how to make friends in adultland

Originally published on The Haute Mess | January 12th, 2016

Making friends is hard. Especially as an adult. Where’s the manual for this so-called adult life? You can’t exchange your snack for friendship or have your mom call for a play date when you’re in your twenties.

In this game I realized the difficulty level increasing from the college years on and I never really advanced beyond Novice. I find that trying to make friends in my adult life requires first surviving an insanely socially awkward obstacle course. I don’t know what’s to blame for this.

Is it because our generation evolved into hiding behind our electronics or was I weird all along?

When I moved to a new state last year, I didn’t think I was ever going to make another friend again. The ones I had back home had been demoted to a texting relationship. I panicked. I was lost without my collection. I needed the Target-errand-running friend, the get-drunk-and-paint-on-a-Monday friend, and the business-savvy/burrito-savvy friend all back in my life.

I started conversations with sales girls at the mall and coffee baristas desperate for an olive branch, but I was too obvious. They could sniff me out. I was liable to be a stage five clinger, and no one had time for that kind of crazy. I knew I needed to devise a guideline if I was ever going to have a friend again. I needed to disguise my weirdness just long enough to charm someone into liking me. We can’t all live as friendless hermits with strange finger deformities from holding our phones 24/7. Follow my advice and together, we will make some new friends.

Say “hi.”

I can’t tell you how many people I witness that don’t know how to introduce themselves or simply say hi. Don’t just stare at someone sending telepathic messages. If someone smiles at you or introduces themselves to you, you have your opening. You don’t have to tell them your name and three things about yourself. Just fuckin’ say “hi.”

Okay you got a word out.

Don’t get overzealous now and word vomit all over them. Contain yourself in the conversation. No one is going to be your friend if you barf your every ailment and confession of weird fetishes all over them. Start small. Find a common interest and work off of that.

“You guys have Taco Tuesday at your house? I have Taco Tuesday at my house too!”

“Oh you pretend to work out? So do I! I wear gym clothes everywhere and don’t even have a membership!”

Just remember, you have a crowd out there that you fit in with, whatever the hell that means to you, find it. My crowd tends to be professional people who also swear, drink beer, and can’t go an evening without talking about genitals. The crowd exists. We play Cards Against Humanity after art festivals and have adult slumber parties playing beer pong with craft beer. Balls.

Know what crowd you can’t be with.

Just like in dating, there are friendship deal breakers, attributes of a person that you could never naturally mesh with. Recognize what these are and steer clear of those people.

I have a hard time being friends with people that have to nail you down for a weekends worth of plans and if you don’t follow through they fall apart. The relationship with one of my best friends started over the realization that we were both socially awkward commitment-phobes at our job. Many anxiety ridden half assed plans later, she became the friend I never broke plans with. We understood each other’s “stomach flu.” People with the same deal breakers tend to stick together. There are the obvious ones to look for like liars, thieves, and addicts but then there are much more important ones, like girls that ban Barbie from their household. People that don’t like dogs. Or Madonna. You can’t trust a bitch that doesn’t Vogue.

Invite potential friend for a grown up play date.

Remember Taco Tuesday? Invite them to be socially awkward with you over dinner. The first play date is always the ice breaker. If you can get past this without doing anything too weird, you’re in the running for a new friend. I recommend making plans in the afternoon and setting an “end time.” “Hey I’d love to get lunch with you and hang out on Sunday are you free? I just have to go to my sisters for dinner at 5.” Setting an end time, especially if you’re having someone at your house, cuts anxiety in half. There’s nothing worse than being stuck with someone that you find out wears patchouli and gives their cat a bath with their tongue. Hopefully it goes well and your sister “cancels on you.”

Lastly, check your filters and make sure they’re working.

Sometimes we get so excited to make a friend that we hoard the entire outing with our dramatics and stories because we’ve been so attention deprived. You can mean well, you can be the coolest person once someone gets to know you. However, if you act like you’re trying out for a soap opera or talk like an auctioneer, no one will ever know that because they’ll be running. All joking aside, of course it’s most important to be yourself. Never sell a fake version of yourself to someone. There are people who do appreciate the misunderstood. I really enjoy people that are weird and have no reserves about it. Be genuine but keep in mind to give people a chance to give you a chance!

So, you engaged in a greeting, you acted normal, you found someone that shares your likeness, and your first play date went off without a hitch. Now that you have a brand new friend treat it like the majestic unicorn it is. Put their birthday in your calendar and set the repeat reminder for every year. Follow up with them on their important meetings or anticipated dates. Swing by with a pizza.

Friends are hard to come by in adult life! Especially for Generation Y-the-hell-are we-socially-awkward-cave-dweller. When you find a good one, hold on to them. Just don’t call their mom looking for them.


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More about Erika Lauren

Erika Lauren is a Boston born French girl spending her days as a workin girl and dog mom, and her nights as a nocturnal writer. She's a content creator for The Haute Mess, XOJane, and Email:

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