Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Meeting People is (Not) Easy

We talk a lot about living a life focused less on stuff and space and more on relationships and other things that truly make us happy. The epoch in most of our lives that best embodies that way of life is our college dorm days: days when rooms were small, the conversations were nocturnal and hopelessly interesting, when meeting people and making (and even retaining) friends was easy.

Fast forward a few years. The time spent wiling away hours is spent at work or recovering from work. The once-open hallways, resplendent in conversational possibility are replaced with lawns or vacant hallways in apartment buildings. Neighbors go unknown for years. College friends move to Portland, OR. All of a sudden, we find ourselves with few friends and having a hard time meeting new ones.

A recent post in Apartment Therapy based on a NY Times article called Friends of a Certain Age: Why Is It Hard to Make Friends Over 30? breaks down why meeting people is not that easy for many in the post-post-graduate set. This passage from the latter article explains some of the problem:

As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other, said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is why so many people meet their lifelong friends in college, she added.

There are other issues. As we get older, we tend to focus on emotional quality of relationships, versus quantity and novelty. That’s great, but what often happens–because of a move, divorce, new job, child, etc.–is the circumstances that foster deepening existing relationships evaporate. In other words, we find ourselves living away from the people we want to go deep with. Many adults find themselves isolated and with few resources to make new friends.

The Times article leaves off on a not-so-optimistic note, though it does point to a big part of the answer for ending isolation: get over yourself and get out. Isolated adults must try new things and meet new people if they want to connect.

They point to a guy who, after a recent move to New York City found himself so lonely that he’d walk his cat in Central Park to initiate conversations. To deal with his isolation, he started a site called The New York Social Network that hooks fellow social New Yorkers around activities. Activity-based social networks are distinct from networks like Facebook, who provide social narrative more than social directives.

Apartment Therapy suggests a few other, non-romantic online resources for meeting friends:

  • Girlfriend Network is a pretty self-explanatory site. It hooks up women looking to connect as friends.
  • Companion Tree connects people looking for friends. Connections are based on your specified interests.
  • is the granddaddy–and probably still the most robust–activity-based social networking.

We would add, Front Porch Forum, which we’ve covered in the past. There is also Both of which connect people based on proximity–still one of the most effective bases of connection.

Google and Yahoo groups are good too as they tend to coalescence real networks.

Take caution though: none of these resources will work if you don’t use them. Meeting people takes effort and a little bit of humility–the willingness to admit we want companionship and taking actions aligned with that desire.

Are you older than 30 and have successfully made and kept new friends? We’d love to hear what you did in our comments section.

image credit: wikipedia
  • Nanc’

    I have just started using I have made a contact with an interesting woman online and we are meeting for lunch this week . We are both in our 50s and find that work consumes most of our time so that it is hard to get to meet people. We each are looking for someone to talk with and go to the occasional movie or theater performance with. Another woman contacted me also, but I have not heard back from her yet. For women my age, I think these kinds of websites are great. I tried but I really wasn’t looking for a group. Social Jane is ideal for introverts like myself, though I am sure there are many extroverts there too. In fact, some of the bios read like they are looking for bunches of people to hang with.

  • I made many friends simply by hanging out in a local coffee house. Most of them were a lot younger than I, but it didn’t matter.

    However, when the coffee house closed, we all went our own way.

    Then I was invited to a Thursday night event for musicians where we all played music and drank a little too much beer.

    Making friends isn’t that hard. You just have to go out and talk to people. Some will like you and some won’t. It’s sort of like fishing in that way.

  • Smilin’ Mike

    I joined the local running club shortly after finishing college. It seems when you meet like-minded folks and chase after similar goals i.e. first marathon, 50 mile trail run, sub 17 min. 5k…deep bonds form. Doing physical things requires committment, sacrifice and pain (for the ones mentioned). These relationships have extended beyond just running and for me these people have become some of my closest friends for the last 20 years. I have to warn you though, runners are a rare breed – please do yourself a favor and join a club so this breed doesn’t go extinct – save the runners now!

  • Suze

    Volunteer. The last 3 close friends I met were while doing committee work with them. If you pick something you really believe in, it’s a win win; you feel good because you have made a difference and you meet people with whom you have at least one shared belief.

  • Kirstjen

    I live in downtown Chicago, and didn’t have a cohesive social group until my husband insisted we get a dog. My dog helped me meet other people with dogs 12 years ago, and now my social life revolves around these people. We bonded because we live near each other, have something in common & meet frequently. One good thing about this group is that we also DON’T talk about work as much, since we don’t share that.