Making new friends as an adult isn't as difficult as it seems. So, if you've ever thought 'I have no friends', these six tips from Ed Gould will boost your buddy count and your happiness too. 

 

The nature of friendship changes over time. When you’re a kid and at school, you learn how to make friends. And even if you struggle to make long-lasting friendships, you learn how to get along with your schoolmates, for better or worse. I’m lucky enough to still have friends that I first met at pre-school, but I think that's quite unusual.


In fact, although adolescence is a time when some youngsters struggle with having no friends at all for a period, it's in our teenage years that many people make their most long-lasting friendships. At this time we start to be a little more discerning about who we are, who we get along with, and what we get out of our friend relationships. The shared experience of school days certainly plays its part, but by the time you’re 15 or 16, you’re more likely to hit it off with friends who share your interests and life passions.
 

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However, making friends with new people once you’re in adulthood is undoubtedly harder. Indeed, a 2016 study from Finland found that we make increasing numbers of new friends up until the age of 25. After that age, the numbers begin to fall rapidly, gradually decreasing over the duration of a person’s life. But it doesn't have to be this way. So, if you’ve moved, lost friends for whatever reason, or feel isolated from your social circle because of differing lifestyles, what can you do to improve your friend count?

 

Feel you have no friends? Here's what to do

Life changes our friendships and you cannot maintain all those that you had in childhood. People drift away from one another when they don't see each other regularly (even if you have the knack of picking up successfully from where you left off). But the power of friendships is important: they can help maintain our mental and physical health. 

 

Indeed, these days, scientific research has so much more to tell us about the damaging nature of loneliness. Of course, feeling lonely can impact on children as well as adults, but it certainly affects grown-ups who have a lifestyle that makes it hard to meet new people and make friends.

 

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According to Harvard University, loneliness is a serious issue that should be regarded as a public health problem like STDs. In fact, having no friends could affect your physical health: a 2015 study found that having strong social connections boosts physical health, as you are less likely to be obese or be living with high blood pressure.


Government research from the UK has found that 200,000 people there have not had a meaningful conversation with anyone for over a month. Indeed, most GPs see several people every day who are dealing with the symptoms of loneliness. According to MIND, loneliness can lead to mental health deterioration which, in turn, tends to make you feel more isolated


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Of course, this can result in a spiral of loneliness unless you take active steps to counter it. This is where knowing how to make new friends as an adult is such a useful skill. So if you’re one of those people who’s ever said or thought ‘I have no friends’, here are some ways to bring new people into your life and feel happier. 

 

1. Ensure that you're open to new friends

If you believe you have few or no friends, then it's first worth considering why. Do you perhaps unintentionally push people away or appear aloof? Do you make the effort to stay in touch with people? Are you always turning down invitations because you are nervous of social situations? Being mindful of your behaviour is an essential starting point.

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No friends? Don't sit on the fence! Chat to your neighbours © shutterstock/Pressmaster

 

Indeed, it's true that as humans we let friendship opportunities pass us by every day: we can be too shy, too awkward or just unaware to grab them. Try to develop the courage to change that: learn to recognize potential friendships leads and actively follow them.

 

For example, instead of just saying 'hi' to a neighbour, invite them in or pop out for a coffee. If you get served by the same person over and again at your local supermarket, engage in conversation with them – you might have more in common than you think. Indeed, you’ll be surprised by how many potential friends there already are in your immediate orbit! Having awareness is key. 

 

2. Connect with existing contacts 

Of course, in the combat against loneliness, you could always pick up the phone to an old friend you haven't made contact with for a while. Indeed, some of our oldest friends may be in a similar position and only too willing to rekindle a friendship. Don't remain aloof from old friends or turn down too many social invitations. However, this advice is not exactly the same as knowing how to make new friends as an adult, something that means putting yourself out there a little.

 

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3. Use modern technology – the right way

If you feel like you don’t have any friends, there are plenty of apps and social media platforms that you can use to allow people to connect with one another, but you need to use the right ones and in the right way.  Twitter, Facebook and Instagram may be a way for people to self-promote and offer up details of the minutiae of their lives – and even been said to isolate people further – but there are some very different apps out there specifically designed to help nurture new friendships. 

 

Hey! Vina is a good one for socially isolated mums, for example, as is Peanut. Huggle is another established social media platform that helps strangers to connect with one another, too. You could also create a social event on a platform like Facebook and invite your online acquaintances to meet up in person, a great tip for reconnecting with old friends as well as making new ones.

