Living in the age of social media it’s easy to feel like we’re well-connected. However, evidence from a recent Red Cross report suggests that over nine million adults in the UK are often or always lonely.
This is a shocking statistic, especially considering the number of apps intended to help people feel closer.
So what’s the problem?
Although we might have over 300 Facebook friends on average, it turns out that far more of us are feeling lonely than you would expect.
One reason that has been suggested as to why so many of us are feeling friendless is that after 25 our number of friends decreases rapidly.
Having found it easy to make friends at school and during our uni days, it can be a shock to the system when you realise you’ve not made a new friend for years.
But the situation is not all doom and gloom. Putting in the effort may be hard and slightly intimidating at first but the benefits can be truly astounding.
Some of the many cited health benefits of an active social life include better health, lower levels of obesity and a decreased risk of cognitive decline!
We really do get by with a little help from our friends, so here are our 8 top tips to help you get out there and make some new pals.
Take Up A New Hobby
Ever wanted to try a class or start a hobby but your friends weren’t interested? It’s easy to put off pursuing our own interests when we have to face the thought of going it alone.
Fortunately, there are lots of hobbies that are perfectly suited for singletons.
One of the most nerve-racking parts of joining a new group is plucking up the courage to introduce yourself to a room full of people!
Luckily, at swing dancing classes that’s how every lesson starts, so the whole group is in the same boat. You take it in turns to dance with everyone in the circle so it’s great for individuals who want to get out and dance but can’t find a partner.
If you’re stuck for ways to find friends try something where you know there’ll be a quick turnover of partners so you’re never stuck in a room full of couples. If swing doesn’t appeal, why not try speed chess or backgammon for a fun way to get your brain training and socialise at the same time?
Find Shared Interests
A great way to extend your social network and meet like-minded people is to follow your passions.
It can be tough when meeting new people to know how to start a conversation. However, you can be pretty sure that if you meet someone at a pottery class they’re probably quite interested in pottery too!
Making time to do something you love will not only feel great it will also give you a great chance to talk about your interests with people who are passionate about the same things.
Try using Facebook groups to find local events in your area. Whether you’re a budding photographer or love to read there are hundreds of groups out there!
During the cold winter months, it’s very easy to stay locked up inside with only Netflix for company. Although it might be tempting to hibernate until spring, one great way to make new friends and feel good at the same time is to take up a sport.
If the idea of being on a ‘team’ fills you with school-day horrors, fear not! There are plenty of sports that don’t require a team or weekly commitment – although going regularly is a sure-fire way to make connections! Think ultimate frisbee, Zumba or boxing if you want something indoors away from the wintery weather.
You may be wondering how you’re supposed to make friends when you’re sweaty and out of breath but the camaraderie that comes from struggling together has the potential to build true friendships.
Cook Up a Storm
It’s hard to cook gourmet meals for one, so if you’re an avid foodie why not consider signing up to a supper club?
Sharing food is a great way to bond with people and is one of the oldest forms of relationship making there is. In his book The Little Book of Lykke: The Danish Search For the World’s Happiest People, Meik Wiking goes through a history of how our relationships have revolved around food and fire. The ritual of sitting together to share a meal creates lasting bonds and is a great way to discover new friends.
Sign up for something in your local area and there’s a good chance your weekly supper club will soon turn into impromptu coffee or late-night cheese and wine.
Rekindle Old Friendships
If we’re totally honest with ourselves the majority of us will probably admit that we have far fewer real friends than we do Facebook friends. So what are all those people doing on our profiles if we never speak to them?
Over time some friends from school or people you’ve met in passing just fall out of contact. If you’re looking to spice up your social life why not try using Loose Ends to reconnect with your past acquaintances? Create a Loose End and share it with these long lost friends. Perhaps they are at a Loose End too!
Often there are people in our lives that we never fully got the chance to know, so when you’re looking to branch out it’s worth thinking about who you’ve already met – now could be the right time to re-connect.
In our hectic lives there’s always so much we’re looking to achieve and seemingly so little time to do it. We often take on self-development projects but there’s no need to isolate yourself from others to learn. Classes and courses are a great way to meet people looking to challenge themselves.
Learning a language is almost impossible without constant practice so going to a class and encouraging extra curricular coffee mornings with your fellow pupils is the perfect way to develop your skills and make new friends at the same time.
Work the Room
Working 9-5 can easily take its toll on your social life – especially when it’s already dark when you leave the office!
Coordinating meetups with friends can take weeks or even months with some people’s schedules and there’s always the chance that plans will fall through.
However, there is one group of people that the majority of us see every day of the week: our colleagues. Although work friendships can sometimes seem forced, getting to know your colleagues is a great way to make friends, and it’ll make your work environment more enjoyable too.
Why not create a Loose Ends group for your workplace (the ones you like anyway) and grab lunch or a coffee with them. Just try not to talk shop!
Our uniqueness is what draws other people to us and this should be celebrated. Next time you’re worried about missing out or fitting in, take the plunge and follow your passions. If you’re doing something you love and it shows, you’ll likely find people want to tag along for the ride.
If you’re looking to make new friends as an adult remember the following:
- Take up a hobby and do something different
- Find people with shared interests
- Join a sports team or the local gym
- Try out a supper club or cafe club
- Look for old friends on Facebook
- Join an adult education class
- Get to know your colleagues
- You do YOU!