How To Use The 3:6 Rule To Make Friends In Adulthood

Creating new and lasting friends as an adult requires a serious leap out of the comfort zone. Thanks to institutions like school or university making friendships much easier to launch, a person's younger years often seem to be the prime time for fostering those bonds that last forever. But if you find yourself in adulthood and the number of friends you have is lacking (it happens to a lot of us), there are ways to make friends at any age. While friends can be harder to make in your 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond, these are the years when we often need new friends. As old ones move away, become parents, or simply change with time, it's important to be able to find some new blood.

The 3:6 rule is one effective hack that you can use to build a friendship with someone new. Coined by PureWow, the rule involves having a series of "meaningful interactions" with an acquaintance in a short amount of time, which should set the course in motion for a friendship to blossom.

How to use the 3:6 rule

Now, the 3:6 rule doesn't actually help you to meet someone new. This rule applies once you've already met someone you think has the potential to be your friend, so it's best for those who don't struggle meeting new people, but can have a hard time making real connections.

According to the rule, you need to have three meaningful interactions with your new acquaintance within six weeks. Though human relationships and emotions are rarely simple enough to be summed up in numbers, this time they are. If you deviate from the number of interactions or the time frame, it's not the 3:6 rule. There's also one other catch: Two of those interactions (at least) need to be in person. Hanging out over Zoom or sending each other reels on Instagram won't cut it.

If "meaningful interactions" sounds too daunting, think of these as in-person hanging out that's a little more structured than just scrolling through social media with the TV on in the background. Plan an activity, kind of like how you'd plan a date, where you can get to know the other person. The frequency of the contact, paired with spending time together that allows you to understand someone new, will help to plant the seeds of friendship.

How to find friends for the 3:6 rule

For some people, making new friends is so hard because meeting new people feels impossible — not because real connections are hard to form. It's true that you no longer have school to put you directly in the path of a bunch of people your age, so you might have to go to a little more effort to try and find new people to connect with.

To meet people with whom you'll have things in common, it makes sense to seek out those things. So if you love animals, a trip to the park with your pooch will often have you chatting to a range of different dog-lovers. Or if you love arts and crafts, try taking a pottery class. The better you get to know yourself and what you like doing, the more likely you'll be to put yourself in situations where you'll meet your kind of people.

Extra-curricular activities like club soccer or choir may have worked when you were a kid, and there's no reason why you can't make room for some of those hobbies in your adult life. Many workplaces have social sports teams where you might be able to meet new people from different departments. Otherwise, have a quick Google and look for existing clubs or teams in your area.

Like dating, meeting people with potential is half the battle. Once you've found a few, put effort into the 3:6 rule and watch those bonds start to develop.