The Essential Truth About Finding New Friends As An Adult

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How to make new friends as an adult is a question that many women ask. The trick to making new friends after college lies in putting yourself out there.

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How To Make New Friends As An Adult

Female friendship can be tricky to maneuver at any stage of life. But especially after college, when people are no longer a dorm door away and the demands of work and family take more of our time and energy, many women struggle with making new friends as adults. On VProud there is an amazing video and conversation where Glee's Jane Lynch says that when we are open to friendship, we draw our people to us. Writer, mother, and instructional designer Dawn Butler reflects on this topic from the vulnerable position of someone who has, indeed, actively searched for her people, but only after she realized how very much she wanted to bring friendship into her life. Take a look at Dawn's raw, honest essay about her search—and find—for female friendship.

—The VProud Team


make friends as an adult

How I Put Myself Out There And Found New Friends As An Adult

By Dawn Butler For VProud

It was a balmy 60 degrees when I arrived at the gastro pub known as Baker’s Square last night. According to the invites, there would be at least 10 people attending: the highest attendance since we started last September. A therapist, a group home PCA, a former city council member, a chiropractic assistant, a doula, an instructional designer, a child care provider, and homemakers, all gathered together with the same purpose, our hands working feverishly as we laughed and talked.

We are crafting fiends.

This all started about a year ago. After I married and had children, I found myself drifting away surreptitiously from my core group of friends from my 20s and 30s. It wasn’t conscious at all. I chalked it up to life changes, but really, it was a combination of life changes and my own insecurity. 

In your 20s and 30s, just as in your teen and childhood years, friendships occur largely due to circumstance. I worked with a brilliant group of women and men at a bookstore, and we became a close-knit family; spending weekends and weeknights together regularly, sharing everything. Once I had a partner (and others began many of the same life changes), I didn’t rely as much on my friend-family. Slowly but absolutely, as these things happen, those bonds disintegrated.

Anxiety persuaded me to stay away from social commitments and depression convinced me that I was not worth the time. I believed both of them for a long and desperate time. I upped my meds, and became best friends with sleep aids, coffee, and potato chips. I gained a lot of weight, drank more wine, and wallowed—all in excess. One day, at age 41, I woke up realizing I was incredibly lonely. I had all of the things I had always wanted in my life except for strong women to laugh and cry with and to lean on.

Women friends are essential and life giving. They bring a specific-to-women warmth to the room— unrivaled and unrestrained laughter, and familiar and knowing conversation. There’s nothing like dedicated time with women you like and admire. And dammit, I had all of that, and I had let all go in the midst of passing time.

Enter Facebook.

My husband and I had just started to get into gardening as relatively new homeowners. I found a local Facebook group for gardening in our city, so I joined and began participating online. It was a big step for me, because self-confidence isn’t my forte. But I had learned, and I began to engage with open exchange of ideas, and occasional plant bombing in driveways and on doorsteps. A garden tour was planned for the summer, and one of the organizers asked me to have my garden on the tour. I freaked out. But, despite working up the courage not to cancel at the last minute, I did it, and I didn’t die.

On the tour was a woman who seemed close in age to me, and we chatted as we went from house to house. She asked me if I was a knitter, and I am.  She offered her house for getting together. “Stop by anytime. Bring the kids.” She meant it.

The generosity of her spirit floored me, and got me thinking. Maybe there were others? Maybe there was a way to commit to me getting out of the house and socializing, under the guise of crafting? Winter was coming – my difficult and dark time, when hibernation becomes a way of life. My mind and heart needed a way out.

I set up a group for my city on Facebook. If folks wanted to join, great. If not, this lovely new friend and I would make time to get together.

No agenda. Just show up, and do your thing. Or not. No one is “taking attendance.”

All are welcome.

I had no idea who would show up, and other than my new gardening friend, I knew no one. Risky. 

But if I had to spend another winter holed up in my misery, I feared that my spirit would shrivel into an unrecognized state.

5 people showed up the first week.

Another couple trickled in the next week.

We became a core group of people, committed to meeting every week. Patterns, funny memes, and advice are exchanged online, and personal stories are shared in person. Some come to learn to work with yarn. Some come just for the company.

The only reason we ask who is coming every week is to get an appropriately sized table.  

“When did you start this group, Dawn?” One of the crafting group members asked me pointedly, while walking to our cars after a night of yarn and pie.

“I have no idea,” I responded, not dismissively, but because I had been too busy enjoying the moment. “No, really! This is important to me!” she exclaimed. “This is a really great thing that we are doing!”

I was floored. We had been meeting for a year, and I realized that others were getting the same benefits from the group as me. I never expected that this would be sustaining for others. My spirit soared.

Truthfully? The group members are not people I would have met if not for this space. These have become the women I reach for when I am happy, sad, upset. We all have our awkward times, and not everyone always gets along. But this fact remains:

We are creating an essential space for creativity and connection by honoring the rule of acceptance for all.

One woman sees us as her “daughters,” because she is not close with her own daughter.

Others say that they are so happy to connect with other people, and love the chance to get out of the house.

And one woman, this woman, sees this group as her lifeline; her reason to get out when it’s dark and cold and difficult to leave her bed. She’s found much of what she’s been desperately missing. She has learned much about taking risks, and the vast benefits that can bloom from being brave. She has a place to land again where she will be supported with specific-to-women-warmth, unrivaled, unrestrained laughter, and familiar and knowing conversation.


Thank goodness.

dawn butler vproud
About the author: Dawn Butler is a 40-something mom of two, a wife of one, and a pet-mom of three. Education is her passion—she was raised by teachers, trained as a teacher, and is now an instructional designer for teacher professional development. She is a Brene Brown disciple who likes to keep busy with dance parties with her family, yarn, food, books, and connecting with other moms. She is sarcastic and self-deprecating. See? That's her being vulnerable. Join Dawn's honest conversations on VProud.


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