5 Types of Sites and Apps That Can Help You Make New Friends

Whatever your interest, there's a group for that

Two young women having coffee
Felix Clinton / Stone / Getty Images

From the mid 2000s to the early 2010s, social media companies and website operators pitched the line "use our app to meet new friends" as a marketing slogan. Most people who used such apps didn't really find new real-world friends, and in time, the "looking for friends" language became increasingly associated with online dating sites.

The internet isn't the solution to satisfy your desire for more friends, but it can be a great tool for meeting real people in the real world.

Event Sites

Perhaps the quickest way to meet new people is to get out of the house. Sites like Meetup offer a ton of activities targeted to your community. Likewise, visit the Craigslist site for your community to check out the calendar of events (the quality varies widely by region).

And don't forget the media. Most local newspapers, including alternative mags, include some sort of public events calendar, as do major venues around town.

Facebook Groups

Facebook, in itself, isn't really a friend-discovery engine. In fact, the major social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest aren't structurally geared toward connecting people in meatspace. However, Facebook does offer a central location not only for open-membership groups but also for community-sponsored events. Browse the groups and the events for something that meets your interests.

Special-Interest Apps

Like to run? Climb rocks? Belly dance? Odds are good that there's an app for that. Search the App Store or the Google Play Store for apps related to your favorite hobbies.

Also look to your fitness apps. Most of the major vendors include social competitions as part of app functionality. For example, Nike+ Run Club includes networking with local run clubs, so you'll be able to hook up with an existing community of runners who are already connected thanks to their technology.

Dating Apps

Some dating apps are really good at helping people find genuine local friends. Some apps, however, are more about casual sex. You'll want to perform your due diligence about different dating platforms. Some, like Tinder and Grindr, often overwhelm with hormones. Others, like Her and Bumble, offer a gentler approach. The 10 best dating apps can help you get your bearings.

Community Group Websites

Many organizations, especially smaller volunteer-led groups, lack the resources or the expertise to be truly savvy online marketers. Some reserve the best information for people who've purchased a membership or signed up for a mailing list, so they don't push information to public Facebook groups or sites like Meetup.

Search for local groups' websites to check events calendars and officially sign up to participate in those that interest you. Many times, these groups keep events and membership lists hidden until after you've joined. For example, some major groups dedicated to hiking and backpacking in national parks require a token membership fee to access a complete roster of activities or members-only discussion groups — featuring substantially more content than a slimmed-down set of public-facing information.

Stay Safe

While websites offer wonderful opportunities for networking and new friendships, use common sense when meeting people on and off the web. Follow recognized web safety guidelines to make sure that safety is your highest priority. In particular:

  • Avoid giving your personal contact information until after you've vetted someone. Consider using an email alias or a burner phone number until after you've established trust.
  • When you leave alone to meet new people, ensure that a trusted friend or relative knows what your plan is, and check in when you're back home.
  • Don't share explicit images with strangers.
  • Meet in public places, not your home or a stranger's home.
  • Consider running a background check on a potential new date or friend.

Technology alone can't make new friends for you, but technology can help you connect with people face-to-face. The friend-making part is all on you.