The Best Apps That'll Help You Meet Your New Best Friend

Making new friends outside of work or school can be challenging, especially in a post-pandemic world. According to a 2021 American Perspectives Survey, people living in the United States reported "having fewer close friendships than they once did, talking to their friends less often, and relying less on their friends for personal support." Even our so-called "social media" hasn't solved this problem. If anything, it's created a toxic environment (via Harvard) where people feel more lonely than they did before.

When it comes to meeting new people in the digital realm, it's difficult to know where to go. Dating apps can be full of creeps — with many users posting their dating-app woes on TikTok — while app stores are loaded with tons of scammy, buggy chatting platforms. How is anyone supposed to meet new people and find friends?

If this is how you're feeling, we're here to tell you it's actually not a lost cause. The apps below are well-rated, vetted by users, and most of them are free! From teen-only chatting apps and neighborhood forums to LGBTQ-friendly messengers and niche-specific social networks, you can find an app that allows you to explore new friendships without the pressure of getting likes, dealing with creeps, or being rejected for your special interests.

Yubo: Make friends with other teens safely

Yubo is the new kid on the block and has a solid 4.6-user rating (via App Store). With familiar mini-games, instant video chatting, live streams, and useful tags to help you find people by interest, there are plenty of features to help you break the ice and move at your own pace with your new fam. "I love the app because I can meet people from all around the world," wrote one reviewer (via App Store). "It has introduced me to many new friends ... which I can trust."

The best part? It's got built-in age verification, so you can socialize with people your age without worry. Teens will match with teens, young adults with young adults, etc. Thankfully, the process only requires a quick live selfie during account setup (via Yubo). If you're a little nervous or self-conscious about video chatting, no worries! You can keep your camera off if you want so you don't have to miss out on the fun.

Nextdoor: Befriend your neighbors

If you've just moved to a new area or you want to befriend your upstairs neighbors before it's too late to work through your differences (#ykyk), Nextdoor is just what you need. This neighborhood social app gives you all the tools you need to connect with people in your zip code. Nextdoor is used by one third of U.S. households and 300,000 neighborhoods worldwide (via Nextdoor). In other words, there's no shortage of nearby people to interact with on this app.

Though you're more than welcome to keep communications with your neighbors online only, this app is great for making friends with folks who live close by. It's also really useful for buying or selling household items, keeping up to date on local news, and finding nearby events. One reviewer said they liked the platform for business recommendations: "I love responses I get about experienced neighbors have had with specific out patient care like doctors, dentists, and other providers in the area. ... We learn about good restaurants, outdoor activities, and good vendors (via App Store). You can also change the zip code anytime you want, so it's ideal even for those who travel or move a lot.

Reddit: Bond over niche interests

You might not think of Reddit as a friend-finding app, but subreddits are actually great places to meet people with similar niche interests. Foraging, game design, bad driving videos, singing pets, cryptocurrency, conspiracy theories, news, memes of every kind — even your most outlandish interest probably has a subreddit. "With over 100,000 communities about every topic you could think of (and a few you'd probably never think of if it wasn't for the creativity of strangers on the internet), Reddit is the place where you can dive into anything and connect with people on any topic," reads the official app description (via App Store). You can keep all of your special interests and communities in one place. Like a library, it's a "choose your own adventure" style experience.

Though the app's expansive list of forums and other peculiarities present a bit of a learning curve, it's well worth your time. Here's the quick version, summed up by one user: "Takes some time, then you can't leave the app. You need minimum karma to post in some subs, check and post on subs w[ith] no limitations" (via Reddit). Plus, the app's Facebook-like newsfeed makes it easy to get accustomed.

WeMoms: Find other new moms near you

If anyone on this list could use a few new friends, it's the new parents out there. Becoming a parent is a heck of a transition, and it can be pretty isolating at times. According to a 2017 study published in BMC Pregnancy Childbirth (via PubMed), as many as 21% of expectant parents surveyed experienced emotional turmoil during and after their pregnancies. The same study also suggested that distress could be mitigated, in part, by support from peers and may have particular benefits for "ethnic minority women, those who are recent migrants and women experiencing multiple disadvantages." The key message here: Community is really important for new parents.

