How to Make New Friends as an Adult

It doesn’t always feel easy to make friends when you’re an adult. You might be thinking, “I’m surrounded by people all day, every day–at work, at school, at my softball games–but I still feel alone.” 

Well, good news: In that very thought, you are not alone. If you’re trying to find someone to call a friend, it may not be as simple as it was when you were a child, but it’s not impossible.

Why is it harder to make friends in adulthood?

Socializing is important for your brain health and your psychological well being. But the COVID-19 pandemic shook up the world for all of us. Many people have seen an evaporation of some of the connections we once had. People moved, began working remotely, or stopped engaging in their usual activities.

Of course, even without a pandemic, life can shift when you’re an adult: job changes, parenthood, marriage or divorce, and other life transitions. This can make it hard to make and keep friends.

Friendship isn’t like it was when we were young. If someone in your class had the same name as you, you might have a buddy for the rest of the year. Adult friendships are like anything else that’s valuable in life–we need to work for it.

So what can you do if you aren’t sure where to start? Mel Robbins, a leading author, motivational speaker, and podcast host, offers a popular approach that’s centered on coffee shops. It can work well for people who are new to an area, have made a major life change, or are feeling more isolated at home.

Try a certain type of coffee shop to find new friends

Just like the Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter books, which sorts the wizarding students into one of four “houses” within their school, every good-sized town has four types of coffee shops. Each type attracts specific types of people. No location is better or worse than the other; they are simply different, and entice different groups of people. 

Depending on your interests and tastes, you’ll likely find that you enjoy the company of one type of person over another. That can help you choose a coffee shop where you can meet people. While this isn’t an exact science, it’s a great place to start. 

Here are the four types of coffee shops:

1 The Chain

This is a franchised type of location such as Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, or Coffee Bean. People at these shops usually hurry in and out quickly. They’re stopping here because they know the menu and need to order and get out the door. Of the four types of coffee shops, this is likely the most difficult place to strike up a conversation. Most people are moving quickly, and they’re not focused on talking with others.

2 First Responders

This location attracts the town “doers,” the ones who are the backbone of the town. They get up in the morning and get things done. Think hardworking EMTs, police officers, or the guy who shovels the snow from every neighbor's driveway. This is very much like the diner-type crowd. When you talk with these individuals, you’ll learn about many of the activities going on in town, from the farmer’s market to the next local election.

3 Parent Rest Stop

This coffee shop is popular with parents who have dropped off their children and are taking a break before heading to work or errands. Conversations with people here will likely center around the local school and children’s activities.

4 Upmarket

This type of coffee shop is staffed by employees who are highly knowledgeable in the art of coffee. The patrons usually have a sophisticated palate and enjoy unique activities. When talking to a person at this type of coffee shop, your conversations may center on an offbeat author, curated music lists, or cultural events in town. 

How to make conversation with someone you don’t know

Think about the kinds of activities you like to do and what you like talking about with people. Then, decide which of these coffee shops to visit. Take a book or magazine and sit there for an hour or two a couple times a week. 

However, don’t bury your head in your book! Look up and look around the room from time to time. You will likely start to see some “regulars.” Don’t be afraid to make eye contact with people, smile, and even give a “hello.”

Try striking up a simple conversation to see if you have anything in common. Small talk often focuses on light or unimportant topics, but it’s a good way to begin building relationships with other people. You might start small talk with something tangible and simple: the weather, the coffee shop, the food or drinks. If the conversation progresses, you can share something about yourself and ask the other person questions as well.

Check out this article for more expert tips on enhancing your social skills.

Speech therapy can help with social skills

Making conversation doesn’t come easily to everyone. If you feel social anxiety, or you'd like to improve your social skills or communication style, consider speech therapy. An experienced speech therapist can help you become more skilled and confident in your speech clarity, word choice, and delivery. Therapy sessions can focus on engaging in conversation, making small talk, and storytelling–all the tools that are invaluable when you’re searching for new friends. 

Making friends isn’t as easy as when we were kids on the playground. But with a little work on your part, you can make connections with new people. It might just start with a simple cup of coffee. 

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