Basically they're a lot harder to find when you're not six.
When you’re a kid, making friends is deeply uncomplicated. Borrowing a crayon, hating the same teacher, shared trauma in having to do sport: common ground isn’t difficult to find. Growing up is awash with chances to meet people: primary school, secondary school, college and Uni. And then suddenly: nothing.
After the age of about eighteen we suddenly stop doing big new things that lead us to meet new people. Yes, your first job might yield some friends, but work friendships are generally limited by professionalism, which might be why the number of friends you have apparently shrinks when you get older.
It’s no surprise that according to a 2010 study from the Mental Health Foundation, young people are experiencing a loneliness epidemic.
If you’re dissatisfied with your social life, it doesn’t mean you don’t have any friends. But it might be you live a long way from them, it could be that they don’t share your interests or it could be that they’re starting families and you’re not ready for weaning to be a major topic of conversation. Whatever the reason, people grow and change, and that can end up fuelling a need to find and meet new people to connect with.
When you move to a new city, everyone will tell you to join clubs and activities. It’s an infuriating thing to hear, but it does have some truth to it. Even if you don’t stick with running/choir/knitting, it’s probably going to be filled with people are there with the intention of making friends. The hardest part is being brave enough to suggest going for a drink afterwards, but if you can get the courage to do it, it’ll pay dividends.
As well as trying to discover new people, it’s worth looking back at people you’ve been friends with in the past. Your friendship network is probably already full of fun people you could get to know. Often we lose touch with people, or don’t get to know them as much as we’d like to, but there’s nothing to stop you getting back in touch on Facebook and seeing if they want to meet for coffee.
If you’ve recently moved to a new city, it’s worth asking friends and family if they know anyone living there who they might put you in touch with. It might feel a bit exposing, but you’ll generally find people are keen to help. It could be hit and miss, and might involve a few awkward coffees with someone’s awful second cousin’s brother’s wife. But it’s trial and error, and once you make one friend you tend to meet their wider circle and the whole thing takes on a life of it’s own.
Apps like Hey! Vina Meet Up are designed for platonic meeting, and even dating app Bumble has introduced a ‘finding a platonic friend’ feature. If you’d consider using an app to find a date, then why not apply the same logic to finding new friends?
Or, go old school
Probably the scariest of all options, but you could try talking to people. Seriously – we live in a world where you can live next door to someone for decades and never even know their name, but there are people all around you, who might well be keen to be friends. Popping next door to your neighbours and introducing yourself or saying hi to the woman you see every day on your commute – scary but super affective.
Whatever you decide to do, try to remember that feeling lost and lonely is a very normal experience, especially if you’ve moved to a new place, recently finished university or fallen out with your usual friendship group.
The important thing to remember is that those feelings are completely normal and are being shared by millions of women all over the world. One of whom might be about to be your new best friend.