WeMoms offers an entire community of maternity experts, experienced parents, and other newly pregnant people to help guide you through your next chapter. No more WebMD-ing yourself! You can find helpful information and support you need from the same platform rather than sitting in a dark corner Googling "Why does my stomach itch?" Chat with other parents when you're lonely, get podcast recommendations from peers, and post your super-specific pregnancy questions in one of the many discussion groups. It won't be long until you feel like one reviewer who said: "This [app] is my new comfort zone" (via WeMoms).

Twitch: Join forces with other gamers

Founded in 2011, streaming company Twitch has grown to be one of the biggest interactive entertainment giants. In 2021, Twitch saw 2.78 million simultaneous viewers active on the platform (via Business of Apps), undoubtedly as a result of people being stuck at home during the pandemic. With over 10 million daily users and 25,000 channels (via Twitch Developers), there's never a dull moment. From sports commentary and gaming live streams to music sets and casual hangouts, there's a little something for every interest.

Because it's so accessible to so many people, Twitch is a great place for fans to congregate which makes it even easier for you to find like-minded people. After you follow a few channels and start commenting on the live streams, you'll be involved in all the inside jokes and memes in no time! If you're feeling more inspired, you can also start a channel of your own to connect with other gamers, musicians, and creatives — not to mention a whole built-in network of clamoring viewers.

Meetup: Discover local events, groups, and communities

Have you heard of Meetup? The 4.8-star rated app is made for adventure seekers, explorers, and pretty much anyone who wants to try out a new hobby (via App Store). You can search for in-person events, join interest groups, and even attend online classes through the app. This group-driven platform is available in over 9,000 cities and boasts 61 million members, so you definitely won't run out of people to talk to! Because activities are interest-driven, even introverts can get behind them. One reviewer wrote: "It's tough for me to socialize. Even when I want to, it's not easy to find what will work. Meetup has given me a chance to connect with people based on mutual interests without feeling forced to socialize more than I want to" (via App Store).

In case the idea of meeting up with a bunch of strangers still seems like too much, rest assured; there are small, closed groups for you to check out too. Each event shows the guest list, so you can see exactly how many people will be there. The built-in private messenger and event postings also make it easy to communicate within your comfort zone. Tarot clubs, yoga lessons, hiking groups, charity events, and art classes await.

Lex: Meet other LGBTQ+ folks

Lex is a simple text-only app (no video chatting), but it's exactly the kind of safe, fun LGBTQ-geared community you're seeking — a platform for Queer people by Queer people. It's a safe space where you won't find any of the usual haters here: "Lex adheres to a zero tolerance policy towards creeps: no transphobia, no racism, no fatphobia, no ableism. No hate speech of any kind. We reserve the right to delete posts for any reason. A healthy, loving community is our top priority" (via Lex).

This app offers groups, events, and clubs to help you find new friends but with the added bonus of private messaging and niche search filters. One reviewer said it's perfect for fostering real, intimate connections, platonic or otherwise: "Seeing how everyone thinks ranging from 'let's have steamy sex' to 'let's bake cookies' or 'wanna be a goblin and go to a lake' makes my Sapphic heart soar and I know that the people talking to me are there for my personality — not my looks" (via App Store).

Azar: Make friends with people all over the world

Looking to make connections outside of the United States? Azar might be just the thing you're craving. This video chat app offers the Omegle appeal of connecting immediately with strangers, but with multiple filters and match settings so you can control who you speak with. You can even sort your preferences by region which is really cool if you want to meet new people while traveling abroad or see what's going on in a country you've always wanted to visit. The guest mode also makes it easy for you to join a live stream without sharing any personal information, which is convenient if you're still testing the waters.

In terms of features, this app has quite a few ways you can customize your chatting experience. Personalize your stream or conversation with changeable backgrounds, emoji reactions, and filters. You can also set up your own avatar and choose your "mood" before chatting. Azar comes ready-made to accommodate more than 15 languages which makes it easy for people of all backgrounds to connect in one place (via App Store).

