It should come as no surprise to you that making new friends as a grown up is HARD. If you’ve followed this blog you’ll know that I have recently moved to a town in a cou
ntry where I know one singular person – my boyfriend. We get along pretty well as it happens, but after three months of having nobody else to talk to I have found behaving in an embarrassingly desperate manner when the potential to meet new people arises.
There is a good reason most of our friendships are made during school and university. Actually, there are numerous good reasons. As small children we lack the social etiquette that comes with age; walking up to someone who looks fun and asking to be their best friend is not considered quite as adorable at the grand age of 26.
As school children we enjoy the benefits of common ground, having been practically forced together by spending all day in the classroom. As university students and even in entry-level job roles, nights out on the town and the absence of any serious ‘adult issues’ allow us to enjoy carefree experiences that can bond people for life. ‘Adult issues’ in this sense can encompass things such as our parenting style if we have children, political disagreements that can be more easily tolerated with older friends, even trivial matters such as household income can play a part in maintaining relationships – we all have that one friend who orders champagne and caviar at dinner before suggesting you split the bill. Any and all of these factors can put unnecessary strain on adult relationships and make it more difficult to craft meaningful, long lasting connections.
As I’ve had my share of successes and failures in this arena, I wanted to share my findings. These may apply if you’re moving somewhere new like me, travelling, starting a new job/school or if you’re generally just looking to broaden your social circle.
Get a hobby
This is the number one easiest route to making friends. It’s so simple and so effective, it’s almost cheating. Get a hobby (if you already have one you are already winning) and find a group doing it. Netball, sewing, underwater pig wrestling – whatever it is there will be someone, somewhere with similar interests. Chances are, many people will have joined said group for the exact same reason as you and so will already be open to making friends. Bonus points if your hobby also gets you active and keeps you fit.
Use an app
There are literally hundreds of apps out there for the sole purpose of meeting people. Use them! Again, this almost falls under the category of cheating as it’s so obvious. I’ve recently tried meetup which is really helpful as it groups people by interest, but other options include squad (where you can meet another group of friends with your group of friends – if you’re not quite ready to go it alone) or badoo (which shows people near you who are also looking to meeting new friends). Whatever your style, there’s an app for that.
Say yes to everything
This may sound a little self-helpy but it has really helped me get out of my comfort zone. Since arriving here, I have been invited to events that normally I wouldn’t attend, or places I would be too self-conscious to go alone. But, by forcing myself to say yes to every invitation, I have removed the stress from the situation – I don’t have to beat myself up about whether I should go or not because I’m just going. Every single time, I have had amazing amounts of fun and met some really interesting people. Nothing is ever as bad as you think it is.
Have some small talk questions at the ready
One of my biggest fears around meeting people and making new friends is running out of things to talk about. Awkward silences are the bane of my existence and usually lead to me babbling on to fill the void until I inevitably come out with something wildly inappropriate, ruining any chances of future friendships. The only method I have found to combat this is to prepare – as if I was revising for a test.
People love to talk about themselves so it’s always best to ask a question. I find it helpful to have three key areas to think up a question from:
- Something I already know about them (“Tom tells me you just got a new job, how’s it going?”)
- Something I don’t already know about them (“So did you just move to the area too?”)
- Something about your surroundings – comment on your location, the activity you’re currently doing or something that they are wearing (So I see you’re a baseball fan?).
Something slightly unorthodox that I personally think is fine (when used in moderation) is to just completely make something up! People love to help out, so pretend you missed something in the game you’re watching (Was that Smith who just scored?), pretend you heard they had a certain hobby (I hear you’re a keen woodworker? No? Maybe I’m confusing you with someone else. I’m Georgie anyway!), pretend you need restaurant recommendations for some friends that are visiting next weekend. While this is a last resort tactic, it helps to break the ice and start a conversation. People are inherently good and friendly. As much as you have nightmares about it, nobody will look at you like you have two heads just for speaking to them. Unless you’re in London, in which case maybe it’s best to keep quiet.
Don’t overthink it
Finally, chill out! You can’t force a friendship, these things can simply take time. When we first moved here I will readily admit I behaved like a crazy stalker woman trying to pin down female friends. I waited an agonizing amount of time before texting people back and would spend an hour crafting the perfect reply. I regressed into a 15 year old fangirl chasing her crush until I realised that by doing that I wasn’t showing my best self. I knew I would have a better chance of genuinely connecting with people if I just acted normally. So don’t worry about rejection when inviting people places and don’t question people’s motives when they invite you. Just focus on being yourself and go with it. You’ll have way more fun and so will those around you.
Have you got any tips on making new friends? Any success stories you’ve found when moving somewhere new? Drop me a note in the comments below!