The Challenge of Making Friends as an Adult

June 4, 2013


Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about making friends as an adult. Since I graduated college I have moved three different times, first to Des Moines, then to Grinnell with Joe when we got marriedΒ and finally to Minneapolis, where we live now. In the 3 1/2 years since I graduated college, that’s a lot of moving. We’re really hoping to stay in Minneapolis a good long time, since it’s always been the city we both have dreamed of living in since we started dating. But moving so many times in such a short span of time has made the art of making friends terribly difficult.

I’ve never been very good at making friends. Let me rephrase that. I don’t find making friends to be something that comes very naturally to me, especially as an adult. Gosh, I think I just cringed a little as I wrote that. Perhaps I’ve created the illusion here on this little blog that I have dozens of close friends. If that’s the case, you would be mistaken.

Joe and I have lots of aquaintances in Minneapolis, we go on plenty of couples dates (you know the drill), we have a comfortably full social schedule. Many of Joe’s close friends from college still live in Minneapolis since this is where he went to school, and I have a small handful of close girlfriends who live up in the cities now. But I’m quickly finding thatΒ developing new friendships, both as a couple and as an individual, is incredibly difficult.

While we love Minneapolis and are so happy to be here, it tends to be a city where everyone sticks around, meaning that almost everyone we know already has a set group of friends they have known since college or even high school. It’s a little daunting for even the most extroverted of people (of which I am not.)

I remember feeling the same way when we first moved to Grinnell. After the excitement of the move faded, I remember wondering what was next and how in the world we would go about meeting friends. It took us over a year to finally feel like we had a network of friends in our small community (friends we met through our church) so I keep reminding myself that this, too, will take time.

Those of you who have moved, how have you made friends as an adult? Do you agree that it’s much harder when you’re older and in the working world? Tell me your secrets! Β 


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  • Reply Veronica Hummel June 4, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    My husband and I have moved three times in the last five years. The best way we’ve made friends is at work/school(my husband is a grad student) and small groups or bible studies at a local church. It’s definitely harder but we realized that when we made it a priority our lives were so much better.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry June 4, 2013 at 8:04 pm

      I agree that church can be such a great place to meet people who have a solid common ground. We have finally settled on a church after months of searching so I’m excited to hopefully get a little more plugged in with small groups and activities. Thanks for your comment, Veronica!

  • Reply Anne @ DesignDreams by Anne June 4, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    If you figure it out let me know! Everywhere I’ve ever moved (14 moves!) it’s been the same as you described. The friends I make are never locals, they are always people who have relocated and are interested in making new friends.

    Now I live in a tiny community and I’m not in a relationship which seemingly makes it even tougher! I have some friends but we don’t hang out. It’s the hang out friends I’d like to make but couples stick with couples and there aren’t many single women my age. Oh well, good thing I have my hobbies to focus on! The friends will come too, in good time.

    Enjoy your new home!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry June 4, 2013 at 8:05 pm

      Oh I know the struggles of living in a small community, Anne! Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences and let me know I’m not the only one who has experienced this. I found that when we were living in a small town there were a lot of things I enjoyed but there were so many things that were more difficult, too, like finding like-minded friends and young adults.

  • Reply poiresauchocolat June 4, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    I definitely think it’s harder to make friends as an adult. Though I’ve stayed in my university town (aside from one six month time in London), only one close friend has stayed with me and everyone else is scattered around the UK (and I don’t have any family left in the country) so it can get a bit lonely. I know plenty of people and have casual friends and business friends – but I miss nurturing my close friendships everyday rather than at special occasions. It doesn’t help that I live alone and work at home – it’s very easy to not see people or have proper conversations (except with my mum on skype, but that doesn’t quite count!). Anyway, just rambling – I think time does help and making an effort to try and create strong friendships from the acquaintances you like.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry June 4, 2013 at 8:07 pm

      Oh I love what you said, Emma, about wanting to “nurture close friendships everyday rather than special occasions.” That’s exactly how I have felt! I’ve always said that I am someone who prefers a few deep friendships rather than a bunch of casual friends, but I’m finding this to be even more true as I get older. Hoping that both of us find those friendships in our community soon! πŸ™‚ Thanks for taking the time to share and comment. I so appreciate your thoughts.

  • Reply Erin June 4, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    The age old question. I’ve lived in Washington, DC, for nine years. It’s such a transient city, people are always coming and going. I’ve easily been through four or five “sets” of friends in that time. I read “MWF Seeking BFF” last summer, which brought some levity to the situation and prompted me to be a little more extroverted. After all, you can’t be the only person interested in making new friends!


