top of page

Why Is It So Hard to Make Friends as an Adult?

by Harley Miller

Adulthood is filled with many wonderful opportunities and adventures, but what happens when you’ve come to the realization that you have to venture out on your own time and time again?

Making friends as an adult should be easy, right? We have our freedom, access to resources, and the world at our fingertips. Yet, so many of us struggle with making new friends past the age of 30. One of the main reasons for this is community. When we’re younger, there is a community where we all gather for a common cause—school, church, or family functions. That familiarity allows us to lower our inhibitions, making us less judgmental and more trusting of the people around us.

Related articles: Can a Soulmate Be A Friend?

So once those communities dissolve, then the real challenge begins—venturing out to find or build new communities. Which in today’s climate is growing harder to do since most people over the age of 30 spend the majority of their time indoors or at work. Then came the rise of social media and apps like Bumble BFF which at its core was centered around community and socializing. However, things got warped because the doors are open to literally anyone.

Think about it, when you’re younger and you go to school, the majority of the people attending lived in your neighborhood, you were all either destitute, middle class, or wealthy. So, immediately the foundation was laid for you to simply build on. Now, with apps inviting the world to join, you can specify your location and hope that the people in your neighborhood all share a common interest, but remember, you weren’t all raised there. As adults, you’re less impressionable, meanwhile as a child who relocates to various locations you can adapt better.


If you were raised in a middle-class neighborhood and taught various forms of etiquette or decorum and decided after college to relocate to a luxury high rise in a high-income neighborhood after landing yourself a lucrative career, you may very well meet someone who does not share the same background. Your neighbor could have been from a destitute area and won a lawsuit that allowed them to relocate to a nicer neighborhood. Now, you’re both on Bumble BFF with nothing in common but a location.

However, neither of you are privy to this and so, you match. During some light-hearted conversation, you’re realizing this person is either selfish, inappropriate, flaky, or just lacks any real passion or drive, or worse, your morals don’t align. Overall, you have nothing in common, no community to build. Now, you’re feeling like it’s hard to make friends.

As adults, we have a community that we’ve built around ourselves and want others to join. This can take the form of having high expectations due to our inhibitions being high and a lack of trust. I am a firm believer that apps have ruined our social skills because instead of relying on apps, it’s always better to go out and meet others organically at your favorite third place.

A third place is a public community that is centered on preference. For example, the library, park, or coffee shop. A person who does not enjoy reading, a quiet atmosphere, or coffee will not frequent these places, so that immediately takes them out of the running for a friendship if these are things that you enjoy. Whereas, on the other hand, the apps mix everyone together and it’s up to you to weed out who works and who does not. This is more work than what should be intended.

On apps, it’s easy to run into the following types of people: Neurodivergent, A Conversational Narcissist, Hater. It’s not to say you won’t find these types of people almost everywhere, but the hard part is done when the connection is made at a third place; you already share a community where you don’t have to stick with these people, you can venture out within the community and find others, but at least you know that you all have something in common already. The foundation is set.

Let’s talk a bit about these different character traits:


A “neurodivergent” person refers to a person on the autism spectrum or, more generally, to someone whose brain processes information in a way that is different from most individuals. A perfect example of this is a young lady who shared exciting news with a friend and instead of congratulating her, the friend went on to say something along the lines of, “…that’s cool. I heard Keisha is doing that too!” What this does is take the attention from you and redirect it to a stranger—a person who is not present in the conversation.

This can make the person sharing the news feel ignored, overlooked, overshadowed, and disinterested in sharing news in the future. However, this is typical neurodivergent behavior and so, you shouldn’t immediately write them off. The only time this is acceptable is if the person is cognizant of their behavior and does their best to return the focus onto you. If not, then there is no need to waste your time any further. You want to align with people who can match your enthusiasm as you reciprocate this as well. But don’t overthink it otherwise you’ll spend the friendship judging them and nitpicking.


This person is excessively self-focused, and if they can’t relate, they will pull on the experiences of others whom they feel can relate. This is a combination of neurodivergence and conversational narcissism. For many people, they need something to connect in their brain in order to understand it. So, in this case, they may relate something you’re saying either to themselves or someone they know.

If someone is just a C.N., they will more times than not dominate the conversation, cut you off, and do their best to regain control of the conversation. In order to survive these encounters, it’s in your best interest to speak up and use “I” statements when sharing without making them feel assaulted. On the other hand, you can simply cut off communication. Almost anytime you’re dealing with a narcissist—no matter what kind—the solution is no contact.


It’s not always easy to spot a “hater”, but believe me, there are signs. If you run into someone in a third place and their aura is immediately off-putting or their body language is off, it’s safe to say they do not have a genuine interest in you and your life’s accomplishments. Haters will often try to compete with you, downplay your success, withhold compliments, lie, or in some drastic cases, become easily offended when you say something to them that they don’t like, and they are notorious for inconveniencing you—canceling at the last minute or changing plans.

All in all, making friends as an adult does, of course, come with its challenges, but the foundation shouldn’t be one of them. You will see much more success when you go outside and interact in spaces where people can find you. You never know, someone somewhere is looking for someone just like you to join their community. So go out this summer and have an open mind.


bottom of page