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11 Ways to Make Friends When You Don’t Drink

Whether sober or not, the question of how to make friends as an adult is a terrifying prospect for many. Where do you meet people? What do you say to them? How do you come across as cool and nice instead of overbearing and weird?

It’s not easy, I’ll give you that. It’s even more daunting when we don’t have alcohol to remove our inhibitions. Aaagh! We have to cultivate confidence on our own! How is this possible?!

Rest assured, whilst it is certainly a little scary to make friends as a sober adult, it’s far from impossible. We’ve compiled a list of 22 things that might make it that little bit easier to acquire some new pals.

1. Online sober communities

We feel like we’d be doing ourselves a disservice if we didn’t first mention the amazing online sober communities available, like OVER THE INFLUENCE, for example! (Of course, we aren’t the only community, but we’re a pretty good one). We offer regular zoom meetings as well as in person meet-ups that can help likeminded people get to know each other.

2. Dogs! (And other animals)

I don’t know about you, but I usually end up talking to people every time I take my dog for a walk. Why not extend the chat from ‘what’s your dogs name?’ and ‘aw how old is she?’ to something with a little more substance? If you catch a vibe from someone, you can always ask to hang out or even walk your dogs together! It might come across as slightly unusual, but as long as you respect their boundaries, there’s nothing wrong with trying. If you have a different kind of pet, I guess it’s unlikely you’ll meet someone whilst walking your parrot, but it’s certainly still possible to find people who share a love of animals.

3. Join a new club

Utilise your interests by finding meetups that focus on one of the things you love doing! If you like yoga, go to yoga classes and get chatting to someone. The chances are, they want to get to know people too! If you’re into hiking or climbing, attend your local climbing wall or have a look online for groups in your area. There are plenty of people with plenty of hobbies, and it’s a great way to make new friends. If your interests are niche, I’d hit up Reddit – there’s almost certainly a page for it, whatever it is.

4. Invite your colleagues out

A lot of people I’ve spoken to categorise their ‘work friends’ as different from their ‘friend friends’, but this doesn’t have to be the case. We spend a huge amount of time at our place of work; it makes sense to get to know the people you think you’ll get along with. Ask them out to do something!

5. Travel

Obviously, it isn’t for everyone, but I’ve found staying in hostels a great way to meet people. You don’t have to share rooms, just hang out in the common areas and try to talk to someone. Again, it might seem a little odd, but people travelling are often in similar situations and, if you are visiting the same place, it’s likely you’ll have stuff to talk about.

6. Online dating platforms

Okay, hear me out. It sounds weird to say that you might make friends on a dating site, but many modern platforms have versions where you can change the settings to friends only. As well as this, there are many apps that focus on finding friends near you!

7. Go to a pub quiz

Not everyone in the sober community is comfortable being in a boozer, and that's fine, but plenty of people are. Besides, it’s important to talk to non-sober people too, and maybe you’ll even sway a few to cut down on their bevving! A quiz is great because the focus isn’t 100% on drinking, but people can drink if they want to, so drinkers tend to be more at ease than if it were to be a totally non-drinking event. Plus, it’ll be extra funny if you win the quiz and get a bottle of wine as a prize. Maybe you could even make a point of pouring it all onto the floor. (Okay, I'm kidding now).

8. Move to a new city

Sometimes the only way to meet new people is to hurl yourself into a very new and scary environment. If you’re forced into it, maybe it'll give you that extra push. Again, online resources can help with this but also getting out and about and looking at posters for events can be a massive help. You could go to gigs, join a gym, or whatever. The opportunities are endless.

9. Volunteer

If you don’t want to join a club for cost-related reasons, why not try volunteering? You can do your bit for the planet, for people who might be struggling, and for society at large. There’s a high chance you’ll meet people along the way at the same time as doing something incredibly wholesome and fulfilling.

10. Learn a new language

Have you always wanted to learn a language but never got round to it? Joining an online or in-person language course can be a great way to make mates. As well as this, being in an environment of learners at a similar stage to you in terms of language learning will help your studies tremendously. As practice is the best way to improve fluency in a language, other people are guaranteed to want to grab a coffee sometime and test out their new skills. In fact, most study situations (whatever the subject) provide the possibility of making new friends; studying together is mutually beneficial to you both.

11. Practice your social skills

I’m not meaning to come across patronising here, but many of us sober folk have to re-learn how to interact with the world. If we are feeling a bit shy or awkward, it can be hard to meet new folk. Spend time cultivating confidence. You can build this up slowly! It took me many moons to become comfortable in larger social settings, and I’d be lying if I said I am 100% myself when I’m in them, even now. But it’s gotten easier, and that’s because I’ve had time to practice.

Don't lose heart when it comes to meeting people. There are almost 8 billion people on the plant; many, many of them are likely to be your kind of person. We all crave human connection, and we at OTI want to make the point that you don't have to drunk to get there!

Making friends is for everyone!!! Share your ideas about meeting new people in the comments...

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