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Friendships and close relationships with others are essential for long-term health and well-being. But they can be difficult for busy adults with work and family duties, not to mention the incessant buzz of a smartphone. But there are lots of guides and aides for those who are earnestly looking for ways to connect with others. Our series on friendships has assessed the nonfiction books that provide useful guidance on adult friendships. And rounded up some of the best movies of all time focused on female friendships. But sometimes it takes innovative technology to help us achieve our aims. So, we’ve curated a list of some of the best free and paid friendship apps right now to help adults make and keep new friends and platonic connections, including BFF and Hey! Vina. ‘Cause sometimes the friendship zone is exactly where we want to be.

What are friendship apps, and how can they help make authentic connections with others?

If you’ve been having a hard time fighting off loneliness, you’re . . . not alone. Especially in America, people are lonelier than ever before – and whether it’s because of the pandemic, or because of other related factors, the impact is devastating. People of all ages are feeling isolated, and struggling to get by without the tight-knit friendships and communities that we all need to survive.

Best free and paid friendship apps right now to help adults make and keep new friends and platonic connections, including BFF and Hey! Vina.

Best free and paid friendship apps right now to help adults make and keep new friends and platonic connections, including BFF and Hey! Vina.

friendship tech to the rescue

Enter friendship tech. Though it can’t change the structure of our society, a new generation of paid and free friendship apps can help us thrive within its current parameters.

For instance, if you’re struggling because you live far away from your family and oldest friends – maybe they moved away during the pandemic, or maybe you did – friendship apps can help you to make some new ones. No one talks about how challenging it can be to form close friendships as an adult – especially if you’ve recently moved to a new place – but we know: it’s hard.

So let consumer tech make it a little bit easier! After all, the incessant clamor of the Internet and social media is partly to blame for the rise in loneliness – so its the least our smartphones can do for us, right?

Best free and paid friendship apps right now to help adults make and keep new friends and platonic connections, including BFF and Hey! Vina.

With these ten helpful friendship apps, its a bit easier for adults to connect with like-minded people, and make and keep new friends. You can talk, bond over shared interests, and perhaps even find a few authentic  and fulfilling platonic relationships. There’s nothing to lose, as while some of the best friendship apps are paid, many are free. If you’re intrigued, read on.

10 best friendship apps right now to help make and keep new platonic relationships

1. Bumble BFF

You know Bumble. You love Bumble. And who wouldn’t? A dating app where women get to make the first move – yes please (full disclosure: our Founder & CEO is on the board of Bumble). But did you know that Bumble has a feature where you can make platonic connections? You don’t even need to download a new app. Simply switch modes to the friendship app Bumble BFF, and start looking for your new best friend – using the same “swipes” we’ve all gotten used to over the years. Bumble BFF was one of the first apps of its kind, and it’s still one of the best. If you’re struggling to make new friends in your area, give it a try today.

2. Hey! Vina

Hey! Vina is designed by women, for women, and it’s powered by founder Olivia June’s belief that it takes only one friendship to change a life. If you’ve been suffering from loneliness these past few years, don’t despair – all you need is that special someone. That special platonic someone. And Hey! Vina is here to help you find her. As well as swiping on new friends, you can create and join communities, invite people to plans, and RSVP to events in your area. The algorithm will help you find the people who are right for you – based on age and location, but also personality.

3. Meetup

Meet Meetup. As we all know, making new friends is much easier when you already have something in common. And Meetup – which is both an app and a website – takes away all the stress of meeting new people; rather than choosing an individual person with whom to pursue a friendship, you’re choosing a group or event. That takes off some of the pressure. If you’re someone who suffers from social anxiety – or if you would rather commit to an activity than a person – you’ll love Meetup. Search for your interests – everything from birds to bikes to baked goods – and find other people who are interested in the same things. Join a group, or start your own. Friendship is always better when it starts on common ground, and Meetup makes that ground easy to find.

Best free and paid friendship apps right now to help adults make and keep new friends and platonic connections, including BFF and Hey! Vina.

4. Untappd

Though it’s true that Untappd may predominantly be an app for beer lovers – you can log, rate, and review the beers you drink – it’s also a great way to make friends. You can use Untappd to view local events (such as beer tastings), and make plans to attend with others in your area. Like Meetup, Untappd makes it easy to find friends with a similar interest – and in this case, that interest is beer.

5. Barkhappy

Continuing with our theme of shared interests… and we bet you can guess what this one’s all about! If you’re a dog owner, there’s no one better for you to befriend than other dog owners. You can go on walks together, attend puppy meetup events, and even take turns dogsitting when one of you is out of town. Barkhappy makes it easy to find the other dog-owners (and dogs!) in your area, and can even make you a better pet parent. Make human friends, and dog friends.

6. Patook

Patook is called the strictly platonic friend making app, and we appreciate their firm boundaries. It’s true that some friend-making apps can quickly cross over into romantic territory, and we love that there’s an app where flirting is strictly prohibited. As well as matching with people who have shared interests, the app will also allow you to make public posts that are visible to the people in your area, so that you can meetup IRL.

7. Klerb

Klerb is the app of our dreams. Described as “Tinder for readers,” Klerb makes it easy to connect with others based on shares reading tastes – and makes it easy to connect with other readers in your area. You can start book clubs, find literary events, and make friends – all based on your bookshelf.

8. OneRoof

If you live in a big apartment building, perhaps you’ve always dreamed of becoming friends with your neighbors. Well, now you can. OneRoof makes it easy to find the like-minded human beings who are living… right on the other side of your wall. And if no one in your building uses OneRoof? Get them on there! What a great way to break the ice.

9. Plus One Social

We love the idea behind Plus One Social. Let’s say there’s an event in your area you’d really like to attend, but you don’t want to go alone. Plus One Social makes it easy to find your plus one! Though it’s true the term “plus one” sometimes has romantic connotations, it can also be platonic, and we love the way Plus One Social makes friendship easy. They’ll send you suggestions of friends in your area, and you can start these new platonic relationships without any pressure or awkwardness.

10. Nextdoor

Though it’s true that you can use Nextdoor – the infamous neighborhood social network – for a great many things, you can also use it to make friends. In fact, Nextdoor is probably the easiest way to connect with your IRL community – you know, the people who live in your actually neighborhood. Especially if you’ve recently moved to a new city and you’re feeling a little lost, Nextdoor could be the perfect way to get started.

10 best friendship apps right now to help you connect with others

Abbie Martin Greenbaum

Abbie Martin Greenbaum is a writer, reader, and pop culture connoisseur, who loves storytelling, coffee, and dessert. Her work has also appeared in Playbill.