You unpacked, you set up your new mailing address, and you finally figured out where you want to put your furniture. But one thing you might not have been prepared for when you moved? How to make friends in a new city. And man, can that be a lonely feeling.
A February 2021 report indicates that 36% of all Americans—including 61% of young adults and 51% of mothers with young children—feel “serious loneliness.” And that serious loneliness has been associated with consequences ranging from depression and anxiety to heart disease and early mortality. So having meaningful friendships is actually pretty crucial for your mental and physical health. (No pressure.)
Wondering how to make friends as an adult? You’re not alone. Millennials are less connected to their community, either through employment or family and friends, as compared to other generations (the pandemic hasn’t helped). And when asked, more than half of millennials say they don’t know where to meet new people.
Nodding along? Here’s how to actually make friends in a new city, from the best apps to where to meet people in person and beyond.
First, Figure Out What Kind of Friendship You’re Looking For.
How do you hope to connect with them? Spending lots of time together IRL? Hanging out once or twice a week? Video chats? Phone calls? Texting? Sending each other memes on Instagram or DMing your favorite TikToks?
What are past relationships you’ve treasured? Whether you’re still in them or not. What did you appreciate about those relationships?
What are past relationships that went sour? What went wrong, and how did it make you feel?
Obviously you can’t head into a lab and whip up your ideal BFF. But these questions can help you determine what’s most important to you as a new friendship begins to blossom, and what might be a red flag for the success of a potential platonic relationship.
Then Put Yourself Out There—Physically or Digitally.
It may feel a little uncomfortable at first. And yes, it’s going to require some vulnerability. But as a wise woman (read: Brené Brown) once said, vulnerability is the birthplace of connection, right?
Where to Meet People IRL in a New City
Putting yourself out there physically may involve attending events alone or with a casual acquaintance.
The easiest way to start is getting involved in something that interests you. Like...
Events you’d enjoy. Things like trivia nights, board game nights, concerts, yoga classes, poetry readings, bike rides, neighborhood clean-ups…
Cool places in your new neighborhood. Think nearby coffee shops, music venues, fitness studios, trails, dog parks, coworking spaces, social clubs…
Teams, groups, or clubs in your area. Maybe recreational sport leagues, young professional groups, religious groups, networking organizations, philanthropies, book clubs, running clubs…
And if you're wondering 'cool, but how do I even find those things?' We recommend checking out fliers at local shops or even doing a quick Google search.
Best Apps to Make Friends
Meeting people digitally may be a little less intimidating at first. But hopefully it will lead to a physical meet-up to investigate whether you’ve got potential pal chemistry.
Hey! VINA: In partnership with Tinder, this app lets you swipe right to meet new friends.
Bumble BFF: From Bumble, obv. It’s intended to help you expand your social circle to create meaningful friendships.
Peanut: Find women who are in a life stage similar to your own—from fertility, pregnancy and motherhood through to menopause.
Bloom: An app by and for the LGBTQ+ community. Build connections at queer events, online and in person.
Friender: Create a free profile based on the activities you enjoy, and this app will connect you with potential pals who share (at least) one common interest.
Meetup: Meet new people who like the same things you do at online and in-person events in your area.
The Basics of a Friend Date
Ok, now for the (sometimes) hard part. Actually meeting face-to-face. In case you haven't had to do this kinda thing since college, here are some tips for how to give off 'new friend' vibes:
Be friendly, literally — as in, treat them like you’re already friends. Try to dig into the things that you both have in common and find out more about their interests.
Listen (at least) as much as you speak. As the saying goes, you have two ears and one mouth for a reason. You don’t want to dominate the conversation. Instead, ask them questions and be sure to leave plenty of openings for them to speak. Focus on what they’re saying in real time as they talk (instead of thinking about what you’ll say next).
Exchange contact info. If things went well, exchange numbers, follow each other on social, whatever works best for you. And follow up with an ask for round two (either a meal or an activity you both might be into). If things didn't go well, all good. No need to force things. We're just proud of you for trying.
Figuring out how to make friends in a new city might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Putting yourself in places and situations with other people who share your interests—and/or downloading the best apps to meet people—is half the battle. Just remember to be open, to be respectful, to be yourself, and you’ll find new friends in no time.
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