How To Meet New People + Tips For Making Friends, According To Experts
Friendships are a vital part of our overall well-being and sense of belonging—but in a world that seems increasingly isolated, how do you actually meet new people these days?
To find out, we asked experts, plus got their tips on starting new friendships. Here's what to know.
The importance of friendships & meeting new people
When we're kids, we have school and extracurriculars to keep us socially engaged and frequently meeting new people. The older we get, however, the less opportunity there seems to be for meeting new people.
But as the world faces a startling loneliness epidemic, it's never been more important to seek connections in your community and keep friendships strong.
As psychotherapist Annette Nuñez, M.S., Ph.D., tells mindbodygreen, good friends can be the life raft keeping you afloat in hard times and contribute to overall feelings of well-being and community.
In fact, as one 2019 study published in the journal Innovation in Aging notes, friendships serve "a vital role for sustaining social connectedness in late life when other relationships may become unavailable."
19 ways to meet new people:
Check your local events pages
There are plenty of in-person and virtual events you can take advantage of to help you meet new people. As psychologist Nicole Beurkens, Ph.D., previously explained to mindbodygreen, "One of the easiest ways to connect with people who might be friendship material is to engage in group activities around your interests."
Find groups you connect with
Speaking of finding events, you can find groups you're interested in too, according to licensed therapist De-Andrea Blaylock-Solar, MSW, LCSW-S, CST. She tells mindbodygreen that whether you're looking for a hiking group or an LGBTQ+ group, you can always find other people who get together to enjoy their shared interests.
Try a friend-finder app
Just as you can use dating apps to find your next love interest, you can use friend-finder apps to find your next bestie. And as Blaylock-Solar tells mindbodygreen, she thinks apps can be great for meeting new people if you're intimidated by meeting people in person.
Here are our favorite friend-finder apps to help you get started.
Start a new hobby
Sometimes, one of the best ways to meet new people is actually focusing on doing things you like to do. That way, you end up around people who are interested in the same things you are.
That said, Nuñez recommends identifying a hobby you'd like to do more and then looking for meetup groups that have activities around that hobby, whether that's photography, swimming, pickleball—you name it.
Have a routine
According to both Blaylock-Solar and Nuñez, having a set routine is a great way to be around the same people on a regular basis. For instance, Blaylock-Solar says, maybe you always take your dog out for a morning walk and notice your neighbor does the same thing. That's a great opportunity to strike up a conversation or even ask if they'd like to walk with you some mornings out of the week.
Join a new gym or studio
Speaking of having a routine, you'll definitely meet new people if you get into the habit of going to the gym or your nearest yoga studio, for instance. Bonus points if you go at the same times throughout the week, as you'll quickly notice gym rats tend to be creatures of habit.
See the same person on the elliptical every time you're at the gym? Don't be afraid to say hi or ask if they can teach you a workout tip or two.
Take classes on things you're interested in
Some hobbies don't require you to take class, like hiking, for example. But if you're looking to get into pottery, cooking, or even gardening, Blaylock-Solar says, these are all things that probably have some local classes in your area. Find your nearest pottery studio and sign up for a class or learn how to make homemade pasta and strike up a conversation with the person making ravioli next to you.
Join a work committee or group
If you're lucky enough to have cool co-workers, some of them could be potential friends—and one of the best ways to find out is to get involved in any extracurriculars your workplace offers, like the company volleyball team or the birthday committee. Even if you simply rally your co-workers for happy hour drinks once a week, you might find you've been missing out on existing workplace connections.
Start a book club
Don't want to look for a group to join? Start the group yourself and host a book club once a month. As Nuñez explains, you can invite friends but then also encourage friends to invite other friends you haven't met. That way, everyone meets someone new and you have a built-in conversation starter—the book!
Similar to starting a book club, Nuñez tells mindbodygreen you could also host any type of get-together, such as a monthly dinner party. Just like the book club example, you can invite people you already know and have them bring a friend or two that you've never met.
Look to your existing network
Last but not least, in the age of social media, you probably have plenty of casual acquaintances already available at your fingertips. Why not reach out to one of them? As Richmond previously told mindbodygreen, "You can know someone for years and one day just click—timing is everything, so give those old relationships a new chance or a new view."
Similarly, mutual friends are a great place to start as well, according to board-certified psychiatrist Roxanna Namavar, D.O. "Sometimes it makes it easier to be social if a friend is with you that you already feel comfortable with," she previously told mindbodygreen. Plus, if they already get along with one of your friends, there's a good chance you'll like them too.
Tips to keep in mind for starting friendships:
Focus on doing things you enjoy
Instead of making your sole focus meeting new people, prioritize doing things you already like to do, to help you meet people with the same interests.
As Namavar explains, "When we start to focus on doing things that make us feel good and engage in a way that increases positive feelings, it makes it easier to see and connect with other people we resonate with," adding, "The more engaged we are with life, the easier it is to go out and meet people."
When making new friends, you want to stay open and curious. As Richmond explains, "Instead of talking about yourself or thinking you have to impress this person, lead with curiosity and ask questions about them." She adds that most of us are "in our heads" to a degree, so if you can help get someone out of their head, that's a positive and endearing quality.
You might have to go outside your comfort zone and try new things to meet new people, so be prepared for that. "The key is to be willing to put yourself out there to engage with other people you don't know," Beurkens says. Of course, this can be intimidating, "especially for people who are shy or experience some social anxiety," she adds, "but taking the risk to meet new people is what leads to the reward of developing new relationships."
Don't be afraid to initiate
Making a friend is a two-way street, so don't be afraid to initiate. The other person could be just as hesitant to reach out, too. Things like a simple compliment or finding a similar interest are great places to start, according to Namavar, who adds, "Also, asking somebody for a little bit of help opens the door to soften the interaction."
Speaking of softening and asking for help, don't be afraid to get a little vulnerable. As Richmond explains, "We're programmed to be afraid of rejection, but no connections that are worthwhile happen without vulnerability."
For this reason, having a strong enough sense of self so you can be OK with a friendship not working out is important. Don't be afraid to be yourself—otherwise, how will you make friends who see and accept the real you?
"Not everyone's going to like you, but as we get older, you can accept that not everyone needs to like you," Richmond says. And when you live your truth, "then you can find the people who do," she adds.
How can I meet new people in my life?
To meet new people, engage in hobbies and routines that interest you while also putting you around new people, such as joining groups, going to in-person events, taking classes, and saying yes to group invitations.
How do you meet new friends when you have none?
You can still make friends even if you aren't starting with many (or any). Try using friend-finder apps, joining groups, taking classes, and starting new hobbies that put you around new people.
How do you socialize and make friends?
Socialize and make friends by frequently going to events, in-person groups, classes, and any other places that allow you to do something you like to do around other people.
What is the best way to make friends?
The best way to make friends is to simply engage in your hobbies and interests around others, such as by taking classes, going to local events, or joining groups.
Friendships are one of the most enriching parts of our lives, and even though meeting new people can seem like a challenge, it is possible. If you're seeking new, meaningful connections in your life, it starts with a commitment both to meeting new people and a commitment to yourself.
Be patient and stay positive—every interaction is a chance for a new connection when you're open and looking.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.