How to Find Real Connection and Make Lasting Friendships

Everyone wants to connect.

By Hailey Andresen

“Find your tribe. Love them hard.”

It’s a cool phrase that really just means: make friends and keep them around, right? Sometimes, however, it’s easier said than done, especially as adults. But I’ve found that especially during life’s transitions — if you’re moving, just had a new baby (me) or are experiencing any other major shift (a new job, relationship, school, etc.) — these friendships become especially important.

We should always be nurturing our relationships, but I’ve found that when you’re in the midst of a big life change, it’s extra important to invest your energy in the people who will buoy your spirits and be there for you through thick and thin.

Scroll on for 6 ways to find and nurture your unique tribe.

Honor your oldest friendships.

It can be easy when you’re moving through a major change to assume that friends who haven’t had the same experience won’t understand, but that’s not always the case. I’ve found that most friends are more than happy to meet me where I am and help me through whatever it is I’m going through. This might require having a conversation to hear their perspective and help manage expectations on both sides. Remember that you have just as much of a responsibility to take care of the friendship as your friend does. If it’s a true friend, give them a chance to be the support they most likely want to be. 

Long distance can be good.

Sometimes you simply just need someone to talk to who understands your personal struggle. Don’t discredit your long distance friendships. Of course it’s always nice to have someone who can show up at your doorstep, but true bonds survive and sometimes even thrive with distance. Don’t be afraid to reach out and open up to your out of state or country friends in these moments. Chances are, especially if they’ve moved away from where you originally met, they could use some real conversation and support too! 

Put yourself out there IRL.

Showing up to an event solo can be nerve-wracking for most of us, but I’ve always found that it’s those times when I’m alone that I’m far more likely to connect with someone new. So take that yoga class or try the pottery workshop or creative conference. If you don’t make a new friend, chances are you’ll gain a little more confidence to network the next time. And hey, at least you’re out there doing something you love!

Put yourself out there online.

As someone who met my husband at 16 years old, I’ve never been hip to the online dating scene. But as someone who had their first baby at 25 without a single other friend with children, I’ve learned that the internet is very helpful for making friends. Since I started my Instagram account and blog when I was expecting my son four years ago, I’ve made a handful of real life friends through these channels. But, if you’re not putting your whole life out there online, there are also great apps to help you along the way. I really like Peanut, but here are a few more. You’d be surprised just how many other women out there wanting to connect!

Keep your eyes open.

Be on the lookout for potential new friends wherever you go. Maybe there’s someone at your gym, in your apartment building or neighborhood, when you’re at the playground with your kids or even a new face at work you think you might really get along with. Ask for their number, and shoot them a text to grab a coffee or cocktail. I know it’s scary, uncomfortable and absolutely vulnerable to do this, but think about how happy you would be if the roles were reversed. Beginning to look at friendships this way helps us all realize that we’re in this together. 

Sometimes your family is your greatest friend.

Each of our relationships with our families are so wildly different, but one thing I’ve learned anything about human connection through a handful of moves, travels, kids and marriage? I have some pretty incredible built-in friends. And I’m not just talking about siblings or your spouse’s siblings. My mom, mother in law, aunts and cousins have been my greatest pals in life. Lean in to these relationships, too! 

What’s your greatest resource for finding friends as an adult?