Making Friends as an Adult: Online Friends to “IRL” Friends

Every blog seems to have a “how to make friends as an adult” post–and, in truth, I’ve found many of them helpful over the years! In real life, outside of an enclosed environment like school, it’s difficult to make the leap, to say hello, to start a conversation. How do you break the ice when you’re not sure if you have anything in common? It can be daunting, it can be scary, and more often than not, that icebreaking moment doesn’t happen. (A note: I love this post from Rosie the Londoner on making grown-up friendships.)

Today, I wanted to write a slightly different post–navigating the shift from being “online” friends to “in real life” friends.

The internet can be a wonderful place (and a terrifying one, too–but let’s focus on the positives today). Ever since You’ve Got Mail, making friends and finding relationships online has become an easy and commonplace way to connect with others. Instagram, in particular, has been an incredible way to connect with others and make friends! I’ve made a number of close friends online, and successfully navigated taking online friendships offline. Some of these friends live nearby, and I can make plans to see them often. Others live across the country, and our friendship is mostly over text or DMs. All are people I value and cherish!

Here are a few things to keep in mind when navigating the online-to-in-real-life transition.

Talk first!

I don’t mean just talking via text–hop on Zoom or Facetime and chat! You’ll get over all the awkwardness of the first conversation and then when you meet up, it will be a LOT more pleasant!

Meet in a public place

Just like you would if you were online dating, meet in a public place first! It’s safer for everyone, and besides, it’s more fun if you can enjoy a first coffee or lunch without having to worry about preparing a meal and cleaning up after.

Coordinate your outfits

I’m kidding–even though in the picture I’m using to illustrate this post, you’ll see our outfits go together. As I said to Heather, “I don’t believe we didn’t plan it and I know we didn’t”!

Discuss an itinerary

Decide what you want to do! I love starting off a first friendship meeting with coffee and a browse through local shops. It’s a great way to chat and hang out. If you run out of things to talk about, there’s always something to see. Try to include items of shared interest. For instance, when Heather and her daughter came to visit me, we browsed the shops of some of her favorite interior designers. We had an incredible time!

Have you met online friends in real life? How did it go?

4 thoughts on “Making Friends as an Adult: Online Friends to “IRL” Friends

  1. All great tips! I’ve done this twice. The first time was in college, when a blogger I followed mentioned she’d be in DC for a few months. I emailed her and we ended up exploring DC together while we were both doing summer internships in the city. It was a lot of fun and although we drifted apart afterwards, having a friend in a new town was great!

    The second time is more recent. A writer I follow on Instagram responded to a story I posted where I said I bought a bunch of postcards and wanted to send them to friends. We’ve been pen pals ever since! She lives in Canada, but happened to be in my town for a work trip so we got to hang out IRL which was great. We got along wonderfully, and since then we’ve even exchanged gifts (I had a vintage watch she’d been hunting down, and she gave a stunning pair of earrings from a Finnish designer, since we both love vintage and she knew I was getting into modernist/Nordic jewelry).

  2. Isn’t it funny how making new friends as an adult really is like dating? I like the idea of a quick Zoom call before meeting to see how well you get along before meeting in person and to cut out the awkwardness (though, I don’t know if I’ll ever outrun the assumption from servers at local bars and coffee shops that I’m on a date with my new friend!). This was a fun read!

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