Die With Me: Chat with others who have low batteries too

Die With Me is the app to open up when you get home from a late night and only have less than a 5% battery left. In fact, you can only use this app when your battery is literally about to die (it's all in the name). Say what's been on your mind while you can! It may feel like a gimmick, but it's actually a hilarious and unique chatting app that people seem to enjoy. 

One user wrote: "Have you ever sat there looking at your phone just wondering what you can do with that measly 5%[?] ... you can talk with people who have the same problem as you plus it's a great ice breaker (and it doesn't take much battery at all)" (via Google Play). If you're sick of greeting people online for the first time with a "Hey" or an overused joke, give this app a go.

Corecircle: Connect with workout buddies

Calling all athletes and aspiring gym-goers — this is the social app you've been searching for! Rated a solid 4.8 stars (via App Store), Corecircle comes with everything you need to dive into a new routine with confidence and comradery. Create workouts, easily track your progress, find gym buddies near you, and share your advancements all in one place. With a built-in anatomy chart, exercise visuals, and the ability to save others' workouts for your next session, it's a win for exercise fanatics looking for friendship.

For those who need an extra push to go to the gym every day, the social element of the app will make it easy for you to meet motivating mentors and workout partners. You came here for the gains and the friendship, and this app delivers well. According to one reviewer, the community on here is unbeatable: "It's super simple to use and the community is incredible on here! There's no creepy people, no mean people, just a bunch of amazing people who motivate, inspire and encourage one another (via App Store).

Discord: Find a server for every hobby and debate

Looking to free yourself from Facebook but need something to replace the Messenger app? Look no further! Like the mobile messenger you know and love so well, Discord also comes with emoji reactions, video calls, audio calls, GIF keyboards, stickers, and chat name customizations (via App Store).

The main difference between Discord and other messenger apps is its servers and channels rather than a long list of all chats — which can be confusing at first. The channels act like group chats and you can have as many as you want within one server. For example, you may choose to set up or join a server called "Friends," but you may have channels within that server dedicated to specific topics like DND, job openings, favorite restaurants, or funny cat videos. Many content creators host Discord servers, so it can be a fun way to get involved with new communities as well. 

BeReal: Post photos like Instagram but without the toxicity

If you're on social media (and don't live under a rock), you've probably heard of BeReal. It's a popular new app that's gaining a reputation as a Gen Z favorite for being a more down-to-earth version of Instagram (via NPR). Each day at a random time, BeReal sends everyone a notification simultaneously, prompting them to upload a photo of what they're up to. Whether you're walking, scrolling, working, or grocery shopping, you have two minutes to document your moment before the window closes. No filters, no schedule — just sharing the moment, whatever it is. If you happen to miss the deadline, you can always post a late BeReal to show your friends what you're up to. Side note: You can only see other people's posts once you've posted so it's fair game.

One reviewer said it's like a breath of fresh air: "It's so refreshing to see my friends share their not so Instagram-able parts of their days and strip away all of the unrealistic expectations social media has put on us all" (via App Store). If you're looking to share real moments and connections with people, this is definitely an app worth checking out.

Patook: Find new besties with zero flirtation

Last, but not least, Patook! The standout feature of this chatting app is the way it enforces a platonic atmosphere: "Patook is an app strictly for friendships. So strictly in fact, that we have developed our own automatic method to detect when someone is flirting. ... Any person who attempts to flirt via the app will get their account permanently banned before their message even makes it into your inbox" (via App Store). Hear that? That's the sound of no more unwanted photos, gross pickup attempts, or unexpected late-night messages. As far as using the app itself, you'll enjoy unique search filters where you can explore topics on local bulletin boards, a points system for arranging compatibilities, and convenient privacy settings.

In a world where the lines between friendship and romance may become blurred, it's reassuring to know there's a space out there where your platonic boundaries are respected and don't have to deal with awkward conversations about staying in the friend zone.