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When you think of your childhood friends, a lot of names probably come to mind–and you may even still be in close touch with some of them. You had friends everywhere–at school, on your sports team, at church, in the neighborhood…
In fact, up until you reached emerging adulthood, making friends was almost done for you. You were surrounded by same-aged peers who were at a similar life-stage as you, so you naturally had a lot in common.
But now that you’ve become settled, you may realize you haven’t made a new friend in a while. Your life path has started to veer off from the lives of people from your childhood and you’ve now ended up in different places with different priorities. Some are working full-time jobs, others are settling down into serious relationships, and you may even know a few people who are starting to have children. Or, maybe you’re new to your city and your career is thriving…but your social life…is not.
It takes work to make friends as an adult. However, fostering new friendships is worth the effort, as loneliness is the biggest threat to public health, and its cost is expected to worsen. In fact, research shows that social isolation can significantly increase one’s risk for premature mortality resulting from chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and depression.
While it may be hard to make friends because we all have our own daily routines, putting yourself out there by meeting new people and developing relationships is necessary for your emotional and physical wellbeing as an adult.
So in this article, we will look at 15 social hobbies that you can engage in that will help you meet people and make new connections. After all, studies show that the more you socialize, the more satisfied you will be with your life.
Let’s take a look.
15 Social Hobbies to Meet People and Make Connections
1. Join a Running Club
This is a popular hobby to meet new people because most people want to stay fit–and joining a running club is a way to stay physically healthy while also meeting new friends. Running by yourself can get old quickly–even with the world’s best playlist. Plus, maintaining the motivation to increase your speed or distance is difficult when there isn’t anyone cheering you on.
Many fitness bloggers (such as A Pretty Place to Play and Eclectic Cake) insist that people in running groups are extremely supportive and welcoming. And if you’re nervous people will be judging you, you will soon find out that everyone felt like that at some point, so members are likely to go out of their way to not make you feel like that.
I met one of my closest friends about six years ago while I was volunteering. In fact, she ended up being one of the people who wrote a letter of recommendation for me when I was applying to graduate school!
Volunteering will let you make constructive use of your free time while giving back to your community, so find a place that interests you that could use some extra manpower. In the process, you will meet like-minded people that you already have something in common with.
What’s more, volunteering has several benefits to offer. In addition to making new friends, you can learn new skills, add a variety of experiences to your resume to enhance your career, and help protect both your mental and physical health by combating stress, fighting depression, and offering you a sense of purpose.
But coming back to meeting new people, one of the best ways to foster new relationships is to engage in a shared activity. Volunteering will help strengthen your ties to your community and grow your support network as you do fulfilling work with other locals who want to give back.
3. Go to the Dog Park
If you have a canine buddy, find a local dog park or an organized dog-walk meetup group. People are so passionate about their animals, so while your four-legged friend is socializing with others, you can do the same. You already have something to talk about–your dogs!
If you continue to go to the same park or walk with the same meetup group, it won’t be long before you start recognizing faces (both human and non) and learning more about the people and their lives outside of their furry friend.
Resource: Here is a link where you can find the dog walk meetups in your area.
4. Join a Book Club
…or start one! Think about how frequently you finish a book and are bursting to talk about it with someone! Being in a book club will give you that chance to discuss the books, share your personal insight, your likes/dislikes, and hear what other people’s perspectives are.
This is an obvious choice for those of you who love to read, and a beneficial choice for everyone. Look around on Facebook for local book groups or ask a colleague or friend if you can join theirs. If no one has suggestions, invite some people to your own club and tell them to invite other people they know to come along too.
Having a conversation already planned out for you takes some of the edge off when it comes to finding socializing. You will already have one thing in common with everyone in the group–leaving no room for awkward silences.
Resource: Don’t know where to find a group? Check out this site for some options.
5. Talk to Your Neighbors
Are you among the 61% of Americans who are cordial with their neighbors? If not, chances are you have some neighbors who fall into this category and would be happy to strike up a conversation with you.
Take a bit of time to wander around your area to uncover any communal places near your home. And, while walking is a beneficial hobby in itself, it can also give you the chance to cross paths with some unfamiliar faces. Take this opportunity to ask about local hangout spots, any organized groups in the community, and upcoming events.
Your neighborhood may house a wide variety of people who have different backgrounds, but you’ve all ended up in the same place, which gives you something in common. Socializing with different types of people can be an eye-opening experience, and doing so with those who live in your immediate area will make you feel more involved in your community.
Being friends with your neighbors is also practical, especially in times of need. Knowing someone near you when you’ve locked yourself out, need someone to watch your house while you’re away, or just need to borrow a few last-minute eggs is very convenient.
Resource: Check out this blog post to learn how to become friends with your neighbors.
It’s easy to get caught up in your own routine and neglect the fact that there’s a lot more the world–and your community–has to offer than your typical day-to-day schedule. Attending a community event will give you a chance to meet other people while also exposing you to new ideas that you could incorporate into your own life.
Look for events you’re interested in such as art gallery openings, comedy nights, intellectual lectures, dance recitals, concerts or other events in your area where you can cross paths with people who have similar interests. However, don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and attend an event that is completely new to you. You will definitely find it interesting to talk to people who have completely different backgrounds than you do–and you may find you have more in common than you initially think!
