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The Grown-Up Girl's Guide to Making Friends

Anyone can make a #SquadGoals pic look cute on Insta (oh hey, Tay-Tay), but building a real-life, ride-or-die crew can be tricky— especially if you’ve just moved to a new town.

Lucky for you—and thanks to a slew of new apps, ‘friend dating’ is a lot easier and more popular than ever. Technology has given women everywhere an assist in forming platonic relationships (which, btw, can make you happier and healthier). Ahead, Cosmo has your guide to finding and bonding with potential BFFs.

1. Scout Prospects

In terms of IRL friend pickup spots, the usual suspects still rule: a mutual acquaintance’s party, your local coffee shop, the gym. When you spot someone promising— maybe she has a hilarious phone case that makes you go ‘same’— approach her casually and keep your intro light, says psychologist Harriet Lerner, PhD, author of The Dance of Anger. Start with a simple ice-breaker like, ‘I love your boots. Where did you get them?’ Then try to bring up something you can bond over (like your shared appreciation for a strong stacked heel).

Not an option? Grab your phone and download an app to swipe your way to a kindred spirit. Bumble, for example, helps users looking for gal-pal love. “I relocated to my husband’s hometown, and I really wanted a girlfriend I could do happy hours with,” says Akshita, 30, a copywriter who used Bumble when she first relocated to Mumbai. “Me and the first girl I met up with spent more than four hours on our first ‘date’!”

2. Plan a Hang

No matter where you met a maybe friend, your next move is the same: Make plans. They don’t need to be one-on-one—a group hang can be a low-pressure way to get to know someone, says Olivia June, Co-Founder of friend-finder app Hey! Vina. Text something like, ‘My friend Sonal and I are seeing the new J. Law movie—wanna come?” If you are ready to get together alone, “suggest an activity that capitalises on shared interests,” says relationship expert Ty Tashiro, PhD, author of Awkward, like seeing a show or an art exhibit. And if you haven’t followed each other on Insta yet, go for it! “People who build strong friendships use all communication, including social media, to strengthen face-to-face encounters,” says Ty.

3. Seal the Deal

If your first chill sesh was stellar, text her right away: ‘That was so much fun!’ (No three-day rule here.) And make a follow-up date. “Set up recurring get-togethers, like monthly brunches or Taco Tuesdays,” says Olivia. When you want to deepen your bond, invite her over. “It was only when I had one girl over to my home that I felt comfortable calling her my friend,” says Tanya, 27, who works in health care. “We were able to let our guards down.”

Women create intimacy by sharing personal info, says Harriet. But if at this point, you’re just not feeling her vibes, it’s okay to let the friendship fizzle, says Ty. “Although ghosting is a suboptimal way to end a romance, it is an acceptable way to ease out of a friendship gently.”

4. Make It Last

If you do want to take your new casual friendship further, you’ll need to put in some more energy. Long-lasting besties are formed over time, with nurturing from both sides. “Go for subtle acts of generosity,” says Ty. Pick up your bud’s fave chocolate bar for her, or check in after she has a big presentation at work. “Kindness is a superpower in new friendships.” For her part, Akshita is now bona fide BFFs with that first friend match. “We bonded over not yet having kids but wanting to start trying soon,” she says. “We went on a pre-baby night-out one weekend! Since then, we’ve spent countless nights drinking wine and hatewatching The Bachelor and even vacationed together. Now she has a six-week-old, and I’m pregnant.”