Making new friends in your 20s can be very challenging for several reasons that we will discuss in more detail in this article.
I want to encourage you and let you know that almost all of us have this problem, even if we hide it with nice, beautiful social media posts where we always hang out with our many friends. It is tough to make new close friends in your 20s. Most of the photos that you see on social media with friends hanging out in their 20s are actually with coworkers rather than friends, and most of the discussions are about work and weather.
Why is it so hard to make friends in your 20s?
I will give you four reasons why it is hard to make friends in your 20s, but I’m sure there are more reasons for each of us depending on the city you live in, workplace, relationship status, kids, hobbies, and many other factors.
1. Career oriented
Usually, in our 20s, we have our first jobs, and we do a very poor job managing the work-life balance since everything work related seems way more important than our social life.
We say things like”I don’t have time for new friends. I’m focusing on building my career now“, the problem is that many people in their 20s think this way, leading to not spending any time for a casual hang out. We consider casual lunch with a friend or coffee hangouts with our friends more of a liability that will slow down our career progression.
You can only imagine how hard it can be to make new friends in your 20s if everybody has this approach to their career.
I was the weird one at my workplace when I said that I was against working overtime, and I upset my team leader when I refused to work extra two hours one day, and everybody agreed that the team leader was right. But after that, the request for extra work from the team leaders was a regular occurrence for the ones that decided to stay overtime, and this way, for my colleagues, an 8-hour job turned out to be more of a 10+ hour a day job.
It’s quite obvious that after 10-12 hours at the job, you don’t have one or two hours to hang out with a new friend. Since you still have to eat, shower, and put things in order for the next day of work.
So, in my opinion, being career-oriented or thinking that you are is the biggest obstacle to making new friends in your 20s.
And the sad part is that the people I know that used to say that they were career oriented in their 20s and spent all the time and focus at work don’t necessarily have a better career now than the ones that took things much more chill/casual back then. You can be efficient in 8 hours of work for most jobs, and someone will notice that you are working hard but not overtime.
Read Also: How Many Friends Are Too Many?
2. We are not used to making new friends since making friends was easy in high school and college.
After high school and college, you must be more intentional and creative with making new friends, which can be very challenging. There are many ways to ask someone to hang out with you, but in school, it’s much easier since both of you will have free time after school while in your mid-20s, both of you will have work, a relationship probably, and other responsibilities which means that you will most likely have to plan a hangout like a job interview.
When you ask someone to hang out with you, you should have a plan and check if their schedule aligns with yours if they like that type of activity you have in mind, and so on, so it can be a struggle actually to get to know a new friend.
So it’s the obvious way most people prefer not to do all of these steps and keep the relationship to more of a coworker’s relationship than actual friends. It is much easier this way, you are already there, you have a common topic(work) and gossip about other coworkers, and that can seem like you are friends, but if those two are the main topics, you are not actually friends, you are coworkers.
3. First stable relationship
For most people, their 20’s are the time for their first stable relationship. That’s when you find out that you can talk with your partner about what you would normally talk about with your friends, and you find out that you can be on the same page with your partner as you were with your friends. Of course, I’m talking here about a healthy relationship where you respect, like, and love your partner.
The fact that you can share your thoughts with your partner makes you more selective when hanging out with friends. This is not a rational decision. It just happens since hanging out with friends from now on should give you something extra that you can get from staying with your partner. If you get out with a friend and think of coming back home to talk with your partner more than you are talking with the friend you are at the time, it will make getting out with friends less often.
Also, going out with a friend who is not in a relationship can be different for you since you are no longer interested in some of the topics.
Of course, hanging out with couples as a couple is one of the best solutions. It feels weird that now you hang out more with couples than with friends that are not in a relationship, but this happens to most of us, and it’s ok, you will be on the same page with other couples more than with a friend that is not in a relationship, this applies for a couple with kids as well that likes to spend time with other couples with kids.
It is not something we want to hear and accept easily, but it is what it is. Hanging out with friends when you are in a stable, healthy relationship gives you less satisfaction, so you will choose to go out only with the ones you really respect, appreciate, and like spending time with. Many times those types of friends are not as many as we think.
Read Also: How Many Friends Should I Have At 30?
4. Most of us are afraid of opening up, be the first one to do it!
One thing that happens more when you are in your 20s is that everybody wants to show how well their life is going, even if it isn’t. We are not honest anymore because we consider that not having a good career, a good-looking partner, or a nice house/car will be the first thing people around us will judge.
In reality, many people in their 20s, even late 20s, are at the beginning of a career and don’t have the successful life they want you to see but don’t want you to know.
This makes us not so honest and natural with others. We keep talking only about surface-level stuff that doesn’t make us vulnerable, such as work, weather, hobbies, vacations, and so on. But those things will not get you close and will make you feel like everybody has a good life and they don’t need new friends when the exact opposite is true.
I had a lot of hangouts that felt like I had completed a task, I went out with this and that coworker or new friend, but it was nothing there. Nobody likes to open up and talk about difficult stuff from their life, or not necessarily difficult but personal stuff that will make you feel like you know that person.
One tip here is to take the lead, go be the first one that is more personal and more honest about your life, more often than not, they will follow you. I don’t want to encourage you to be a weirdo and overshare your personal life with a friend you barely know. Start slowly but try to go from formal discussions to more personal ones. It’s a difficult part of our life, we have a lot of new problems to handle, and seeing that other people are like us will help a lot in creating a real bond, not just a fake one.
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Making new friends in your 20s is difficult, all the things that you have to do to make new friends or keep the old ones are different than before. You must be intentionally doing things, open up and be vulnerable, plan things and keep your career and relationship in check simultaneously.
Read Also: Keeping Friend Groups Separate
The best thing you can do is to accept that things are not as before but not complain about it and go do the things you have to do now to have friends and healthy friendships with them. More people complain that they don’t have friends in their 20s instead of focusing on making or keeping friends as they focus on their careers. And YES, you can do both, focusing on your career and having friends simultaneously. Don’t use your career as an excuse for not having enough friends.