    • Reply MadisonMayberry June 4, 2013 at 8:11 pm

      Oh I have never heard of that book, but after you left a comment, Erin, a couple other people recommended it, too! I think I might need to pick up a copy asap. πŸ™‚

  • Reply J June 4, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    You must read the book MWF Seeking BFF! Minneapolis is hard because we all tend to stick to ourselves… you’re absolutely right. Check out Meetup.com, and also just make it out to random events in the city. You’ll make friends in time:)

    • Reply Shanna June 4, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      Ha! I just recommended this book to someone yesterday. It’s a nice, light read, and parts of it definitely resonated with me!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry June 4, 2013 at 8:11 pm

      Thanks so much for the suggestions, J! I am going to pick up a copy of MWF Seeking BFF soon! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Shanna June 4, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Yeah, I relate to this, mostly because I moved to Nashville in 2011 and knew almost no one besides Tim and the people he knew, ha. So many weird dynamics! I remember writing something about it back then on the blog, and a friend pointed me to this article, which has since been everywhere: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/fashion/the-challenge-of-making-friends-as-an-adult.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0. It’s worth a read if you haven’t seen it already.

    But seriously though and something the article couldn’t say? God can bring us close friends anywhere anytime any way He chooses. Tim and I have talked so many times about how, when I tried to make/find friends for myself here, every door closed. No joke! Finally, I told the Lord, OK, I can’t even make myself friends; I need you to do it. And I kid you not, He did. We were just talking this weekend about how, for some reason, the way Jesus has worked in our particular lives has been to mercifully let us see we can’t do things on our own: finding work, finding a place to live, finding each other, etc. This isn’t how He works with everyone, but I like seeing His loving us so well as to show us we need Him in everything, even finding friends. : ) I like thinking He’s doing that for you guys, too.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry June 4, 2013 at 8:19 pm

      Shanna, thank you for your sweet, wise words. I was sitting in church on Sunday and that’s exactly what my prayers were about! We can be active in seeking out friendships and fostering relationships by making ourselves available, and I think that helps. But like you said, it’s really about bringing our needs and requests to God. I know that his desire for us is to live in community with others, so I have no doubt He will bring the right relationships into my life in His perfect timing.

  • Reply Rea June 4, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    It is absolutely harder. I’m a socially-awkward introvert, living in a small-ish midwestern city where everyone else seems to come from this area. We’ve lived here 8 years and I still don’t have any close friends. I have some casual friends from church, and a few who I feel a little more connection with, but because they are from this area they all have their 20+ year friends who keep them busy, so they aren’t looking for one more friend to do things with. I also work from home with companies that are based in other states, so I don’t have work connections either. I want to know the secrets to making new friends!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry June 4, 2013 at 8:22 pm

      You and me both, Rea! I think it can be really hard to put yourself out there, especially when the people you are surrounded by already know one another and have plenty of established, close relationships! Hoping that we both start to develop close friendships in our communities. Even if there is no “secret” to it!

  • Reply Angela June 4, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Hi Madison, my recommendation is to join a small group at your church, either a couples group or one just for ladies. My husband and I did that right after we got married and found one with people around our same stage of life and have made some amazing friends that way. My parents always told me that the friends you have for the rest of your life will be people you will meet through church and your children. Hope this helps!

    • Reply MadisonMayberry June 4, 2013 at 8:23 pm

      Thanks, Angela! We have been in the process of looking for a church home since we arrived and I think in the last couple months we have found a church that feels like the right fit for us. Looking forward to getting more plugged in during the months to come!

  • Reply Paige June 4, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Girl, I totally relate to this. I’ve moved to DC, NYC, Dallas, and now Charleston since graduating college in 2008 and I’m a pretty quiet person myself. Honestly the best way I’ve found to meet friends is through Twitter. Follow people that live in your city and once you find some people you enjoy, look and see who they interact with and follow them, too. Interact with them all! It does take a bit of effort to get established with the Twitter community in a new city, but once you do, I’ve found people are really friendly and open and meet up in person a LOT!

    I made some of the best friends of my life through Twitter, really truly. Friends who I now consider family.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry June 4, 2013 at 8:25 pm

      How silly that I didn’t think about Twitter. And how appropriate that you recommended it! I know you are the queen of Twitter and making connections. I’ll have to follow your lead since it seems like you have been able to connect with your new city so quickly!

