By: Patrick Mintzer
Making friends is something that comes very easily to some people, yet can be very difficult for others. There is no exact science to making new friends. Even the idea of friendship is strange; meeting someone you’re going to spend all your free time with in a totally platonic way. Growing up there are three stages where making new friends comes very organically: grade school, high school, college. When grade school starts your parents pick your friends for you by setting up playdates. In high school your friends are usually in your classes or in the same extracurricular activities. In college your friends are typically the ones that live in the same dorm building as you. Basically friendships start out of convenience. I am not trying to downplay the importance of a friendship because I have told my friends things that my family has no idea about. Friends are the ones you talk to when you start a new relationship so that way you don’t do anything stupid in front of this new girl/boy you are trying to impress. Friends are the ones that make you happy one minute and furious the next. It doesn’t matter though because come Friday night they are your first phone call when you are looking to have a few drinks and drown out the mundane rat race we have fallen into. As we get older some friends move away, some friends we grow out of, and some friends get involved in serious relationships so you don’t see them as much; it sucks.
In my particular situation, I was the one who moved away. I was gifted with a great career opportunity that required me to move 6 hrs away from all of my friends and family. I’m what some call “an overly optimistic” person, so I saw this opportunity as nothing besides a glass half full moment in my life. The thought of moving to a place with no friends and family was intimidating at first. As mentioned in the beginning of this article, I am one who is able to make friends easily so I wasn’t concern, but I should have been. Making brand new friends at 24 is hard and terrifying at the same time. Having work friends is one thing, but it’s nice to separate work and fun so this is where we get down the nitty gritty. How does one make friends at 24? I tried all the tricks; I joined adult sporting leagues, went out to the bars, and even tried some dating apps.
The dating apps were my first attempt. Living at home I never thought I would try dating apps, but being alone and using them for the right reasons, I was hoping it could be successful. It was not. I went on a few dates through tinder and bumble and found that the girl was either just looking for a free dinner, looking for a quick hookup, or was just someone I didn’t vibe with. I know there has been success stories with these apps but I found that these are more the exception than the rule.
Next I figured I would just go out to the bars by myself and see what happens. I’m a nice and fun guy, I should be able to make friends. Once again I was wrong. There’s three types of groups at bars; groups of girls, groups of guys, and mixed groups. Mixed groups are so into themselves they aren’t really talking to anyone but themselves, stonewalling any attempt I made to make friends. The group of guys are there to do 2 things, get as drunk as possible or trying and hookup with girls. The last thing these dudes want is some random guy coming up to them trying to start a spontaneous conversation. The group of girls is definitely the easiest to approach but it is important to approach with caution. Every girl’s first thought is going to be that me, a straight male, is just there to try and have sex with one of them which is not a good way to make friends. Another thing that happened to me was this group of girls used a trusting guy like me to buy them drinks all night. I walk out with a $200 bar tab and no new friends. So once again, going to the bar by myself, not the best way to make new friends.
Lastly I joined adult athletic leagues, softball and basketball. These are two sports I’ve always enjoyed playing and knew I’d at least have fun playing. Both leagues I joined were coed because I wanted to focus on the fun and less of the competition. This is where I found my friends. I went somewhere to have fun with like minded individuals and then I realized, it was never supposed to be so hard. It really just came down to finding people with similar interests and for me that was sports. Since then I’ve been living the good life.
For anyone that finds themselves in any type of similar situation that I found myself in my advice to you is just find something that you know you are going to have fun doing, whether that be sports,or volunteering, or anything you have a passion for, the rest will come naturally.