LadyGuide: How to Make Friends

Mouth-breather I am not. I’m socially adept, I have a quick wit, and I can flit around a party with the most social of butterflies. I have online dated, been to meetups, and taken classes. And you know what I’ve learned? Making friends is difficult. Post-college, post-breakup, post-new city, making friends is sometimes way harder than finding someone with whom to make out. So how do you make friends, anyway?

You'll soon be on the front of a Kashi cereal box with these tips.

The Internet is your friend: While the option of “activity partners” seems like a tempting choice in online dating land, the person at the other end rarely accepts that you just want to be friends. Instead, turn to the online communities of which you are a part. Tumblr, blogs, forums – you’d be surprised how many people live close to you. And guess what? They already share your interests. Hot diggity! Indeed, most of my recent friendships were generated online, first. As with all meeting-strangers-online things: meet in a public place and assume that they are possibly out to harm you until proven otherwise.

Volunteering: Second to the Internet, volunteering is a great way to make new friends. It tends to attract individuals (in other words, not couples) and since you feel passionately about what you’re involved with, there’s a natural flow of conversation. Invite your volunteer friends out for dinner after you’ve done some work or offer to bring a snack to the next meeting. You’ll be making friends in no time!

Meetup: Meetup. What can I say? Such a great concept, such a poor execution. Now, others may have had different experiences, but my Meetup experiences were not bad, but not good. Co-ed groups tended to be filled with people looking to date and the groups with girls were made up of ladies on the prowl. That said, Meetup works (at least for me) if you’re willing to not make your friends in the group. For example, in one Meetup, I met a girl, we became acquaintances, she invited me to a party. I met another girl, we become acquaintances, and so on. Six degrees later, and I meet someone with whom I really click and who I’d love to call a friend.

Classes: Classes are good for making friends if they are group-oriented and not couple-focused. A cooking class seems like a great way to make friends, but if you are single, you’ll find it difficult to break through the couple wall. Look for classes that probably won’t attract the smugly partnered, like art classes. Classes where you’ll have opportunities to work with other students are ideal since you’ll have excuses to talk to everyone.

Work: Tricky. Very tricky. On the one hand, you see these people every day and have many opportunities to get to know someone new. On the other hand, you could work with a bunch of people who find your obsession with Dr. Who odd or who don’t share your views on the Republican party. What’s more, you may be the sort who likes to keep work as work and life as life. That said, your new best friend might be in the cube next to you!

Dating is not a substitute for friendships: When you’re in a place that requires making new friends, it often feels easier to sign up on your favorite dating website and start looking for Mr./Ms. Makeout. After all, they’ll introduce you to people, and if it works out, automatic bestie, right? Right? In some cases, maybe, but in many cases, you’ll find yourself in a lopsided friend pool, which can be stressful for the both of you.

Go out, dammit: If you’re new and lonely, accept invitations even if they are to go out with people you don’t have much in common with. In my experience, those people lead to new people and eventually, after lots of hard work and boring conversations about reality shows over Bud Light, you start to connect the dots to a group of friends who really meet your needs.

And here’s my story: I moved to my current city 6 years ago. I had extended family here, but no friends. Not one. I did everything on this list, including the dating and Meetups. Doing ALL the things helped me make friends, but in all honesty, it wasn’t really until the past year (after 5 years in a new city) that I started making close friends, the ones I call bosom buddies. So my last bit of advice is to give it time. When you don’t have the close confines of a dorm or childhood connections, friendships take ages. Be patient, and keep commenting on Persephone, because, you know, point number 1 – the friendships you make online can lead to IRL friendships!

Published by

[E] Sally Lawton

My food groups are cheese, bacon, and hot tea. I like studying cities and playing with my cat, Buffy.

22 thoughts on “LadyGuide: How to Make Friends”

  1. I’ve had a hard time making friends where I live too (Sydney, Australia) though I’ve often thought about meetup groups and it’s on my list of things to try (and probably write about on Persephone). Meetup.com is an okay place to find groups. Another good idea is to try community sports programs like dodgeball or soccer. Everyone is active, endorphin’s make you happy, and you can bond over common goals and team spirit! Plus you burn the calories–multi tasking!! :D

    Admittedly though, the few friends I have made, I made through work or were my guy’s friends (though they live in another city), and once I made through a blog meetup (we both followed A Practical Wedding). I guess the key to making friends is a. being resourceful and b. being open to all possibilities.

