Whether you’re in a new city or just want some new connections outside of work, making friends as an adult is never easy. But with new platforms cropping up designed for cultivating new friendships, there are more options than ever to find your squad. We’ve rounded up some recommended apps to make friends online, along with tips for safely bringing these friendships into real life.
How to Make Friends Online
Making friends online can be similar to online dating, although (hopefully) without the awkward pickup lines. Check out a few of these options.
Bumble, which began as a feminist dating app, now also offers Bumble BFF. The friendship version of the app is built just like the dating side. When you sign up, you can set an age range and location to find your potential BFF matches. To use the app, you swipe left or right on potential friend profiles.
You can use Bumble BFF with or without the dating part. Either way, Bumble gives users the same advice for setting up your profile: Use photos that show your personality and tell people what you’re looking for in a new friend. You can also connect other social media accounts to share more about yourself. Like the dating app, Bumble BFF encourages you to make the first move, or start a conversation and set up a time to meet.
Tired of heated or snarky interactions on Facebook, Twitter or in comments sections? Friended is a new app that launched in November to help people make connections online safe from bullies or trolls. Unlike Bumble, Friended doesn’t stem from a dating app or involve swiping based on profile pictures. Instead, the platform encourages people to share their thoughts and feelings and comment on others’ posts with positivity. All replies become private, one-on-one conversations. This app doesn’t feature ads, likes or any other public comments that can distract from a meaningful connection with others.
Other Online Avenues to Friendship
Outside of apps, there are plenty of opportunities to meet new friends online that translate to real life. The website Meetup is a platform for local groups that share specific interests, like writing, exercising, crafting, you name it. You can search by location and activity, then RSVP for a group event.
If you’re an avid podcaster, check out the fans-of-the-pod Facebook groups. For example, self-care podcast “Forever 35” has an active Facebook group with dozens of subgroups. “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text” has a Facebook group (called The Common Room) and opportunities to join a local group in real life. As more podcasts are going on tour, take advantage of opportunities to meet other like-minded friends.
There’s plenty of advice on how to stay safe with online dating, but how can you stay safe when it comes time to take your online friendship into the real world? Once you match with your new BFF and set a date, take a few steps to verify the person’s identity:
- Get their first and last name: Getting a last name helps you ensure it’s a real person on the other end — plus you can save their number as something other than “Sarah Bumble.”
- Check for mutual friends: Friender does this already if you connect through Facebook. You can also search your new pal on social networks to see if they know anyone you do.
- Check out their online profile: You can quickly run a search on Spokeo using their name, email address or phone number to make sure their online profiles match who they say they are.
As you would with a romantic date, we recommend you meet someone new for the first time in a public place. Many friendship apps are built around public activities. If you want to meet up to craft, exchange writing tips or something else you might do in someone’s home, consider using a coffee shop or library to start.
Katrina Ballard is a communications manager in Washington, D.C. She holds a master’s degree in public administration and has written extensively on technology, business and more.