Why Is It So Hard To Make Friends As An Adult – And How Can I Do It?

Making friends as a child felt so much easier...

via Elle Hughes / Pexels

As I’ve grown up and become a twenty-three-year-old woman, I have found it much harder to make friends. I’ve spoken to family, long-term friends and even strangers about making friends as an adult over the years, and I’ve always seemed to come out of the conversation with the same conclusion – it’s hard, way harder than it was when I was a child. 

Even when I engage with new people, I never know if it will be a one-off great conversation or just a friendly colleague. How does one know if this will blossom into a friendship? I don’t want to be overbearing if they’re not looking for new friends, but I also don’t want to come across as disinterested. It’s challenging to navigate a sweet spot.

If you also feel this way, you’re not alone. Speaking to the BBC, occupational psychologist Dr Angela Carter says that as children, we have no influences or prior experiences that we are confronted with. These friendships are known as “simple friendships… They’re open, accepting, they’re not really influenced by any norms of society.” 

As a child, you may have attended clubs such as Girl Scouts, sports clubs, drama clubs and made some friends along the way. However, as we grow up, we may only have a few simple friendships. We seek out people we like, and in some cases, gender becomes more significant to us. Dr Carter outlines that “when you’re older, you wonder how to find friends, and you go back and see those activities you had when you were younger. You use those as a way of meeting people.” 

This made me reflect on where I had met my long-term friends. One was from childhood when our parents knew each other. We have been close ever since; one was thanks to an ex-boyfriend, and the other is a couple of newer college friends, for which I’m grateful. Still, it is important to keep building relationships even if they’re not your newest BFF; it’s about the connection, even if it makes you incredibly uncomfortable. Being social is crucial for our health.

This is when I started looking into different ways to meet new people and was surprised by the resources I found. There has been a rise in content creators hosting friendship events worldwide… Irish influencers included.

Dev Skehan is an Irish travel content creator with nearly 55,000 Instagram followers who hosts events and retreats around Ireland and has recently been doing group trips abroad.

I chatted with Dev to discuss her experience making friends as an adult. She says she found it super challenging. “I moved up from Cork to Dublin for a job in PR and marketing, and I had no idea how I was meant to integrate myself into this adult world. I was just planted there alone and it honestly got to me for a couple of months. I was really down, I was contemplating moving back down to Cork. I felt like I had no direction or real purpose.” 

Soon, her friend Tony Smith (Tony Travels) asked if she wanted to go for a sunrise swim – a moment that they both captured and shared online. “The amount of people who were like, oh I wish someone would do this with me, all my friends only want to go out, drink or do drugs… I would love to have a friend like this.’ So Tony said ‘let’s just put up a TikTok’ asking people to come along and it exploded. That Sunday just over 100 people showed up!” 

That’s how Strangers at Sunrise (now The Hi-Tide Crew) was born. Dev soon expanded to hosting brunches, friendship events, and even retreats. She says she never wanted people to feel alone, but these events also help Dev personally; they make her want to get out of bed and show up for people who might feel the same way she did. 

“It’s better to do it alone than to never do it at all,” she says. “Don’t let the fear of being alone in a room stop you from doing what you enjoy in life, because it’s too short not to do as much of the things that we love.” 

via Julia Hym / Pexels

Here are some other creators hosting friendship events around Ireland and elsewhere:

  • Clóda Scanlon is an Irish wellness and travel content creator who hosts friendship events. This month, she’s hosting ‘Taylor Spritz’, a two hour brunch where you make friendship bracelets and blast Taylor Swift’s set list.
  • Keelin Moncrieff is a YouTuber, podcaster and Irish influencer who has recently started to host ‘Book Swap Social’, a speed friending and book swap event. Her following two events are sold out in Belfast and Dublin, and she has yet to confirm a date for a London event.
  • Other great content creators who hold events, retreats, and trips are Grainne Binns (North Dublin-based) Niamh Flynn, Robin Courtney (Cork-based).

Other options for meeting new people are checking out groups online in your local area on Facebook, Instagram, and even TikTok or visiting websites such as Meet Up, where you can find events near you, join groups and even create a group. Eventbrite is also home to many friendship events across the country, some of which are even free! 

If you were looking for a sign to go out and meet new people, this is it! Be safe, and most importantly, enjoy it! 

Words by EmilyRose Nulty