“Now that I’m in my 30s, I don’t have many friends. Everyone seems too busy to hang out. I’m starting to feel lonely even though I have a job and a partner. How can I make friends?”
Why is it so hard to make friends in your 30s?
You’re not alone if you have difficulty making friends in your 30s. There are endless threads on the internet written by people describing themselves as being 30 and having no friends.
Studies show that we lose 50% of our friends every 7 years. As we get older, most people get busier with spouses, children, careers, and perhaps taking care of aging parents.
Socializing falls down their list of priorities.
The good news is that it’s possible to grow your social circle at any age. In this guide, you’ll learn how to meet people in your 30s and turn them into friends.
Part 1. Meeting New People
1. Join clubs and groups that are centered around your interests
For anyone who doesn’t know where to make friends, meetup.com is a good place to start. Look for ongoing meetups instead of one-off events. Research shows that places where you can have personal conversations with people on a regular basis are the best places to make friends. Attending the same group every week gives you a chance to form meaningful relationships.
Look at profiles of existing group members. This will give you a sense of their average gender and age, which is useful if you want to meet other 30somethings similar to you.
You could also take a class at your local community college. Find a class or course by searching “[your city] + classes” or “[your city] + courses.” You’ll meet like-minded people, and you will all be focusing on the same subject or activity, meaning you’ll have plenty of things to talk about.
2. Get to know your colleagues
Smile, say “Hi,” and make small talk with your coworkers in the breakroom, by the water cooler, or wherever else they go when they have free time. Small talk might feel boring, but it creates mutual trust and it’s a bridge to more meaningful conversations. Show a genuine interest in their lives outside of work. Safe topics to talk about while getting to know someone include hobbies, sports, pets, and their family.
When you go out to grab a coffee or something to eat, casually ask your coworkers whether they’d like to come along too. Unless there’s a compelling reason why you can’t go, always attend social events at your workplace. Take the opportunity to discover whether you have anything in common beyond working at the same place.
If you are self-employed, join your local chamber of commerce. You’ll be able to network with other business owners and perhaps pick up some contracts at the same time.
See our article on how to make friends at work.
3. If you have children, connect with other parents
When you pick up or drop off your kids, make small talk with the other parents. Because you have children at the same school or kindergarten, you already have something in common. You can probably talk about the teachers, the curriculum, and the school’s facilities. Consider joining a parent-teacher organization or association (PTO/PTA) to meet other moms and dads.
When your child talks to his or her friends at the school gates, see if their parents are nearby. If they are, walk over and introduce yourself. Say something like “Hi, I’m [the name of your child]’s mom/dad, how are you?” If you drop off or pick up your child regularly, you’ll start running into the same people.
If you have young children, try getting to know their friends’ parents when you arrange playdates. After you’ve agreed on a date and time, take the conversation to a slightly more personal level. For example, ask them how long they have lived in the area, whether they have any other children, or whether they know any good parks or play parks nearby.
4. Join a sports team
Research shows that participating in a team sport can improve your emotional health and grow your social circle. Some recreational leagues have teams for specific age groups, including those aged 30 and over. Joining a team can give you a sense of belonging, which can improve your self-esteem and personal growth. You don’t have to be very athletic to get involved. For most people, the main objective is to have fun.
Many teams socialize outside of training sessions. When your teammates suggest going for a drink or meal after practice, accept the invitation. The conversation is unlikely to dry up because you all have a shared interest. If the team is made up of people who are around your age, you might also be able to bond over shared life experiences, such as buying a home or becoming first-time parents.
If you click with someone, ask them whether they’d like to hang out for a while before your next training session. This is a low-pressure way of asking to spend more time together.
5. Look for friends online
You can meet people online via social media, online gaming communities, or forums. Make it clear in your profile that you’d like to chat about your interests and make new friends. If you are looking for people who are also in their 30s, say so. Reddit, Discord, and Facebook have thousands of groups covering numerous topics and hobbies.
Making friends after 30 can be easier to do online than in person because you don’t need to travel anywhere to socialize. This makes it a convenient option for parents and people with demanding careers.
Friendship apps, such as Bumble BFF or Patook, are another option. They work in the same way as dating apps, but they are designed for strictly platonic connections. Try to start conversations with several people at a time, because not everyone will reply.
Here we’ve reviewed the best apps and websites for making friends.
