With Courage and Patience: How to Make New Friends as an Adult

In the classroom, in the lecture hall, at the holiday camp, it was very uncomplicated: just chat up the person who happened to be sitting next to you, and – bang – you slipped into a long-lasting friendship without much effort.

Things are different in adulthood: many people have little time and mental capacity to get involved with new people. “In this phase of life, life shifts towards partnership, family and work,” says Wolfgang Krüger, psychotherapist and author.

Has the train left for new friendships? Not at all, says Krüger: “The older you get, the more potential there is for good friendships – after all, you then have more knowledge of human nature, a sense of humor and more of a friendship with yourself.” Good prerequisites for new bonds, if they succeed, the right ones track down people.

Clarify: friends for hobby or against loneliness?

How do you go about finding new friends? Graduate psychologist and author Natalie Wintermantel finds: “It makes sense to ask yourself in advance what friendship actually means to you.” Is it about escaping loneliness? Or about being able to share a hobby? This creates clarity about the expectations with which one starts the search.

The question remains, where do you meet people with whom you can imagine more than small talk. What was true in childhood on the soccer field or in swimming lessons is still true in adulthood: connecting common interests. Courses at the adult education center, guided hikes, reading groups, sports clubs, voluntary work, Facebook groups on specific topics: there are many places and activities where you can talk to people who think in a similar way.

But there is no guarantee that you will recruit new friends like this. The editor and blogger Eva Mell also experienced this when she was looking for new friendships as part of a self-experiment: “The Spanish course and the sewing course at the VHS, for example, didn’t work for me – there was simply too little interaction before and after the course dates.”

The language tandems with two Spanish native speakers were more successful, where first good conversations and then good friendships developed.

Have the courage to ask for the phone number

“However, the most powerful thing about making new friends was having a kid,” Mell says with a wink. She remembers mustering up all the courage to ask the friendly roommate at the hospital for her phone number. Both are still friends.

Sometimes creative strategies also help: Eva Mell, for example, has established herself as a kind of friendship matchmaker in her environment. “Whenever I heard that people from my circle of acquaintances were moving to Berlin or Paris, I tried to put them in touch with people I know there,” she says.

And what does it take for a casual acquaintance to turn into a solid friendship? “It’s about showing interest in others. We are all receptive to that,” says Wintermantel. Especially in the initial phase, there are endless questions to get to know a person better – from what they want to their favorite films from the past.

Visit the same places regularly

Another strategy for meeting new people recently spread via the video platform TikTok. In a short video, the user “connorthemiller” suggested visiting the same places regularly, such as a certain café.

His argument: When you were at school you made friends with others because you saw them every day, then it could also work in adulthood. The video has been viewed more than six million times so far. A sign of how many people are concerned with this question – and how good the chances are of meeting people in everyday life who are also looking for new relationships.

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