School may have not been your favorite thing, but whether it was in college, high school, or during those early days on the playground, you probably made some of your best friends in life there.
It’s just easier to make friends in a forced environment like that, right? Once you’re in the real world, it can feel so much harder.
In fact, your social promiscuity peaks at 25, according to a study published in Royal Society Open Science. After that, people start to lose contacts rapidly, with women initially losing them at a faster rate than men (watch yourself, Taylor Swift).
Even though it seems daunting, making friends in your 30s is an essential. “Stable female connections and friendships are significant as women in their 30s develop a new level of freedom and self-awareness,” explains therapist Shamanda Burston.
“Maintaining friendships is important for emotional health — having someone to share feelings with is healthy, reduces depressive and anxiety symptoms, and creates a sense of belonging.
Adult friendships are super important for your physical health as well. According to a 2010 review of research, friendships can extend your life span by 50 percent, according to a study published in PLoS Medicine. That’s twice as beneficial as working out regularly.
That’s probably why there’s been recent uptick in friend-finding apps like Bumble BFF and Hey! Vina. “It’s hard to forge friendships outside of your established friend group.
Add a busy work schedule to the already daunting task of making friends as an adult, and finding new friends can seem like an impossible task,” says Whitney Wolfe, the founder of Bumble BFF.
But it is possible to make friends in your 30s — promise. Here’s how to go about it.
1. Tap friends of friends. Network for friends the way you’d network for job. Remember how your BFF from college was always talking about her friend from camp who you didn’t really care about but now she lives in the same city as you so you care immensely? Ask your friend to hook you up on a friend date!
2. Compliment someone. Want a great ice breaker? People love to hear compliments, even from total strangers. “Compliments are my secret weapon to connecting with potential new friends! When you give an authentic compliment, you let someone know they have something that you admire.
And it can lead to follow up questions where you may discover that you have things in common,” says Olivia Poole, the co-founder of Hey! Vina.
3. Be consistent. Try a class or join a group, but once you find that activity with like-minded people, go regularly. It’s hard for a friendship to grow if there isn’t a pattern of predictability.
4. Use an app. “”Everything else is digitalized — shopping, movies, dating — so why not make finding new friends just as easy?” says Wolfe. Bumble BFF is a twist on the dating app that puts new friends at your fingertips.
5. Get real really fast. Sometimes it’s better to cut to the chase and just get personal really quick (the same way you would when dating). Getting a little intense during a Q&A can create friendly feelings between strangers in just 45 minutes, according to a study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
Admit something personal in one of your first conversations with the PNF (potential new friend) — it will make them more comfortable and encourage them to open up.
6. Reconnect with old friends. New friends are great, but don’t forget about old friends. Maybe you lost touch after you stopped working together or the friend you had in common moved away. That doesn’t mean you can’t pick the relationship back up, especially in this ever-connected world of social media.
7. Keep your expectations low. You may have had a magical moment with the woman in line at the bank and you may have even gotten her number, but do not expect to reach BFF status by the weekend. People are busy (as are you) and real friendship takes a little time to build.
8. Make the time. A friendship takes commitment and time. Though you might do a happy dance when someone cancels plans you didn’t want to go to anyway, try not to do that when building a friendship. “Making new friends as an adult is a lot like dating. It takes investing time, energy, making a lot of plans, and asking questions and being vulnerable to build the foundation of a great, long-lasting friendship,” says Poole.
9. Be patient. You aren’t always going to be entertained as a new friend goes on for hours about their kid’s preschool application, but you’re building the foundation of a friendship and they’ll remember your attentiveness (hopefully) the next time you need to vent.
10. Do anything together. Maybe friendships in your 20s were all about big nights out on the town or exotic vacations, but in your 30s, a friendship could revolve around more simple, casual activities like running to the drug store together or walking your dogs. Companionship is really all we need to benefit, and just showing up is a big part of friendship.
11. Be confident. Even if your Instagram feed isn’t filled with #squad pics, be confident when you meet someone new. If you seem nervous, they’ll be able to sense it — and that can put people off. Have fun! Let that energy draw people to you.
12. Get out more. Say yes to everything! Sure, your couch and Netflix may be calling your name, but you need to be social if you want to meet people, so go to that friend of a friend’s art show or your neighbor’s housewarming. Even if the host doesn’t turn out to be your new best friend, there could be at least one person there who could have friendship potential.
13. Be open to new kinds of friends. The friends you made in your 20s were probably a lot like you, especially if you went to school together or met at work. But it’s time to stop looking for people just like you. Embrace a friendship with the stay-at-home mom but also with the high corporate executive. Become friends with your workout instructor! Diversify your friend group.