How do you make a new friend as an adult?

My friends and I have a theory: it’s nearly impossible for Americans to make new friends (non-lovers) after high school. What I found out recently is that for most cultures outside of the US, making friends requires a completely different set of rules than in the US. For example, if you want to make someone a friend you would ask them about their health, family, etc. In America, that would be considered “small talk,” and would have nothing to do with the desire to see that person ever again.

What is your process for trying to make a “good friend”?

I graduated from high school in 1975 and the only friends I still have from HS are Facebook friends I never see in real life. Every single friendship I have now I’ve made since high school, and I plan on making many more friends in the future.

When making new friends, I find something we have in common–usually more than one thing–and we talk about it, sometimes go to events about it, sit and have a drink afterward and talk about it. I don’t have tons of friends, but I have several, almost all single/divorced women like me, so right there we have something in common.

On a rating scale of 1-100, 100 being your best friend in a the world, 1 being somebody you met 3 times and chatted with, how would you rate these new friends?

I guess my OP wasn’t really clear, I was talking about making friends on the 100 side of this scale.

The following advice is from a book I read some time ago, but the advice stuck with me because it made such sense. I am pretty good socially, but I had never thought about what I did that made me so good at it. Here goes.

Small talk is certainly a starter. But it has to be the right small talk. Walking up to someone and talking about yourself will certainly push people away. But asking about them–how their day/week/year/ is going, etc.–will usually get a positive response. People usually like to talk about themselves, and even if they don’t, it will usually be taken as a sign of sincere interest in them, and most people like that. Then, eventually, they will be curious about you (such is human nature). Pretty soon, it’s them asking you “So, how’re you doing?” And then you get to talk for a bit. Eventually, you might start exchanging contact info.

Or, you might not. It might just be small talk, which is okay. You can’t be friends with everyone. Sometimes, friendships start out of a combination of small talk and circumstance. I’m friends with my office mate (a fellow doctoral student but in a different program) probably because of circumstance more than anything, because if he were assigned to a different office, we might not have had a chance to spend much time together. He’s just starting course work, and I’m ABD. But being in the same office, get to interact with one another. I’m glad circumstance put us together; he’s a great guy and a good friend.

Bottom line: You must show interest in other people before you can start a friendship (99 times out of 100; I am a statistician, after all, so I rarely talk in absolute terms). Once you get outside of yourself, you’ll find other people who are interested in you also.

I disagree with your premise (or, if your premise is generally true, I’m an outlier).

Of friends which I made before I graduated from high school, I’m still in regular touch with three people. On your 1-100 scale, two of them are probably in the 60-70 range, and the other is around a 50.

Of my five best friends (all of whom would be a 95+ :)):

  • I met three during college (I married one of them)
  • I met one several years after I started working (I was probably around 27 or 28 at that time)
  • I met one three years ago (I was 42 at the time)

I’ll note that I met all of those last five through hobbies and interests. That was the “way in” to start talking with them; once I did so, I discovered that we shared other interests, as well (though the hobby / interest still gives a basis for conversations, to this day).

Most of them? Definitely over 50. A few would be 100.

Usually it happens when you are in an environment surrounded by other people who are doing the same thing. School, work, hobbies, religious services, etc. That is how virtually all my friends and I have met.

So a good bet would be to find people with similar interests and hang out, and sooner or later they’ll become friends.

Try saying “hi”.

I’ve met a lot of friends through message boards.

Let’s say 6 of them in the 50s and 1 in the 80s or 90s.

50 being someone I don’t see in person regularly but I could If I gave them a call.

I am not good at this, but I am actively working on improving at making friends, and have gotten some good advice on this board. I do several meetups based on interests I have, and I am about to start taking a class in my neighborhood about something I’m not that into, but don’t hate, on the basis that if I become acquaintances with these neighborhood people I will bump into them all the time on the street, in the store, at the train station, and will have more opportunity to casually work on deepening the relationship into friendship if that seems mutually agreeable. I’ve been doing the meetups for a month now, and while I haven’t made any close friends yet, I have some leads. But maybe more importantly I now feel that I am a more interesting, more faceted person. And it stands to reason that that will help me be more attractive as a friend.

You’d think. Occasionally I get a ‘hi’ back as they stare fixedly into the middle distance.

Or, “I’m great and you?”

if you’re talking about post-schooling in general, rather than just “high school”, i more inclined to agree with the OP. a majority of my CLOSE friends are HS and College buddies. darn near 99% of my friends were met through friends, or friends of friends. i have virtually no friends that i’ve met randomly, or independently, even “work friends” i keep at a distance.

