One of the problems with being a young untenured sort of person is that, outside of your department, the majority of people you meet your age are graduate students. Graduate students have this unfortunate tendency to graduate and LEAVE.
You can be friends with colleagues, but you can’t tell them too much before tenure. And sometimes if you get too close you realize they’re not only crazy but you have to work with them for potentially the next SIXTY YEARS. So a little distance with most of them can be nice.
If you have kids, you will end up socializing a lot with parents of other kids, but a lot of times even though your kids may be able to discuss Minecraft for hours, you actually have little to nothing in common with them. Of course, if you’re not extroverted, then having kids and kids having activities uses up all your people time and you’re just kind of stuck not really wanting to talk to anybody else. (Hopefully you enjoy spending time with your family!)
If you live in a thriving metropolis, you can meet people with your interests online or through meet-ups. Even in smaller towns you can be active in interest groups. Maybe politics. Maybe school board. Maybe board-games. If your hobbies and interests go more in the direction of watching bad tv and reading novels, that’s not going to work so well. (Recall that book clubs seem like *work* to many academics.)
In the end, after my new friends left and graduated, and I found the right amount of closeness/distance with colleagues, and I split children’s activities with DH, most of my new friends are conference buddies. I see and socialize with people I like and enjoy talking with (small-talk even!) a few times a year. Sometimes we email in between, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we miss each other for a year or two or three, sometimes we see each other several months in a row. Sometimes we make time to have meals, sometimes we just chat at 10 min breaks. It’s odd having closer friends that I travel and see than I have in my own home town, but I bet I’m not alone in this.
Have you made friends as an adult? How have you gone about it? Do you wish you had more or are you happy with what you have?