Aug 17, 2021 - Culture

Survey says: Making friends as an adult in Charlotte is hard

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axios charlotte stripe wall

Last week we shared a survey about friendships in Charlotte. More than half of the respondents say it’s hard to make friends here. But there’s good news, too: people want more friends.

Why it matters: Meaningful connections are part of a healthy, happy life. They’re important in any year, and are especially important in a year like 2020 (and 2021).

State of play: Friendships are on the decline nationally, according to Axios’ Mike Allen. In 1990, 33% of Americans reported having 10 friends or more, compared to only 13% in 2021.

  • In 2021, 12% of Americans reported having no friends at all, compared to just 3% in 1990.

In Charlotte, 54.55% of people who responded to our survey say it’s hard to make friends here — although 94% of people actively have tried making new friends.

  • Around 80% are looking for new friendships, even if they already have some established connections in Charlotte. Only 21% say they’re not actively seeking friendship.

Data: Axios Charlotte friendship survey

Many expressed similar reasons: They don’t know where to start, can’t meet people their age/life stage or struggle to break through established friend groups.

  • “I am in my 40s and Charlotte is quickly turning into a 20s scene with little for those of us who have a little more rose on the bloom.” — Meg A.
  • “I believe it’s easy to meet people and have acquaintances here in Charlotte. But I don’t believe it’s easy to make real friends in Charlotte. At least that’s what I have found, perhaps because of my situation of being a middle aged divorced dad who moved here about 10 years ago. … I have found people to be cordial and friendly but not necessarily willing to become friends. It’s hard to break in to established circles.” — Tim S.
  • “As a single, childless 30-something I feel it is a bit difficult to find a social niche. So much of the social life in CLT seems to revolve around the early 20-something, new college grad crowd.” — Erin K.

The other side: Some people say making friends in Charlotte is easy.

  • “As a person in their mid-20s, I think it’s easier to make friends here mainly due to the large group of people in my age group. Additionally, I think it’s aided by the large concentration of this group of people in neighborhoods (South End, Dilworth, Plaza Midwood, etc).” — Josh M.
  • “I think CLT is such a fluid city with so many people coming and going that it sets you up to have new people in your life that are also looking for new friendships. This can hurt the lifers because they just want consistency but if you stay open to new friends, you have endless opportunities!” — Rebekah S.
  • “Plenty of activities where you can meet likeminded individuals. Harder if you are super-shy. Easier if you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone, even if you are an introvert.” — Shoni F.

Yes, but: People also acknowledge reaching out to someone you don’t know, whether it’s at work on through social media or at the grocery store, is awkward.

  • “It’s easier to make friends than in other markets I’ve lived in, but I wouldn’t say it’s particularly easy to make friends anywhere,” Travis M., a 30-year-old married midwestern transplant

Most people who’ve tried to make friends have attempted multiple avenues, from leveraging mutual connections to church to workout classes. Not all of those efforts were successful, though.

  • However, those who had the most success tried multiple methods, with work and through mutual connections being the best ways to meet new friends. Organized groups and meetups were also popular ways to meet new friends, readers said.

Data: Axios Charlotte friendship survey

Bottom line: If you’re struggling to make connections, the best thing to do is put yourself out there, whether its attending your community’s meetups, DMing Charlotteans on Instagram, Bubble BFF, or striking up a conversation at the grocery store.

  • If 80% of Charlotteans are looking for friendship, your odds of making a connection could be stronger than you think.
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