(ok, so there is the occasional friend here or there that i’ve met online. 2-3 through a sports message board that i occasionally buy tickets from, but 2 out of… 1000 or so casual acquaintances? negligible).

i suppose if i didn’t make so many friends in my schooling days, i would probably be forced to other avenues like dipping deeper into the online world or joining one of those “meet area singles mixers” like but yeah… overall. all my friends i met in school.

I only keep up with a couple of people from high school and they are just people I email on occassion. I’m active in several charities which is not only where I met all of my friends, but where I also met my sweet baboo.

When I meet people through my volunteer work, we already have a shared interest. While we are interacting, we can get a feel for the other person’s personality. If we seem to hit it off, the conversation will change from what we are trying to get accomplished right now to other things.

It helps that I’m a biker who does animal rescue. I live in a different world than many people. Everyone in my world is willing to help everyone else. My favorite example of this is the time I was leaving to go to work and dropped my bike in my own driveway:smack:

650 lbs on the right side, downhill. Oil running all over the place. Me needing to get bike upright and then go to work. I pulled out my phone to call my best friend Tony. Stony’s number was the next one. At that time, Stony was a 5 on the scale. I accidently called Stony and woke him up. I had expected to wake Tony up, so just said something like “Tony, its me. I just dropped my bike in the driveway and I need you to get dressed and come and help” Stony’s answer moved him from 5 to 50 right away. “Sure, I’ll come and help. Now who is this and where do you live?”

Great story, Flatlined.

I also don’t have any close friends that I’ve known forever. My two closest (non-husband) friends here in Maine, where we moved to less than a year ago, I met after we got here, one on the SDMB when I stared a thread about the move. My husband is military, so we move a lot, and I kind of make new friends randomly. Our best friends back in Okinawa we met at the neighborhood bar. Turned out they lived down the street from us, and we ended up having dinner parties at one house or the other a couple of times a month.

I’m not sure what advice to give, though. One thing, maybe, is to not force it. I’ve met a lot of people here, and if I don’t feel like I click with someone, I don’t try to be friends. Conversation should be easy, not something you have to work at. Actually, I apply this rule to all my relationships, except possibly my dad. I don’t like my relationships to be work, and usually you can tell within a few minutes of meeting a person if you like them or not. I’d rather be alone than with someone I only kind-of like.

I disagree. I’ve made many friends after moving here in 1989 at at the age of 29. Some were parents of my daughter’s friends. Some were coworkers. Some were people from church. Some were people I met at parties. If you are meeting people you can be making friends.

At one time or another, some of these folks would definitely rate up towards 100 (I’m thinking especially of other single moms I grew close to when my kids were little). In my older years I seem to need fewer close friends, so many of them have don’t see much anymore.

Thank you, Renee. It took a couple of minutes before we got it sorted out. I’ll tell that story at runs if I want to discombulate Stony :smiley:

How long do you stay at one place? My sweet baboo is military as well and the moving thing is worrisome to me. Oh. just thinking about that made me realize a way to make new friends. There has to be a rescue group in military housing, right? Please say yes.

We generally stay in one place about 3-4 years. We were in Okinawa 4 years, and expect to be in Maine about the same.

I’ve never lived on a military base, so I’m not sure what you mean by a rescue group, but so far whenever we’ve moved more people want to be friends with me than I can deal with. The military, if anything, is overzealous about “family support”. I think it’s actually easier to make friends when you’re moving a lot, because it makes you interesting. Everyone we meet here wants to know about our travels; it gives you something fun to talk about.

Re: military friendliness. I was never in a military family, but we moved around a lot as I was growing up, and by far the most friendly, open, welcoming school I went to was when we lived near an Air Force base full of military kids. They just figured it was normal to move a lot and didn’t treat newcomers as outsider freaks. It meant a lot to me when I was a shy teenager.

I’m not sure this is a US thing. Or maybe I’m the odd Aussie out.

I have no friends. All the friends I had at school (several decades ago) live interstate and I haven’t seen, nor spoken to, them for years. I had a good bunch of friends when I was doing my nursing training but ditto - everyone moves away. [Maybe it IS me!]

When my children were at school I thought that my be a good chance to meet and make friends with other mothers but that turned out to be transitory. School ends, the friendships end.

So, essentially, I’ve given up trying.