Welcome To The Bitchery
Welcome To The Bitchery

How Do Adults Make Friends?

Illustration for article titled How Do Adults Make Friends?
  • Stay friends with the people you were friends with in college. You should probably live in the same city as the rest of them, and that probably means New York, regardless of the fact that New York is noisy, crowded, expensive, and too big.
  • Become friends with the people you work with, assuming you’re really good at compartmentalizing.
  • Join a dodgeball team with the other adult friendless weirdos.
  • Talk to people on the sidewalk. Say “hey I don’t need a dollar I just want to be your friend!”
  • Meet people through the people you already know. If the other people you know don’t know anyone either, you must introduce yourself to yourself, over and over again.
  • Be single. Go to bars. Strike up conversations with strangers. No one will think this is weird, because they will assume you are looking for sex, which is apparently a totally normal thing to solicit from strangers. But secretly, you will be looking for friendship!

I legitimately have no idea how people make friends. I’ve been doing some thinking, and I’ve realized that I’ve pretty much never made a friend who I didn’t a) live within 100 feet of, or b) steal from a boyfriend.

As far as I can tell, making friends consists of two major steps, both of which I find challenging.



In college, this is absurdly easy. Freshman orientation exists pretty much for this purpose. Everyone shows up all awkward like newborn horses, and they put us all in a room and make us play name games. Every person you meet is exactly as desperate for human contact as you are. People exchange phone numbers after the most inconsequential interaction, just in case that person who you just started talking to in the line at the bookstore is your future maid of honor.


I mean, for god’s sake, they make you LIVE in a ROOM with a STRANGER.

Part of why all of this works is that it’s pretty much mandatory. Usually I would be pretty skeptical of a group of strangers who are getting really enthusiastic about a human pyramid, but in the college orientation context, you can’t hold that kind of thing against people.


When you enter the adult world, there is no orientation. Sure, I could go join some kind of club for name-game enthusiasts, but those people are probably weird as shit.

Which leaves the question of how to meet people pretty open. If I weren’t in a happy relationship, I’d go out and find a guy at a bar with an established social circle and try to sneak my way in. I would literally sell my body for access to another person’s friends. This strategy has worked for me more than once.


Presumably you will meet people at work, which is all well and good, but I’m a little suspicious of turning work-friends into full blown friendship friends. You’re supposed to act like a more agreeable version of yourself at work, and I feel like that’s harder to maintain if some of your work-people have seen what you’re actually like. Maybe it’s just that my office is really small, but it doesn’t seem managable.


This step isn’t very hard, but it’s worth pointing out because you can’t just go around forming serious friendships with everyone you meet. Or, I mean, you totally can if you have time for that shit, but eventually you should figure out which of those people are the best ones.



Again, college really did not prepare me for the difficulty of this task. In college, it’s a total non-issue to hang out with someone. I used to walk down the hall knocking on the doors of everyone I knew asking if they wanted to come to dinner. Everyone has the same basic schedule, everyone eats at the same three or four places, and everyone is pretty much in public all the time. It was much more effort to spend any time alone.


Now, having dinner with someone feels like asking them on a date, because the alternative (going home, heating up leftovers, watching TV) is so much easier. You have to go way further out of your way if you want to see someone.

I was never especially good at this in college. I made friends with the people who lived near me because they’re wonderful, but also because they had kind of already established a little friend-group and made it super easy for me to join. I just had to walk down the hall and knock on all the doors.


But I think making friends as an adult is a lot more like making friends in class, and I’m not one of those people who made friends in class. I made class-friends in class, and we might walk in the same direction afterward, but my class-friends were never people I would text on a friday evening to see if they wanted to gorge themselves on focaccia in the dining hall. The one exception to this is a friend I made in fiction class, where we were literally forced to spend time together in a coffee shop once a week, which eventually became enough of a social context that we could migrate into friend-ville.

But otherwise, I’m not good at transitioning out of a domain-specific relationship. Probably because I say things like “domain-specific relationship.”


So how do adults do it? And why isn’t there a system? We have a perfectly functional social script for people looking for romantic partners. We have apps that will find you someone to bang. But for the poor friendless recent-college-graduates, there is almost nothing.

Maybe part of the problem is that it’s an embarrassing thing to admit that you want. Like, it’s not weird to say “I wish I were having more sex,” so it’s not that weird to have on app on your phone that helps you find it. But it’s definitely weird to say “I wish I had more friends,” because it just makes people picture you eating lunch by yourself in a bathroom stall. And no one wants to befriend the kid who eats lunch by herself in the bathroom stall. That shit is contagious.


Plus, any app full of people who are equally desperate for friendship as I am isn’t going to be an app I want to use. Those people (who are literally exactly like me) are probably super lame! Why don’t they have friends already? Ew!

All of this leaves me exactly nowhere. If anyone has any idea how making friends is supposed to work, please do let me know. But the first person who suggests I join some kind of intramural sports team is getting banned for life.


Also if you live in DC, holla at me.

( originally posted on my blog, which is still pretty much a work in progress and doesn’t exist http://okitscomplicated.com/2015/07/11/how…)

Share This Story

Get our newsletter