Resource: There are a lot of websites that can help you find events to attend. Eventbrite will help you find all types of events near your zip code–many of which are free or inexpensive. They offer everything from family-friendly events to networking nights and exercise classes.
Nextdoor is another website that is a good resource. Nextdoor is designed by locals to help other people find local events and activities. Just search for your city and you’ll see upcoming events, many of which are hosted by people in the community, making it an easy way to meet new people.
7. Join an Online Forum
The easiest way to make new connections online is to go to one of the many online forums where people are looking to interact with others who share their same interests. Making friends on an online forum is done the same basic way you make friends in real life–and with time, real friendships can develop beyond your shared interest.
And if (or when) you decide to meet your virtual friends in the real world, you’ll feel like you’ve known them for years–and maybe by that point you will have! In this way, online forums might be the best way to make lasting friendships that you may not have otherwise been able to find.
8. Run for City Counsel
Becoming more active in local politics that are taking place immediately around you is a great way to meet people who live in your area. You can run for office in your city counsel–or if you want to do something that requires less of a commitment, simply join your city counsel and start going to meetings. Not only will this give you a voice in regards to the happenings in your area, it will also help you mingle with others who are equally as impacted by some of the decisions that your city makes as you are.
The more you attend meetings, the more familiar you’ll become with people in your community who are equally as committed to making improvements for the benefit of their surrounding neighbors as you are.
Resource: Here are ten traits of an effective councilmember.
9. Schedule Blind “Friend Dates”
Assuming you like your existing friends, you can reach out to them for help. Expand your social circle by asking your current friends to go out and bring one of their friends that you don’t know. If you trust your friend, you will know that you’ll enjoy the company of whomever they bring.
Or, if you’re even more brave, leave your mutual friend out. Have someone play “matchmaker” for you, but don’t have them tag along when it’s time for the big date. If you do this every few weeks or so, your friend circle will quickly expand!
10. Get On Social Media
You may consider social media to be largely at fault for making our society increasingly antisocial, but it does have the ability to connect people. You can use social media to find people you’ve lost touch with or as a way to see people you’re connected with in some way whom you haven’t yet met.
You can also use social media to find out about events happening in your area where you could also meet some new people.
11. Get Involved With Your Alumni Association
If you went to a big college, there is a good chance that there’s an alumni association in your area that gets together regularly. Having the college experience in common is just a conversation starter– you can also talk about how you branched out after graduation and where your degree took you. You may even do this while watching a college game on tv being played by your alma mater!
Resource: You can also use your Alumni Association to help you find a job, if need be.
12. Learn a New Language
Learning a new language is a challenging hobby that will open you up to meeting and communicating with people who have a different background than you do. And once you’re able to speak their language, you can make new friends with people you may have never assumed you would befriend.
Learning a new language opens you up to travel opportunities that may have been more of a challenge before, which will also allow you to make friends worldwide. You can even make international friends while you’re learning by signing up to have a language partner. Doing so will give you first-hand experience with learning and speaking the language with a native speaker.
13. Go to Live Music Events
If you like listening to live music, make it a hobby to attend live events in your area. Often, you will find local artists who want to share their musical craft with the community, which will attract other people who appreciate music as well.
Be open to talking to people you haven’t met yet, and build the courage to initiate that conversation, too. You already know that theoretically, you have something in common–music!
14. Attend Trivia Nights
..and the like. If you enjoy some friendly competition over flowing libations, consider meeting new people by joining a trivia team at a nearby bar. Places that offer trivia nights often have trivia managers that put teams together–so if you’re new, you can be added to a team that is short a player. This will guarantee you a fun night of friends and laughs at least once a week.
No matter how official and dedicated your Thursday night softball league team is, getting together to play a sport is a great way to meet new people and interact with them on a regular basis. It’s easy to bond with teammates over friendly competition and some physical activity. Plus, your practice and game days will usually lead to another social gathering after–like drinks at the local bar.
So find a sport that you enjoy playing and see if there is a league in your area. Whether you’re into bowling, playing pool, dodgeball, or even just cornhole, there’s a league out there for you.
Final Thoughts on Meeting People and Making Connections
You may think it will be awkward to start a conversation somewhere that you don’t know anyone, but you’ll get used to it. The best way to connect with other people is to show interest in them (but if you’re not genuinely curious, don’t force it).
Of course, you may not meet your next best friend on the first try. But keep interacting with people who aren’t quite right, as they may be able to open the door for you to meet their friends and friends of friends, etc., who could end up being a better fit.
Put your best foot forward when meeting new people, but remember to be yourself. Your future real friends will appreciate you for exactly who you are. Also remember that your new friendship should be a two-way street, meaning you don’t want to force yourself to try to like someone you don’t feel truly comfortable accepting, supporting, and trusting. Limit your friends to only those who make you feel secure and respected.
Connie Stemmle is a professional editor, freelance writer and ghostwriter. She holds a BS in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her 4-year-old daughter, running, or making efforts in her community to promote social justice.