You Have Zero Friends: How To Meet People As An Adult

How to make friends

As you may already know because I mention it like twice a week, I just moved to Portland on December 31st. I’m settling in nicely, live in a great house and have only seen one spider in my room, so life is pretty great physical comfort-wise. Having never been here and knowing no one when I arrived, I was fairly nervous about meeting people here. Having been here a week, it’s safe to say that I am now sufficiently terrified. I have finally come to the conclusion that I have very little idea how to make friends as an adult besides via osmosis (i.e. friends of friends).

It’s not that I don’t have friends elsewhere or am particularly lonely. I Skype regularly with my close friends in California from college and frequently text those I’m tight with in New York — hell, you even know some of ‘em — and there are plenty of others all over the country/world. But somehow, I never met anybody who presently lives in Portland. I have all sorts of friends from here who tell me to look up so-and-so or go to such-and-so bar and ask for some guy, but I’m just not one of those people who can call up a complete stranger and go on some kind of blind friendship date.

Fortunately, I have a nice roommate who has so far introduced me to some people, but I’m not good at talking to new folks. While I’m talkative and (mostly) friendly and able to discuss myself openly on the Interwebz, I am very different in person.

Very different.

Well, actually, I’m only completely different until you get to know me, and then I’m pretty much exactly the same (fact: I speak entirely in GIFs). But when I’m first getting to know people, I’m all…

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    • Alec Barbour

      Martial arts classes. Instant social circle.

    • Samantha

      Going out alone was how I got a job and friends when I moved to LA by myself – such a great suggestion! A lot of my friends had friends who lived in the area, so I called a bunch of strangers with a “Hey, so-and-so knows you, and I know them, and I’m new here so let’s hang out.” That single mutual friendship was usually enough to jump start some good times. Join a writing group, especially since you’re talented. Everyone will want to be your friend. Some members of my writing group from the first one I joined four years ago are among my closest friends now. Also, volunteer. I volunteered for the WGA Library, and I got to go to their events for free, plus it was great exposure to people who had an obvious shared interest with me.

      • Lastango

        +1 on the volunteering. Yoga, art classes, etc. are ok, but maybe it’s even better to get into something we really care about. If we find friends there, we’ll have something to talk about that runs deeper than our vacations and passing personal issues.

    • MR

      My work is a very social environment. I’ve always had a gift since I was very young, and it’s made me a good negotiator as far as my work flows. That all said, I don’t like crowds and prefer small parties consisting of only intimate friends. Obviously I’m a lot older than you, so there’s a flow in that too that may not make sense to you now. But when I was your age I was moving from one place to another, and I still do like to travel. Traveling you should absorb the adventure and that includes all the people around you. If you plan to stay there, then there’s no rush and I think you shouldn’t be worrying about it.

    • Chris Meacham

      I will hang out with you, I live in Portland too! I have an awesome group of friends that I’m down to share, I just need some new ones to compliment the old. I find it very hard to make new friends in my 30s, mostly because I have a well-worn comfort zone which always seems to involve my small, ultra-close group of friends. Maybe we should go out alone, together!

    • Allie

      I just moved to LA back in October and knew a few people but most of them never actually go out and have gone on with their lives as they were prior to me living here. I actually have met most of my social circle through work. I moved to LA to work in the music industry but always have fallen back on food service for extra money. Working in a bar has allowed me to be around people in a social environment but not seem like the weird girl at the bar looking to join in on things. I’ve not only befriended coworkers but regulars as well. Through them I’ve been introduced to others. Though I’m still working on my social circle, I’ve made a point of putting myself just outside of my comfort zone by actually going out to things I’ve been invited to (the next stop after they leave my bar, parties, staying after my shift for a drink with a table I had been waiting on, etc)
      It’s taken more saying “Yes” that I used to when I had a built in social circle from living in the same place for years and years, but it’s definitely a lot less lonely that when I lived in New York (the other place that I moved solo-style for a job)

    • Reese

      Concerts or smaller music shows. The band is an easy conversation starter and you meet people who have a common interest.

    • Alex

      As a fellow woman in her early 20s who lives in Portland, welcome to the city! It can be wicked hard to make friends because people can be a bit flakey here but it pays off well. I’ve lived here about 4 years.

      Check out some of the small venues for shows; I like Rotture, Holocene, and the Doug Fir (because I can walk to all of them). The Mercury has a pretty good listing of events going on from week to week. Most socializing is done in bars, I prefer mine to be as divey as possible. Check out Beulahland, The Sandy Hut, The Standard and The Matador on West Burnside for some kick ass drinks.

    • Emily

      Thank you so much for this piece. I recently moved to Miami not knowing anyone down here, and it’s been surprisingly difficult to get out there and build a friend group from scratch. Thank you for the ideas and the reassurance that, though hard, it is possible to make friends outside of recess.