Fellow twenty-somethings, raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimized by social media and dating apps killing your dreams of falling in love with new friends in coffee shops, bars, exercise classes, and the like? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
As if we young millennials and elder Gen Zers didn’t have enough to grapple with already, what with the economic, environmental, and humanitarian crisis we’re currently in, we also struggle to find our people in these early days of adulthood. Never fear, we’ve got you covered with these nine easy ways to make friends in your 20s.
1. Become a Regular at a Local Business
Making friends takes time, and a great way to expedite that timeframe is by visiting a local haunt on the same day every week. Becoming a regular at a local shop vs. a big chain place means that the workers (and maybe even owners) will start to recognize you.
On top of getting your order right every time, you might start to work your way into the staff’s hearts, and hopefully their social circle. You'll also be putting yourself out there in an environment where you're open to meeting others as they stop in for their caffeine fix.
2. Visit Local Music Shows
Music venues are a great place to interact with like-minded people who are in the mood to socialize. You’ve already got something to bond over, so all it takes is you reaching out to the people seated nearby and striking up a conversation.
3. Turn to the Apps Made to Help You Find People
From MeetUp to BumbleBFF, there are a handful of apps you can use to find group events in your area. Unlike bars and coffee shops, these apps let you narrow your focus to people with a shared interest. While there’s no guarantee they’re going to be the ones for you, they’re worth a try.
4. Use Discord to Connect With Others Online
Relive your Y2K chatroom days with online platforms like Discord. Armed to the teeth with internet safety, you’ll be able to connect with people over the most niche topics. Friends might’ve made it seem like finding your real-life crew was life or death, but today internet friends are just as good as real-life ones.
5. Find a Club & Stick With It
Now’s the time to live your childhood book club fantasies. There’s a club or society for practically everything; all it takes is you committing to going more than twice. It’s easy to be a flake in university when you can blame your woes on a bad hangover, but real friendships in your 20s take work.
6. Try an In-Person Class
If you want to get back into your fitness game or you regret not learning a specific language in school, find an in-person class and enroll. You’ll find an assortment of people in your class, and since everyone will be working towards the same goal, you’ll quickly band together.
7. Reach Out to Your Elderly Neighbors
Elderly people were young once, and so many of them want companionship — just like you! If you’ve got any elderly neighbors, reach out to them and ask them to hang out or offer to cook for them one evening. Multi-generational friendships are incredibly special and can offer you a sense of stability and support that your fellow twenty-somethings might not be able to.
8. Use Your Pets to Create a Connection
If you’ve got friendly pets, start taking them out in public everywhere they can go. Most people love a cute animal, and you can lure unsuspecting new friends to you using your freshly groomed fluffball. Once you’ve got them trapped, you can strike up a conversation and see if there’s something there.
9. Make Time for Old Friends
Sometimes, you don’t need new friends — you just need to feel closer to the ones you have. Chances are, you’re a bit spread out from your old friend-family, and that’s a big reason for the loneliness. Make time for your old friends by setting up Zoom lunches and scheduling vacations alongside each other. You can make things work, no matter the distance.
Realities to Face When Making Friends in Your 20s
Now that you’ve fully entered adulthood, it’s time to face some hard realities about making friends in your 20s.
- Friendships don’t happen quickly. The kind of real connection you’re craving needs time to bloom. Be patient and persistent with new acquaintances.
- You’ve got to speak up first. If you want a friend, you’ve got to be willing to introduce yourself.
- Sometimes it’s not about you, but about the time. Adulthood can be busy! So, it’s not always that people aren’t reaching out because they don’t want to know you better, it’s just that they’re swamped.
- Not every person you hang out with is going to make the cut. You’ve got to accept that you’re not going to strike gold with every person you invite to hang out. But don’t let that discourage you from asking.
Rest Assured, You’ll Find Your People
When you’re in a new place, job, or area it can feel like you’re drowning under the isolation. But the buoy to hold on to is that eventually, you will find your people (or maybe they’ll find you). Stay open and put some effort into making connections by exploring all these methods for making friends. After all, everyone’s only a stranger until you say hi.