Sometimes, it can be hard to meet new friends as an adult—especially if you’ve relocated after high school or college. If you don’t vibe with your colleagues, where else are you even expected to find new people to spend time with? Even with the ubiquity of the internet, how to make friends online isn’t something most of us have ever considered.
But these days, it’s more than acceptable to find the love of your life online, so why not use social media to make new friends?
“I’m part of the ‘My Favorite Murder’ fandom—a murderino,” said Jennifer, public relations and communications specialist in North Carolona, “This true-crime podcast has attracted a fierce female fan base who has taken to Facebook to create countless private groups for every niche you can imagine.”
“My closest friends by far come from dozens of groups that spun off of a group made to share macabre and dark content and for those of us who process terrible things through dark humor. The women who I consider some of my closest friends live across the country or across the world, and even so, I know they have my back.” Jennifer said.
Why is it so hard to meet new friends?
“It’s hard to make friends in this day and age for several reasons,” explained Lacy Harrison, Certified Life Coach. “Many of my clients struggle to make connections outside of the workplace due to their drive to succeed. There’s a mentality of ‘All work and no play gets me to where I want to go faster.‘And truthfully, it doesn’t have to be such a sacrifice.”
According to Harrison, oftentimes people place so much importance on achieving career goals that it leaves little time to engage outside of their profession. After all, it’s easy to lose sight of the link between connection that comes with friendships and the role that it plays in our mental well-being.
“There’s an old adage that says ‘It’s lonely at the top,'” Harrison said, “which can be a result of devoting all of our time to achieving goals and overlooking the happiness that comes along with having friends that are there during the climb.”
For some people, though, making friends is daunting simply because of the insecurity that they will be rejected. “Putting yourself out there to a new group of people, or even just one person, whether platonic or romantic can be intimidating. Many people fear the vulnerability that is necessary in creating real connections,” explained Adina Mahalli, certified mental health expert at Maple Holistics.
How to find friends online
Thanks to the wealth of options, deciding to make an effort to meet new friends is half the battle. That said, there are right and wrong ways to go about it. When attempting to find new friends, keep the following guidelines in mind.
- Reach out: The beauty of social media is that you’re able to connect with just about anybody. In an attempt to make friends on social media, don’t be afraid to reach out. The worst-case scenario is that this potential friend-to-be doesn’t reply—and then you’ll just be back where you started.
- Be honest: When you drop a message, don’t forget to explain why this person caught your attention and the reason you want to possibly meet up for coffee or talk on the phone. It might seem like a weird, novel concept—but it’s really not! Our lives take place on the internet these days, and this is just part of that process.
- Find a hobby: Try to meet like-minded people by diving into a hobby—like tennis, pottery, reading, kayaking and so on—and then pursuing local forums or Facebook groups. It’s also a wonderful conversation starter by listing these on your personal profile and also a great option as a potential get-together.
Resources to get started
Again, your options in this respect are virtually limitless. But if you’re overwhelmed with choices and aren’t sure where to start, try these popular outlets.
- Facebook: While no one necessarily recommends going on a Facebook-friending spree, Facebook groups for different interests are a great place to start. Whether you’re into a specific podcast like Jennifer, you’re super into Harry Potter or you want to meet people with a similar talent as you, there’s definitely a Facebook group out there with your name on it.
- Instagram: The age of the influencer has had its pitfalls, but Instagram is undeniably a great place for reaching out to like-minded individuals. Try looking through specific hashtags and following people who seem cool. Liking and commenting is totally acceptable on this app, and it can eventually lead to friendships.
- Bumble BFF: If you want a more straightforward approach, try Bumble BFF. Not unlike its dating counterpart, this app matches you with like-minded people, and if you both swipe right on each other, a conversation ensues.
- Meetup: If you have more specific interests but are still interested in using a direct app, consider Meetup. All you have to do is enter your location, and you’ll be able to browse for meetup events by category.
How to move from online to real life
One thing to always remember is that authenticity is key. Don’t show up with a “representative” version of yourself. Allow people to see the real, unique you, which in turn allows people to see genuine compatibility and connection.
According to Mahalli, when it comes to making friends online, there are two main tips to keep in mind. First, consider whether the friendship will work, but don’t overwhelm your potential new friend. Second, make sure you’re connecting with a trustworthy person. An online people search may help you look deeper into their background and possibly even social media profiles.
Harrison suggested getting connected through websites for specific interests. Whether it’s a book club, hiking club, church group or yoga meetup, these sites can help connect like-minded people and open the door for easy conversation beyond the keyboard. They also take the legwork out of arranging something that’s fun for both parties.
“I think the best tip for making the transition from digital to reality is to speak to them over the phone first,” said Harrison. “This will allow each person to get a feel for the person they are speaking to, ease and flow of [the] conversation, and rapport. You can tell a lot about a person’s personality with a simple phone conversation. I always suggest using the platform of making plans as a way to initiate calling someone, for example, ‘Why don’t you give me a call later tonight so we can figure out some plans?'”
Online-only friends are real friends, too
While face-to-face connections are very much a part of being human, the abundance of technology means that genuine connections are possible, even if they remain forever virtual.
“I would much rather a client of mine have digital friendships than no friendships at all,” said Harrison. “If they are going to communicate only electronically, I think it’s important that there is authentic and real conversation from both parties to allow for [safety and honesty] so that each person can soak up all the benefits from the friendship.”
Meeting friends online can open up whole new worlds
While making connections and new friendships online is nothing new, it’s important to proceed with caution. Naivety can be dangerous when it comes to making new faceless friends. If you decide to meet in person, do it somewhere public and put your safety first.
“My advice to make friends through social media is to find like-minded people who are kind and respectful, and then participate in the community,” said Jennifer of her own experience. “Talk to people. Comment on posts. Give advice. Ask for advice. When you connect with someone, ask if you can friend them. Chat in private messages, and build the relationship the same way you would with someone you met in real life. Be open and honest; be your authentic self. Through social media, you can find some of the richest, most engaging friendships you’ve ever had.”