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9 Places to Make New Friends Online (Until You Can Meet Them In Person)
Adobe Stock / sewcream
Heather K Adams
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  • Making friends online is a great way to stay connected with the world in a way that fits our possibly underwhelming lifestyles as we work from home.
  • Try downloading Bumble BFF, Meetup, Friender, Nearify or Hey! VINA for free today.

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Making new friends as an adult can be hard. Gone are the days of playground pals and study hall besties. And anyway, with lockdown requirements in place, how would  we even? 

Sure, you may click with someone at work but turning a work buddy into a real friend is a neat trick you just can't always pull off. Having friends is just as important as ever, though, so if you're looking for something more than a 9-to-5 buddy, be it a best friend or maybe a whole squad, check out these best (and free!) apps for making friends and growing your social circle.

1. Bumble BFF

Features: Swipe-and-match connections, create a "friend" profile separate from you dating profile, matches have a twenty-four hour window to start a conversation with each other before the match disappears

Why we like it: In case you haven't heard, Bumble isn't just for dating. It's also one of the best apps out there for making friends. On the BFF side of things you make a profile, add some pictures and a bio as well as what you're hoping to find — future travel buddy? Virtual yoga buddy? — then get swiping. And unlike the other side of Bumble either one of you can send that first message once you match — although you still have twenty-four hours to respond before that connection disappears.

2. Meetup

Features: Connect with local groups and events or create your own, explore a new city or hobby

Why we like it: Meetup lets you select your location first and then gives you a broad range of categories to find a group near you with similar interests that you can meet up with once the lockdown requirements lift. The categories run from business topics for side hustlers and moguls on the rise to crafty hobbies for those who just want to hang out with other quilters. You don't need to spend much time building a profile, since this app is all about setting up a real life get-together asap.

3. Hey! VINA

Features: Exclusively for women, join in-app communities, find friends in new cities, used in over one hundred fifty countries around the world

Why we like it: Proudly calling itself the "tinder for (girl)friends," VINA is another swipe-and-match app, one specifically for women looking to make friends with other women. Matches can be based on common interests, hobbies, activities or even your "stage of life." Because sometimes moms just want to talk to other moms.

4. Peanut

Features: For both mothers and moms-to-be, match on topics of motherhood and fertility, connect with a supportive community

Why we like it: Speaking of moms, Peanut is one of the best apps for making friends with other mothers. It was created by a woman concerned about the isolation and depression new mothers can often feel. She realized an app is the perfect way for busy moms to connect, and commiserate. Peanut is also the place to connect when discussing fertility topics and related concerns.

5. Meet My Dog

Features: Just for dog owners, private network, connect with other local users, schedule meets and play dates

Why we like it: Because dog moms need friends too. Meet My Dog is a pretty straightforward app that lets you and your furry friend connect with other dog owners near you. You'll be able to find a new circle of friends who love hanging out at the dog park (and taking selfies with their pooches) as much as you do.

6. Friender

Features: More than one hundred interests and activities to choose from and connect through, search by location and/or age range

Why we like it: Friender is an app designed not just for swiping but for higher quality matching as well. When you create your profile you'll add interests and activities you enjoy, and with over a hundred to choose from you'll be able to build quite an in-depth profile. Potential friends are suggested on at least one, if not more, shared interests. This is one of the best apps for making friends because it makes sure you have something to talk about from the start, making it perfect for the more shy friend-seekers out there.

7. Facebook Groups

Features: Easy to join or create, members establish rules and moderate activities, accommodate a wide range of interests

Why we like it:  You're probably already on Facebook. Now you can use it to not only stay in touch with your current friends but to make new ones as well. Joining or starting a Facebook group is an ideal way to connect with others through a shared love of a hobby, sport or absolutely anything else. No matter what you love chances are good there's a group out there talking about it — and if there isn't, you can start one.

8. Nearify

Features: Find shows, live music, festivals and other local events, get daily updates, join in-app communities

Why we like it: This app is for anyone who wants to find interesting things to do in their area and go out and meet some new people along the way. If you're not shy about striking up a conversation, and you love trying new things, this is the perfect potential friend-making app for you. Nearify can also be useful for you and your current friends if you want new places to go and maybe a new crowd to mingle with.

9. Atleto

Features: Connect with other athletes of all levels and sports of interest, find or host sports-oriented meets

Why we like it: This is one of the best apps for making sporty friends. Atleto is all about matching up on-the-go athletes and weekend warriors in search of everything from a training mate while prepping for a competition to someone simply looking for a partner to shoot hoops with. This app encourages competition in real life, getting you to meet up or even host meetings with new people.

Making friends on the fly

Life today is busier than ever, or so it can seem. But having friends, seeing people IRL and just hanging out? That's still super important, and something worth making time for. Friends can see us through our hard times and help us celebrate our successes. Using some of these best apps to make friends is a great way to grow your social network in a way that suits our all-too-hectic lifestyles — even from a phone call on the couch.

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