  • Reply Laura Britton June 4, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    It’s totally harder. As working adults, we are busier and most of our time is taken up by work. And then when we have free time, we are tired from work and are content just relaxing at home by ourselves or with our spouses. I didn’t feel that way in college, but I definitely do now. It takes effort to initiate with people, and at the end of a long work day sometimes we just don’t want to do it! Or we don’t even think about it. When my husband and I moved to NC, it wasn’t until our 2nd year here that we truly felt like we had good friends. Even though we had joined a church right away, even though we had joined a small group, we just didn’t click as well with people and it took time to build friendships. I would say besides joining a small group/bible study, serving in church is really awesome for getting to know others and making the church community feel smaller. Sign up for nursery duty a couple times a month, help out with VBS for a week in the summer, or sign up to be a greeter at the church doors. It’s awesome that in serving the Lord He rewards you with friendships with more of His people.

    Thank you for writing about this struggle! It’s something not most people want to bring up, because in this culture that praises being an extrovert, we are so afraid to admit we don’t have friends. I’m an introvert myself, and instead of beating myself up about that I decided that I may make friends at a different pace than others, and that’s okay. Anyway – I could talk for hours about this topic! I sure hope you find good friends soon! It may take a while but if you actively seeking them and praying about it, I know it will happen for you πŸ™‚

    • Reply MadisonMayberry June 4, 2013 at 8:27 pm

      Laura, what great advice! Thanks for taking the time to share your own experience. You are so right in saying that our culture praises those who are naturally extroverted. I know how to be extroverted at work, but my true heart is one of an introvert so, like you mentioned, it can be a bit more difficult. We have finally found a church that feels like it would be a good place to settle into, and I’m hoping that as we get more plugged in the relationships naturally develop. I find that the relationships that develop with others who share a common belief system and faith are always the deepest and longest lasting friendships!

  • Reply Carissa June 4, 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Making friends as an adult is SO much harder. I can’t imagine how people make friends without going to church in a new place because when when my husband and I move finding a church and getting connected is how we make our friends. Even with that making friends still takes us awhile cause we are not extroverts!

    (Side note: My dad grew up in Grinnell. When you blogged that you moved there awhile back, I told him and he got a kick out of it. Cute little Grinnell!)

    • Reply MadisonMayberry June 4, 2013 at 8:33 pm

      Oh I agree, Carissa! Church is such a huge part of our lives and it has been the primary place that Joe and I met friends in Grinnell (small world!). Now that we are finally feeling settled and have found a church we love, we are looking forward to seeing how relationships develop there, too. I totally believe that God wants us to live in community with other believers and blesses our desire for friendship with other believers. Thanks for taking the time to share and comment!

  • Reply Lindsay June 4, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    When I moved to Denver I used what I would call a “Baby Bird” approach to meeting people and making friends. Basically, I acted totally clueless (well, not really acting, since I was) and asked for a lot of help or advice from strangers or people I had just met. For example, I really wanted to get into rock climbing but I had NO CLUE how to go about it and was very scared and intimidated. One day I got up the guts to walk into a gym and basically said “hey I just moved here from Iowa! and I have no idea what I’m doing but this looks cool, what should I do?” In coffee shops I would ask the people working there what were some good restaurants to try, etc. and I didn’t really make any actual friends that way but it helped me feel more comfortable in my new city and to open up a little and be more brave about talking to strangers. I found a yoga studio I liked with some trial and error and used a similar approach there, just saying Hi to people and mentioning briefly (so as to not seem too desperate or creepy) that I was new and had just moved there. I interacted with a lot more people that way and ended up with a couple of girlfriends from the studio. I admit I cast kind of a wide net, but I figured I didn’t have much to lose because the worst that could happen was that people just brushed me off and forgot about it, really. I moved there knowing two people who had also recently moved there and didn’t really know anyone, so it was definitely a challenge.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry June 4, 2013 at 8:29 pm

      Ha! I have never heard that but I love how you call it the “baby bird” approach. I think there is so much value in using the “I’m new” card as long as you can. I laughed out loud when I read what you said about not wanting to seem creepy. πŸ™‚ Thanks for taking the time to share, Lindsay!

  • Reply Valerie June 4, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    I have found the past few years this is a very common feeling and topic of newspaper articles (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/fashion/the-challenge-of-making-friends-as-an-adult.html?_r=1). You are far from alone.
    In addition to work and meeting friends of friends, I have had luck through Meetup.com finding like-minded people. Even connecting with local people with similar interests on Twitter is good. Or as you say, at church. You will find people your age with similar interests through those venues. There is no answer and for introverts such as myself, it’s harder. It will come when the time is right.

