Ever join a dating app because you were looking for a friend?
Before there was Tinder or Bumble, or Match.com there was Craigslist. Craigslist is a peer-to-peer selling site where you can sell your TV or buy used junk for half the price.
The section has since been taken down, but for a while, there was a darker side called the personal ads, where you could also find a date.
You didn’t have to get too deep into the personals before you realized it was a bunch of people looking for someone to hang out with.
These people were so desperate to make friends they were posting themselves on a garage-sale website.
And they’re not alone. People have now started trying to find friends on dating sites too.
Hey, no hate here. Loneliness is now considered as deadly as smoking cigarettes.1
People are lonely. And if you’re here, you’re probably lonely too.
But finding friends doesn’t have to be this hard…or sad.
Expanding your social circle comes down to expanding your experiences and interests. And that’s what you’ll learn today in this post on hobbies to make friends.
This is part of a series on friendship I started a while back with an article called 8 steps to make friends as an adult. In that, we go over why making adult friends is so hard and what to do if you’re looking to meet new people.
Try at least one of the things I’ve listed here and watch great things start to happen.
Hobbies to make friends
As you get older you start to believe you can’t learn or try something new. But this is false, and advancements in brain studies and neuroplasticity tell us why:
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change and grow.2 As you learn and experience new things, your brain physically adapts to accommodate new skills, experiences, and information.
This continues from before you’re born to the moment you die.
Which means—you’re never too old to learn a new skill and never too old to build new connections and new friendships.
The only thing holding you back is you and your comfort zone. I’ve grouped new hobbies for you to make friends into 4 general areas.
If you have social anxiety, creative hobbies can help. You’ll get practice meeting people but you also get the mental and physical health benefits. Creative activities such as expressive writing and acting have been shown to improve long-term depression and anxiety while boosting your immune system.3
Simply put, creative hobbies make you feel better. When you feel better you do more things, make more friends, and improve your self-confidence.
Ignore the activities that soothe your introverted soul and go for more social hobbies. These include:
- Cooking classes
- Choirs or groups for musicians
- Writing groups
- Art classes
Intellectual and adventurous hobbies
Challenging and adventurous hobbies can vary from established intellectual pursuits to revolving solely around board games. It’s the novelty that helps to make this a great choice for expanding your social group. You get to try something new that builds your confidence while also becoming a more interesting person.
For example, I took up chess and learned another language. These activities require two people. A natural byproduct of building new skills is making friends.
Interesting intellectual and adventurous hobbies include:
- Book clubs
- Chess clubs
- Trivia clubs
- Meditation groups
- Documentary or Movie clubs
- Going to every restaurant/concert/event in your area
- Trying a new hobby a month
- Visiting a new location every weekend
For those looking to have a sense of contribution to their local area start with volunteering or contribution-based hobbies. You meet people you know are good-natured and you improve your own health.4
The best thing about volunteering is that there are usually large groups of people to interact with, making it easier to establish multiple friendships.
Keep in mind the type of friends you want to make. Volunteering is great but if you are looking for young friends, avoid the groups that attract little old ladies.
Contribution-based hobbies include:
- Habitat for Humanity
- Faith-based groups
- Local community fundraisers
- Soup kitchens
- Environmental cleanup efforts
Every grown-ass man needs a physical hobby in his life. It keeps your testosterone pumping. It keeps you in peak health. And you get to let out the frustration of sitting at a desk all day.
Sports teams and enthusiast groups are good for that. You’ll also meet tons of people. These might include:
- Running clubs
- Fitness classes
- Mountain biking
- Dance classes
A unisex activity like softball is great if you’re looking for hobbies to meet women.
What to do once you’ve actually started these hobbies
This is where the magic happens. It’s not enough to simply show up to the party, you’ve got to talk to people too. Below are three tips to take relationships from random guy in your “insert name of group” to your new friend.
Strike up conversations
The hardest part about starting conversations is knowing what to say to a person you aren’t familiar with. Your mutual hobby covers that for you.
Even if you don’t have the best social skills, you can ask questions like:
- How long have you been doing X?
- How did you get into X?
- Do you have any special projects you’re working on?
Being an introvert doesn’t mean being afraid to communicate. We all have to overcome social awkwardness in order to make new friends. And let’s face it, great social skills are needed to be successful in most endeavors.
If you have trouble talking to people, try setting a social goal. Identify the interactions you want to have and the relationships you want to build. From there, practice being social with people you pass regularly.
Your barber, your barista, or the person at the gym will do for starters.
Take it offsite
After you strike up a conversation, take the next step and ask them out. Like a date but with your homie.
You can work on your project together or try something new. Don’t sit around waiting to be invited to some get-together. Look up something you’ve been wanting to do in the area and ask them if they’d be interested in going with you.
And here’s a pro tip: ask them to bring a friend.
The bring your own buddy method rapidly expands your social circle without any extra effort on your part.
Work together on the projects
Since we’re living through an episode of Black Mirror and many activities are still remote, try a virtual meetup. You can work on your new hobby together or simply check in with one another once a week.
Online forums thrive on this type of connection. Though it’s not ideal, it can grease the social wheels until in-person activities are back in full swing. Look for local Facebook groups or hobbies on the Meetup app.
We never quite learn how to make friends, thus many of us are left struggling as adults. The key is getting uncomfortable with your comfort zone. There are millions of people in the world and most of them are looking for new friends. It’ll take some work on your part, but you can do it.
When you find a hobby you love remember to:
- Start a conversation that gets the other person talking
- Set social goals to hit to make it easier if you’re socially awkward
- Invite them out somewhere
- Reach out to people virtually and establish a rapport
Holt-Lunstad J, Smith TB, Baker M, Harris T, Stephenson D. Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: a meta-analytic review. Perspect Psychol Sci. March 2015 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25910392/ (accessed Sep 23, 2021) ↩
Cherry, Kendra. Medically reviewed by Lakhan, Shaheen MD, PhD, FAAN. _Very Well Mind _Updated Feb 3, 2021. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-brain-plasticity-2794886 (accessed Sep 21, 2021) ↩
Yeung, Jeff W.K., Zhang, Zhuoni. Kim, Tae Yeun. US National Library of Medicine National Institues of Health. Creative Commons License. 2017 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5504679/ (accessed Sep 21, 2021) ↩