Struggling to make friends as an adult? These 4 apps can help you get started

best apps to make friends
LWant to build genuine friendships or meet new people? These apps are our top picks to help you get started. Source: AFP

During COVID-19, social isolation has become a common problem for many studying remotely, particularly international students, who are away from the comforts of home, family and friends

You may have even considered downloading the best apps to make friends while studying abroad, but doubts creep into your mind: do they really work? 

According to the numbers, online friendships are more common than you think — they can play out entirely in chat rooms or on social media.

Data from Bumble suggests that 66% of Gen Z respondents (people born in the late 1990s through the early 2000s) shared that they made friends online and 41% felt scared to approach strangers in person. 

Before we go into the apps that will help you make friends as an adult, let’s dive deep into the struggles of forming genuine friendships in today’s digital age. 

Why is it hard to make friends as an adult today? 

Making friends as an adult can be more complicated than when you were younger. 

It’s not as simple as walking to someone and saying hi.

Mark Travers, an American psychologist with degrees from Cornell University and the University of Colorado Boulder, shares that the logistical and emotional challenges involved in creating new bonds as an adult sometimes push us to isolate ourselves.

If you’re confused, let’s break it down.

Logistical challenges could be a hurdle when meeting up with your friend as an adult. 

Setting a time to even catch a movie after work can be challenging when you or your close friends are busy handling other commitments, such as tending to your family. 

It’s easier to make friends when you are studying together with hundreds or thousands of other students within the same cohort that goes through the same routine: you go to class with your friends, breaks open up room for you to chatter, and there’s a chance to hang out with friends after class. 

What about emotional challenges?

Research shows that a big challenge in making friends as an adult is the lack of trust

Many are hesitant to trust someone new and fully invest in them as friends compared to when they were younger. 

best apps to make friends

While Discord was initially popular only with gamers, the pandemic has allowed this social platform to reach a younger audience. Source: AFP

4 best apps to make friends as an adult

So, do apps really work? Can we create genuine conversations online with a group of strangers? 

Here are some stories of those who managed to build authentic relationships on these apps: 

1. Discord


  • Basic version: Free
  • Monthly subscription: Nitro Basic (US$2.99 per month) and Nitro (US$9.99 per month)

Originally, Discord was used as a communication tool for gamers to relay tactics and strategies. 

Today, people have found creative ways to use Discord to build virtual communities based on their interests and passions.

Take Giulia Mazza, for example. 

Her Discord server is an extension of her Twitch community. 

Mazza, commonly known as G, started streaming her study sessions on Twitch in November 2020 as a way to help her focus and keep herself accountable, notes her website.

While she still streams regularly every Monday to Thursday at 11 a.m. Central European Summer Time, Mazza has grown her Discord community to cater to different interests. 

Bookclub, which happens every last Sunday of the month, hosts discussions around interesting books. Virtual study rooms are available on a 24-hour basis, supervised by friendly moderators. 

MasterMinds sessions are an excellent platform for anyone looking to master the English language in a relaxed environment.

The platform also offers a monthly subscription that grants you access to premium features. 

How to make friends on this platform?

Find a topic that excites you.

These days, most content creators tend to have Discord servers catered towards their community. 

Here, it’s a chance to bond with strangers over a common interest and stay updated on the latest content created by favourite creators. 

As someone who has dabbled on multiple Discord servers, I find myself hopping on Whacked’s Discord server from time to time. 

Whacked is a content-driven social media agency that Ashvin Praveen and Lizzie Tan co-founded while they were still in uni. Today, they have grown into a team that helps business leaders connect with their audience on LinkedIn through relatable content.

Most of their clientele are in finance and weren’t aware of how the social media platform could help them or felt it took too much time to create content.

best apps to make friends

While LinkedIn is a professional networking platform, plenty of users have gone on to form meaningful friendships with their connections. Source: AFP

2. LinkedIn


  • Basic version: Free
  • Linkedin Premium Career: US$39.99 per month 
  • Linkedin Premium Business: US$59.99 per month
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator Professional: US$99.99 per month

LinkedIn is a social network for professionals to connect, share and learn. 

