to keep your brain busy and you know what to do with yourself. And these activities help you find the people with shared interests and common ground. Now you have something to talk about, bond over and bridge into seeing each other outside the time you are together.
Here are the 19 social skills I recommend to adults to help them easily test-out making new friends and related better to others.
Please share in the comments what’s worked for you!
Whatever your age or your budget these activities can help you meet new people. In addition to adding to your social calendar, I recommend deciding – in advance – what specific mission you want to work on, such as giving someone space and not interrupting, trying to keep the chit chat light, and others about their interests.
#1 Cooking Classes
Cooking classes, baking classes and learning to make any kind of food is a way to keep your hands busy while meeting new friends. As everyone needs to eat, this can be one of life’s greatest pleasures. Invite your friends – or people you want to get to know better – to lunch or dinner and make an effort to try new restaurants regularly to keep things fresh.
#2 Animal Adoption Centers
Adoption centers are often looking for volunteers to help support their team. They will give you jobs to do and help you interact not only with our fury friends but also with other volunteers. This kind of hands-on work allows you to have an excuse to speak to the other volunteers and fills your brain with positive chemicals that can help you feel connected.
#3 Foreign Language Classes
Language classes help you get ready for adventure and might be a way to meet people, study together and explore the foods and culture you are learning about.
#4 Habitat for Humanity
This super supportive organization brings people together to build homes. And it’s no surprise that building a house every week for few months builds a bond. Many churches and other organizations pledge to help with this worthy cause and bring their staff and congregation along. Getting coffee after a build or chatting over interests while you shingle can be a great way to bond and make new friends. The work gives you an extra excuse to chat and be with people which makes finding common interests easier than you might imagine.
#5 Adult Education Classes
Learn something new while practicing making conversation and finding people with mutual interests. You’ve heard the saying, “two heads are better than one,” right? Since you need to study the same content as others in your class, why not combine this time with your friends (or soon-to-be-friends)?
Research shows us that we can retain more information when working with others, plus, you can inspire each other to study even when you would rather not. Classes offer an excellent way to turn strangers into friends.
#6 Special Interest Clubs
Whatever your special interest may be, there are clubs and groups who also feel the same way. True crime podcasts and chat rooms, Marvel clubs, adult robotics all exist online and may are ways to easily interact with people online or in your area who share a similar set of interests. You could even consider something like buying a robotics kit and offering a club through a local social media page or local newspaper.
#7 Craft Classes
Whether you are a fan of sewing, bird-watching, gardening, wreath making, quilting, painting, scrap-booking or some other kind of hands-on craft, the more you are with people who share the same interest as you do, the easier it is to find topics to talk about. Your hands are busy giving you the opportunity to chat about the craft (and anything else that comes up) while you work.
#8 Dungeons and Dragons Clubs
Whether it’s online, at local comic book stores, local game stores, book stores, or at people’s homes, many people get together to play Dungeons and Dragons. This long lasting game is a great way to meet people and open up over time doing something you love.
#9 Hiking and Walking Groups
Hiking meetups are a great way to connect with new people with similar interests and activity levels. Join an event near you and while you’re on your hike, be sure to practice making small talk. Walking is a low-impact activity where you can socialize and get exercise at the same time. All you need is a good pair of walking shoes and anyone can join in. Look for groups on social media and on Google.
Read more on how to make small talk.
#10 Double Date
Opposites attract! Maybe you are in a relationship with someone who is more outgoing than you, or may also want to work on social skills. You can strengthen your relationship with your partner while initiating new friendships.
#11 Book Clubs
Even if reading is something you do regularly, joining a book club can help you not only read more but its also a great way to socialize with friends. Most book clubs include social time in addition to discussing the book. Look for popular book clubs on social media and ask your friends/family. There’s often a person in your inner circle (or close to your inner circle) who has explore book clubs and has some advice to share.
#12 Group Travel and Tours
Traveling with a group can be safer, less expensive and more fun than traveling alone. It is also a great way to socialize with new friends while exploring somewhere new. Search online for travel tours going to cities far and wide you want to visit or equally remote corners of the world you’ve dreamed of spending time in. On your tour you’ll have the opportunity to connect with others who share your love of travel and culture.
#13 Dog Parks
Being a regular anywhere allows you to bump into the same people. Proximity can help you strike up a conversation. Socialize your dog and yourself.
#14 Yoga Classes and Retreats
Yoga classes are a great way to interact with people enjoy the same wellness activities as you do. At a yoga retreat, you can spend a few days with like-minded yogis, meeting people who share your interest in health and wellness.
#15 Softball, Ultimate Frisbee and Other Pick-up Sports
Almost every city or town has a local park where you can just show up and play softball leagues, hockey, Ultimate Frisbee, soccer and basketball to name a few. If you go at the same time each week, you may end up playing with the same people, which can give you more to chat about and help you build friendships.
#16 Alumni Associations
Work with your college or high school to network with alumni, plan events and connect with other people who share your love and appreciation for your alma mater. Practice being a social spy to find out more about your peers and what keeps them connected to your old school. Work on your chit chat skills to make conversation around your shared interests and the tasks or project you’re working on together.
#17 Improv or Standup Comedy Class
One of the best ways to practice social skills is by participating in improv. Improv helps you learn communication, collaboration, risk taking, listening, and on-the-spot thinking. The supportive culture of improv can foster trying out new things and it’s fun. Improv is all about saying yes to whatever skit you are in. So, if this kind of spontaneous activity fits your interests, you already be with other people who love to have fun. Stand up comedy is known to improve public speaking and may not be for everyone but it is said to be a fun group and a way to break out of your shell.
#18 Kid’s Playgrounds and Other Parent Meeting Events
Chat while the kids are on the play structure and monitoring your child on the slide opens the door to chat.
Volunteering gives you a job or role that brings you together with like-minded people who share a similar cause or set of interests. This common ground allows you to connect more easily with people and often gives you an excuse to connect with outside of the volunteer opportunity. Your common ground gives you an easy set of things to talk about which makes “making friends” simpler and less stressful.
Volunteering at your local church, group or organization gives you a simple way to practice making small talk, working as a team and hopefully making connections and friends.
Learn To Meet New People Confidently!
Even if spending time with people drains you and you don’t feel like putting in the effort to attend an event, it’s important to find social skills activities that help recharge your energy and make you feel connected. For more suggestions on adult social skills development, check out our new product: Meet People with Confidence