 

“If you think you have no friends then it's first worth considering why. Do you perhaps push people unintentionally or appear aloof?”

 

And, of course, our very own website, happiness.com, is an excellent place to connect with others on a similar wavelength and perhaps find a deeper sense of community. You can create a profile and find new friends based around your interests. Perhaps you're interested in astrology, spirituality or non-duality, and have struggled to find others that share your passion? Simply add your interests and you can reach out to others that are into the same things. 

 

Our happiness forums are also a quick way to share ideas and engage in discussions with people you may want to connect with more deeply. You will find threads on all areas of modern life and well-being, such as mental health, conscious living, sexuality, Buddhism, etc. A great place to start finding your way is in our introduction circle threads. Sign up easily hitting the banner below! 

 

 4. Make friends at work

If you think you have no friends, one of the best ways you can make new ones as an adult is to mix more with people you work with. If you disappear quickly at the end of the working day or don't join for team lunches then you won't establish new friendships with people you could be genuinely hitting it off with. Make time to socialize with co-workers and get involved with company events, even if it’s just a few drinks after work. Sadly, if you are now remote or home working due to the effects of the pandemic, you might have to skip this idea for now! 

 

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5. Volunteer

If you're currently unemployed, then you can find new friends by getting involved in your local community though volunteering. Becoming a volunteer is one of the quickest and most useful ways of coming into contact with a lot of potential new buddies. Furthermore, you are more likely to already have something in common if you are working towards a shared goal or cause. In fact, aside from making new connections, the benefits of volunteering are many, and your work with other people will also be of benefit to society in some way.

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No friends? Then volunteer and make new mates as an adult © shutterstock/Syda Productions

 

5. Join groups 

One thing that puts off adults making new friends is that they think it was easy in childhood and so will be difficult as an adult. Actually, often it really wasn’t, and it was only the shared experience of school that made those friendships come to be. 


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If you join a group, you will have a similar shared experience in which friendships can be formed naturally. Crucially, it doesn't matter what the group does or is for. Book reading, sports clubs, woodworking discussion groups and informal mums networks are all as useful as each other. Just pick something that you’re passionate about or interested in trying. According to Psych Central, finding other people like you is incredibly useful for fending off loneliness. You can always combine the previous tip and use technology: MeetUp is a great online resource to join groups in your local area. 

 

6. Walk a four-legged friend 

According to the British Heart Foundation, walking a dog is not just a good idea for getting the blood flowing and releasing endorphins in your brain that leave you feeling more positive, it can help you make new friends, too. It suggests that you don't even need your own pet – you could borrow a dog from a family member or a neighbour, perhaps offering to take it for walks while they’re on holiday is a great start.

 

“Learn to recognize potential friendships leads and follow them. For example, instead of just saying hi to your neighbour, invite them in or pop out for a coffee.”


When you're out and about with a pooch, you're much more likely to get into conversations with other people, especially other dog walkers. Take your dog out at the same time so you bump into the same people regularly. You could even go one step further and join a dog walking group or set up your own!


If you don’t want to commit to getting your own dog or prefer not to ask your neighbours, consider signing up to a dog sitting/walking site such as Rover – one more benefit is that you could get paid for it, too! 

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Paws for thought: a furry friend can help you meet new people!

 

The takeaway: I have no friends

There are many ways for making new ones, no matter what your age is. It’s never easy to establish completely new friendships, especially if you’re naturally shy. That said, the effort is definitely worth it and many friendships forged in adulthood can be rewarding, both psychologically and in terms of sheer companionship.


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So, if you’ve ever thought ‘I have no friends’, remember that you can turn things around, but the onus is on you to do it. Also, make sure you follow up regularly with the new people you meet to maintain the friendship: drop them a message to say you had a great time and suggest that you meet up again soon in the future. •

Main image: shutterstock/rawpixel.com

 

 

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Written by Ed Gould

ed-gould.jpgEd Gould is a UK-based journalist and practitioner of Reiki.

