4 Ways to Make (and Keep) Friends After College

Posted August 8, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Life After Five

If you haven’t seen it yet, you will. It’s the New York Times article that has been floating around in all circles nearing or over 30, specifically on Facebook. The article is “Friends of a Certain Age: Why Is It Hard to Make Friends Over 30,” and it has what all viral NYT articles have – it hits the nail on the head of an issue an incredible number of people are having, it makes it funny, and it makes you think about your life.

In the article, Alex Williams talks through his own difficulties making and keeping friends now that he’s in his 30’s. He talks about hitting it off with one guy friend he met through work, but still not seeing him for months. He opens up about the difficulty of making friends when you’re in a couple, because you might like one spouse, but not the other.

It’s been two years since my husband and I moved to Chicago, and I can say first-hand that we’ve had similar experiences to Alex Williams in truly making friends. Sure, you find a couple you like and hit it off with. You have dinner once, and then…what? Same with girlfriends. You meet for drinks, but then are you friends? What kind of friends are you? Can you text freely? Can you complain openly? The situation becomes even more complicated if you meet people professionally and attempt to transition them to personal relationships.

But in my time transitioning and meeting new people in Chicago, I think I’ve done a pretty good job – so I’m giving you a few of my best tips for making friends after the easy time you might have had making friends in college:

  1. Texts are a powerful way to take a relationship to an “every day friends” kind of level. I recommend saying something like “Are you a big texter?” If someone is, they won’t mind a “hey, you want to grab dinner this week?” or “I’m going to yoga tonight, want to come?” text. Soon, it’ll be easy to regularly text and provide that friendly support you want.
  2. If you want someone to be your “every day, call without scheduling a call” kind of friend, you sometimes just have to jump in the deep end. A few days ago, a woman I met professionally called me out of the blue to discuss a business issue. I was surprised to get the call, but pleased. When I’d met this woman, I felt she was the kind of person I could be friends with. And now that she broke that line of “scheduled phone calls”, I feel 100% comfortable calling her when I need to vent or chat, too.
  3. If you want to have a personal friendship, you have to talk about personal things. Recently, when having coffee with a fellow Board member for an organization I serve, I said this “Can we have coffee as friends, not as Board members?” My friend said, “Sure” and we proceeded to have an incredible conversation about our lives, relationships, troubles at work, etc. It brought us closer and I now feel like she’s a great support system for me. If you want to have a personal friendship, you sometimes have to be the person who introduces personal conversations.
  4. Set a “Sex and the City” type date. Just like Carrie and the girls had brunch every weekend, you may have to start a relationship by setting these clear “dates.” One friend and I have started having coffee regularly on Tuesday. This makes it easy to build a relationship and to know that person is always there for you. You might not keep these set dates forever, but it works when you’re building a friendship. It’s something you can put on your calendar and keep.

What other ideas do you have to make friends after college (or over 30)? Tell us your tips!

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."