Making New Friends in the 21st Century

Making new friends can seem scary as we get older. But life’s no fun without friends. You can maximize your productivity down to the second, eat all of the superfoods, run marathons and get promoted, but if you don’t have any real friends? What’s the point?

And what exactly IS a friend? Do the people you work with count as friends? Some, maybe. But what happens when you’re promoted or move on to another company? How many of them are you going to spend time with on purpose once the coffee-break-convenience is gone?

Are your family members friends? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. And when they are, we can fall into the trap of expecting our family members to play too many friendship roles.

For example, my husband and I are best friends but we’re very different people. He’s an extrovert and I’m not. He needs friends who love going to parties with him, especially when I’m in the mood to be a homebody. I love going to concerts and the theater, but he has ADHD. Being trapped in a chair in the dark for two hours isn’t his idea of fun. I need friends who’ll go see shows with me. See what I mean?

Making New Friends with Technology

Of course, technology is here to save the day. A lot of dating apps have created apps to help us find friends too. Bumble, where “women make the first move,” has launched BumbleBFF. (They even have one for business connections called BumbleBIZZ.) There are others like Friender, Hey Vina! (known as the Tinder for Girlfriends) and even Meet My Dog, so your dog can “help make you social.”

making new friends

One app that I really love so far is The Kitchen Table App. It’s kind of like, but has a much more intimate feel to it. The Kitchen Table App “is a community building platform that builds meaningful, in-person connections through shared, intimate, topic-driven meals and experiences.”

Anyone can set themselves up as a host and post an invitation on the app. Just tap “discover” at the bottom and search for the kind of event you’re intersted in. One of the first groups I discovered is for women making career pivots which was perfect for me. I also found a woman who is an Intuitive Arts Facilitator who hosts gatherings for non-artists who want to try it out. The gatherings are small and the cost is almost always less than $20 – which I find amazing. 

Meet In Person: Global Events That Keep It Local

If apps aren’t your thing, Creative Mornings is a free monthly event I learned about while interviewing Ilana Ben-Ari, founder of Twenty-One Toys, a few years ago for the PlayGrounding Podcast.

The events take place in cities all over the world. Each month, they pick a theme and announce in an email newsletter I actually look forward to. This month’s theme is roots. All over the world, creatives are exploring the theme through art, talks, articles and anything else you can imagine.

At one of my first Creative Mornings events, I made a new friend. I was feeling unusually shy and trying to blend in, but I bumped into someone while walking in the door. After that, while wandering around alone in the group getting coffee and breakfast, I bumped into her again on purpose and it was off to the races.

We later joked that we probably missed out on making other “contacts” that day by talking only to each other for most of the networking time, but how often do you meet someone you click with like that? Totally worth it. I need friends way more than I need contacts.

Find Your Thing and Make some Friends

What do you wish you were doing more of? Things you stopped having time to do? I suggest that you stop thinking of them as things to brush up on for their own sake. Think of them as opportunities to find your people. I’ve always considered myself a “creative,” so Creative Mornings is perfect for me. It might not be for you.

Just dream up the kind of meetup, event or volunteer opportunity you’d like to meet people at and see what’s out there. You never know until you try.

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