Navigating loneliness with relationship expert Kylie Lepri

Life is full of ups and downs and the plethora of emotions that come with it. At times, you may find yourself feeling lonely and disconnected with the world. This is especially true if you’ve recently been through a major life event, like changing careers or moving to a new city.

But that doesn’t mean the loneliness will last forever. On the contrary, by taking some simple steps you can start to connect with like-minded people and nurture new friendships. We sat down with relationship expert, Kylie Lepri, to discuss some helpful strategies for navigating loneliness and how to make friends as an adult.

Why making friends as an adult can seem hard

There really are countless reasons for this problem. Making friends as an adult can be challenging due to something as mundane as having a busy schedule. Or it could be down to limited social opportunities and established friendship circles, especially if you’ve moved to a new city or started a new job.

“Navigating loneliness in adulthood can be a challenging experience, and while making friends may be a solution to combat loneliness, this in itself can bring hardship,” Kylie says.

Adults tend to prioritise work and family, and that naturally leaves less time for socialisation. You might also be hesitant or insecure about approaching new people out of fear of rejection. 

“As adults, people often have demanding jobs, family responsibilities and other commitments that consume much of their time and energy. Finding the time to socialise and meet new people can be difficult amidst these competing priorities,” Kylie explains.

“Finding the opportunities to socialise can be equally challenging. Compared to school years, where social interactions are abundant, adulthood may present fewer opportunities for meeting new people. Work environments may not always foster social connections, and many adults find themselves in situations where they have fewer chances to meet potential friends,” she adds.

Tips to meet new people

So how exactly can you overcome this all-too-common issue and start to meet new and interesting people? Kylie says that this can depend on your own personality, but there are lots of strategies to test out.

When you meet new people, something as simple as smiling, making eye contact, and showing genuine interest in them by listening and engaging can foster meaningful interactions. 

“One aspect to consider when making new connections is your place in social environments. Being open to initiating conversations and building connections with new people in various settings will showcase you as friendly, approachable and open to making new connections,” Kylie says.

Join local clubs or groups

Pursuing activities that interest you can also help to combat loneliness and foster new friendships as an adult. It can be a great way to cut out the potential of not knowing how to relate to other people. That’s why joining a local club or group can be a great opportunity to meet people with shared interests. 

Whether it’s a knitting circle, running group, dance class or volunteer group – these gatherings can be the perfect environment for meaningful interactions, making it easier to forge friendships.

“Join clubs, classes or groups centred around activities you enjoy. Whether it's a sports team, book club or cooking class, engaging in activities with like-minded people can provide opportunities to bond based on shared interests,” Kylie suggests.

Use apps to find friends

It might seem awkward at first but using technology is a fantastic way to connect with new people who might share similar interests or lifestyles with you. 

There are dedicated friendship apps that can help facilitate introductions and conversations, such as Bumble BFF, Peanut, and Vina. Think of it as a modern-day tool for expanding your social circle and finding like-minded individuals near you.

Take classes or workshops

Is there a hobby you’ve been interested in but never actually dived into? Taking a class or workshop in something that calls to you can provide a structured yet social setting to meet new people. Shared learning experiences create opportunities for discussions that could ultimately (and hopefully) lead to friendships. 

Whether you’ve been wanting to learn a new language, paint, make coffee like a pro or discover how chocolate is made – enrolling in a workshop or class can put you in contact with other participants who share at least one of your interests.

Attend networking events for work

Networking events will not only allow you to expand your professional contacts but also present opportunities to meet new people on a personal level. Think of these events not as something that you have to go to just because it’s work, but as a platform where you can interact with people from diverse backgrounds and industries.

Join online community groups

If you experience social anxiety, it might be more your speed to connect with people who share common interests or experiences online – regardless of geographical constraints. And the ever-expanding internet makes this possible, with there being an incredible number of virtual communities that give a platform to people who want to learn through discussion and debate, share insights, and form long-term connections. Whether it’s a forum or online gaming community, these are places where you can very easily meet new people and cultivate friendships from the comfort of your own home.

Don't be afraid to try something new

Trying something new opens doors to meeting people with shared interests and experiences. In fact, stepping outside your comfort zone can result in personal growth and new perspectives, which may ultimately enrich your life. Seeking professional guidance from a life coach can also give you the support and encouragement you need to navigate this unfamiliar, yet exciting, terrain. Hopefully, it’ll result in you achieving your goals while developing lasting relationships.

“Forming new friendships takes time and effort, so be patient and persistent in your efforts to expand your social circle and combat loneliness as an adult,” Kylie says. 

“By taking proactive steps to meet new people and nurture connections, you can gradually build a fulfilling social life and enrich your overall wellbeing.”

Be proactive in all areas of your life 

Now that you have tips to navigate loneliness and make friends as an adult, you may also want to be proactive and safeguard other areas of your life. Look into habits to break that may help you get more out of your day. Also, explore ways you can manage your wellbeing at work to thrive in your career. You might also want to look into protecting your family’s future if something were to happen to you, for example by doing something like writing a will.

You may also wish to review any insurance so you have cover for you and your family. If you’re considering life insurance, see whether Guardian Life Insurance is right for you and request a quote online today. 

Kylie Lepri author photo

Kylie Lepri

Founder, Psychotherapist & Relationship Counsellor

Kylie Lepri received her Bachelor’s in counselling and human change at the Jansen Newman Institute in Sydney. She is an individual and relationship counsellor and the founder of Kylie Lepri Counselling and Psychotherapy, which she established in 2003. Kylie is passionate about helping individuals, couples, and families work through life’s stressors, develop new goals, and build stronger relationships. She is inspired by the change and growth people experience throughout the counselling process as they begin to heal and smile again.