February 13, 2024
Three Tips for Making Friends as a Young Professional

As a young professional, making friends can be challenging, but these three tips can help. First, find thirty seconds of courage to make the first move or deepen a conversation. Second, embrace spontaneous and imperfect get-togethers to make time for friendship. Finally, learn your new friend's love languages to strengthen your connection. Above all, pray and ask God to guide your steps in finding new friendships.


Elizabeth Laing Thompson

Remember how easy it was to make friends on the playground? The moment your feet hit the mulch, your little eye surveyed all the kids, quickly locking in on any girl who looked remotely your age. And then you’d just . . . go for it. You’d march up to her, say, “Wanna play?” and by the end of the hour you’d be swapping friendship bracelets. I suspect this openhearted approach to friendship is one of many reasons Jesus told us to “become like little children” (Matthew 18:3).

As we get older, it takes more than just “Hey, we’re kind of the same age!” to feel close. And once we enter the professional world, demanding work schedules can make our lives increasingly isolated. Even so, we still long for the treasure of true friendship. If you’re looking to find a new friend as a young professional, these three tips can get you started.

1. Find thirty seconds of brave.

Sometimes thirty seconds of brave is all it takes to make a new friend—or take a potential friendship to the next level:

You find yourself in conversation with a new coworker, the girl pounding away on her laptop at the table beside you at Starbucks, or the woman setting up her mat beside you in an exercise class, and you think, I’d love to get to know her better—but how do I make the first move? Just find thirty seconds of courage. Channel your childhood self, the one who was fearless on the playground. Push one daring sentence past the lump in your throat: “Hey, you wanna . . . meet for coffee . . . try a barre class with me?” By putting yourself out there, you give God room to work.

Or maybe you’re spending time with a potential friend and an opening arises where you could take things deeper: you could share a little more about yourself, ask a more personal question, or steer the conversation in a spiritual direction. Just find thirty seconds of brave. Take the conversation a little deeper and watch what God does.

2. Embrace spontaneous and imperfect get-togethers.

Remember those teenage days when a friend would come over, and you’d go to the mall and redecorate your room and watch a movie, then you’d stretch it into a sleepover because why not? I miss those luxurious days of endless friend time too. As life goes on, it becomes more difficult to enjoy the friend time we crave: we’re all struggling to juggle work deadlines, self-care, and relationships. Planning a girls’ night out, or even an hour-long coffee date, can feel difficult-nearing-impossible. So why not make it less complicated—and less planned? If you find yourself with a couple of free hours, why not reach out to a new friend with a spontaneous, my-house-and-hair-are-a-mess-but-let’s-hang-out-anyway invitation? Messy and imperfect time together is better than no time together . . . and who knows? Sometimes the messy memories become the best memories of all.

3. Learn what makes new friends feel loved.

Mismatched expectations lead to disappointment and hurt feelings, so once you have the beginnings of a new friendship, protect and invest in the relationship by learning your friend’s love languages. If she is a words of affirmation person, thoughtful texts or encouraging cards will strengthen your connection. If she often gives others thoughtful gifts, chances are she’d love to receive small gifts too. Those gifts will signal I was thinking about you, and I care enough to give you something! If she is a quality time person, do your best to connect as consistently as you can. Small investments of intentionality and thoughtfulness will bear great dividends in your relationship over time.

Above all, pray about your desire for friendship. Ask God to guide your steps and open your eyes to see the friendships he has in store for you. It could be that he’s already positioned a new friend in your life, but you just haven’t noticed her yet or haven’t reached out. Maybe she’s the new intern at your job who wishes someone would show her around; maybe she’s the newcomer in the back row of your church, longing for community; maybe she’s the friendly girl you meet in the bookstore who is lonelier than she seems. (This happened to me! Fifteen years later, we’re still best friends!)

Ask God to open your eyes and your heart. You might find that a new friend is already waiting for you—you just have to take the first brave step.