Here’s How Actual People Made a New Friend as an Adult

"I got brunch with like 15 women to start—all from Bumble BFF. We matched and kept inviting other girls we matched with."
Hannah Smothers
Brooklyn, US
Laughing group of women enjoying drinks in bar - stock photo
Thomas Barwick via Getty

As a grownup (read: someone who is no longer in school, where potential friends are abundant), the idea of meeting someone new, liking them, and then making them be your friend feels exhausting. Literally, how does one approach another person, in a cool, non-romantic way? The internet and even books on the subject are filled with platitudes like, “just be yourself” or, “step out of your comfort zone!” But what do these things look like in practice, and how do people actually do them without dying of embarrassment in the process? 


VICE spoke with seven people about how they made new friends as grownups, with no workplace or school involved. They all met in different ways, like saying yes to last-minute invitations, inviting themselves along to nights out, and using social apps to spin up a whole party of potential new friends.  Here’s everything they had to say about making friends as a grownup, something that’s totally possible and even kind of fun. 

Interviews have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Help a new acquaintance break out of her own apartment

“In 2017, I was working for a startup here in Austin, and my old boss from the campus writing center reached out to me to say, ‘I have a writing coach who wants to work at the startup you’re at, would you mind giving her some career guidance?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, of course,’ so we met up, and we just hit it off and became friendly after that. She ended up moving to my neighborhood and we started hanging out there. 

What really solidified our friendship, though, was when she got locked in her apartment. Like her bedroom door locked itself, and she couldn’t get out. It was six in the morning and I was the only person she knew nearby who’d be up at that hour. I went to get a toolkit and was like, throwing hammers up onto her balcony, trying to help her break out of her own apartment. We ended up calling the fire department. From there, we became best friends and we still are to this day.” — Brittany, 26 


Start up your own trivia night

“I love trivia and hosted a trivia night for a bit at a bar, which is a great way to chat with everyone else who shows up to play. When I eventually stopped hosting so I could play more, one of the teams said I could play with them, and now I'm friends with them and actually do non-trivia things with them. 

People always say to ‘do activities’ as an adult so you can make friends with similar interests, but I truly did not host trivia to make friends (I was actively unfriendly for a long time to ward off creepers, and anyone on my team will confirm this). But that's because I was hosting at a bar. Anyway, it's to my own shock that I've made friends as an adult this way but I'm glad I did!” — Terri, 31 

Host a Bumble BFF group hang

“I move around a lot (and moved a lot growing up) so making new friends is something I've always had to do. Last year I lived in NY, Chicago, Miami and then LA (which is where I live now and will stay for another two years at least). Pre-pandemic, when I was in Miami I tried Bumble BFF so I could have girl friends to go out with. I got brunch with like 15 women to start—all from Bumble BFF. We matched and kept inviting other girls we matched with. We all went out a bunch of times. I ended up moving (and a few other girls did, too), but most of us still follow each other on IG. And I do a phone catchup with at least one of the girls every two to three months. The group brunch situation was really low pressure and easy to just quickly put faces to names; I feel like it's pretty good to end up being a longer lasting friend with one of like 15 or so matches on the app.” — Elisabeth, 31 

Accept an invitation to drinks with strangers

“I went to a reading for a book based loosely on One Direction and their fandom in 2017. I started talking to the women around me, went to drinks with them after, and a week later, joined a huge Slack channel filled with adult fans of 1D. I didn’t really go into it expecting to make friends. 

I had seen some people interacting with tweets about the event and thought they all seemed cool, but I didn’t think about talking to anyone until it was happening. And when they first asked me if I wanted to go out for drinks, I kept thinking, I can’t do that! These are strangers! But since then, I’ve traveled the country to go to concerts with them, and genuinely consider a handful of these people to be my closest friends. We speak daily!” — Jen, 30


Work your way into a niche community

“I’ve met most of my friends from my pole dance and aerial gym! I started going in 2017 with my sister; I spent a lot of time in my sister’s shadow at first, taking classes only with her. We started with an aerial skills class once a week, but eventually I tried pole dancing. I admired the instructors but never thought of forming a friendship with them at the time. Around October of that year, the gym put on its annual Halloween show, ‘Freaks and Geeks.’ I heard some of the instructors were going out after the show to one of the LGBTQ night clubs in town, and I invited myself along. I was very shy early in the night, but over the course of the evening, came out of my shell. Unfortunately, me coming out of my shell translates to: ‘I am gay and I yell a lot,’ but people vibed with that, I guess!

Since we’re part of a niche community, a lot of the conversations start around what we do—pole, training, upcoming competitions, etc. And usually, if I don’t know how to be social, I sort of gravitate toward a small group of people who are already talking, and then work my way in. And, I hate to give Zuck any credit, but Facebook helped a lot in the early days of forming those friendships. Even though I went back to school in 2019 and took what ended up being a two-year hiatus from the gym, the friendships all stuck.” — Claire, 28 

Respond to Facebook ads

“The biggest way I made new friends as an adult was when I responded to a Facebook ad, looking for a drummer. It was actually posted in a Facebook group that I’d started for amateur musicians at NYU, back when I was in grad school. Long story short, someone posted in the group being like, ‘My friends’ punk band needs a drummer,’ and I replied to say I was interested. 

I was coming from a fairly small place in England and they were the most edgy people I’d ever met. But we started doing a lot of shows, practicing weekly, and getting dinner before together, so we spent a lot of time together over a short period. 


I ended up being in the band for over a year. They got me involved in the local music scene around Brooklyn, which is how I met basically all of the friends I have now. I truly shudder to think about what would have happened if I never responded to that Facebook ad; my life outside of work now basically revolves around the Brooklyn DIY scene.” — Natasha, 25

Let your existing friends set you up

“When I was getting ready to come to Austin for grad school, one of the hosts from the radio station I worked for in Massachusetts put me in touch with a friend of hers. The first night I was here, I texted her and she told me to go to Torchy's for dinner, and the next night I met her and a bunch of her friends for drinks. 

I had only been in town about 24 hours, so I was pretty exhausted from the drive, and I was a little apprehensive because it was birthday drinks for someone I had never met before. But my friend in Massachusetts had told me that Wendy was the best person to know in Austin so I mustered whatever energy I had and went out. I’m almost never at a lack for something to talk about, and, having just arrived in town, everyone had suggestions for me about finding a place to live or where to eat or outdoor spots, so finding things to talk about was easy.

I guess I just realized right away that this was a bunch of kind and interesting people. I had a little BBQ/housewarming party a couple weeks later and a dozen or so of the people from that night came out. I had my instant, amazing friend circle.” — Joe, 50

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