    Does anyone have any tips for making friends with other couples?

     

  2. Thanks for the advice. I always find it extremely difficult to get beyond the “acquaintance” stage, and recently I’ve lacked good female friendships – I guess that’s why I’m drawn to Persephone Magazine so much. My man friends are wonderful, but there are some things only women can share.

    1. Maybe ask your guy friends if they have other female friends that you might get along with. I did that with one of my guy friends. We were talking one night and I was bemoaning that I didn’t have any female friends. A few weeks later he introduced me to his girlfriend, who introduced me to one of her childhood friends. 11 years later, she and I are still best friends. Since you guy friends know you, they might actually know someone who you’d get along with, but just never thought of having you meet.

  3. This is something a group of friends from college (we’re all scattered to different parts of the globe now) were talking about (okay, emailing about) the other week. Of the six of us, two have been able to make some decent friends – one is just ridiculously outgoing and the other has made friends through her husband’s friends. But yeah, I moved to a new city (read: town, because New England really doesn’t do “cities”) this last fall and between work and school, I have met no one. Glad to know that being here for 7 months without friend material does not put me into the “social inept” category…

    I have to admit, P-mag has been a wonderful antidote in the meantime. And by the by, if anyone here lives around western Mass, let me know!

    1. You are not inept at all!  And funnily enough, this is also a conversation I’ve had with my college buds (there are 7 of us).  One of them was complaining that it took her nearly 3 months before she made her first friend in her new place.  The rest of us were like uh… you’re doing good.   It took me quite awhile.

       

  4. Thank you for the article! This is something I’m definitely struggling with, as I’ve only been in my current city for about 1.5 years. I’m just getting the hang of the city itself (and living on my own), never mind making good friends! Keeping in touch with family and a best friend back home also takes a lot of time. I think it’s slowly coming together though, enough for me to branch out in terms of activities and hopefully meet new people!

    ETA: I seem to have trouble making friends online. It could be from the rule of ‘trust no one over the internet’ when I was growing up. I seem to have difficulties if I can’t interact in person at least once or twice with people.

  5. All good advice and options…and yeah, time definitely helps. It was a good three or four years before I made friends here outside of work/people I already knew when I moved back. Most of my grown up friends have come from the Internet, and I am ever so grateful for each one of them (near and far)

  6. I’m lucky enough to have retained a small handful of friends from growing up. Other than that, the people I’m closest to are all people who I first met online, but who unfortunately live really far away. I have a couple of close friends who I can hang out with on the weekend, and several of those friendships have evolved out of double dating (we knew the dude half of the couples, and I became close with the girls they were dating). Fortunately, there hasn’t been any real couple-awkwardness (breakups and such), but making friends as an adult is really freaking hard.

    Oh, and I never make friends at work anymore. I’ve had too many years of bad experiences that have jaded me, and I now view work with a “TRUST NO1” attitude.

    1. Aww, but work friends can be great! At my first job out of college, I met an awesome gal who ended up introducing me to my fiance and will be a bridesmaid in my wedding. At a later job, I met five girls my age and we’re still bffs even though some have since moved away. One of my current co-workers let me stay at her house when mine flooded. I think you just really need to be on the same page about work (you both love the place/hate it/have the same complaints about bosses/work in different departments so it doesn’t even matter), and you absolutely have to develop non-work things to talk about.

      Actually, now that I think of it, just about all of the friends I have where I live now were made in a work setting. I have no regrets.

  7. Making friends when you’re a grownup is haaaarrrrddd. I’m in a new(ish- we’ve been here for four years now) area, and I have one good friend I’ve made from work (that moved to California a couple months ago), and a bunch of acquaintances. Most of the people in my social circle are friends of my fiance’s. That said, I’ve been lucky to make some amazing friends through tumblr, and then a fb group that resulted, which brought me to here at PMag. I wouldn’t trade any of my internet friends for anything. I also can’t wait to see some of them in the upcoming months!

Leave a Reply