Just in case you weren’t aware, International Friendship Day is on July 30. And I wanted to write a post to celebrate that. But, I’ll be honest, figuring out what to write about was a struggle. That’s because I, like so many women I know, feel like I have a hard time making friends.

For the longest time, that was a point of shame for me. But in reality, it’s an incredibly common feeling. So, I figured why not write about this shared experience? After all, not only is it relatable, it’s explainable.

5 Reasons Making Friends is So Hard

It’s not enough to know that making new friends is a challenge. To change that, we first need to understand why.

Here are 5 reasons it’s so hard to make new friends as an adult.

1. Lack of Opportunity

Think back to when you were a kid, or even a college student. Didn’t it seem like making friends was so much easier? Well, that’s because it was!

According to sociologists, friendships develop when there are two key factors at work:

  1. Unplanned interactions
  2. Shared vulnerability

In your younger years, it was easier to make friends because you were constantly in an environment that catered to both of these factors. In college, your interactions weren’t planned or scheduled—people were just there and you could mingle. Plus, it’s an exciting and scary time in your life, one that lends itself to natural vulnerability.

But, in adulthood, we don’t have as many of these opportunities. Situations where you are continuously and spontaneously spending time with people and opening up emotionally are few and far between.

2. Lack of Time

Not to say that being in school is “easy,” but for most people, it involved a lot less responsibility.

Once you get to adulthood, those carefree days are over. Now you have bills to pay, housework to manage, a job to juggle, and (possibly) kids to raise. All of that takes up a lot of time.

Simply put, as an adult, we don’t have as much time for friends. We’ve just got too many other things going on and friendships tend to get put on the back-burner.

On top of that, if you’re more introverted, chances are you need to use your free time for you. And there’s nothing wrong with needing a little solitude to decompress.

3. Making Friends Isn’t Taught

Alright, this one is going to sound a little weird, but hear me out.

We aren’t actually taught how to make friends. I know, I know! We weren’t taught as kids either but we managed to figure it out.

Again, though, in childhood, there are plenty of opportunities for friendships to develop naturally. But as an adult, that doesn’t exist. Meaning adults need to try and work on making friends. And how can they do that if they’re not taught?

Take a minute to look through any Woman’s Magazine. You’ll find countless articles like “How to Find a Guy,” “How to Keep Your Man Interested,” “How to Make Him Fall in Love.”

But where are all the articles about “How to Make Friends as a Grown-Ass Woman”?

4. Feeling Ashamed

One of the best ways to make new friends is to look at your existing friend group. After all, that’s what we do when we’re single, right? We ask our friends to set us up with someone.

But for most people, it’s shameful to admit to not having many friends. We don’t want to ask our friends to introduce us to new people because it’s embarrassing. Or we feel like we’ll be judged.

Hopefully, understanding that you’re not the only one who struggles will help in letting go of that shame.

5. Fear of Rejection

Honestly, being afraid of rejection is a real issue that can harm a number of relationships, platonic or otherwise. Putting yourself out there in any way leaves you at risk for being rejected. But, when you’re single, you understand that in order to ask someone out, you have to take that risk.

Again, this goes back to the whole “we aren’t taught how to make friends” thing. We’re socially conditioned to understand that it’s acceptable to ask for a date. If someone asks for your number and you’re not interested, you (hopefully) know how to let them down gently. But we’re not conditioned to ask someone for friendship. We’re also not of the mindset that it’s a normal thing to do.

As a society, that’s something we should change! There’s nothing wrong with asking someone to grab a cup of coffee or get together for lunch sometime.

I’ll leave you with this last thought: if you have a hard time making new friends, just know that you’re not alone. And you can improve. You just have to work at it.

Making friends is so hard - Pin this for later

Do you have a hard time making new friends? Don’t be shy! Let me know in the comments below!


  1. avatar

    I’ve always found it hard to make friends, but it is on another level as an adult, as there are fewer opportunities to make friends. I really wish we were taught how to make friends, and an article titled ‘how to make friends as a grown-ass woman’ would be helpful.

    I relate to number five so much, as I am scared to talk to people encase they don’t like me or if I say the wrong thing.

    Thank you for sharing this blog post; it is nice to know I am not alone. 😊

    1. avatar

      I think a lot of people, especially introverted folks, have that same struggle.

  2. avatar

    I completely agree it is hard making friends as adults. When you’re a kid, it’s easy to make friends at school because you see them every day and even in college, you see them in classes or live with them in the same dorm. However, as an adult, you don’t have the same opportunities plus you don’t have the free time you had when you were young. I’m glad I have a few good friends I’ve made in Denmark, but it is hard making new friends because language is also a barrier.

    1. avatar

      I can imagine that makes in 10x harder

  3. avatar

    You make some really good points here! We moved recently to a new city a few hours away from everyone and everything that we knew. I struggled at first feeling like I wasn’t making any real friends here with the exception of one neighbour but after getting involved with a community group, I’m finally seeing that change. Clearly my biggest problem was the fact that I wasn’t putting myself into a space where I would have the opportunity. If you don’t meet people (working from home), how are you going to make friends? Right?

    1. avatar

      Putting yourself out there is always important – both literally (again, how can you meet people if you’re working from home?) but also emotionally, being able to open yourself up.

  4. avatar
    ellegracedeveson says:

    This really got me right in the feels as everything you have written, I can relate too in one way or another. I found it really hard when I lost the majority of my ‘friends’ when I fell ill 8 years ago and it really knocked my confidence. Since then, I’ve found it really hard over the years to make new friends. Things like lack of opportunity has a part to play as I can’t go out much due to my illnesses. Thankfully, I’ve made a lot of friends online which has really helped me find my smile again. Especially since blogging! Thank you so much for sharing such a relatable post lovely! Xo

    Elle – ellegracedeveson.com

    1. avatar

      The blogging community is incredible and I can say that I’ve definitely made new friends that way. The only downside is not being able to actually see them in person, which is a bummer.

  5. avatar

    This was such an interesting post! I think your point about not being taught how to make friends is so true, it’s weird to think about but no one properly explains how! I also have a massive fear of rejection when meeting new people. Thank you so much for sharing x

    1. avatar

      I think it’s so normal to have that fear of rejection, or even a fear of being judged harshly.

  6. avatar
    Jessica says:

    It’s like you’ve been reading my mind!!🤣 I feel a lot of shame for not having many friends, like there’s something wrong with me. This post really helped change my perspective. Thank you!!!

    1. avatar

      I’m so glad to hear that! I always love when people find what I have to say helpful in some way.

  7. avatar

    Love this post and it definitely is reassuring to read that there are genuine reasons it’s hard to make friends that even sociologists have discovered. I have like, 3 close friends that I’ve made as an adult and I love them to bits but it’s SO difficult to find the space to actively seek out to find new ones!

    1. avatar

      I completely agree. And with so many people working from home now, it’s becoming even harder.

  8. avatar
    According to Chren says:

    It is definitely harder as you get older. We’d also like to add that friends aren’t just about close proximity anymore. When you’re busier, you want to make the effort for the right people. It becomes a lot more about quality over quantity.

    1. avatar

      That’s such a good point, and so true. Having 1 or 2 good friends is better than 10 acquaintance type friends

Let me know your thoughts!

About Author

30ish Lifestyle blogger, relationship "expert," and modern-day agony aunt.
Sometimes humorous, always honest.