I've made friends the way most people have: growing up with some, going to college with others, meeting at a job or repeatedly attending the same events in the same city. I've lost plenty, too — some permanently, when I decided that the relationship was over (or they did), and some temporarily — I'm child-free and only a couple friends were able to keep up friendships when they had kids. While at first I was frustrated and missed my friends, I came to understand that they are doing something that's important to them and I'll see them again (hopefully!) when their kids are a little older. The beauty of adult friendship is that it can usually sustain long time periods between actual hang-out sessions.
And like many people, I have moved several times — across the country and abroad. That leaves me with a patchwork of friends, some of whom are still busy with their young kids or taken over by work (or both), some who are actively in my life, and a third category — those friends I haven't met yet.
So when I make my next move, these are some of the ways I'll find some new folks to spend time with and learn from. (Not all these ideas are right for everyone.) And even if you're not moving but just want to expand your social circle, one of the items on this list might work for you:
Meetup.com is an amazing site that hosts information about — you guessed it — meetups with people who have all kinds of interests, from ultimate frisbee to improv comedy to wine tasting to rock climbing or hiking.
Join a book club. Keep in mind there are book clubs for all kinds of different interests, from women-only, to those that only include novels, to those that focus on history, memoir, or other nonfiction topics.
Volunteer. Like book clubs, don't think that volunteering is limited to quiet activities like hospital candy-striping or library book-shelving. You could volunteer at an animal hospital or wildlife rescue center if you are an animal person, or to clear trails if you want to get a workout and like the outdoors. Volunteering for a local political candidate you support will get you up-to-date on local issues and you will meet like-minded people of all ages, too.
Date. If you're single, dating for fun can be a way to find a significant other — and an awesome way to meet new people. Even if you don't hit it off romantically, you can make a friend (or ask them to introduce you to some).
Meet friends-of-friends. This one is especially useful if you are moving to a new place, because chances are decent that someone that is a friend of your friend is someone you'll like too. If you make a plan to meet up with them for something specific they can show you, it will take the pressure off and won't feel like so much of a date-like scenario. Example: Your friend's friend is showing you where the best downtown boutiques to shop are, or he is showing you an out-of-the-way hike.
Take an adult-ed class. Pick something you've always wanted to try or study, like figure drawing or pottery, World War II history or psychology. Ask a classmate to grab a coffee or beer after class and you'll have built-in discussion topics.
Get an easy second job. If you choose something fun, low-stress and work only 10 or 15 hours a week, you can offset your moving costs and potentially meet new people. Working off-hours at a coffee shop, bar or other social space is a great way to meet new people.
Go to concerts and art galleries. To meet people this way, you'll have to be comfortable chatting with random people you don't know, which can be hard. Then again, if you're there to see the same band or exhibit, you've already got something in common.
Be open, say yes, and use Facebook or Twitter to keep in contact. These last ideas will make it easier to turn short intros, coffee meetups, good hiking conversations or random chats-over-beers into lasting friendships.