riendship is a fundamental and essential aspect of human life. It provides companionship, emotional support, and a sense of belonging. However, making friends as an adult can be a daunting and often challenging task. 

In this comprehensive article, we will delve deep into the reasons why making friends as an adult is hard, exploring the various psychological, social, and environmental factors that contribute to the difficulty. We'll also provide insights into how these dynamics evolve from childhood to adulthood and offer practical advice on how to overcome these obstacles.

The Evolution of Friendship

Before we explore why it's hard to make friends as an adult, it's crucial to understand the evolution of friendship across the different stages of life.

Childhood: The Foundation of Friendship

Childhood is when most individuals form their first friendships. It is a time when social interactions are relatively simple and straightforward. Children often bond over shared activities, school, and neighborhood communities. Friendships in childhood are typically based on proximity and common interests, such as playing the same games or attending the same school.

Adolescence: Expanding Social Horizons

As children transition into adolescence, their social circles expand. Adolescents become more independent, and their friendships tend to be more based on shared values, interests, and the ability to connect on a deeper level. Friendships formed during these years are often intense and can significantly impact one's identity and self-esteem.

Adulthood: The Complexity of Social Life

The shift from adolescence to adulthood brings about significant changes in the dynamics of friendship. As adults, we experience various life-altering transitions, such as entering the workforce, pursuing higher education, and starting families. These changes have profound implications for our social lives and friendships.

group of friends sitting at a table
Friendship takes many forms and there isn’t one form that is better than another. Don’t compare your friendships to one another. Image by Inc. Magazine.

The Challenges of Making Friends as an Adult

Now, let's explore the multifaceted challenges that adults face when it comes to making friends.

Limited Time and Increased Responsibilities

One of the most significant barriers to forming friendships in adulthood is the scarcity of time and the increase in responsibilities. Adults often find themselves juggling demanding work schedules, household chores, and family obligations, leaving little time for socializing. The limited free time available is frequently dedicated to unwinding and self-care.

Geographic Mobility

Adults are more likely to move due to job opportunities, education, or personal circumstances. This geographic mobility can disrupt existing friendships and make it challenging to establish new ones. Moving to a new city or neighborhood means leaving behind familiar social networks and having to start anew.

Varied Life Stages

Adults are at different life stages, which can complicate the process of making friends. Some may be single and focused on their careers, while others may be married with children. These diverse life stages can create barriers to forming close connections with those in different situations. For example, it can be challenging for a single individual to relate to the priorities and responsibilities of a married friend with children.

Technological Influences

While technology has brought the world closer in many ways, it has also contributed to the difficulty of forming in-person friendships. The prevalence of online social networks and digital communication tools has led to a decline in face-to-face interactions. People might feel more connected virtually but have fewer opportunities for meaningful in-person interactions.

Trust and Vulnerability

As adults, we become more selective about our friends, which can make the process of making new ones more challenging. This selectivity is partly due to the increased importance of trust and vulnerability in adult friendships. Adults are often cautious about letting new people into their lives, as they've likely experienced past disappointments or betrayals in relationships.

Overcoming Shyness and Social Anxiety

For some adults, shyness and social anxiety can be major hurdles in making new friends. These individuals may struggle with initiating conversations, attending social events, or revealing their true selves to others. Overcoming these barriers can be a daunting task, but it's essential for forming meaningful connections.

A group of friends who grabbed coffee walking down the street 
There comes a time in adulthood when you look around and realize your friend group is made up of people you met in different stages of your life. There’s nothing wrong with that! Image by Maria Shriver's Sunday Paper.

Strategies for Making Friends as an Adult

Despite the challenges, it is possible to make friends as an adult. Here are some strategies to help you expand your social circle and develop meaningful connections:

Pursue Your Interests

Engage in activities and hobbies that genuinely interest you. Join clubs, classes, or groups related to your passions, whether it's painting, cooking, hiking, or playing a musical instrument. Shared interests provide a natural and enjoyable foundation for friendship.

Attend Networking Events

Networking events and industry-specific conferences can be an excellent opportunity to meet like-minded individuals. These gatherings often include people who share your professional interests and can lead to both personal and career-oriented friendships.


Volunteering for a cause you are passionate about can not only provide a sense of fulfillment but also introduce you to people who share your values. The act of giving back to the community can create strong bonds with like-minded individuals.

Reconnect with Existing Contacts

Don't underestimate the power of reconnecting with people you've lost touch with. Reaching out to old friends, colleagues, or acquaintances can reignite dormant connections and potentially lead to new friendships.

Leverage Online Resources

The internet offers numerous ways to connect with potential friends. Social media platforms, online forums, and dedicated friendship apps can help you find people with similar interests and experiences. These platforms often allow you to connect with individuals you might not have crossed paths with in your day-to-day life.

Take Classes or Workshops

Enrolling in classes or workshops related to your interests or career can be an effective way to meet new people. Learning together provides a shared experience and can lead to lasting bonds.

Attend Local Events

Keep an eye out for local events, such as concerts, art exhibitions, book readings, and community festivals. These events provide an opportunity to meet individuals who share your interests, even if you're not naturally outgoing.

Consistency is Key

Building friendships takes time. Make an effort to see potential friends regularly. Consistency helps to establish deeper connections, so be patient and persistent in your efforts.

# friends on a hike overlooking the sunset.
If you do what you love then you’ll find friends who love the same stuff you do. It creates the foundation to a great friendship. Image by Ulysses Press.

Navigating Long-Distance Friendships

In our interconnected world, maintaining long-distance friendships is increasingly common. Here's how to nurture these relationships:

Embrace Technology

Technology can be your ally in maintaining long-distance friendships. Use video calls, messaging apps, and social media platforms to stay in touch with friends who live far away. These tools make it easy to communicate and maintain connections.

Plan Visits

Whenever possible, plan visits to see your long-distance friends in person. Face-to-face interactions can strengthen bonds and create memorable experiences that you can cherish when you're apart.

Share Common Interests

Maintain shared interests with your long-distance friends. Read the same books, watch the same TV shows or movies, play online games together, or engage in any activity that allows you to connect and share experiences, even from a distance.

Positive Motivation for Finding New Friends

Making friends as an adult is undoubtedly a challenging endeavor, but it's not impossible. As you embark on this journey, it's important to maintain a positive mindset and remember the value of meaningful connections. Every new friend brings unique experiences, perspectives, and opportunities into your life.

Five friends hanging out in an apartment sharing food.
One of my favorite friend dates is a dinner and at-home movie. You get double points if the dinner has a theme. 

That’s all the tips we have to lessen the challenge of making friends as an adult!

In conclusion, making friends as an adult can be a complex and challenging process due to limited time, geographic mobility, varied life stages, technological influences, trust and vulnerability issues, shyness, and social anxiety. 

However, with the right strategies and a positive attitude, it is entirely possible to expand your social circle and develop deep, meaningful friendships. Nurturing existing friendships and maintaining long-distance connections can also enrich your life and provide valuable support throughout your adult years.

In the end, the effort invested in making and maintaining friends will lead to a more fulfilling and connected life.

You'll make friends with the friend group for you, it might just take a little time. Be patient and you got this!

Nov 17, 2023