 


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1f****

Posted

None of your advice is helpful.  The apps you suggested I have tried, Hey Vina is an utter waste of time.  That app is filled with bots and people not being who they say they are.  I’m so sick of being alone all the time, and people like you who think it’s so easy to solve this are so distanced from the actual situation of having no friends that they have no idea what they’re talking about.  Existing contacts?  How would I do that if I literally have nobody? I’m tired of reading articles like these

 

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19****

Posted

I have a disability do you feel this stops people from wanting to be friends I am 61 

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be****

Posted

1. Being "open" doesn't make anything happen in and of itself if other people aren't open to you. As most adults are out with people they know and are by default suspicious of people they *don't* know - especially single, friendless men above 30 - it doesn't matter how polite and well meaning you are, they don't want to know you.

 

People in groups are there for the group, not you. Same applies.

 

Welcome to the real world, people!

 

2. Connect with existing contacts... Seriously? In a post about having no friends? Next.

 

3. Go online. If you are an average looking (or worse) guy above 30 - good luck with that.

 

Women do tend to be more receptive - to other women. That bit is likely true. 

 

Guys over 30? It's no different to the outside world. No one really gives an eff.

 

4. Make friends at work. Great.. if you don't work alone or remotely from home (as an increasing amount of people do). If that's you.. Oh well. Next. 

 

5. Volunteering is all good, but again, if you are average looking and over 30, all you will be doing is volunteering and reminding yourself that you aren't as attractive, socially equipped (and married or coupled) as most people there. Oh, and there will be better looking people than you that will get all the attention. But yeah, don't let that stop you volunteering. Just don't expect people to embrace any signs of social neediness.

 

5 - again? As mentioned, women will probably have you arrested for harassment before they befriend you via a group. *They are not there to meet you* They are there for the group. Engage in that reality before it breaks your heart. Also be ready to embrace the desperation of other people likely even lonelier than you - if that's your thing? 

 

6. I've had a dog for over 20 years. I love my dog. I like walking my dog in peace. Incredibly, so do other people. I can't say I have made a single friend this way in that time. The odd awkward conversation about dogs with people who are nothing like you that end up being quite irritating? Yep. Plenty of those.

 

Basic truth is if you are pushing 40 and single, you will find yourself more isolated with each passing year. People get busier with kids and other people may die (like my best friend). Life is a total crap shoot from birth to death. Get ready to embrace isolation and singledom and conquer it. If you don't, you will just end up depressed, heartbroken and very alone.

 

That is the real world. Good luck.

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17****

Posted

Oftentimes it feels like i have no friends, especially in very bad moments. In the end it's not true, i have really good friends, just that everyone is living in different circumstances now, as we have grown up. Each of my friends, even if we haven't spoken in a year, i could call whenever i would need to. 
Still sometimes it feels like not having friends, because the "forever" friends aren't just as close, as they used to be in a younger age.
On the other hand, i do have friends that don't know me from young age, and i do call them friends. But it takes a lot longer making new real friends with the age

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Li****

Posted

I think I'm lucky in that I can't remember ever feeling like I have no friends. However I don't have a massive group of friends where I live; they're scattered all over the world, which is sometimes hard since you can't meet or stay fully up to date with each other's lives. 

I definitely find it difficult to make new friends as an adult though, and I think these tips are really good! I've definitely noticed that I end up chatting to people more when I'm out with my dog, and even if I haven't built friendships that way, it's still a nice way of socializing and connecting with people! 

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Tine

Posted

4 and 5 work for me.

So far my biggest problem was that I didn't stay in one spot and therefore rarely developed new deep friendships. Now that I am a bit more settled I do not necessaritly look for friends but for causes and volunteering work to engage in. It's a special kind of bond if you have fought for something you believe in together or if you have build something together.

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Candy

Posted

I often tell myself I have no friends. Like, very often. I just realised that what I mean by that is not that I'm alone or lonely, but that I have no friends where I live whom I can call and say 'hey,  let's meet for a coffee or go to the beach for the day.' In reality, I have a handful of very good friends that I met earlier in life, who live in various parts of the world, and with who I have regular contact. I also really enjoy spending most of my time alone (i.e. friendless by choice,  haha). 

I must admit that the thought of making new friends as an adult is a bit daunting and triggers some anxiety in me. I'm not a fan of small talk either.

However, it's also very nice to join a meet-up group and get to know new people, even if it's just for an hour or so each time, and not considered as 'making new friends.'

Ed might be onto something ?

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Se****

Posted

my problem with making friends, and keeping friends, is my difficulty with social communication, being Aspergers,   i sometimes really find it difficult knowing what to say  and how to react. 

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