friendship

'I'm really good at making friends as an adult. Here's how I do it.'

I became good at making friends in my early 20s purely out of necessity. 

I’d moved from the country to the city and suddenly I had no one to play with. It was both an incredibly lonely and exciting time - the world felt full of infinite possibilities but it was also hard to navigate alone. 

So, heavily influenced by Sex And The City - I set out to make mates. 

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Let’s be honest, making friends as an adult is hard because you actually have to try. 

It’s not like school where people become your friends simply because you were all there in the same space with the same routine and the same gripes. 

Nothing unites teenage girls more than complaining about that one teacher that actually measures your earrings. 

I was at university when I moved to the city but I found the size of lectures overwhelming. Besides occasionally making small talk with a classmate I was struggling to cut through and move from acquaintanceships to friendships. 

Meanwhile, my part-time job involved working with women mostly in their 40s and above. 

While I enjoyed the banter - they weren’t exactly keen to hit the town together and they definitely weren’t interested in drinking vodka Redbulls. (In retrospect, yuck!) 

At first, I just tried to make myself seem appealing and put off actually putting myself out there. 

I tried to resemble someone people would look at and think, “Wow. I want to be friends with her!” I wore bright lipstick and desperately tried to appear worldly and not like someone whose mother was paying half their rent. 

Horrifyingly, nothing really happened. Besides a few compliments on my lipstick, I discovered it doesn’t actually matter how fabulous you are - making friends requires work. 

So, I decided to start pursing random connections, sure it was intimidating but my boredom and loneliness outweighed my anxiety. 

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During this time I had a favourite store in the heart of the city that sold leather jackets and satin leopard dresses - you know, all things fabulous. 

The store manager was around my age and we always had great banter while I shopped and I’d always leave thinking - we should be friends. But I didn’t want to seem weird or desperate and I’d never really pursued a friendship before, I thought friends appeared more organically. But I put aside my anxieties and preconceptions. 

One day after trying on a dress and sharing a laugh, I asked if she wanted to grab a drink sometime. I braced myself for her immediate horror at such a proposition but she eagerly agreed and we met at a local pub for a drink that week. 

Years later, that store manager is still one of my closest mates. Forget The Notebook, isn’t that just a heartwarming love story? Making friends also has a bit of a chain reaction effect. 

My store manager friend was a city local, unlike myself, and through hanging out with her she introduced me to plenty of her friends and some even became my friends. 

Fast forward a few a years and we are now in a wider social circle together, so it was definitely worth going out on a whim. (She also helped me switch from Redbull to wine so I will owe her forever.) 

This brings me to my next point. Don’t bother acting too cool. 

There’s nothing wrong with being honest about wanting to make friends. I know it’s a common thing to hear women say, “I have reached my friend quota,” but in my experience people always have room for one more if the chemistry is right.

So it’s important to be forward about what you want otherwise it’s easy to get stuck in the ‘kinda friend zone’ - someone you enjoy running into but not someone you’d bother to make plans with. 

I once put up an Instagram story about the loneliness of going through a breakup. 

Sure, we talk about the post breakup glow up and dating again but we rarely tease out the complexities of everyday loneliness. 

A girl, who I have mutual friends with, replied, and we shared an honest back and forth about the perils of suddenly having no one to message to say, “I’m feeling sad, let’s have spaghetti?” Or share your Monday nights - you know someone there to witness the everydayness of life. 

It would have been easy to leave that conversation there but instead I asked if she’d like to discuss this more over a coffee and she agreed. 

This woman is also now one of my best mates and she often mentions how grateful she is I made the first step in getting us to be proper friends. 

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I’ve also made numerous other friends this way from simply connecting online and translating it to the real world. 

Online matching doesn’t just have to be for romantic pursuits. Something else I’ve learned along the way is your friends don’t all have to be your age. 

Sure, it’s important to have some mates around your age group - you know people that are also sleeping with men that have a stolen street signs displayed in their rooms. But friends don’t always need to be firmly within your age range for you to enjoy them. 

I have a close mate in her 30s who I chat with every day and while we don’t have a vast age gap, we are at radically different stages in life. 

She’s married with kids and her life involves much more compromise and vomit than mine, (okay fine, my life may involve a fair bit of vomit, but it’s kind different). But we message usually every day and we have so much in common and so much to say and I’m so glad I leant into that friendship. 

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When I was younger, I thought friendships needed to be based on your age and music taste but I’ve learned that friendships are usually based much more around a shared sense of humour and similar interests.

This is why I often catch up with an ex co-worker who is in her 60s - we just really enjoy each other’s company and you can learn a lot of things from a woman who’s been divorced and raised children - like, have your own bank account ladies!

Finally, you just have to get comfortable with putting yourself out there. We often invest so much time and energy into finding a romantic partner and are willing to meet up with strangers and download apps and do all sorts of things that require effort and anxiety. You need to approach searching for friendships with the same kind of energy. 

When I moved to the city, much to my horror, friendships didn’t just appear out of nowhere. 

People were caught up in their own fully fleshed out lives and no one really stopped to take me under their wing. 

It was up to me to pursue relationships and sometimes it worked out and sometimes it didn’t. But the one thing I’ve learned about making friends is you have to try.

You have to reach out, be prepared to be vulnerable and make a bit of effort. If you keep trying, then you are halfway there my friend.

Feature Image: Getty.