    • Reply MadisonMayberry June 4, 2013 at 8:34 pm

      Thanks so much, Valerie! I hadn’t heard of meetup.com but it sounds like a great way to meet other people who have many similar interests. I’ll have to check it out!

  • Reply Christine June 4, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    Making brand new friends can be challenging, we’ve been there too! This is what we did. We began inviting people regularly (about once per week) into our home for a meal or dessert. We invited marrieds, singles, couples, people from church, neighbors, work, and people like us and people not like us. Whatever dessert or meal we did, we made sure it was simple and would be something that we would normally eat (nothing special or fancy, family recipes are the best like “my grandma’s cherry pie”). I always appreciate getting to know a person in their home environment, becuase you get a much bigger picture of who they really are through how they act at home, what they dress, how they decorate, their family photos, how clean they are, what they eat, etc. We want people to get to know the “real” us. My husband and I came up with 2-3 questions that we planned to ask that would reveal more about who they were (how did you believe in your faith, what were your family vacations like, etc). If conversation took off, then great, we could just hang out and chat the night away. Or, if conversation was more difficult, then we always had a favorite board or card game (one that most people aren’t familiar with) ready to play so that we could continue to enjoy their company, relieve some pressure, and have fun. It’s much more satisfying if you go out and choose your friends yourself, rather than wait around indefinitely for someone to invite you to their circle. We are able to see who we hit it off with, and who we don’t, and proceed from there. Some people we really only like to play cards with, and others we love to hang out and talk all night. The important thing to remember is to know that you and Joey are the type of people that are good at being friends. You guys are good people, and there are people in Minneapolis who need your friendship, help, loyalty, and company. So invite people to be your friend. If you don’t believe this about yourselves then you can come off as desperate, lonely, and a little needy, which people can pick up on and run from. Have fun! Also, alcoholic beverages (when appropriate) can also relieve some of the pressure of hanging out with someone for the first time! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Emily Jensen June 5, 2013 at 1:59 am

    I agree that making friends is difficult when you are a married adult! I was especially intimidated when we moved to Ames from Kansas City and Brad had a whole network of friends but I just knew people who knew him. It really took me a good year and a half before I felt like I had friends who knew me for me and not just as “Brad’s wife”. Church helped tremendously in this area. Also, I joined Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) and got to know a lot of women of all different ages, and found myself having friends that were older than my parents! The thing that has probably helped me the most was deepening my relationships with my sister-in-laws, both of whom I would consider to be my “inner circle” of girlfriends. I know I can tell them anything and that they will love me no matter what, so it kind of took the pressure off to find people to be my besties. So in short…the two most helpful things have been church and time!

  • Reply Laura June 5, 2013 at 5:27 am

    I think a big part of the challenge is that many of the things that defined/constituted friendships when we are young are aspects of our lives that we’re less willing to acknowledge and share: play; imagining; embracing and expressing fear of the unknown; discovery and learning. Think about ways that you would like to reinhabit those qualities, reframed for your adult self, and invite other people to join you! Sure, we all have routines (not to mention facades!). But as a fellow values- and goals-driven person, I imagine that taking this perspective, and proposing it to other motivated and thoughtful people, would be engaging and intriguing for them, too. And I’m not suggesting going all self-help/summer-camp on yourself or your potential new friends. But I’ve found that working towards something alongside other people has lead to my best friendships as an adult. And when we are in a position of learning, we are in a mindset of openness and vulnerability (that’s why we make such good friends as students, I think!) So, that could be taking a class or volunteering at something you’d like to develop a skill or interest in. I personally love volunteering for events like farmers markets and festivals. Or, team up with someone to tackle ordinarily dull/solo projects: shop and cook your lunches for the week together, or build a funky new piece of furniture like the packing pallet table you made. It can be hard to find time for something new in our busy schedules, but as my yoga teacher says, if you don’t change your routine, you don’t change yourself. **Lastly, I’m a very shy person, and I’ve also accepted as an adult that I don’t enjoy group festivities/parties, so I skip them, without making self-deprecating excuses, and save my energy and time for social setups I actually like!

  • Reply Lauren at Keep It Sweet June 5, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I know exactly what you mean! When I first moved to NYC, all of my friends were there too. But over the years, people have started spreading out more and I realized I really need to start making new adult friends… not as easy as in college!

  • Reply Kristel June 5, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Your post speaks to me so much! I am a very outgoing person yet as an adult struggle to find “where” to meet like minded friends. I have found that it does take a long time but going to a class (cooking classes, or the like) can be helpful. I also learned from a friend that I really have to put myself out there and say “I think we could be friends and hang out..what are you doing next week” even after a first meeting with someone. Good luck! I’d love to hear more about this and how you go about it.