Whether you are a marketing executive at a company or a graduate looking for your first job, this platform is for anybody who is interested in taking their professional life seriously by seeking out new ways to grow their career and connect with other professionals.

A great example is my friendship with Eric Siew, who I connected with on LinkedIn and met virtually during the lockdown period.

Today, he runs an initiative dubbed the “Commando Club” where two industry experts share their knowledge for free in a casual setting. Most individuals who join these sessions are connected with Siew on LinkedIn.

Commando Club sessions are followed up with a late-night supper where participants can take their conversations offline. It’s something Siew values and a big reason why he refuses to charge a fee for those who attend. 

How to make friends on this platform?

Remember that at its core, LinkedIn is a professional networking platform.

While personal branding has become popular in recent years, most users on this site tend to be formal in their social approach.

That doesn’t mean you can’t build genuine relationships — you’ll be surprised by who you can come across on this site. 

Learn to take advantage of LinkedIn’s algorithm by being intentional about who you connect with on the platform. 

If you’re a law student, connecting with lawyers or those doing their pupilage, LinkedIn might be helpful. As a writer, it might be handy to connect with other marketing experts in this space. 

best apps to make friends

Bumble is known primarily as a dating app, but you can also swipe for friends on Bumble BFF. The company is also planning to launch a separate app for Bumble BFF. Source: AFP

3. Bumble BFF


  • Free to use, but you can pay extra for premium features 

“Can I make friends through a dating app?”

Bumble isn’t just a regular dating app — it features three modes: Bumble Date, Bumble BFF, and Bumble Bizz. 

Like Bumble Dating, you can create an account with up to six photos, craft a unique bio to capture your personality, and tune settings that will narrow down your preference (think factors like age, gender, and location parameters).

Once that’s done, swipe right at a profile if you’re excited to know them and left if you’re not. 

How to make friends on this platform?

The concept might sound simple, but many users have reported how difficult to build genuine friendships on a dating app. 

One user shared that she hardly got any matches. When she did, she would get no replies. 

Even when there was a conversation, it would fade as quickly as it started. 

It’s not surprising, considering many use Bumble to date — but that doesn’t mean there are no success stories. 

One example involved two Americans who were homesick in Paris until they found each other on Bumble BFF. Though they both had French boyfriends at the time, their first meetup made one of them realise how lonely she’d been without close friendships with other women. 

Soon after, they were texting every day, and routinely hanging out after work.

During COVID-19, they relied on technology to stay tight. On top of this, they’ve managed the occasional in-person visit.

“We don’t have any restaurants or bars open at all, so we just go on walks together. That’s all we do!” one of them shared. “You have to really make an effort to see people on the weekends.”

Regardless of who you meet on the apps, always stay open and be true to yourself when meeting new people. 

best apps to make friends

Want to bond with strangers over a common interest in real life? Download Meetup. Source: AFP

4. Meetup 


  • Free to sign up and use 

Since its inception in 2022, Meetup is still considered one of the most effective social networking platforms for meeting new people.

Here, you get to meet organisers who host events and groups centred around just about anything — from activities like crochet and sports to business talks and workshops. 

The platform earns its money through these organisers, who pay a monthly fee to run their groups. 

How to make friends on this platform?

Here are some tips from their website to help you have an easier time finding new friends and bonding with each other during these meetups: 

  • Find events: Plug in your location and a topic to the search bar on the app’s “Find” page. There are several filters to narrow down your search, such as looking for specific dates, times, locations, and categories. There’s even a “Starting Soon” filter to dive into an event happening within the next hour.
  • Join a group: By joining a group, you’ll receive a notification each time that group hosts an event. With one tap, you become an active and valued member of whatever community that inspires you. 
  • Attend events and make new friends: The best advice is always to be yourself, even though things can get a little awkward — especially if you’re an introvert. Attend a couple of events and get a feel of things before deciding on which event or group you want to commit to. 

Like Bumble BFF, they have been success stories of strangers who have had a great time in these meetups — even going so far as to becoming soulmates