6. Become part of your local faith community
If you practice a religion, check out your nearest suitable place of worship. Research shows that people who take part in a religious community tend to have closer friendships and more social support.
Some places host regular meetups for particular groups of people, including parents and single adults who want to meet a partner. You may even find groups aimed at “30somethings,” which can be great if you want to make friends of a similar age.
7. Volunteer for a charity or political organization
Volunteering and campaigning give you a chance to bond with people with common interests and meet new friends who share your values. To find volunteer positions, Google “[Your city or town] + volunteer” or “[Your city or town] + community service.” Most political parties list volunteer groups on their websites. Check out United Way for volunteering opportunities around the world.
Part 2. Turning Acquaintances Into Friends
To develop meaningful relationships, you need to follow up with new acquaintances. Finding potential friends is the first step, but research shows that people need to spend approximately 50 hours hanging out together or communicating before they become friends.
Here are a few tips:
1. Practice swapping contact details when talking with someone
When you’re having a great conversation with someone, ask for their number or suggest another way of staying in touch. If they have enjoyed talking to you, they will probably appreciate the suggestion.
However, you will have to use your judgment to avoid making the other person uncomfortable. If you’ve only spoken to them for a few minutes, you might come across as a clingy if you ask for their number. However, if you’ve met before or have been having an in-depth discussion for an hour, go for it.
Say something like, “It’s been fun talking with you, let’s swap numbers and stay in touch!” or “I’d love to talk about [topic] again. Shall we connect on [social media platform of your choice]? My username is [your username.]”
2. Use your mutual interests as a reason to stay in touch
When you find something that makes you think of the other person, pass it on. For example, if you have a shared interest in interior design, send them links to any relevant articles you find. Keep the accompanying message short and finish with a question.
For example, “Hey, I saw this, and it reminded me of our conversation about recycled furniture. What do you think?” If they respond positively, you can then have a longer conversation and ask whether they’d like to hang out soon.
3. Suggest a structured activity or a group meetup
As a general rule, when getting to know someone, it’s best to suggest activities that are well-structured. This makes your time together less awkward. For example, instead of just inviting them to “hang out,” invite them along to an exhibition, a class, or to the theater. For safety, meet in a public place until you get to know them.
Group activities can feel less intimidating than one-on-one meetups. If you know other people with the same interest, suggest that you all get together. You could go to an event as a group, or just meet up for a discussion about a specific topic or hobby.
4. Open up
Asking someone questions and listening carefully to their responses is a great way to learn about them. But you also need to share things about yourself. Research shows that swapping experiences and sharing opinions builds a feeling of closeness between strangers.
Get curious about people. By changing your mindset, you’ll find it easier to come up with questions and keep a conversation going. For example, if someone mentions that they had to go out of town for an industry event, this suggests lots of possible questions like:
- What kind of work do they do?
- Do they enjoy it?
- Do they have to travel a lot?
Use the Inquire, Followup, Relate (IFR) method to keep a conversation going.
You inquire: What’s your favorite cuisine?
They respond: Italian, but I also like sushi.
You follow up: Have you found any good Italian restaurants around here?
They respond: I have a favorite place downtown, but they’re closed for renovations right now.
You relate: Oh, that’s annoying. When my favorite cafe shut for a month last year, I really missed it.
You can then begin the loop again. Read this guide for more advice on how to keep a conversation going.
5. Make “Yes!” your default response to invitations
Accept as many invitations as possible. You don’t have to stay for the entire event. If you can only manage an hour, that’s still much better than not going at all. It might be more fun than you imagined. If it’s a group event, you could meet some awesome new people. See every event as a valuable opportunity to practice your social skills.
This rule becomes even more important as you enter your 30s. As we get older, many of us don’t have as much time to socialize as we did in our teens and 20s. If our friends are busy too, chances to meet up become rarer. No one likes to be rejected. If you say “No” more than once without offering to reschedule, they may stop asking to see you.
6. Get comfortable with rejection
Not everyone will want to move beyond the acquaintance stage. That’s OK, and it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Rejection means you took a chance. It’s a sign that you are looking for opportunities and that you’re taking the initiative. The more people you meet and talk to, the less it will bother you.
However, if you are continually rejected and you suspect that people think you are strange or weird, see this guide: Why am I weird?. You may need to adjust your body language or conversation style to make other people feel more comfortable.
For more tips on how to make friends, see our complete guide: How to make friends.