  • Reply Megan June 5, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Agreed! I recently moved to Atlanta and I am having a hard time meeting friends. I hang out with my coworkers often, but one of them just moved here as well, so we haven’t been able to branch out much.

    Megan, LushtoBlush.com

  • Reply Christina (Dessert For Two) June 6, 2013 at 2:52 am

    We’re in the same boat! We just moved a year ago, and we’ve made friends through church, work, and we lucked out and have awesome neighbors. Our neighbors even go to our church! But, we’ve found it’s harder to make friends in the midWest. Some people in this part of the midWest don’t respect you or think you have anything interesting to say unless you grew up on a farm. It’s like we’re bad people because we’re from the city? You would think people would want to get to know people who’ve lived all over the country, even lived in a foreign country, but no. I hope my impression of the midWest will be proven wrong the longer we stay here, but I’m constantly made fun of for being from Cali (even though we’re not from there; we just lived there). People literally ask me if all my friends are gay in California. Ridiculous, right?!

    Anyway, you and Joe are so sweet, so I’m sure you guys will make friends in no time. After we met y’all that one day in KC, we talked on the way home about how sad it was that y’all live far away because we could see y’all becoming quick, regular friends of ours! xo

    • Reply Madison Mayberry June 7, 2013 at 1:11 pm

      Oh it makes me so sad to hear that the Midwest is giving you that kind of vibe! Maybe Kansas is different than Iowa/Minnesota since I can’t say I’ve ever come in contact with people being that way. But perhaps it has to do with the fact that we were in bigger towns/cities where it didn’t seem to matter where you were from. Minnesotans are certainly very very friendly, but when it comes to making deep friends, it seems like they are less inclined to do so. Probably for the same reason you said, that this isn’t a transient society. It’s a place where people tend to stay and live for a long time so the mentality is different. We so wish you guys were closer, too! I can imagine Joe and Brian could become fast friends over grilling and good beers. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Annie Wang June 6, 2013 at 3:13 am

    We, uh, started a book club called Lady Fight Club. You should join!

    (There’s no actual fighting)

    • Reply Madison Mayberry June 7, 2013 at 1:07 pm

      Oh I would love that! Keep me in the loop. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Kate June 8, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    I feel your pain! When I first moved from Montreal to Toronto it was hard meeting people (especially since I had gotten so used to speaking French). I joined some sports teams and had a friend here who introduced me to people. Good luck!

  • Reply Cara June 10, 2013 at 2:42 am

    Madison, I can so, so, so relate to how you feel! We have been married 4 years and have moved 4 times. Each time we move, Luis automatically goes into a situation where he can meet people and form a community and I have to somehow figure out how to create it on my own. It always takes a few months to get settled but it’s amazing to look back and see how God brought just the right people into my life/our lives in each new city. I will pray that He will do the same for you, just as He did for us (and for you in Grinnell like you said!) and that He will bring them soon! Hang in there girl πŸ™‚

  • Reply Natalie Clark June 14, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    I can so relate to you! After college, I moved to Denton, TX and married my husband. I am from Dallas (about 40 minutes away) and the majority of my best friends dispersed to Houston and Dallas. It was really hard for me at first and I still struggle with making friends. I have made some great ones through church and through my husband’s friends from growing up here (their wives). I still don’t have those friends like my best friends from college who I could call at any time and just hang out doing nothing, but I do have friends that I can go to lunch with and enjoy time together. I definitely covet my time with my college friends when we can get together, but am so thankful for the women I have met here.

  • Reply greensnchocolate June 16, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Madison, I’m a Twin Cities transplant too, and have found it a long and not easy road to making new friends! It just isn’t as easy as it was in college! I’m always up for yoga again, a walk, or a glass of wine πŸ™‚

    • Reply Madison Mayberry June 16, 2013 at 8:50 pm

      I would love that, Taylor! We need to get together again soon! πŸ™‚

  • Reply Unapologetically Feminist July 5, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Came across your blog post today while searching “how to make friends as an adult.” Ugh. Sounds so lame to have to write that out! πŸ˜‰ The best thing I’ve done is join crossfit – but it’s still difficult to make the next step to hanging out with people outside of the box (gym)! I’m glad you are writing about this – it seems like it’s something we probably all experience, but nobody talks about! Find a hobby you enjoy, find a group that does that hobby, and get out there! Best of luck!!

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